January 18, 2012|
A passionate advocate for change.
Lorenzo has been a resident at TNDC’s Curran House since 2005 when he and his children moved from the Philippines to join his wife who was already living in a small apartment South of Market and working in San Francisco.
Lorenzo found work at a factory and as a part-time administrative assistant for a local home for children with disabilities. Since then, Lorenzo has become an employee at TNDC and a community leader and advocate for his neighbors in the Tenderloin.
Lorenzo started as a part-time employee helping with the 2010 Census. Through a partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation and an AmeriCorps grant, Lorenzo was hired to lead a team of residents to conduct census canvassing and outreach to encourage people to participate in the census count. Lorenzo and his team went door-to-door informing Tenderloin residents about the importance of participating in the 2010 Census. He encouraged them to be counted and make their voices heard. In two short months, Lorenzo and his team had knocked on more than 5,000 doors.
Working on the Census helped Lorenzo get to know his neighbors and discover his passion for community organizing. In the process of going door-to-door, he learned there were a significant number of Filipino residents living in the Tenderloin, often in very poor conditions. It was his desire to help his fellow Filipinos that motivated Lorenzo to work at TNDC after the census because he says, “TNDC is a catalyst. They are a pro-active organization. They don’t just wait. They act when they see a need.”
Today, Lorenzo works for Steve Woo as the Community Outreach Coordinator in TNDC’s Community Organizing Department. Lorenzo works to ensure that housing and jobs stay available to residents of the Tenderloin, and that the residents feel safe in their neighborhood. He says he enjoys mobilizing people because “they feel empowered. They get to express their feelings. It makes a difference in their daily lives.”
Lorenzo is currently working on improving access to healthy food in the Tenderloin and coordinates the Tenderloin People’s Garden. The Garden has provided more than 1,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to residents since January and is becoming a positive community gathering place.
Community organizing is important to Lorenzo because he believes, “If we are organized, then we can make whatever is being planned help improve our situation, and improve the community.”
Lorenzo also gives back to his community outside of work.
In his free time, Lorenzo is a founding member of the Tenderloin Filipino-American Community Association (TFCA). Last December, with the help from members of TFCA, Lorenzo organized Parol Lantern Making Workshops for the residents and staff at TNDC. The workshops brightened the holidays for many residents, and gave Lorenzo an opportunity to share his Filipino heritage with his neighbors. Lorenzo and his group entered their lantern into the San Francisco Parol Festival and won the Grand Prize.
As a resident for more than six years, Lorenzo has had the opportunity to make a tremendous impact at TNDC and in the Tenderloin community. He is passionate about community organizing and has a strong vision for a vital, thriving Tenderloin neighborhood, one that ensures a home for everyone, regardless of their income or circumstances. When asked what he wanted people to know about the Tenderloin he said: “We here in the Tenderloin, we would like this community to be improved, but with us in it. We want to be included in making the community better.”