Finding a community you can rely on is difficult enough as it is, but it can be even harder when you live with a developmental disability. Fortunately, San Franciscans can rely on the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center (PRRC) for a supportive and kind community.
Founded in 1952 by Janet Pomeroy, the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center is a community center in San Francisco that provides people with disabilities a wide range of services and opportunities that encourage self-expression, promote personal achievement, and inspire them to live a full life. The PRRC has a small dedicated staff of just over 100 people and serves about 420 people on a daily basis.
The people who participate in PRRC’s programs are typically referred to as clients or participants; but to the staff members at Pomeroy, these participants are their friends.
“When I’m talking about this place, I love to say ‘my friends.’ To them, we’re all just people who come and hang out at the Center all day, so it’s fun,” Karin Jaffie, the marketing communications associate at PRRC, said.
Karin has worked at PRRC for nearly three years, where her main job is to make movies, banners, and signs for the recreation center. Her favorite part about working at Pomeroy is all the wonderful friendships she’s made and all the kindness she sees at the center on a daily basis.
“This really is a community center, and it takes the community to keep the Center going,” she said. “It pulls together people of all different backgrounds, races, and cultures, because we’ve got something of everybody here. It’s a little micro-piece for how the world should be, since we’re so kind to each other, and you see people doing really awesome things every day. Here, you never hear anybody giving up on anybody.”
According to Karin, the positivity she experiences at the PRRC every day is one of the main reasons she enjoys her job so much.
“It’s the happiest place on earth,” she said. “The mindset is that every day here should be the best day you’ve ever had. There’s lots of love and enthusiasm, and there’s always support for what you do. It’s so amazing and great! This job is just so inspiring, and I love being here.”
PRRC strives to give back to the community as much as possible. They have a program where Pomeroy adult participants volunteer at local nonprofits, such as the San Francisco Marin Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. At the food bank, volunteers divide up the groceries, and at Meals on Wheels, they help deliver the groceries to people in need. Not only are the program participants providing a crucial service for others in need, but they are also spreading joy and kindness throughout their community.
“The program is amazing,” Karin said. “There’s this one guy who’s always cranky when he’s here (at the Center), but when he’s out there, he’s this other person. He’s smiling while handing the food to people.”
Despite the obstacles they face in their lives, the program participants still aim to channel kindness by volunteering to better the lives of other people in their community.
PRRC also has a program where they train their adult participants to take on jobs at companies such as Home Depot and Safeway. The nonprofit additionally provides job coaches to help these participants train for the job and adjust to their new work environment. One of the goals of PRRC is to inspire people with disabilities to live an independent life, and this is their way of helping their participants take on important roles in society while fostering greater independence.
“I want to thank PRRC for job coaching me and always advocating for my needs at my job,” said Eric Blahut, a program participant who has been working at Home Depot for 24 years and counting.
The community center has already positively impacted many people within San Francisco and will continue to spread the message of inclusivity and kindness.
If you want to support PRRC, there are many ways to do so! If you’re an employer within the Bay Area, consider partnering with the community center to hire a PRRC client! You can also donate online to support PRRC’s services or volunteer and assist Pomeroy participants in various activities throughout the day. Any help is welcome at PRRC, and your efforts are always 100% appreciated.