Good Neighbors: Randolph James

“What God puts in you, you have to do,” Randolph said, “I just need to help others.”

Each year, our Good Neighbor Awards honor some of the dedicated neighbors who volunteer their time to help seniors and people with disabilities get the resources and support they need to age and thrive in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are delighted to honor Randolph as our 2017 Good Neighbor Honoree for the Bayview Home Delivered Grocery Network.

Randolph James was one of the founders of the Home Delivered Grocery program in the Bayview, and has volunteered ever since. Before his knees began giving out, he both bagged groceries and delivered them, now he limits his involvement to bagging groceries.

Randolph’s work with the food program is part of his commitment to the neighborhood: taking care of the people who helped raise him up. Randolph admits he made a lot of trouble when he was a youngster but that was then, now he’s paying back, caring for the families who helped raised him.

Randolph has been clean and sober for 35 years and found his way back to God. “I want to help Bayview anyway I can,” Randolph said.

The Grocery program brings groceries from the San Francisco Marin Food Bank to 75 Bayview seniors and people with disabilities who are homebound or are otherwise unable to stand in line for groceries at a Food Pantry. It has started a pilot project in one housing complex in Visitacion Valley. Before the expansion, the program had five or six volunteer baggers and four drivers. To meet the need in the Bayview and beyond, they’ll need more volunteers. “We need more.  I wish young people were more interested,” he said.

Randolph volunteers through HP-UNITI (Having Pride Understanding the Needs in Troubled Inner City Communities), an organization of Christian men and women concerned about what is happening to the disintegration of low-income communities in the Bayview. HP-UNITI partners with Community Living Campaign to deliver groceries in the Bayview. This program is HP-UNITI’s primary effort at this point. Once they receive their nonprofit status, they hope to be able to provide economic opportunities and education programs for Bayview families.

Chester and Randolph consult on grocery delivery routes.

“Delivering groceries is more than carrying packages up the steps.  When we deliver the groceries,” Randolph explained, “we ask, ‘What else do you need? What else do you want us to search out?’  Then we look for resources and help the senior get what she needs. Some agencies that should be serving the community don’t reach out, and HP-UNITI sees its job as making sure those services are brought to the community.”

But Randolph doesn’t limit his advocacy to the 75 families already receiving food: when he’s out walking in the community, he’ll stop seniors and ask them: “Are you receiving food from a food bank or elsewhere? People in Bayview are prisoners in their own homes, they’re afraid to step out, so many bad things have happened in the neighborhood. If they’re not receiving food, I try to sign them up. Sometimes they’re suspicious of us. I can understand that.”

Randolph commutes from Hayward, where he’s active in his local church and is a crossing guard for the elementary school. While his contact with the neighborhood children is limited, he admits to trying to give “light weight nuggets of hope to the children.”

“What God puts in you, you have to do,” Randolph said, smiling, “I just need to help others.

Community Living Campaign has Food Delivery Networks in three neighborhoods: the Bayview, Oceanside-Merced-Ingleside, and Park Merced/University Park. The program works in concert with the San Francisco Marin Food Bank and local partners to connect isolated neighbors to food and much more. The Home Delivered Grocery Networks are funded through the San Francisco Department of Aging & Adult Services.  

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