It goes without saying that BOSS has some amazing, inspirational, deeply compassionate people working here. They do whatever they can for the people we serve – they are totally committed to helping those in need and to social justice. Go Team BOSS!!!!! But what’s lesser known is the extent to which they are involved in the community outside BOSS – demonstrating that giving back is not just what they are paid to do, it’s a way of life. Here are just a few of their stories…
Connie Green is BOSS’s Quality Management Administrator, responsible for overseeing the collection, entry, integrity, and reporting of most BOSS data in collaboration with funder-mandated databases. She is also a landlord who has been working to create a community garden near her building in Richmond. “My 4-plex is at the end of the street and backs up to the ‘greenway’, a bike and walking path that goes around the bay,” she says. “I was hoping to discourage people from dumping their trash and furniture on the greenway and in front of my building as well, so I applied for a Richmond ‘Love My Block’ grant and received $500 to help my neighbors and I create this garden. The area I chose is fairly small and we might expand later on, but for now we’re growing potatoes, green onions, peppers, and pumpkins, and a portion of the lot is for succulents.” Go Connie – green solutions!!
Earl McCleod is the Community Liaison at CTEC (BOSS’s Career Training and Empoyment Center). In addition to giving his all for the people he works with there, he spends his off-hours as the CEO of a group he founded, Breaking Bread MC (Motorcycle Club). Now a national nonprofit with chapters in other states, he works with other volunteers in the original Oakland chapter, providing a huge array of support to the community – feeding the homeless, collecting and giving away school supplies, crisis intervention, fundraisers for funerals (including funeral escorts on motorcycle), big brother-big sister services, violence prevention/mediation/resolution, and more. He also helped found a companion women’s club, Breaking Bread Princesses. Check them out on Facebook or Instagram – Breaking Bread MC Club House in Oakland!
Gwen Austin is BOSS’s Development Associate & Community Builder, and as such much of her time is spent talking with the community – businesses, faith groups, students, civic clubs, and others who want to do collections or donate goods to BOSS. But her engagement doesn’t stop there – outside of BOSS, she is a lead mentor for a first-generation college student through Berkeley Community Fund (lead mentors help to mentor newly assigned mentors). She was also recently voted in as a District 5 Commissioner on Alameda County’s Commission on the Status of Women. And she attends just about every community planning or public educational forum she can on social justice issues, evenings and weekends!
Jon-Mychal Cox, college student and long-time photographer & video chronicler of BOSS events, is interning in the administrative office for the summer. He has been assigned by BOSS Executive Director Donald Frazier to work with CTEC on video interviews with participants for posting on social media, digitizing BOSS contracts, and other special projects. In addition to his college coursework and internship, Jon-Mychal participates in his school’s Black Men’s Alliance as club Historian – taking pictures and managing the website. The Alliance organizes discussion groups and social events, including a recent Women’s Appreciation event, and a speaker series that hosted Activist and Author (and MTV’s Real World alumni) Kevin Powell as a recent speaker. Jon-Mychal is an amazing young leader, we can’t wait to see what he does next!!
Taua Tuaumu (pictured on top, in the middle, surrounded by Robert Barrer-left and Donald Frazier-right, working on an all-agency meeting Lego challenge!) worked in the fiscal office at BOSS for over 15 years. One of BOSS’s most beloved staff, she recently went on disability to be able to take care of her health. Taua came to BOSS after former CFO miriam berg befriended and worked closely with her at First Interstate Bank, where Taua then worked. When the bank was bought by Wells Fargo, Taua approached miriam about any job leads, and the rest is history! Taua and her whole family are extremely active in their church, the Seventh Day Adventists in San Francisco. Her (now deceased) son Anthony started a homework club which the whole family still participates in – providing homework assistance to kids in need. Taua is the church clerk, and is very involved in the women’s ministry. Her other son Stephen is starting a music program at a local school, and people are lining up to take part! Once a month, the family serves meals to the homeless, and during the winter months they also give out socks, blankets, etc. “We get the kids involved, because they’re great at running around on the streets and finding folks. ‘There’s someone here!’ they’ll yell, and then we deliver the meal”. Right now the family is helping to organize support for a family from Samoa who just arrived with six kids – raising donations of food and money to help them out. Nowadays, Taua is watching the fruits of her labor blossom – “I like to take a back seat and let the kids carry the work out”. They have learned from the best!!!!