Some people are satisfied to go to their jobs, punch in, punch out and get paid every Friday, while others believe that their occupations are ingrained in their lives and are part of their master plan. These special individuals embrace every aspect of their work and thrive on what they learn. Perry Gabriel Jones is one of those people. Each day he inspires everyone he encounters through his passion for helping others as a Community Guide for the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District (YBCBD) in downtown San Francisco.
Jones, 31, is a San Francisco native and the father of two daughters, ages 2 and 4. Growing up in the City’s Mission District wasn’t easy for Jones. By focusing on writing, music and mentoring youth, Jones stayed on the right path. Today, he is flourishing in his role as a Community Guide since being hired two years ago. The Guides report maintenance and security issues. They are goodwill ambassadors who connect individuals in need to social services, help tourists and provide information on local businesses. And they keep busy. In a 12-month period last year, they conducted meet and greets with more than 7,300 business people and residents, assisted nearly 3,300 visitors and residents, and addressed more 1,600 incidents of aggressive panhandling.
Every day Jones said he gets better at his job, which benefits everyone in the neighborhood. “By seeing the same people every day and building relationships with them, I’m able to do a more effective job, especially when it comes to helping less fortunate folks. When a tourist asks me directions, I’m able to offer them either the quickest route or a scenic route. I can tell them about the best places to eat and where to shop for electronics, toys, clothes or about the museums in the area. Being a good source of information, I bring more value to the people I’m meeting.”
Using mobile technology, the Guides are able to act quickly to address neighborhood issues, Jones said. “With our iPhones, we can access information like directions and addresses for people quickly. If we see anything out of the ordinary going on or something that needs cleaning, we contact YBCBD Dispatch and it’s addressed. I also like that anyone in the neighborhood can contact YBCBD Dispatch directly by calling, texting, emailing, online or through a new App. Everyone’s pitching in to help in the neighborhood.”
Each day, Jones passes by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Yerba Buena Gardens and said that it is both comforting and inspirational. “I’m an ambassador for this neighborhood and I lead with compassion, because people will respond positively if you’re upbeat,” he said. “Mr. King taught the same approach and I keep him in mind whenever I deal with anyone.”
By: Edmund Attanasio