Tag Archives: BOSS

BOSS to honor Berkeley’s ‘Rising Stars’ on Thursday

Kyle Evans, one of the Rising Star honorees, has been accepted to Brown University. Evans was homeless only last year
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A year ago, Kyle Evans and his family were sleeping in motel rooms and, at times, their car. Despite his circumstances, Evans focused on keeping his grades up and being a role model for his younger sister. He had to forgo various activities enjoyed by his peers, as his family didn’t have the money to pay for them. He managed to keep a positive perspective and achieve success despite the odds.

“Adversity is a chance to find the God in you,” said Evans, who has been accepted to Brown University and plans to become a doctor. “It makes you a stronger person.”

Evans is one of 20 youth who will be honored Thursday at the first annual “Rising Stars” gala, put on by local advocacy organization Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) to recognize youth for achievement in the face of adversity. The group is also raising money this week for a scholarship fund for award recipients; scroll down for details.

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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BOONA CHEEMA For decades Boona Cheema has been a fixture on the Berkeley scene, a recognized leader in the struggle to end homelessness in the city as well as state and national levels. (Read a profile in the San Francisco Chronicle.) On Saturday, Cheema will hand over the directorship of housing and services provider BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency), where she has served for 35 years, to incoming Executive Director Donald Frazier. Frazier, formerly with Center Point in San Francisco, takes the reins on March 1. The handing over of the baton will be part of “Booma Cheema’s Goodbye Gala: From The Heart: A Legacy of Love…And New Beginnings,” with food and drinks from local restaurants, and music by Fua Dia Congo, Duniya Dance Company. Saturday Feb. 23, 2013, 6:00-9:00 pm, at Uptown Body & Fender, 401 26th Street in Oakland ($5 valet parking). Tickets $125 ($60 nonprofit, $35 low income). Visit BOSS online for details. Or by phone (510) 649-1930 x 222. … Continue reading »

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BOSS prepares for director’s exit, plans golf fundraiser

Executive director boona cheema reviews paperwork with a member of BOSS's Community Organizing Team. Photos: Natalie Orenstein
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The multi-pronged approach to combating homelessness at Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) is based on the belief that society knows what works, but rarely implements it.

“Good healthcare works, good education works, getting people help the first time they struggle works,” said boona cheema [sic], the Bay Area organization’s longtime executive director. “Being kind and compassionate so people see that you really care—that works, and motivates people.”

In 1971, as a recent immigrant from India with little money in her pocket and a baby on the way, cheema knocked on six-month-old BOSS’s door to ask for help. Two years later, she became its fourth director, and is now preparing to leave her job to make time for creative pursuits.

Over the past 42 years, cheema—a self-proclaimed “builder and dreamer”—has overseen an expansion of BOSS into a network of short-term shelters, long-term transitional houses, mental health and substance abuse support systems, classes, daycares, and career training programs that serve 1,500 people. The largest facility is the Ursula Sherman Village on Harrison Street in Berkeley, which houses more than 100 individuals and families. … Continue reading »

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Opponents of Berkeley sitting ban gear up for fight

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Opponents of Berkeley’s sitting ban launched a counter attack against the proposed ballot initiative Monday, but their plans for a sit-in fizzled.

After rejecting the idea of holding a protest outside Mayor Tom Bates’ house,  homeless and youth activists had planned to hold a sit-in at the City Council’s Agenda Committee meeting Monday afternoon. But the meeting was unexpectedly moved from a spacious sixth floor conference room to a smaller – but more visible – space on the first floor of City Hall, leaving too little room to sit down.

Instead, opponents of the sitting ban spoke passionately about why they objected to making it illegal to sit on the sidewalks in commercial districts between 7 am and 10 pm. The City Council will vote Tuesday night whether to place the item on the November ballot.

Youth “are just not the demons the press and some of the council members have made them out to be,” said Pattie Wall, executive director of the Homeless Action Center, which provides benefits and advocacy for the homeless in Alameda County.” She was one of about 20 people who spoke. “Passing this law sends the wrong message to anyone in a bad situation here in Berkeley.” … Continue reading »

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Rotary Club builds new play structure for homeless kids

Installing platform of play structure. Photo by Don Melandry
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For more than two years, the homeless children at the Ursula Sherman Village on Harrison Street in West Berkeley only had an empty lot to play in. The decrepit play structure that had stood in the yard for years was shut down because it was no longer safe.

“It was old,” explained Boona Cheema, the Executive Director of Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS) which was founded in 1971 and runs the village. “It wasn’t safe, so we took it down.”

Thanks to the intervention of the Rotary Club of Berkeley and assorted affiliates, the 24 children at Ursula Sherman Village now have a state-of-the-art play structure and playground to play in. Officials from the Rotary, BOSS, and the city of Berkeley gathered Monday afternoon for the official ribbon cutting ceremony of the playground.

“It’s already made a huge difference,” said Cheema. “The kids feel it’s their place, that it was done for them. They are so excited.”

Evidence was everywhere Monday that the kids were enjoying the structure. As adults mingled around chatting before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the children ran all around the play structure, climbed up its stairs, and played on its bars. … Continue reading »

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