StreetSmart program supports youths by tapping fine diners

Restaurants will offer option to tack $2 donation to bill

San Francisco, September 23, 2003 –A new program called StreetSmart is bringing together two of the hallmarks of San Francisco’s perceived identity – fine dining and the persistent problem of homelessness.

Through November 15, Streetsmart, a nonprofit organization, will be giving diners in participating restaurants the option of contributing $2 over the cost of their bill to benefit two agencies serving at-risk youths – Huckleberry Youth Programs and Larkin Street Youth Services.

Proceeds would support Violence Is Preventable, Huckleberry’s collaborative program that serves young women affected by violence, and Together Assisting Street Kids, Larkin Street’s program that provides services for homeless youths in the 12-to-17 age range. Both programs have faced severe budget cuts in the last year.

Local San Franciscans Jacqueline and Lawrence Slayen founded StreetSmart after encountering a similar program while traveling in London. The Slayens, who recently retired from a successful dentistry practice in Marin County, decided that the program could work in San Francisco.

“We certainly have a homeless problem, and we certainly have great restaurants,” Jacqueline Slayen said.

So far, the Slayens, along with StreetSmart president Lorrie Greene, have signed up 55 restaurants around San Francisco and hope that once the word spreads more will sign up.

Unlike London, where the money is automatically added to the bill, San Francisco eateries will place notices on tables or menus, announcing diners’ option to contribute.

John Hurley, owner of Garibaldi’s and Home Restaurants, said that after listening to Jacqueline Slayen, he was convinced that StreetSmart was a great idea.

“There’s so much homelessness, and there’s such a problem,” Hurley said. “I think homeless children will really touch people’s hearts.”

The Slayens are still seeking a major donor to fund their program, but smaller donations from organizations such as Wells Fargo Bank have thus far covered the program’s overhead costs. This has allowed 100 percent of the diners’ donations to go directly to the service providers.

Chris Canter, chief development officer for the Larkin Street program, appreciated the busy efforts of the Slayens as the couple set up the nonprofit program on short notice.

“They put this program together in five and a half months,” Canter said. “They are pit bulls. They’re absolutely fabulous.”

For more information about StreetSmart, call 440-7517 or visit