Holiday event sheds light on giving side of tech 

click to enlarge Compass Family Services
  • Evan DuCharme/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • Trinidad Valdez is coaxed by his mom, Jessica, to sit on Santa’s lap during the Compass Family Services event.
Photos with Santa, a gift giveaway, a puppet show, a free meal. That was the scene in Golden Gate Park Thursday evening when more than 100 homeless San Francisco families gathered for a little holiday cheer.

It was the kind of event Mayor Ed Lee often attends around this time of year.

And it’s the type of thing The City’s growing tech industry needs to be a part of to show city residents they care, Lee said.

The 100th anniversary of Compass Family Services, a nonprofit that aids homeless families in The City, involved 100 local companies — including several tech companies.

While the event had been planned for some time, Lee said he hoped to showcase the technology industry’s involvement in light of this week’s negative press around tech.

That bad press began with a viral video released by the San Francisco Bay Guardian of a man impersonating a Google employee, who told protesters blocking a Google bus that only the wealthy should live in San Francisco. It was followed by the off-color Facebook posts by AngelHack CEO Greg Gopman about San Francisco’s homeless population. Gopman later apologized for his comments.

The industry, Lee said, is giving back to San Franciscans, but it still needs to do more. He pointed to Yelp’s foundation, as well as Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff’s well-publicized local philanthropy as examples.

“Benioff has shown what he can do. Yelp and Jeremy Stoppelman are showing what they can do. There are going to be so many others as long as they keep an open mind,” said Lee, who hopes he can enlist Gopman’s help, despite his comments, in fixing the problems of homelessness.

Even if tech does become more generous, the industry needs a unified voice to tell San Franciscans what companies have been doing and that they care about this city, the mayor added.

“I think they need to do more of that visibility,” Lee said. “Some of them are, but they don’t know how to talk about it. What are they doing? Who are their partners?”

Smaller examples cited by Lee included startups Zendesk, Shoe Biz and TechShop, which were all involved with Thursday’s event.

Compass Family Services hopes the event will help the nonprofit enlist the help of “startup and grown-up tech companies around The City to help alleviate family homelessness and poverty.”

Jessica Valdez, 27, who lives in Compass-run Clara House in Hayes Valley, brought her three children to the event.

“I think they’re amazing,” she said of Compass and the event.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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