Formerly Berkeley Food & Housing Project
On March 31st, we remember former client and board member, Ted Wilson, who passed away last year. In his honor we are instituting an annual agency-wide Ted Wilson Day of Service, on his birthday (3/31) where we encourage BFHP staff, board, clients, volunteers, and other supporters to come together to give back to their communities. This year we will be coming together to plant the garden at our Russell Street Residence, serve a special Community Meal of one of Ted’s favorites (soul food!), and plant a memorial tree at the Rio Vista Veterans Residence.
Ted Wilson was born March 31, 1949, and grew up in Philadelphia.
He was in the Marine Corps from 1965 to 1968, and stationed in Vietnam, where he was injured in combat and was awarded two purple hearts.
After being discharged from the Marines, Ted traveled with another man from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Ted had gotten into some legal trouble with this man and at the time of his final arrest, Ted had a small amount of marijuana on him, and the other man had heroin. This was Ted’s 3rd strike under the newly enacted Three Strikes law, and because of this, the authorities charged Ted with the marijuana and the heroin and sentenced him to 20 years to life.
While serving his sentence in San Quentin, Ted participated in a program called Veterans Healing Veterans from the Inside Out, aimed at addressing combat-related emotional issues.
Ted was released early after serving 17 years due to the revisions under proposition 36. He moved into a Veteran’s transitional house run by the Veterans Resource Program in Richmond. It was while he was staying there that he heard about Berkeley Food & Housing Project, and our Supportive Services for Veteran Families.
In 2015, BFHP helped Ted move into an apartment in Concord.
Ever since his time in prison, Ted had been an advocate for Veterans. Once he was stably house, he could devote his energy to helping other Vets with similar experiences, including appearing before a Senate Committee in Sacramento concerning incarcerated veterans.
Ted stayed in touch with our Veteran Services staff in Contra Costa County, and would regularly refer Veterans to our program, going so far as to drive people to our office in Richmond, or meet Veterans as they were released from prison.
In December of 2016, Ted accepted a position on BFHP’s Board of Directors. As part of his board service, he regularly attended house meetings at our Veteran’s Transitional Housing program in Berkeley, where he encouraged the residents by sharing his story, and his enthusiasm for helping others. A former client of this program described Ted as “inspiring” and “a hero,” and was thankful for his presence in the process.
In November of 2020 Ted was diagnosed with lung cancer. His medical team determined it was a result of his exposure to Agent Orange during his service. In August of 2021, he succumbed to his illness.
Ted made a huge impact on everyone he met. His dedication to helping other Veterans was inspiring. To honor him, we are making March 31st, his birthday, the annual BFHP Ted Wilson Day of Service.