Help Saleem Shine Shoes Again
Of the shoe shiners was a man named Saleem Bey, a man I wrote about on Facebook a year ago after he shined my black Chelsea boots and gave them new life and luster
I wrote about Saleem because he was not only extremely kind and charming, but the moment was touching for me as Saleem revealed the struggle that he goes through daily. He waits for customers in the bustling Financial District between 8-11 hours a day and only shines between 5-10 pairs of shoes a day at $7-10 a pair. He was 65 at the time, and I could hear in his voice gratefulness that he was there but also sadness that the old-timey art of shoe shining was being forgotten when I asked him how things were going for him. Making money as a shoe shiner was becoming harder and harder as the years went by, but Saleem hadn't given up on his craft because he's good at shining shoes, he loves people, and shining shoes is something he loves to do even if the money is sparse.
When I heard Saleem was one of the two pedestrians injured in the horrific accident, my heart broke. I know how hard he struggles already and to imagine the setbacks of being injured, having his shoe shine stand and livelihood destroyed, and not knowing how his future will play out compelled me to create this GoFundMe for Saleem.
We're looking to raise $20,000 (from our initial goal of $10,000) to help rebuild the shoe shine stand, to help pay for lost wages, and to help support Saleem and Jaz in their medical recovery (here's a link to a GoFundMe to specifically support Jaz) Saleem is in stable condition right now but Jaz is still in a coma (Update 8/28/16 - Jaz is out of his coma!)
The confusion, pain, and financial worry Saleem must be going through is hard to fathom. But as someone who's been blessed by Saleem's smiling face and iconic role in maintaining the old soul of San Francisco, I'd like to see Saleem return to his corner at Sutter and Market with a rebuilt shoe shine throne, ready to polish and shine again.
About the accident:
SFGate: Taxi jumps curb in San Francisco, 3 suffer critical injuries
SFGate: Cabbie says ‘I’m sorry’ after plowing into 2 men on SF sidewalk (VIDEO)
Hoodline: Local Shoe Shiner, Assistant Injured In Yesterday's Cab Collision On Market
KTVU: 3 hurt in San Francisco when taxi cab crashes into shoeshine stand (VIDEO)
Hoodline: Tales From The Shoe Shiners Of Market & Sutter
Thing One Architecture ( http://www.thing-one.com), located across the street from the shoe shine stand on Sansome/Sutter, stepped up a few months back to offer pro-bono design and building work. We handed the torch off to them and with money raised from GoFundMe and other private donors, they were able to get a new shoe shine stand built over the course of 2-weeks. We thank all 602 donors, private donors, and ThingOne, and their volunteers for making this possible - it really does take a village.
Grand Opening this Weds 3/8!
You are all invited to attend the grand opening of the new shoe shine stand this Weds 3/8 between 12pm - 2pm at Sansome/Sutter. Saleem and Susan will be there to meet and greet their friends old and new, and shoe shines will be on special at $5/per shine.
We hope to see many of you this Wednesday for the new shoe shine stand's grand opening. Thank you all for your generous donations, this remarkable recovery from this terrible accident 7 months ago would not have been possible without your care, concern, and contributions.
Curbed SF article on new shoe shine stand:
Saleem is in good spirits and is undergoing rehab in the Peninsula. He's been able to take a few steps and he's working slowly with physical therapists to regain his ability to walk. His sister has been visiting him daily and has offered to take care of Saleem's portion of the GoFundMe funds for him. Saleem received his first disbursement of funds this week, which came in time as he's been two months behind on rent and was at risk of losing his apartment.
Update on Jaz:
Jaz has been staying with a friend and has been sleeping a lot. His still deals with headaches post surgery, especially when he rides the BART train through the Transbay Tube due to changes in air pressure, but despite the discomfort, Jaz has been very independent and has started playing clarinet again. We had two generous donors donate clothes to Jaz in clothing his size so he has been staying warm and is on a path to recovery.
Update on the shoe shine stand:
The interim shoe shine stand is up and open for business (see picture below)! However, Saleem and Jaz are not yet ready to return to the stand so Susan (the stand owner) has found a new shoe shiner to work at the corner of Market & Sutter. We're working with architects now to find out how much it would cost at minimum to build out a new stand. Susan received a couple of bids and they have ranged between $9800 - $20,000, which unfortunately, would swallow up a half or all of the GoFundMe funds raised in this campaign. So we're considering all our options: We're looking into whether it's possible to get a new shoe shine stand built for a budget of $6000 or less, fixing up the old stand, finding a secondary financial backer, or improving upon the interim shoe shine stand to make it the permanent shoe shine stand.
Saleem and his sister said that SF Mayor Ed Lee had visited Saleem soon after the crash and he'd offered to repair the shoe shine stand that was damaged in the accident and establish a "Shoe Shine Day", but my attempts to reach out to his deputy contact were met with silence. We're hoping that we can get in contact with the City to figure out if their offer to rebuild / repair the shoe shine stand is still on the table. If anyone on this GoFundMe has a direct link to the City, please private message me with advice on how to get a reply.
Today was an extraordinarily special day. It was the first day Saleem and Jaz have seen each other since the accident nearly a month ago.
Jaz and I planned a surprise visit for Saleem. I told Jaz to stay in the hallway and wait for my cue while I poked my head into Saleem's hospital room.
"Helloo Saleem!" I said, and he looked over and gave me a big smile and said, "HEY! I was just thinking about you!" I then went over to the hospital bed, gave Saleem a hug, and said, "I brought a present for you."
That was Jaz's cue to come in and I wish you could've all seen Saleem's reaction. The moment Jaz walked in Saleem hollered in high pitched joy then started crying. Saleem will tell you, he isn't the kind of man to show emotion but in that moment he couldn't help but feel grateful, overjoyed, and moved to tears. Jaz gave Saleem a hug and sat down in the chair beside him.
"I thought you was dead... I thought you was dead..." said Saleem, crying and shaking his head in disbelief. He couldn't believe he was seeing Jaz walking, talking, and so alive after last seeing him unconscious and bleeding from the mouth after the accident.
They talked for a good 30 minutes and we watched Saleem eat his hospital lunch. They gave him lasagna, minced vegetables, salad, and milk, and it was pretty adorable watching Saleem eat because he has no teeth. He had aspirations to get dentures made then the accident happened, so hopefully some of the GoFundMe donations can assist Saleem in getting some dentures in his recovery.
At one point, Saleem said to Jaz, "I thought I'd be visiting you in the hospital and but here you are, visiting me! You look good, son" then he laughed. Customers at the shoe shine stand always asked Saleem if Jaz was his son and they'd laugh it off. It's fair to ask because they have that chemistry. It turns out that Jaz sees Saleem as a father figure and Saleem sees Jaz as a son. Jaz's father passed away years ago and Saleem doesn't have any children so this relationship is extra special to them because they fulfill deep surrogate roles in each other's lives. It was incredibly moving seeing the two interact and reconnect.
We've surpassed our goal and it's about time to withdraw the funds and disperse the money to the cause. We've raised $21,230 to date and everyone involved is so grateful beyond words for the generosity of so many!
To clarify my relationship with Saleem and Jaz, I’m a customer and fan of the shoe shine stand on Market/Sutter. I started this GoFundMe because two kind shoe shiners, who didn't have much money but gave so much to San Francisco with their smiles and daily "good mornings," were in dire need of help after this life-changing accident.
I plan to withdraw the funds into my account then disperse the funds 3 ways:
1. To Saleem
2. To Jaz
3. To rebuild the shoe shine stand
Below are three pictures.
1. Like surrogate father, like surrogate son: Jaz and Saleem during their first visit today
2. A sweet picture of friendship: Andrea (who runs Jaz's dedicated GoFundMe) and Jaz as they watched the screening of "Alice Street" together - a documentary about Oakland in which Jaz plays the clarinet. See their trailer here: https://vimeo.com/167504084
3. The old, temporary shoe shine stand that Susan and Joe are setting up while the new shoe shine stand is being designed and rebuilt
A BIG Thank You to You All:
I've been blessed beyond belief running this campaign. I've seen sadness become joy, confusion become hope, and I've seen the beauty of humanity in its purest form. I've seen, close up, the transformation from destruction to recovery. Especially special to me is the reunification, friendship, and authentic human connection as friends, customers, strangers, and every one of you, have stepped up to help during one of the most trying times in Saleem and Jaz's lives. Thank you for every single one of you. Saleem and Jaz (and Susan) are so fortunate to have you all in their corners.
I visited Saleem about two weeks ago but I didn't stay long because I'd showed up at a bad time. He had suffered some complications post surgery, but he is stable now. I spoke to his social worker yesterday and she said Saleem is well but is still feeling tired and will be recovering at the hospital for a while. But when I did see him he welcomed me with a smile and was kind to me even though he was in visible discomfort.
Update on Jaz:
Great news! Jaz is out of the hospital!
See updates on Jaz's dedicated GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/2yfefga4
Update on Shoe Shine Stand:
I picked up Joe Elizondo (who used to shine shoes with Saleem a year ago and who helped build the shoe shine stand that was damaged in the accident) from the airport today. He flew in from Texas to help Susan set-up a temporary shoe shine stand that's necessary to retain the stand's permit to operate on Market/Sutter and to meet with architects (from HOK Design) to detail the specifications for a proper shoe shine stand - one that won't get stolen, that is hard to tamper with or damage, that can survive the elements, and that is ergonomically designed for Saleem if/when he can return.
Pictured here under a pile of stuff is the chunky, unattractive, retired shoe shine stand from many years ago that will serve as a temporary shoe shine stand while a thoughtful new shoe shine stand is being developed by HOK with Saleem's mobility and aesthetics in mind.
More updates to come as developments happen...
Thank you all so much for all the support so far! I'm overwhelmed by the outpouring of help, encouragement, and appreciation for Saleem and Jazz. James, thank you for contributing and for supporting Saleem! Rachel, I will definitely raise the funding goal. I was thinking of raising it to $15K or $20K. Knowing what I know now about Saleem's situation, he has a long road of recovery ahead and won't be able to work for several months so he'll need all the help he can get to stay afloat before he can shine shoes again. Janet, thank you for checking in about this. Unfortunately, GoFundMe doesn't allow PayPal as a payment option any longer and exclusively work with WePay and Stripe. Here's their reasoning in their FAQ: "In an effort to ensure a delightful, frustration-free fundraising experience, GoFundMe no longer uses PayPal to process and deliver donations"
Wow, this is amazing that Jaz is doing so well. It really is a miracle, and imperative that their (Saleem, Jaz, and Susan) stories are told so that others may be inspired. Sophia and Andrea, and so many others pulling together to share their stories and help that rebuild are angels. I am moved beyond words at generosity of this community.
Hoooooooooooorrrrrrraaaaayyyyyy!!!!! The CAAMFest Asian American Film Fest Opening Night Gala is this Thursday night. Perfect time to get my dress shoes shined! They're a maroon color so I hope Saleem has some matching polish!