Every Day Heroes: Participant Profiles

M.J. Penneywell : Former Shelter resident, community leader

M.J. Penneywell

Former Shelter resident, community leader

M.J.'s testimony

This Tenderloin is an area of all diverse peoples, but they all blend in together. It's hard-working people, immigrants trying to pull it together. The Tenderloin is the foundations and I want to be a part of it. It's well known that Hospitality House is the best shelter in the city. On the streets they say, Man, I'm trying to get up there man. Their goal is getting us out of the homeless and finding a place to stay.

Bonnie-Jean Cosgrove : Peer Advocate

Bonnie-Jean Cosgrove

Peer Advocate

Bonnie-Jean's testimony

Immediately, immediately, I fell in love with the Tenderloin.  I walk down the street on my way to work and just smile.  The rapport, the eye contact, it's amazing. I see the people that come in here mostly in need of showing them what their self-worth is, what they're really about, what skills they possess. Many of them don't even realize it. When they say, I don't have any skills, I didn't finish high school, or I just got out of prison, we always find accomplishments and talents that even the most doubting can be proud of. Then I see a smile come on their face and we take it from there, whether it's building a resume, setting up an email account, doing job preparedness, or simply getting an ID. Hospitality House is a peer-based agency that empowers people to take their life back -- as it has done for me.

Esteban Diaz : Community Art Program Artist

Esteban Diaz

Community Art Program Artist

Esteban's testimony

At first I painted the streets of the Tenderloin showing the violence you see if you go outside. But Hospitality House members talked about it. They looked at the work and they didn't like it because it showed too much violence. So I painted someone playing the saxophone, people walking, people talking, people saying hello to each other. I see myself as part of Hospitality House. I would like to thank Hospitality House for the opportunity, because they treat everybody the same no matter where they are from, no matter what language they speak. I would like to say it’s a great place.

Norma Galvez : Community Arts Program artist and volunteer

Norma Galvez

Community Arts Program artist and volunteer

Norma's testimony

I started as an artist, and I was thrilled to come to a place that is free where I can work on pottery and painting. The CAP manager asked if I would be interested in doing a women's art workshop, and I was thrilled. I jumped at the opportunity. I was happy to be a part of a place where I could help people and meet new people.  We wanted more women in the studio, and we wanted them to have a time and a place of their own where they could have a creative outlet. People from the neighborhood that hadn't come to Hospitality House are now coming in. Art is very therapeutic for me.  I love the people here, the staff here. I've made a lot of good friends here, and it makes me feel good about myself that I'm doing something positive, that I'm involved with a great agency. I can imagine myself thriving here. I'm always going to be part of the artist community here. Hospitality House has been here for forty years, and I know it will be here for another forty years.