By Allen Martin

by Allen Martin and Jennifer Mistrot

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Kian Alavi loves what he does and who he does it for. As the Deputy Director at San Francisco’s Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, Alavi oversees five different youth services programs for the organization.

“It’s not work. It’s from the heart!” said Alavi. “San Francisco youth … are being raised in a very special and sacred part of this world. Their parents are incredible, they have gone through great lengths to be here, to raise their kids here.”

As a first-generation American, Alavi knows firsthand the struggles some Bay Area families can face. His parents came to this country in the 1960s from Iran and his father worked hard to support the family.

“He didn’t know English,” explained Alavi. “He had $50 in his pocket, [and he] worked his way up from dishwasher to restaurateur.”

Alavi worked hard, too. He graduated from college with a degree in finance, then went onto a job in the corporate world. But he soon realized something was missing.

“And when I turned the corner at 30 I realized that I was unhappy where I was,” explained Alavi. “So it was actually really simple. I Googled youth volunteer in Tenderloin where I had been working.”

Volunteering led Alavi to found his own non-profit, the Vision Academy Afterschool Program which, in 2015, merged with Good Samaritan Family Resource Center. Executive Director Mario Paz says Alavi’s leadership, and the Vision Academy, have become key to the success of the Center’s other programs.

“It’s just been a wonderful addition to our mission,” said Paz.

Parents like Vision Academy staff member Juanita Kimball agree.

“[The Academy is] a staple in the community,” said Kimball. “[It’s] a place where families and students can come and gather together.”

Vision Academy, combined with the other programs Alavi manages, reach nearly 500 young people every year in San Francisco.

Kids like Karon Kimball feel welcome at Vision Academy events like its recent end of summer celebration.

“I would describe it, just like really welcoming and awesome,” said Kimball. “All the good words.”

All good words from the kids Alavi has served.

“Kids that will one day grow up and lead this world,” said Alavi. “They have seen an incredible amount of life, and creativity and struggle.”