A Favorite Tourist Spot Forms A Community For the Homeless Special

Posted Nov 1, 2011 by Jonathan Farrell
Strolling along Columbus Avenue or sipping a cappuccino at Stella Pastries in North Beach, what could be more delightful during a sunny afternoon? On such a day the sun is warm and the mood is relaxed.
A simple store front location on Columbus Ave in San Francisco s most popular tourist spot serves as...
A simple store front location on Columbus Ave in San Francisco's most popular tourist spot serves as the "home-base" center of out reach for North Beach Citizens founded by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.
This is why tourists flock to one of The City’s most favorite of neighborhoods. Yet, amid the shuffle of visitors from all over the world, there are homeless people who seek respite underneath the trees of Washington Square Park.
Rather than complain and then ignore the homeless, filmmaker and Academy Award winning director Francis Ford Coppola convened the first meeting of North Beach Citizens in 1996 as a way to address the growing needs that were obvious to neighborhood residents.
Gradually by 2000, a group of residents and merchants formed a group seeking to establish a resource center that the homeless would be able to use as a “home base” to help them rebuild their lives. By the following year North Beach Citizens had a location and within a month had a staff of volunteers working with 50 homeless people in the area.
Residents, merchants, and many volunteers have made this outreach possible. For instance, in this past year alone, North Beach Citizens has helped to house 17 homeless people, making their lives more stable. In this past fiscal year, North Beach Citizens has assisted approximately 400 homeless and low-income people through crisis outreach programs and food pantry services. Some of the outreach is conducted through the center itself, as homeless and low-income people visit the center and are provided counseling and care to help meet their immediate or emergency needs.
To help raise funds for continued outreach, fundraising events are held twice a year. One fundraiser is held in the Fall and one in the Spring. Each fundraiser helps secure another year of outreach services to the most vulnerable of The City’s population. The services provided seek to eradicate the cycles of homelessness that occur in peoples’ lives.
Two native San Franciscans will be honored at the Community Recognition Awards Dinner at the North Beach Citizens’ fall fundraiser on Sunday, November 13.
The two San Franciscans are Carolyn Zecca Ferris (known to many as “Cal”) and Alessandro Baccari, Jr. (known to his friends as “Al”). An alumni of the San Francisco Art Institute, Ferris served as production designer for two PBS documentary specials, “Seeing in the Dark” & “The Creation of the Universe.” She and her photo-editor husband, Timothy, have lived in North Beach for over 20 years contributing generously to various foundations and organizations like the Tricycle Foundation and of course, North Beach Citizens.
Baccari has been part of the Italian fishing community since he was a boy in the 1930’s. His deep affinity and respect for the Fishermen’s Wharf community has been expressed in many ways over the years. Baccari has served as chairman for the Mayor’s Committee for the Preservation & Beautification of Fishermen’s Wharf and was the Executive Secretary of the Fishermen’s Wharf Merchants Association for more than three decades. Currently, he serves as president of the Fishermen & Seamen’s Memorial Chapel. His dedication and enduring affection for the Wharf inspired Baccari to write a book chronicling Fishermen Wharf’s complex and interesting history.
Everyone is invited to attend the dinner to help North Beach Citizens honor “Cal” & “Al” and to celebrate another year of helping those in need stabilize their lives so that they can make a positive change for a better and meaningful life.
The Community Recognition Awards Dinner will be held on Sunday, November 13, 2011, at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club on Stockton Street in the heart of North Beach. For more information contact Amy Wickstrom at North Beach Citizens at 415-772-0982, or by email at