Laura Novak – Journalist, Author & Writing Instuctor
Writer Laura Novak first came to HPP as a journalist for The New York Times in 2007. “I had been at a dinner party where a woman told me about this amazing place that offers yoga classes to homeless pregnant women. And I thought, now that’s a story that I have to do.” Laura spent three days following clients and came away a lifelong fan of HPP. “Martha and the staff were so open. You don’t often find that as a reporter.”
A year ago, after launching her first novel, Laura returned to teach creative and business writing to the employees. Every Thursday she meets with the Community Health Workers to work on fictional short stories and personal essays. In May, six of these stories were published for display at Our House, HPP’s annual fundraiser. “The editing was very tough on the women,” Laura concedes. “But they rose to the occasion and learned a lot about the writing process.” She also works with other staff members on case management notes, business letters, resumes, and school papers. “The men and women at HPP enrich my life beyond measure,” Laura says. “Whatever I might give to them, they return to me a thousand fold. I will forever be grateful to Martha for opening that door and inviting me in.”
Lauren Weber – Teacher, Spanish Speaker and Cheese Maker
When Lauren Weber moved to San Francisco, she asked a friend where she could make a difference. She soon found HPP. Since last October, Lauren has been extremely involved in the Community Technology Center (CTC) as a tutor, while also leading an English as a Second Language (ESL) class. “Working in the CTC has been a wonderful opportunity to directly help clients with their personal needs,” Lauren says of her time at HPP. “I learn what is important to them and help them however I can – whether that is teaching interview skills or showing them how to use Craigslist.” Notes Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Bechtol, “Lauren’s ability to easily communicate and to make everyone that comes to the CTC feel at ease has been a true gift.”
Her ESL class was well attended and featured several regulars. One of the clients that Lauren worked most closely with was Camela, a Masters in Education student at San Francisco State. A former HPP client, Camela was frustrated with the ESL education system when she came to America, and because of that, has been working diligently towards her goal of beginning her own ESL program. Lauren’s interests in Spanish and sociology aligned perfectly with Camela’s educational goals, and together they have tackled Camela’s projects, forming a lasting bond. Lauren is moving to Seattle to become an apprentice cheese maker! We are so proud of her for following her dream, but as Sharon said, “We will miss her creative, kind spirit and her willingness to take on new projects. At the end of June, we will bid her farewell but we will remember Lauren as a volunteer who truly made a difference. Her help, most recently with preparations for Our House, was always above and beyond.”
Carol Suto’s Sewing Classes Essential To Clients
Carol Suto has been volunteering at HPP for over two years. She brings nursing experience and a passion for helping others to her duties in the sewing room. Now retired, she spends each Tuesday here at HPP, helping mothers learn to sew. Her classes last three hours, and are full each week. With varied projects, students are not only learning a skill but building community as well. Carol goes above and beyond for our clients, donating supplies, fabric and countless hours. Her inclusive nature and zest for teaching fill the room with a positive vibe. Sewing machines buzz and laughter abounds. We are lucky to have a friend like her and are proud to call her a part of the HPP family. Many thanks to Carol for her compassion and commitment.
Sam Jewett, Volunteer Extraordinaire!
At HPP, we are fortunate to have many longstanding and excellent volunteers. We are saying “see you soon!” to one young man, who has been with us since we moved to our space at 18th and Potrero. Even as a high school student, Sam Jewett knew he wanted to work with children. Sam came to HPP because of his passion to help others and has been a devoted companion of ours ever since. For the past six years, he has spent his summers at HPP. Although he has volunteered, “in the basement, on the roof and everywhere in between,” his favorite place to be is the Childcare Center. HPP Childcare Providers, Jeaneth and Helen, quickly bonded with this optimistic fellow and have invited him gladly into their special place on the first floor.
In September, Sam will join the Peace Corps as a Youth Development Leader in Morocco. Before he begins his service in Northern Africa, he will spend time volunteering at the Holy Cross Hospice in Botswana. Why does Sam come back to HPP again and again? “Because I genuinely care about the people” he says. To him, the staff has “some of the coolest people in the world.” We will miss Sam a lot and wish him luck on his adventures. Sam, best of luck, and we look forward to your return!