State nonprofit teams developmentally disabled with park, beach cleanups
Randall Jones is a Pacifican. He is also the Regional Director of Social Vocational Services, a California nonprofit which connects individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities to a wide variety of services, including to employers in community settings.
Founded in Manhattan Beach in 1977 as a small after school program for teenagers with autism, SVS, socialvocationalservices.org, now serves over 4,000 individuals throughout the state.
Eight years ago, Jones reached out to Lynn Adams, President of the Pacifica Beach Coalition, to offer a commitment from SVS South San Francisco to help maintain the beaches and surrounding areas in Pacifica.
“We are so grateful and honored by the work they do,” Adams said.
“We send our groups, which consist of six clients and two staff, to Pacifica every day to clean up where needed,” said Austin Hallahan, Program Director, SVS South San Francisco. “By the end of the week, we have usually clocked over 80 hours of cleanup, often at the beaches, by 40 individuals.”
SVS South San Francisco serves over 100 clients. Included among the local nonprofit’s main focuses are: fostering individual independence, finding their clients employment and community inclusion.
“Part of the process of finding our clients employment is for our clients to learn all the individual steps of completing a task from start to finish,” Hallahan said.
As more of their clients found work in the Bay Area with a number of companies including Chili’s, Costco and Pacific Catch, Hallahan said the organization began focusing on providing opportunities for their clients to give back to their local communities through volunteer projects.
The volunteer projects are many and varied, but along with the Pacifica Beach Coalition cleanups they also include working with the various City-owned parks and recreational facilities in San Francisco and volunteering with the Pacifica Resource Center where they collect food and assist in packaging it for Pacificans in need.
Four years ago, Hallahan, his wife and their three kids moved to the Bay Area from Cork and Waterford in Ireland. Like his wife, he has a history of working and volunteering with organizations that work with people with different types of disabilities.
He has worked in orphanages in Belarus, as well as residential settings in Ireland. He is the son of a pharmacist and a nurse and his life has always followed a natural path of caring for others.
The SVS South San Francisco volunteers can be recognized by their high visibility vests and litter picker upper tools – new ones were just donated by the Pacifica Beach Coalition.
The crews are so popular locally that often businesses in Linda Mar and Rockaway will offer the volunteers lunch or refreshments throughout the day.
SVS South San Francisco has been formally recognized by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, California State Senator Jerry Hill, the Pacifica Beach Coalition and the City of South San Francisco Parks Division for their tireless efforts in keeping Pacifica and parks in the Bay Area beautiful for everyone.
“With ‘Adoption Papers’ of the Pacifica Pier and Linda Mar Beach bestowed upon SVS South San Francisco, our clients take the responsibility of ‘caretakers of Pacifica’ very seriously,” Hallahan said. “Knowing that they are making a difference in other people’s lives and having the ability and compassion to make that difference, gives our clients an endless amount of pride in their work and volunteer opportunities.”
“We see more and more businesses opening their doors, minds and hearts to the idea of having people with disabilities be a part of their workforce,” Hallahan said, “and seeing the benefits for both their businesses and our clients. We are fortunate that over 76 percent of our clients who attend our community based program are working and earning a wage from their jobs. We always welcome work and volunteer opportunities.”
Pacifica Tribune correspondent Jean Bartlett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.