In 2010, former Huckleberry Executive Director Bruce Fisher and Vicky Valentine, Director of Huckleberry Wellness Academy-San Francisco, gave a presentation about Huckleberry at an event at the Forest Hill Country Club for The Links, a community service organization comprised of African American professional women. During the presentation, someone in the kitchen at the Country Club spontaneously came forward to share her experience with Huckleberry House twenty-four years ago…
At fifteen, Jennifer had been in Juvenile Hall, a foster home, and living with different relatives while her parents were both struggling with addiction. She was experiencing a lot of physical and emotional abuse in her life, and she candidly shares, “I was born to teen parents, and they weren’t given the tools to be parents.” In the summer of 1986, after running away from home, Jennifer ended up at Huckleberry House.
“I have strong memories of being at Huckleberry House,” she says. While there, Jennifer received reproductive health services at the clinic in the shelter’s basement (what would later become Huckleberry Cole Street Clinic). “The staff at Huckleberry House sat me down and explained why women need to have these exams. No one in my life had ever told me that they were important.”
While at Huckleberry House, Jennifer was also shown a documentary film called StreetWise, about young runaways in Seattle. “That movie really resonated with me. It struck me because I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to be this way’.” At nineteen, she found herself, “repeating a lot of my parents’ mistakes,” and decided to make a change in her life.
Today, Jennifer is the mother of three and she says, “I went out and bought a copy of StreetWise and showed it to my own kids.” She actively volunteers with young people in the community because she says, “I want to help break the cycle of violence and abuse in my family and other families.”