This week, 826 Valencia launched “Odes to a Hero,” a project appreciating San Francisco’s healthcare workers working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring staff at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.
826 Valencia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting under-resourced students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
“We are so thrilled our young authors could honor local healthcare workers with this project and brighten spirits at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital,” said Bita Nazarian, Executive Director at 826 Valencia.
Funding was granted by Saint Francis Foundation earlier this year to 826 Valencia to support a curriculum which gave students an opportunity to meet healthcare workers in their community, develop their communication skills, and learn how to express their thanks with creative writing.
“We’re honored to support this amazing collaboration between 826 Valencia and Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. This project was a chance to boost staff morale and provide youth programming by highlighting the heroic care–especially over the past year and half–of the healthcare workers at Saint Francis,” said Mark Ryle, President of Saint Francis Foundation.
As a prompt, 826 Valencia asked San Francisco public school students: What motivates healthcare workers to do their tough jobs? How do they take care of themselves? How do we thank them?
Using staff bios, the students crafted interview questions and met with a range of healthcare staff at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. After the interviews, the students wrote a series of creative poems and odes dedicated to the staff they spoke with.
Artists Tony Manalo and Elizabeth McConaughy-Oliver created illustrated, museum-quality posters featuring the original student writing which will be hung in a busy thoroughfare at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. Each whimsical artwork features the healthcare workers’ favorite flowers and plants and other calming imagery designed to boost morale.
“Thanks so much for including me in this unique and artistic project. I just really love the work that you all do and I am honored to be a part of it,” said Julie Maxson, Manager of Care Coordination Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.
Saint Francis Memorial Hospital staff participants included:
- Julie Maxson
- Sonia Melara
- Maggie Murillo
- William (Donnie) Nelson
- Monique Randolph
- Joanne Sun
Saint Francis Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding work which makes a deeper contribution to San Francisco’s health and improves access to world-class health care for all.