This is my experience attending The Bill Wilson Center Building Dreams XVI Luncheon on May 19th, 2022 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
First, I need to preface this by saying that I am a huge fan of The Bill Wilson Center (BWC). BWC’s origins go back to 1973 when Bill Wilson Jr. worked with troubled youth in addition to owning Wilson’s Jewel Bakery, and serving as a Councilmember, with a term as Santa Clara Mayor in 1965. Unfortunately, in May 1977 Bill died at the age of 41. Sparky Harlan has been the C.E.O. since 1983 and is a nationally recognized leader in youth services has received over 17 honors, one of which is the White House as a Champion for change in 2021. Her expertise includes working with runaway and homeless youth, foster youth, and youth involved in the justice system.
I was greeted by staff and provided with a magazine, pen, and other resources. The magazine was filled with so many ads of support from the 49’ers, to Excite Credit Union, Realtors, and art by C-Note’s personal message ad, On the first page was the agenda for the luncheon.
The Bill Wilson Center Mission supports and strengthens the community by serving youth and families through counseling, housing, education, and advocacy.
An Introduction to Bill Wilson Center
The Bill Wilson remained open when the COVID pandemic started and remained open.
“Sheltering in Place Without a Home” – BWC’s CEO Sparky Harlan
The Agenda of Bill Wilson Center 2022 Building Dreams Program:
Video “The State of Bill Wilson Center”
Welcome Micael Estrema, Board Member
Where We Are = Where We Are Going. Sparky Harlan, CEO
Video “Building Connections to a Brighter Future”
From Homelessness to Sucess BWC Client
Your Gift Makes Extraordinary Changes, Blake Balajadia – Board Member
The Speaker’s on Stage:
Sparky Harlan has been the CEO of The Bill Wilson Center since 1983. She is committed to this Mission and Vision, she could have spoken for the rest of day and held the audience’s full attention. The true stories, concerns, and goal to have the Juvenile Detention Center emptied by the end of the year stating only 50 more juveniles to go, Sparky’s passion is awe-inspiring to me.
Micael Estremera is a Deputy Public Defender for Santa Clara County. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law and joined the BWC Board in 2016, currently serving on the Advocacy Committee.
Blake Balajadia is the Director of Student Development & Activities at San Jose City College. He is a graduate of San Jose State University and joined the BWC in 2021, currently serving on the Performance and Quality Improvement Committee.
(Thankfully Blake said, “they forgot to tell us that someone was cutting onions in the next room” because this event was indeed a tear-jerker.)
Attendees, Staff from the BWC, Firefighters and Various people of organizations whose contributions support The Bill Wilson Center.
Mission: Bill Wilson Center supports and strengthens the community by serving youth and families through counseling, housing, education, and advocacy.
Vision: We are working to prevent poverty in the next generation by connecting youth and families to education, employment, housing, and positive relationships. We are working toward ending youth and family homelessness.
Thank you for all the hard work that goes into this organization. I’ve seen firsthand homeless youth, youth in foster care, juvenile detention centers, jails, and prison. The Bill Wilson Center and Sparky Harlan’s energy inspires and humbles me. Thank you for all the hard work that goes into supporting The Bill Wilson Center.