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SF Free Clinic Wins USF California Prize for Service and the Common Good

The USF community celebrated the work of Drs. Richard and Patricia Gibbs, co-founders of the San Francisco Free Clinic and recipients of USF’s 2013 California Prize for Service and the Common Good, last Tuesday Oct. 29. The welcoming reception took place in the Atrium Lobby of Lo Schiavo, followed by a dinner gala event in a large white tent on Welch Field, just outside St. Ignatius Church.

Over 300 guests attended the celebration, including 22 USF Trustees, three past California Prize recipients, and the San Francisco Fire Chief.

The University awards the California Prize each year to an organization or individuals that “contribute significantly to the quality of life in our community, especially the poor and the marginalized,” Father Privett said before presenting the couple with the prize.

Before Drs. Richard and Patricia Gibbs opened the San Francisco Free Clinic, a clinic dedicated to providing medical care to the uninsured, the couple looked at the work they were doing in their successful private practice and decided they were catering to the wrong population.

“Almost one out of four people in San Francisco have no health insurance,” said Dr. Richard Gibbs, who, as a private physician, could only tend to insured patients before opening the free clinic. “When we looked at that statistic, we got the idea to flip the shingle around and went non-profit,” he said.

Dr. Patricia Gibbs said she and her husband felt bad, as “there were plenty of doctors to take care of the insured patients, but the uninsured were going without care.”

The clinic, located on California Ave. between 11th and 12th Ave., is home to over 70,000 patients that have been treated with quality care and otherwise costly medications, free of charge. The clinic as a whole has agreed to not accept public funding, keeping grant writing and administrative duties between the doctors and nurses to avoid extra costs, explained Dr. Richard Gibbs. “We can deliver a lot more medical care for a lot less money: we stay totally out of politics and we don’t have to accept any government directives; we can treat anyone who comes through the door,” said Dr. Richard Gibbs.

Not only does the clinic provide preventive and primary medical care to uninsured patients, it also educates future medical practitioners to advance the field as a whole.

“We have about 24 students from Yale’s School of Medicine, six from USC, eight or nine from UCSF, in addition to medical residents from California Pacific Medical Center and UCSF,” Dr. Richard Gibbs said. “What we offer is training and primary care, which is really hard to get ahold of in medical school.” The SF Free Clinic trains their medical practitioners in areas of gynecology and orthopedics, in addition to standard training; some of which is not readily available when attending medical school.

Joined by members of their staff, Drs. Richard and Patricia Gibbs accepted the award on behalf of “everyone who has made the clinic what it is.” Dr. Richard Gibbs said, adding that “the clinic is not a place, it’s people.”

After expanding in 2000, the SF Free Clinic now has 135 physician offices. As to where their patients would be without a free clinic, Dr. Patricia Gibbs thinks there would be more people going into the emergency room, less people taking their medication, and ultimately more patients with financial hardships.

“We see a lot of people that have a chronic medical condition who have lost their insurance and have stopped taking their medicine,” she said. Their conditions could have spiraled out of control to the point of having to visit the emergency room — “but luckily they came to us before that happened.”

Dr. Richard Gibbs emphasized that medicine is not a business of the masses, but a business of one on one. “The most important thing is focusing on that one person. If we could just get more people doing that, we could take care of the masses that need it,” he said.

The crowd was energized throughout the night of the event, with the help of Master of Ceremonies Renel Brooks-Moon, also the PA announcer for the SF Giants. After Drs. Patricia and Richard Gibbs spoke on their appreciation for the prize, the room filled with laughter as Brooks-Moon said, “If you are not inspired, I would like someone from the clinic to come check your pulse tonight!”

Student volunteers serving on the USF Philanthropy Committee, sophomores Megan Kenney and Natalie Gallo, were invited to the event to represent the USF student body. “We are working to create awareness about the importance of donations to USF and raising money to provide scholarship support for our fellow students,” said Kenney.

They were both inspired by the event. The prize is a great idea, Gallo said, “for those who have reached what most of us are striving for here at USF” — a passion for helping others.

The Dean of the School of Nursing, Judith Carshmer, tied the award back to USF students by speaking on the importance of the service learning requirement, and the goodness of service as a whole and as the cornerstone of work done at SF Free Clinic.

“USF has completed over 400,000 hours of service to the community of San Francisco. We apply our classroom scholarship to issues that concern the real world,” said Carshmer, who honored the nursing students who have had the opportunity to work not only with the free clinic, but also in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels in the Tenderloin and Rafael House, so as to “intervene in people’s lives right where they’re at.”

At the end of the night, MC Brooks-Moon honored a long list of sponsors who made both the event and the clinic possible. “This is not the end of a celebration, but an invitation to do more,” she said.

Dr. Richard Gibbs said that when they opened the doors of the free clinic, they were never expecting to see so many people in San Francisco without health insurance. How they handled it, he said, was to, “offer them dignity and good health, a whole person kind of life.”

A Second Victory: Champion Giants Take Home USF’s California Prize

The World Series victory for the San Francisco Giants, an unexpected addition to a night intended for the celebration and recognition of community service, became the focal point of the evening at the 5th annual California Prize Award Dinner on Nov. 12. The theme of the night, initiated by President Stephen Privett, S.J. and carried on by Giants President and CEO Larry Baer, was the connection between “doing good and doing well” – the reciprocity between positive actions in the community and the success of such an organization within that community.

“Doing good and doing well are mutually enforcing in achieving life’s goals,” Privett said during the presentation of the award, which occurred under the sparkling lights of a beautifully decorated white tent on Welsh Field.

Baer echoed the sentiment in his acceptance speech.

“The reality is that the road for doing well is doing good in a society.”

The Giants organization has spent much time doing good in their community whether or not they are doing well on the ball field, but this year turned out to be a win in both regards — a World Series championship, and the California Prize for Service and the Common Good.

The California Prize is an award presented by the University to an individual or organization who contributes greatly to the needs of the local community. Over the last year, USF took note of the great contributions of the Giants Community Fund, which supports the Junior Giants Program, and determined back in March that San Francisco’s own Major League Baseball team would be the 2012 recipients of the prize.

“The California Prize goes to community members who excel at service to the community,” Privett said. “The Giants are about more than winning baseball games.”

The Giants Community Fund is a non-profit organization that was established in 1991. The Fund has donated over $14 million to community efforts throughout it’s 21-year existence.

According to it’s mission statement, “the Giants Community Fund collaborates with the San Francisco Giants by using baseball as a forum to encourage underserved youth and their families to live healthy, productive lives.”

One way that the Giants goes about this is through their flagship program, the Junior Giants, which is a non-competitive youth baseball program for at-risk children ages 5-18. The program means to provide a sense of community, an alternative to drugs and violence, and a chance to learn the sport of baseball without the typical expenses. The Fund provides all of the equipment and training necessary to run the leagues, as well as free tickets to certain Giants games. Aside from education in baseball, the Junior Giants also aims to teach the children life skills by focusing on the ideas of confidence, integrity, leadership and teamwork.

Along with the Junior Giants, the Giants Community Fund also supports public awareness campaigns at AT&T park, and annually provides grants to other charitable organizations who benefit the community through health services, violence prevention and educational programs.

Baer, who received the award for the Giants, revealed a strong connection between the type of service that USF encourages and participates in and the services of the Giants Community Fund.

“USF and the Giants have a symbiotic relationship,” Baer said. “Both of us wear SF across our chests and take seriously our utility as more than a business or university.”

The University and the Giants are linked other ways by their passions for community services. According to Baer, there are USF graduates employed with the Giants in every department.

“It’s not just because USF’s proximity to AT&T Park….we share a common vision of the community,” Baer said.

This vision was shared directly between members of the two parties in the collaboration between Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt and USF professor David Batstone on the non-profit organization Not For Sale (NFS). Batstone is the co-founder of the organization, which fights human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Affeldt became involved with NFS after he was traded to the Giants in 2009, and has been supporting the initiative ever since. This season he pledged to donate $250 for every strikeout, hold, save and win. In the 67 games he pitched for the Giants, that money built up into a significant donation to the Not For Sale organization. Of course, Affeldt also contributed in another way by helping to pitch the Giants into the World Series Championship.

“USF and I take full credit for knowing that the Giants would be the World Series Champions at the time of this dinner back in March,” Privett joked during the award ceremony.

The nights connections between providing service to one’s community and finding success in the rest of life’s endeavors were strong, sending a powerful message to both the USF affiliated guests and the members of the Giants organization.

In short, Privett concluded in his speech that the Giants won the World Series because they are good people, not just good baseball players. They are good because they do good for their community, for the city of San Francisco and the Bay Area. The University of San Francisco had a keen eye for just how good the Giants are when they selected the organization for the California Prize back in March.

 

Ten Thousand Dollars for Fighting Poverty

Every year, the University of San Francisco awards the California Prize to an individual who has put forth a serious effort to aid the underserved and marginalized of society. This year, the prize, which includes a ten-thousand dollar reward and a medal of honor, is being awarded to Daniel Lurie, the CEO and Founder of the organization Tipping Point Community. The non-profit provides both financial support and access to other resources for thirty-two direct service organizations, one-third of which are in the Bay Area. The organizations seek to deal with problems associated with poverty. These organizations work to develop wellness support, housing, education, and employment opportunities.

Tipping Point, created six years ago, was largely inspired by Lurie’s experiences in San Francisco, where he was born and raised. He said, “In an area as wealthy and rich in resources as the bay, the poverty level is unacceptable. Almost one-million people here can’t even meet their basic needs and the region needed an organization like Tipping Point, we needed to inspire people to give to poverty and it’s not an easy thing for people to get their heads around, it’s often intangible.”

What makes Tipping Point different from other organizations committed to fighting poverty is their methodology, only funding organizations that have been deemed to have the greatest positive impact on community. This requires screening hundreds of applicants before selection. An organization may be turned away for not meeting Tipping Point’s standards in the potential amount of positive impact in the community. Tipping Point’s screening process is part of the, as Lurie describes it, “write a check and roll up your sleeves” philosophy, offering legal and technical aid to the groups they help finance although members of Tipping Point frequently go out into the community and work with these organizations first-hand. One-hundred percent of all donations go directly to the organizations Tipping Point sponsors.
“It’s a long-term commitment for us and our donors” Lurie added. Since its formation, Tipping Point has donated approximately $30 million, with $12.6 million being donated in 2011. All monetary donations are sent out within twelve months of their reception.

When asked what the USF’s award meant for Tipping Point, Lurie responded “It means we have a partner in the University. We know that the values of USF are similar to Tipping Point and we’re honored to be in that company; the university’s commitment to service and action is one we can believe in.” Lurie plans to use the money from the California Prize as funding for the organizations the Tipping Point sponsors.
Lurie also advocated for student involvement in Tipping Point. He said, enthusiastically, “We want people to be engaged, they can go to our website and know the organizations there are doing good work. We spend ninety-three hours of due diligence before we do anything with them, these places have been vetted,” referring to the rigorous selection process all applicant organizations go through.

The California Prize Dinner, in which Lurie will be recognized, will be held on USF’s campus on November 1, 2011 with all ticket proceeds benefitting student programs at the University.

To get involved with or learn more about Tipping Point Community, explore the organization’s website: http://www.tippingpoint.org/