Resident Profile: Debra Copes
TNDC has been mobilizing community members to take action on issues affecting them since our founding in the early 80’s. Today, our Community Organizing Department leads this effort, and one important campaign we lead is Get Out the Vote (GOTV), which works to make the voices of the Tenderloin heard. Primarily targeting TNDC residents in the Tenderloin and SoMa, we also work with other organizations and broader neighborhood coalition groups in voter outreach to the greater community.
Our Community Leaders like Debra Copes, who are graduates of TNDC’s Tenderloin People’s Leadership Academy, play a key role in getting voters registered and educated on current initiatives affecting them. Debra has been a TNDC resident for over ten years and prior to that, had been homeless or living with friends. At 58 years old, she manages several chronic health conditions, and is inspired to invest her time and energy into making a difference in her community. Debra completed the four-month Leadership Academy course, which taught her to be more comfortable with public speaking, and act as an advocate for issues that matter to her, among other new skills.The first time she spoke publicly was at City Hall in support of Prop. A, which secured funds to build critically needed homes for low and middle income San Franciscans. Debra said, “Next I got super fired up about canvassing and registered a total of 199 voters during the campaign – more than anyone else. I used my voice – and it worked!” In Debra’s words, “If we don’t empower ourselves, things won’t change. I want to stay informed and know what’s going on.”