For some background, Tenderloin USA did not start off as an official “project.” Rather, it slowly morphed into one during our exploration of the Tenderloin over the past year. Through the process of engaging dozens of people in the neighborhood it became clear we had a story to tell through our photographs, subject stories, and personal anecdotes. And it was something we thought could be shared with others. Tenderloin USA was thus born.
Not long after that, from thinking about project and publication possibilities, we decided that giving back to the community we spent so much time in would not only be a great thing to do, but the right thing to do. Particularly, if that could somehow benefit one of the most vulnerable segments in the neighborhood; at-risk youth. That was on Travis’ mind right from the beginning. Both Travis and I are really proud that we decided to make giving back to the community that we regularly take from one of the foundations of our project.
After a false start trying to engage a city organization, we came up with a few youth-based service organizations to consider. I met with District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim in early June during office hours to vet our first pick, Larkin Street Youth Services, and to ask for other possibilities to consider. Coming away from the meeting I felt really great about Larkin Street. It wasn’t long after that we met with them, and decided they would be the organization that would receive Tenderloin USA proceeds. A week later the relationship was approved by their board and it became official. All Tenderloin USA Photo Journal proceeds after printing costs will go to Larkin Street Youth Services.
Larkin Street Youth Services is a San Francisco social service organization helping youth ages 12 to 24 who are living on the streets through no fault of their own. Founded in 1984, Larkin Street is an internationally recognized leader in providing effective housing, medical, social, education and employment services to at-risk homeless and runaway youth through 25 programs and 13 sites. Larkin Street provides the full spectrum of support the youth need for the opportunity they deserve to reach their full potential as adults.
• Over 5,700 youth live on the streets or are at risk of homelessness in San Francisco. For most of them, the streets are safer than the homes from which they came.
• Larkin Street serves about two-thirds of San Francisco’s homeless youth and provides 85% of the housing available to at-risk youth.
For more information about Larkin Street Youth Services, and its programs and services, please click www.larkinstreetyouth.org
As photographers we all get wrapped up in our passion for taking photos. Many of us have a lot of $$$$ wrapped up in our equipment as we go out and hit the streets and think nothing of it. Also, for many, and certainly speaking for myself, it’s an obsession. It’s something we have to do and it feeds us. Both Travis and I encourage other photographers that feel similarly, to pause for a moment, putting some of that aside, and think about ways where a small percentage of that obsession can be translated into doing something with your photography that can benefit others less fortunate.