When I first arrived in San Francisco, I did what any disabled person does when they moved to a new city – I shuffled around a lot of offices and turned in paperwork. I was frequently directed to go to the Mission District to access services for those with disabilities. When I saw that the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center was facing budget cuts, I knew I needed to step in after dealing with the Mission District.
Budget cuts also mean less office space. For example, in Mission District social service agencies, I was asked to give personal information about where I lived, my relationship with my family, and my income level in front of a room of about 90 homeless men.
When I objected to giving my interview in front of a room full of people, I was also informed that I was being interviewed by the ADA supervisor and that broadcasting my personal information in an open room full of people for an entrance interview was not in violation of the HIPPA training government employees must take. (Yes, even if the applicant was mostly blind and could potentially be robbed by the people listening who now know everything about your entire life history.)
Needless to say, I feel like the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center is light years ahead of the game compared to this nightmare experience that left me in tears in the Mission neighborhood. It would be a real shame to see the BHNC get rundown, closed, or staffed with the horrible conditions I have dealt with in other areas of San Francisco.
If you have something to give, considered giving it to them. They need donations by the end of 2010 in order to adjust to budget cuts. Many of their programs involve seniors, children, and the disabled. You can find out more at their website.
As a fully employed disabled person, I give the BHNC all of my hopes for the New Year. North Bernal Heights neighbors can make this happen!