News about Sister Christina Heltsley’s successes in supporting low-income community members in North Fair Oaks continue to spread.
The executive director of the St. Francis Center was recently the subject of the Bay Area Proud segment on NBC Bay Area, which credited Heltsley as central to North Fair Oaks’ ongoing transformation from its crime-ridden past. Sister Heltsley has helped the neighborhood transition while avoiding the displacement of low-income residents, the news station noted.
For two decades, Heltsley has operated the St. Francis Center, providing food and clothing to residents of a community gripped by gangs and crime. Along the way, the center’s services have grown to include a new school, new after-school center, community garden and the management of nearly 200 units of housing reserved for low-income families.
NBC Bay Area reporter Garvin Thomas said Sister Heltsley once stood up to a local gang member who warned her not to call police.
“Sister Christina Heltsley is one of those people who, when others see challenges, she sees nothing but potential,” said Thomas.
It’s hardly the first time Sister Heltsley’s works have garnered public attention. During the pandemic, St. Francis Center pledged no evictions for its low-income and remained committed to continuing its safety-net services amid difficult times, in part through rigorous fundraising. Last year, right before the pandemic took hold, the national publication Business Insider recognized Sister Heltsley for the clever ways in which she secured permanent affordable housing in an increasingly unaffordable area.
“The work that she’s done, and the support she’s given to that community, is amazing,” Christina Corpus, who once patrolled North Fair Oaks as a deputy, told NBC Bay Area. “The work that she’s done and the support he’s given to that community is amazing.”
Photo by Jim Kirkland