Tim Sbranti, a board member and the emcee for the day, explained the genesis of the annual event was the San Ramon Valley’s Good Friday Prayer breakfast. He was there 10 years ago as was Pastor Roger Valci, the driving force in the founding of CityServe, and its first executive director, Gloria Gregory. Sitting separately, they found each other after the breakfast and agreed that they needed to do one in their area.
The following Monday he received a call from Gloria requesting his presence at the planning meeting Tuesday. That’s why people have described Gloria as a force of nature who played a key role in getting CityServe going. She’s now moved over to Supervisor David Haubert’s team. CityServe appropriately honored her with a special award Monday.
Christine Beitsch-Bahmani, CityServe’s CEO, reminisced about the last year noting that in 2021, when the breakfast took place face-to-face after a digital year, she was approached right after the event finished with an offer to merge organizations. That was not on her mind, but has consumed plenty of time this year as CityServe and Senior Support of the Tri-Valley formally merged in September. There were public bumps along the way, but now things have settled down with office grand openings in Livermore and Pleasanton scheduled over the next few months. Senior services will continue to be headquartered in Pleasanton at the Senior Center, while services for unsheltered people and others in economic crisis will be handled out of the new offices at Livermore’s Multi-Service Center on Pacific Avenue.
The program featured a keynote address by Dan Kimball, a pastor, author and speaker, and an update on CityServe from Christine. That included public chapter two in the story of Rachel Cox who shared in 2021 about how CityServe had cared for her while she was addicted to drugs and living in a creek near Interstate 580 in Livermore. Last year’s report had Rachel clean and sober after finishing treatment and employed, but still living in the creek with her boyfriend Jeffrey because she didn’t want to leave him. He was in drug treatment last year and now they’re both clean and sober, living in an apartment and paying market rent. Rachel is wearing a ring because they’re engaged.
It's that type of story that sparked plenty of applause from the audience and shows how the CityServe program, that has been improved significantly over the years, works to care for people with compassion and then connect them with services that can make a difference for them. Rachel cited key staff members who stayed connected with her before she decided to enter treatment and change her life.
The program, as is typical, was a wonderful start to Thanksgiving week centered around giving thanks.
NOTE: As is obvious, I am a supporter of CityServe and consulted with its leadership on communication issues surrounding the merger.