To be doing good deeds is man's most glorious task.
When Zachary Crockett cycled home after work through the Mission District of San Francisco on Jan. 28, he stopped when he noticed a crowd of people watching (and many filming) a building on fire.
It was a fire that would kill one person, injure six others, and displace 54 people who lived in 19 apartments above small businesses. And 26-year-old Zack Crockett — disgusted by what appeared to be onlookers more interested in capturing dramatic images for social media than in helping distraught fire victims — would surprise himself by finding a way for everyone to help.
He started a fund online with low expectations. He hoped he could raise a couple thousand. The community took it from there:
Middle schoolers held bake sales to donate, churches passed the hat, and Google — reviled by some for being a gentrifying force in the Mission — kicked in $16,000. Most of the money came in small chunks. In all, 2,300 people and businesses donated.
After GoFundMe and a processing company took their cuts, Crockett had a total of $165,606. He pulled in the Mission Economic Development Agency, a nonprofit that works with the neighborhood’s low-income residents, to help him figure out what to do with the money.
What they did was cut checks for both individuals and families, ranging from $6,000 to $15,000.
Crockett stood nervously, scanning the audience. They were sitting around tables in the Salvation Army shelter on Valencia Street where many of them have been staying since the inferno. Crockett allowed himself a smile.
“I know that some of you are probably still wondering who the heck I am,” he said quietly. They chuckled.
The story is touching. It reminds all of us of the power each individual has to move our communities, to help our communities, to bring people together.
“They say it takes a village, but sometimes it takes one person to be the catalyst,” said Gabriel Medina, policy manager of the Mission development agency. “That person was Zachary Crockett.”