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Who is my Mentor?

Pear - Creatively Mentoring Homeless Youth

Although most journeys into the non-profit world start with a traditional path of college, internships, volunteering and/or on-call work my journey started with a simple phone call that went like this: “you want the job yes or no?” Followed by a very short pause and then, “yes.”

My name is William Kendall and I am the new Art Program Coordinator for p:ear and my mentor is Dr. Michael Jacob Sinclair.

So as you might imagine when Dr. Jake called me to ask this fateful question I had no idea it would lead to me finding a pathway that would be a twenty-year career working with homeless youth.  Jake as he was simply know by those of us who worked for him at Youth Industry (a visionary non-profit in San Francisco’s Mission district that operated social purpose ventures coupled with a music and art program) is a giant of a man not only in energy (often working on projects at 4:00am and at one point working for 30 days straight to make a business successful) but in stature as well. Coming in at 6’ 5” and built like a body builder dressed in yoga pants and clogs Jake Sinclair appeared much like a mythical character and as odd as his fashion choices were (even for the 90’s when I worked for him) I have simply never seen anyone make the kind of impact he has in the lives of homeless youth. What I learned over the nine years I was employed by him was these three things:

1) find the best in everyone

2) give people ownership of something, anything, and they will work hard to keep that space in the world and

3) listen with your eyes

I embrace these tools and Jake’s undying commitment to find a way to help youth no matter how much it takes everyday because the respect and dignity he displayed in providing youth opportunities to exit street life has simply no rival.