Kamala Harris Gives Moving Speech At YMCA Luncheon

Senator Kamala Harris attends Y for Youth Luncheon on March 9th 2018 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in san francisco, CA (Photo - )
Senator Kamala Harris attends Y for Youth Luncheon on March 9th 2018 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in san francisco, CA (Photo – )

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Last week, the YMCA hosted its annual fundraiser, the Y for Youth Luncheon. An elegant crowd of politicians and Bay Area thought leaders gathered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for the event, which included a multi-course sit down Mexican-inspired lunch, live auction, and moving speech by Senator Kamala Harris. Since the YMCA is a cause that is near and dear to her heart, Harris flew in specifically for the event. She’s a close friend with Chuck Collins, the president and CEO of the YMCA of San Francisco. Collins introduced her and highlighted her career as the city’s district attorney. Harris gave a passionate talk discussing how high school drop-out rates are directly related to crime and how important today’s youth is. Here is what she had to say.

A bird's eye view of the reception before the luncheon and live auction
A bird’s eye view of the reception before the luncheon and live auction

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

On her San Francisco roots:

“The work that I was able to do with an incredible team when I was your elected District Attorney, the work we were able to do in the Attorney General’s office, and the work now that I’m hoping and trying to do as your United States Senator, the foundation for all that started here, and with a lot of people who are in this room. As I spend time around the country and in Washington D.C. with my colleagues, I always reflect back on this place.”

On how special the Bay Area community is:

“The leaders in business, philanthropy, and academia, in non-profit work, in community service work, in public service work, who will always band together and show the world what we can be when we understand that we all have so much more in common than what separates us. And at this moment in time in the history of our country where there are forces that are sowing hate and division, the work of people in this room is more important than ever.”

Harris, center, poses with YMCA youth, from left to right: Johnal Stiger, London Stiger, KC Agramon, Michelle Bettis and Desiree Maldonado]
Harris, center, poses with YMCA youth, from left to right: Johnal Stiger, London Stiger, KC Agramon, Michelle Bettis and Desiree Maldonado]

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

On the challenges she faces in Washington D.C.:

“We have been looking at a situation where the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, just announced they are shutting down an office that was specifically designed to test the impact of toxic chemicals on children. And we are looking at a moment in time when certain so-called leaders are so self-absorbed, with misguided priorities, that HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, can find money for a $30,000 dining set, but can’t find money for community development block grants, which fund things like after school programs for children, and meals on wheels. We are facing real challenges.”

On the youth movement and how it inspires her:

“We have seen so much happening recently with this youth movement. In this movement, there’s an incredible level of vitality and integrity and honesty and commitment. When we look at our young people, such as those young people who are on this stage, let’s also see what is going on with them. It’s optimism. Their fuel is that they believe that something can get done to improve the condition of themselves, their communities, our country and our world. And their optimism is contagious.”

Mark Leno, Roxanne Richards and Steve Silberstein
Mark Leno, Roxanne Richards and Steve Silberstein

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

On the Dreamers:

“They are Americans in every way except on paper. If you know this population of young people, you will know that they are students in colleges and universities, they are serving in our military, they are working in Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies. We also know that they are providing great economic benefit to our country. If we lose the Dreamers and end DACA, it is estimated that California will lose $11 billion in a year, and the United States would lose $460 billion in a decade, based on lost productivity and what they contribute to our economy. But what I see every day and I’ve been seeing for months in D.C.—these Dreamers have been coming to the Capital en masse. Hundreds and hundreds, thousands of them, from all over the country. They have been walking through the halls of the Capitol every day, because they believe in our democracy. They believe that if they are seen, if their stories are heard, that it will matter and it will make a difference. Their optimism should excite us. Their optimism should give us optimism about our future.”

Kamala Harris during her speech
Kamala Harris during her speech

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

On the students of Parkland, Florida:

“They have been exposed to extreme violence. They are enduring on a daily basis trauma, extreme trauma, but they have turned their mourning into a movement. And it has been incredible to watch. They have been marching. They already achieved something that hadn’t happened in Florida in two decades. They motivated the Florida legislature to pass reforms raising the buying age of guns to 21; implementing waiting periods to purchase a gun; and banning bump stocks. They got it through one branch of the Florida legislature and sensing the power of these young people, and probably severe political consequence, the governor signed it into law.”

On the importance of the YMCA:

“With the YMCA as a front-and-center example, let’s look to our youth.  Our youth have always been our future. All of the movements we are now witnessing are about crossing a bridge and building bridges. And that’s what the YMCA does.”

Chuck Collins and Senator Kamala Harris
Chuck Collins and Senator Kamala Harris

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Roselyne Swig
Roselyne Swig

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Lynn Ogata and Liz Willingham
Lynn Ogata and Liz Willingham

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Rachel Topham and Ned Topham
Rachel Topham and Ned Topham

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Ted Janus and John Baker
Ted Janus and John Baker

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Mark Ruggles and a Goldman twin
Mark Ruggles and a Goldman twin

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

Senator Kamala Harris, Gina Fromer and David Lazar
Senator Kamala Harris, Gina Fromer and David Lazar

Photo Credit: Ando Caulfield for Drew Altizer Photography

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