Guide to Living in San Francisco, Part 2

San Francisco tips for folks to help themselves and local causes...

Support Local Schools via EScrip at Safeway and Other Stores

EScrip is a simple way to make every shopping trip generate money for local schools and charities. Set up an account with EScrip so that Safeway (or hundreds of other stores) will automatically donate 2-4% of every checkout total to your choice of thousands of organizations. Check out the EScrip website for details.

If you don't have a Safeway card use this #, and it will generate cash for schools in San Francisco:

Use the easy-to remember "415-VAN-BUTT (415-826-2888)"

Here's how EScrip works:

  • Pick the local schools/charities you'd like to support from the hundreds listed (over 7,000 schools nationwide).
  • Register your various market "Club Cards," department store cards (140 merchant partners, like Safeway, Chevron and Old Navy).
  • Register your credit cards and you won't even need to use club cards- it's automatic at participating merchants! (Their privacy policy looks solid, by the way.)
  • There's a small fee (around $10), which is negligible next to hundreds of dollars you'll generate with it.
  • Shop as you normally do.
  • EScrip does the rest. The store donates a percentage (usually 2-4%) of the amount you've bought to your chosen organizations.
  • Forgetaboutit! Nobrainer!

Also, linking your grocery cards to your frequent flier miles accounts gets tons of free miles. One more good one: combine all your club cards on one card:

Escape from parking tickets while helping a community organization

If you would rather not give your cash to the San Francisco Department of Traffic and Tickets (DPT), you can volunteer time at a community organization (see example list below). It's called "Project 20," part of the Pretrial Diversion department, and it's worth doing if you have more than about $60 in tickets. The more tickets you have, the more it is worth doing. You'll basically be working off the tickets at ~$5/hr labor, but at least you'll be helping the organization of your choice. It's better than giving your bucks to the DPT!

To do Project 20, first pick an organization and find out if they need volunteers. Ask if they are eligible to receive Project 20 volunteers. Here are a few examples from the hundreds of eligible organizations:

San Francisco YMCA (look up your branch in the phonebook)

H.E.A.R. (415-409-3277)

East Bay Habitat for Humanity (510-251-6305)

Theater Artaud (415-647-2200)

SF Meals on Wheels (415-920-1111)

SF Food Bank (415-957-1076)

SF SPCA (415-554-3087)

... and hundreds more.

Then, bring your tickets and ID to the DPT (1380 Howard, S.F., M-F 8-5, 415-554-7275). Be prepared to wait in line, then tell them you want to do Project 20. They'll transfer all the tickets to a Project 20 "voucher," at a rate of one hour per $5.00 owed. Then you go to the nearby Project 20 office (567 Seventh St., S.F. 415-626-4995). Tell them which organization you want to work for. For a fee based on the value of your tickets (around $20 per each 25 hours of work) they'll sign you up. Bottom line: for a $100 in tickets, you'll work 20 hours plus it will cost you $20.

There is no equivalent diversion program in Alameda County as of Summer 2003.

Create something positive out of those despicable parking tickets! For more on Project 20 read this SF Weekly article and this Bay Guardian article.

Free hearing tests at H.E.A.R.

Call the friendly H.E.A.R. Clinic for a free appointment, 415-409-3277 (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers). They will test your hearing by playing tones at different frequencies and asking you whether you can hear them. It's easy and interesting. The sound systems at most niteclubs are just loud enough to cause damage, and it's irreversible. HEAR can also fit you for custom earplugs. These plugs cut every frequency equally, so you can still hear everything perfectly, but at 15 dB (or 30dB) lower volume. Tell Kathy that Silent Way sent ya!

Free confidential AIDS tests and basic health care

Call the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic [558 Clayton @ Haight, (415) 487-5632] to make an appointment. They also provide basic health care for those who can't afford it elsewhere. The AIDS test is simple, it's free, and you're an idiot if you don't get tested. After your appointment, it will take two weeks to get the results. If you're stupidly thinking that you aren't at risk or would rather not know, then think about this: The people you've had sex with were thinking the same thing! WAKE UP!

STD tests at City Clinic

You can get tested for just about every Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) at the San Francisco City Clinic [356 7th St @ Folsom, (415) 487-5500]. They have weekday drop-in hours (no appointments necessary). It's $10 but no one is turned away for lack of funds. It's easy. Go early in the day to avoid a wait.