Fathina Holmes and City Build Academy: Putting our people to work!

Fathina Holmes was born and raised here in the Bay View community. As a senior workforce development specialist for the City and County of San Francisco, she works tirelessly to provide job opportunities within the construction trades for all oppressed and disadvantaged populations. – Photo: Bay View Managing Editor Nube Brown

by Malik Washington

“One thing that the whole redevelopment process has done is it’s proven to people that you don’t have real community control … I’m finally convinced that housing will never meet the people’s needs until the people build housing for themselves.” – Arnold Townsend

Peace and blessings, sisters and brothers. The San Francisco Bay View will be increasing our focus on reporting about the availability of jobs, or the lack thereof, within our community. We will be placing a special focus on jobs available to Black and oppressed people within the field of construction.

The geopolitical landscape of contracts and jobs given to Black people in the city of San Francisco is rife with cronyism, nepotism and racism. As we explore this topic, we will report on the good, the bad and the ugly. However, today I am focusing on the good!

Fathina Holmes is a senior workforce development specialist for the City and County of San Francisco. Fathina was born and raised in the Bayview and has worked for 20 years in this field with a special emphasis on helping those re-entering society from prison or jail as well as aiding those within disadvantaged communities.

Fathina actually goes into local jails in order to help prepare prisoners for jobs within the construction trades. She has worked with San Francisco’s City Build Academy since its inception in 2005 and she continues to passionately advocate for those forgotten about or left behind by society.

Fathina has an amazing personal story, overcoming obstacles that many could only dream of overcoming. Now she stands as a stellar example of what a person can accomplish once their mind is made up to serve the Lord and serve the people.

Here is an excerpt of the full-length interview I conducted with Fathina that took place here at the Bay View offices and can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube.

I would now like to introduce Fathina Holmes!

Malik: Fathina, what actually led you to the work and service you now provide for the citizens of San Francisco?

Fathina Holmes: I am glad you asked me that, Malik. In 2000 I needed to make a serious change in my life. I went to Young Community Developers looking for that change. I came in hungry to work, and they provided me a stipend as well as training on the computer. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a big shout out to Dwayne Jones. Dwayne Jones provided me with an opportunity in 2000, and I haven’t been out of work since then. 

When I arrived at Young Community Developers I was discouraged, in doubt. I was raised to be humble, and as I progressed through the ranks I strove to give back and not to judge people. At the very beginning I was working with Hope House. This line of work was very fitting for me because it did not just give me an opportunity to help myself – it kept my past in front of me.

I’ve experienced drug addiction and mental health issues; I was a victim of domestic abuse. I went through it all. Nevertheless, I was able to overcome these obstacles and give back to my community. I love the Bayview Hunters Point community. I am now uniquely qualified to not just act as a catalyst in my community, but to provide a hand up to those who look like me.

Malik: Fathina, today, Oct. 15, 2020, is the anniversary of the founding of the original Black Panther Party for Self Defense. One of the key points within the Ten Point Party Platform states, “We want jobs for all Black and oppressed people.” With that in mind, can you tell us exactly how a newly released prisoner can tap into the resources your section of the city and county government has to offer?

Fathina Holmes: Malik, I want to reiterate that I do go inside local jails. I visit both the men’s pods and the women’s. I work with the community at large, with Adult Probation and with the administrators at the Taylor Center at 111 Taylor St. People from the community contact me directly and I take pride in my ability to follow up when people need help. 

I just did a presentation with the Reentry Council last week. It was a job fair. If anyone is interested in the 18-week training program we have at City Build Academy, you can contact me directly because we want to catch people when they are fresh out and still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed so we can interrupt the recidivism cycle. 

Black Lives Matter, and it is more than just a movement. Our lives matter, I matter. As people of color, we have to own our space, take back our space. This is our time! Anyone who is in the way needs to get out of the way. Peace!

My e-mail address is fathina.holmes@sfgov.org. Once you email me, just put SF Bay View newspaper in the subject line and write a brief statement in regard to the resources or programs that you are interested in. I get my emails from my phone, and once again I will tell you that I take great pride in my follow up.

At this time, I want to give a special shout out to our Mayor London Breed and another special shout out to our District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton. I would also like to mention our Workforce Director Joshua Arce and Ken Mimm, my direct supervisor. I would like to acknowledge all the community-based organizations that do the work, like Young Community Developers, Alex Prince and James Richards of Aboriginal Black Men United, APRI (A. Phillip Randolph Institute), Mission Hiring Hall and Chinese Cultural Services. The work starts there – that is where the trust is built up. 

I want to encourage all of those who are coming out of jail to believe in yourself. It takes the faith of a mustard seed, but you have to start somewhere. You take the first step. I swear if you do the work and commit to your plan, your chances for success will increase exponentially. The best time to do it is when you first come home before you get discouraged. If I can do it, you can do it.

Malik: Ms. Holmes, I have one more for you. Can you please tell our audience what projects have you been specifically working on lately?

Both Malik and Fathina overcame great personal obstacles and are now teaming up in order to serve the people in the Bayview Hunters Point community. We are excited about the future of the Bay View newspaper and the city of San Francisco. – Photo: Bay View Managing Editor Nube Brown

Fathina Holmes: Oh, thank you so much. Actually, I’m on all high priority projects. Projects such as Potrero Hill, which is a project that has been going on for the past year. Alice Griffith, Sunnydale, Hunters View, the Shipyard, Block 48, all of District 10, 5050 Evans St., Biosolids Wastewater and Biosolids. 

These are just some of the projects that we have going. I would like to give another special shout-out to RDJ, Ms. Seals and Mr. Dwayne Jones for working closely with the people in order to put them to work. A. Phillip Randolph, YCD as well as Mercy Housing have also been working with us. We have 60 active projects at the airport. These airport projects are a combination of San Francisco and Marin County. We at the Workforce Department are committed to helping people get to work.

I’d like to end with a comment about us. When we say that Black Lives Matter, it is more than just a movement. Our lives matter, I matter – and for people of color, we have to own our space, we have to take back our space. This is our time! The Movement is here, and anyone who is in the way needs to get out of the way. Peace!

We at the SF Bay View would like to extend our sincere thanks to Fathina Holmes for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with us, and we look forward to more follow up interviews with other servants of the people, like Mayor London Breed and District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton. I’m excited about the future of the SF Bay View as well as the promising future of our Bayview Hunters Point community. 

All power to the people!

Bay View Assistant Editor Malik Washington can be reached at Malik@sfbayview.com. Contact him whenever you see news happening. Please visit our website, sfbayview.com, and share the knowledge, wisdom and understanding and Black culture contained in our one of a kind national Black newspaper.