Diners can donate to help homeless

By Ethan Fletcher
Of The Examiner Staff

San Francisco, September 17, 2003 – A new program called StreetSmartUSA is bringing together two of the hallmarks of San Francisco’s identity – fine dining and the persistent problem of homelessness.

StreetSmart is a non-profit organization that gives diners in participating restaurants, through Nov. 15, the option to contribute $2 over their bill to go towards two service providers for at risk youth – Huckleberry Youth Programs and Larkin Street Youth Services.

Proceeds will support Huckleberry’s Violence Is Preventable, a collaborative program serving-victimized young women, and Larkin’s Together Assisting Street Kids, a program providing supportive services for homeless youth aged 12 to 17. Both of these programs have faced severe budget cuts in the last year.

San Francisco couples Jacqueline and Lawrence Slayen founded. Street-Smart in San Francisco after seeing a similar programs white traveling in London. The Slayens, who recently retired from a successful dentistry practice in Marin County, decided that the program could work in The City.

“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 on to the bill. San Francisco eateries will place notices on tables or menus, to give diners the option to contribute. John Hurley, the owner of the San Francisco restaurants Garibaldi’s and Home, said that after listening to Jacqueline Slayen he was convinced it 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 the program, but smaller donations from organizations such as Wells Fargo have thus far covered all overhead, allowing 100 percent of donations to go to the service providers.

The Slavens started the program on extremely short notice, and have been extremely busy setting the non-profit up, something Chris Canter, chief development officer for the Larkin Street program, appreciates.

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

For more information on StreetSmart and participating restaurants, go to