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The mission of the Ark of Refuge is to challenge and overcome the individual and institutional barriers which discourage or prevent underserved populations from accessing vital services. This agency is dedicated to creating culturally sensitive programs which address holistically the complex life circumstances of persons in need of basic health, educational, and psychosocial services.
The staff of The The Ark of Refue, Inc. has been working together since 1988 when they collectively designed a program which became a Northern California model for promoting AIDS education in African-American Community and targeted high risk groups.
A component defining the program's uniqueness was and continues to be the "train-the trainer" peer outreach to the religious and lay communities.
In 1989, the programs expanded to include housing and direct services for low income and homeless HIV infected individuals through the creation of The Ark House, a communal living facility with comprehensive services and the first of its kind in Oakland.
In 1991, the programs expanded to include the multi-denominational minister's Community Health Task Force, HIV education training materials promoting on-going AIDS/HIV education activities in the religious community, alongside the organization of a Women's Task Force on AIDS. This task force identified and trained church-based women as peer educators and group facilitators for workshops and seminars providing HIV education focused toward women at risk and their children.
By 1991, the Ark of Refuge, Inc. was specifically incorporated as an HIV-focused minority agency and was granted 501(c) status in February 1992. The agency carried forward a state-funded HIV education program serving clergy in San Francisco and Alameda Counties.
During 1992, The Ark of Refuge, Inc., established Hazard-Ashley House for homeless HIV+ men in Oakland where they received comprehensive medical and psycho-social support services. In that same year, The Ark of Refuge, Inc. provided administrative and technical assistance to the Black Coalition on AIDS and Rafiki House, the first minority-operated HIV Housing Program in San Francisco. Restoration House which opened in 1993, was a first of its kind dual-diagnosis housing and substance abuse treatment program for HIV+ African-American women in San Francisco where residents are provided with individualized substance abuse recovery programs along with coordinated HIV support services.
Walker House was opened in 1994 as a long-term supportive housing for low or no income people with HIV disease. At Walker House, services include nutrition management, coordinated medical and HIV support services and a 24-hour staffing pattern for medical emergencies and crisis intervention.
Recognizing the role of spirituality in the African-American community and the necessity of sustaining hope for everyone affected by the HIV epidemic, Ark of Refuge, Inc. staff helped facilitate and sponsor "Testifying for Life", the first HIV/AIDS benefit concert held in San Francisco, which featured nationally known Gospel singers.
The youth programs at the Ark will benefit from a major capital renovation project which has been undertaken in the two properties, which it owns in the South of Market area - 1025 Howard Street and 30 Harriett Street. When completed, this campaign will generate nearly 15,000 square feet of dedicated space for youth service activities. This $1.5 million capital campaign already has received significant support from a variety of San Francisco City departments and private foundations including: the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Department of Recreation and Parks, Mayor's Office of Community Development, Department of Public Health, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Koret Foundation, the Herbst Foundation, Bank of America, the Silver Giving Fund, the Bothin Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation and Sheffield's Food Service. Construction financing is provided generously by Wells Fargo Bank, and the facilities have been designed by Cee Architects.
Youth Multi-media Arts program for Social Change - an after school and summer technology and expresssive arts program for low-income San Francisco youth.
Collaboration with the Spiritual Life Program of San Francisco Juvenile Hall which provides mentoring and Counseling services for incarcerated youth.
Citywide collaboration of youth services providers under the sponsorship of the Department of Children Youth and Families and Coleman Advoactes of Youth, which is the exclusive tenant of one of the Ark's facilities as well as collaborator with YouthMAP.
A project which is the outcome of a series of emergency homeless shelters for young adults which the Ark administered between 1998 and 2000. The 1998 and 1999 shelters led the City of San Francisco to set aside funds to establich permanetn shelters for young adults.