Being Part of the Community

Being Part of the Community

What does it mean to be a part of a community? While I’m sure that there are many answers to this question, to me it means looking out for everyone in our community and taking an active role in trying to improve people’s lives. This is especially important over the holidays.

When I became the new executive director of Alameda Family Services (AFS) in April, I made the decision to move my family to Alameda. Everyone I spoke to about this decision was very positive and encouraging. They said things like, “I love Alameda,” and “Alameda is a great place to raise kids.” It wasn’t until I had been living here for a few months that I gained a deeper understanding of what it means to be a part of the Alameda community. What stands out is how many people in Alameda are actively engaged in working to make our city the best place to live for everyone. 

Examples of people’s desire to help and be forces of positive change are everywhere. A few that have occurred recently truly impressed me as a representative of AFS. First and foremost, I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of support by students, school, staff and other community members in the wake of the recent tragedy at one of our Alameda schools. So many people have been working to provide much needed support to family members, friends and fellow students while also working to strengthen our safety net. 

Second, the Alameda Rotary Club’s incredible generosity, extended not just to our nonprofit, but to more than twenty nonprofits that benefited from the unrestricted grants they awarded this year to help those in need. 

Third, there is the incredible time and dedication that AFS has been putting in to making the Holiday Home Tour truly special every year for 49 years. I am uniformly impressed by how hard the league members work to make this fundraising event for AFS a success. 

Fourth, was the kind and gracious offer that Barbara Mooney, of Daisy’s, made to include our need for more homes for the home tour in her widely-read newsletter. She did this without hesitation and it went a long way in helping us find all of the homes we needed this year to raise funds for programs that support Alameda’s vulnerable residents. Lastly, the staff and owners of Forbidden Island who selected AFS to be the recipient of a portion of the money that had been collecting on the ceiling of the establishment all these years.

Aren’t you glad to know all those bills will be used to make our community stronger?

While each of these examples is beautiful in and of itself, it is the overarching commitment to community well being that shines through when all of these selfless acts are considered. Every one of these people, organizations and businesses took action to support Alameda as a whole. This is the spirit of the community of Alameda. 

AFS shares this dedication to improving the lives of people who live in our community. Our dedication to the well being of the community can be seen in our delivery of mental health services and early childhood development programming. We are a family service agency because we understand how important connection and support is for the whole family. 

As the AFS’ executive director, I want to say thank you and that we are here for our community in whatever way is needed for as long as we are needed.


Katherine Schwartz is the Executive Director of Alameda Family Services, a nonprofit that has been serving the city of Alameda since 1970.