Resident Spotlight: Russell Christophel

RESIDENT SPOTLIGHT: Russell Christophel

Russell Christophel is building community at Antonia Manor.

On the second Tuesday of each month, Antonia Manor tenant Russell Christophel helps distribute the supplemental food boxes delivered from the food bank to his fellow Antonia Manor residents. Around 7 a.m., he and a group of tenants he leads gather in the lobby to unpack the boxes and distribute the much-needed grocery items.

“Antonia Manor has a great community of tenants.” He enjoys helping to foster the feeling of home that he himself has found in Antonia Manor; he enjoys volunteering and giving back.

In addition to the food bank distribution, Russell is also in charge of Tuesday and Thursday coffee hours. He wakes early and purchases the pastries and supplies and gets the coffee makers going. He greets residents in the morning when they come down to gather. Besides a short stint at a neighboring Tenderloin District building, Russell has lived in Antonia Manor since 1984, a year before the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) even owned the building.

Russell moved to San Francisco (SF) from the East Coast in 1976. He fell in love with SF. “I just loved San Francisco, and the city was so open and feels so comfortable for so many types of people.” Russell learned to cook in the military, and when he got out of the military, he went to work as a line cook. Now retired, Russell has found a safe, affordable place to live at TNDC’s Antonia Manor.

The majority of the residents in this 100% Section 8 building are seniors, and the other residents are non-senior persons with disabilities. Russell says the building improved greatly when TNDC bought the building in the year 2000. The building received major upgrades, including new electrical, heating, ventilation, and plumbing systems and two elevators. Significant structural improvements were also made. Each of the units received a “kitchenette” that includes a sink, refrigerator, microwave, and storage cabinets. Russell says he has no intention of leaving. “I can’t say enough about the staff. They listen to me. And though the neighborhood is not the safest, I feel safe here at the Antonia.”

Russell can’t say enough about on-site social worker, Kylie Chow. Russell meets with Kylie now and then to get help when he needs it. He says the social work services she provides are invaluable to the tenants. When he needed glasses, Kylie helped him get a voucher so he could afford them. He said he would never have known about the program if it had not been for Kylie.

He is grateful for the quality of life he can afford at the Antonia Manor. He is thankful for TNDC’s affordable housing and wants to thank everyone who helps make it possible. “Thank you for all your help. We, the residents—all of us—we appreciate it so much.”

Thank you, Russell, for letting us interview you for this story!

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