Jefferson Award Winners Founded C.A.R.E.By Allen Martin

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) Donald Greene and Billy Ray Courtney take their turkey seriously. For the past five years, the longtime friends and neighbors have cooked a pre-Thanksgiving day meal. It’s part of Community Awareness Resources Entity, or C.A.R.E.. Greene and Courtney co-founded the San Francisco based non-profit in 2015 as a way to serve Potrero Hill’s public housing residents. C.A.R.E. feeds over 200 community members at its yearly holiday feast, free of charge, filling both plates and spirits.

“When you come in here we want you to have a positive attitude,” explained Courtney. “We want you to feel like you are at home. You have no worries, just sit back and relax and enjoy yourself.”

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Local resident Blanca Linares brought her entire family.

“I love it. I am really grateful to see familiar faces. The officers and all the community together as one,” observed Linares. “We are all joined as a community sharing a good big Thanksgiving feast.”

San Francisco’s Police and Fire Department personal help carve and serve with a deep appreciation for Greene and Courtney’s efforts.

“They’re the type of people that help others,” said SFPD Captain Troy Dangerfield. “They are the type of people that think about others. They are always looking for things to do to get people what they need to get people to move forward in their own lives.”

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Throughout the year, C.A.R.E. provides free bagged lunches every week to Potrero Hill school children, free movie nights for families, professional clothing for neighborhood job seekers, and an annual community resource fair. C.A.R.E. also facilitates monthly meetings with San Francisco’s police chief and Bayview Station officers. It has operated programs surrounding auto burglary and safety, as well as citizenship and immigration education.

Greene and Courtney run the organization solely on private donations and money out of their own pockets.

“They have somewhere to come where they’ll be safe,” explained Greene.

But it’s C.A.R.E.’s Thanksgiving meal that really brings these two old friends, and the neighborhood together.

“They really enjoy it. And they really start mingling with their neighbors,’ said Courtney. “I kind of walk around and interact with the different people and I hear like ‘Oh I didn’t know you was my neighbor? It’s nice to meet you! We have to start hanging out more often.’ They just really connect with each other.”

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C.A.R.E.’s next event will be its annual toy giveaway. To make a donation go to its website.