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How the Tenderloin is building a new image as one of the friendliest neighborhoods.

The residents in one notorious neighborhood of San Francisco are coming together to revitalize their streets — and it's working.

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Dignity Health 2017

Ever wonder how the Tenderloin neighborhood got its name?

Once full of speakeasies and jazz clubs, gamblers and prostitutes, the area has always welcomed outsiders and misfits, even if that earned it kind of a notorious reputation. And in the 1930s, the neighborhood is believed to have gotten its name because police officers were often paid more to work its streets, thereby allowing them to buy more expensive cuts of meat — including, of course, tenderloin steak.

Today, the Tenderloin is still one of the most diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco, welcoming insiders and outsiders alike.

But its residents also live with higher rates of poverty, homelessness, drug dealing, and crime than the rest of the city.


Roughly 3,800 individuals in the community are homeless, there are numerous abandoned buildings and decrepit hotels, and the area suffers from a serious drug trade problem.

This bad rap had been somewhat isolating for the people who call it home — including recent immigrants and a number of immigrant families that have been drawn to the area for its affordability. In fact, about 4,000 schoolchildren live there.

One event, called 4-Corner Friday, is working to change people's perceptions and experiences of the Tenderloin by fostering a more inclusive, stronger community for its residents.

"It's not post-traumatic stress; it's persistent traumatic stress." The residents of a long overlooked neighborhood are finally getting some much needed attention.

Posted by Upworthy on Friday, March 31, 2017

4-Corner Friday holds meet-ups once a month on Friday afternoons so that neighbors can meet each other, have fun together, and build connections.

Whether it's getting to know each other over hot chocolate and popcorn or playing games and painting murals as a community, these get-togethers help residents break down preconceptions, foster a sense of inclusion, and promote healthy, positive activities.

Image via Dignity Health/Upworthy.

People — no matter who they are — are able to find common ground with each other because they have conversations and work together to make their neighborhood better a place for kindness.

The event, which is supported by Dignity Health, is a project started by the Golden Gate Block Safety Group, a group of neighborhood service agencies dedicated to improving the collective safety of the neighborhood by reducing crime and drugs in the area.

4-Corner Friday began at an intersection infamous for persistent drug dealing at 3 p.m. (a high drug traffic time), and the safety group hopes to help residents take back their neighborhood one small step at a time.

When residents get involved in their communities, real change can happen.

image via Dignity Health/Upworthy.

This is especially true for community groups that help engage children and young adults. By providing kids with safe places to play and meaningful attention, they feel seen and heard, which has a positive impact on their lives. In turn, crime can be combated. But it’s also true for the larger community, because when everyone is engaged, collective action can be taken to stop crime.

The changes 4-Corner Friday has created are starting to be felt, according to residents.

Of course, it's been an uphill battle, and the conditions that created the drug abuse and trafficking problems in the neighborhood didn't change overnight after the first 4-Corner Friday event.

Image via Dignity Health.

Still, change is slowly coming to the Tenderloin. Local eateries and restaurants are starting to get new attention, the theater district and art scene are thriving, and developers and city supervisors are even working on making the neighborhood the first recognized transgender cultural district in the world.

Boeddeker Park, the largest park in the neighborhood, reopened in 2014 and is considered a safe haven, full of community activities serving children, seniors, and anyone who wants to enjoy the beautiful amenities.

As part of the Tenderloin Safe Passage Program, neighborhood partners like the Tenderloin Community Benefit District station community-corner captains to assist school kids and seniors moving through the neighborhood during designated hours. And many corner captains are actually parents and residents themselves who take the responsibility of creating a safer community very seriously.

Most importantly, residents are starting to feel safer just walking their block, and they're starting to feel like part of a community that cares about one another. And this stronger community is building a new image of the Tenderloin as one of San Francisco's friendliest, most caring neighborhoods.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.