The Providence Foundation of San Francisco (PFSF) is the nonprofit philanthropic arm of Providence Baptist Church.

The 2,000-member congregation has been a cornerstone of the predominately African-American Bay View Hunters Point (BVHP) community of San Francisco for 65 years. Founded by members of the congregation in 1996, the Providence Foundation obtained its 501(c)3 status in September 1997. PFSF provides programs that improve the quality of the residents of the Bay View Hunters Point community.

Providence Foundation providescompassionate and supportive services for children, families, seniors, and the homeless.

At one site, they provide 55 units for families, housing more than 100 children.At another site, they nightly provide sleeping spaces for 50 homeless individuals, 85% of whom are transgender. In various facilities, they provide on-site case management, youth services, three shelters, and storage facilities for homeless to safely store their things.Several programs focus on youth services.

The Foundation’s Senior Housing Project was started in 2006.

It serves the needs of very low-income seniors, including minority seniors and the frail or disabled elderly. Once-homeless families and individuals now live in a new award-winning building at Bayview Hill Gardens.

This interview is with Helen Lamar, the Executive Director of Providence Foundation of San Francisco.


Before joining the Foundation, I had worked for the Federal Reserve for many years.

From 1997 to 2003 I was the accountant for the Foundation. In 2003, the job got too big for me to do, and we hired Mr. White and his organization as accountants. Mr. White had worked with us as auditor and advisor since the inception of the foundation, and James Richardson was working for Mr. White. When Mr. White retired, James succeeded him and we retained his services.

How James Helped Us

  • Because James knew our business and is a very compassionate person, he has kept the Foundation financially solid throughout the time he’s worked for us. He absolutely understands the workings of 501(c)3 entities and knows how to keep you solvent and indeed thriving. He’s every bit as committed to our mission as we are. In fact, this combination of commitment and compassion on his part has consistently contributed to our success.
  • James is very knowledgeable about keeping 501(c)3 organizations financially solid. He helped us build a solid foundation to maintain our funding from the City and County of San Francisco through the difficult years of the Great Recession. Despite the challenges, we were able to survive and provide services to some of the most at-risk populations in San Francisco.
  • James has worked with us in an advisory capacity as well as in how to keep our money solid. He knows and intimately understands all our contracts with the agencies of the City and County of San Francisco. This is a crucial factor in our continuing to flourish. We’ve never had a deficit. Our five-year trend has always been increasing.
  • One of the most significant things James advised us to do was to invest in more solid things like real estate. That has been good advice and has strengthened our financial position—and our ability to provide services.
  • James’ staff is small but very stable. Every person in his office is knowledgeable and familiar with our staff and our contracts. We feel confident in asking them any questions we might have. He sends reputable and outstanding people to audit our books.
  • At all times, we know that we are above board and keeping solid accurate records. As a result, we’ve never any problems with our funding sources.

“James is a CPA with a heart. He does our taxes. He provides audit services. However, above all he has compassion for the clients we serve and for the mission of our organization. If you are looking for a reputable CPA firm, look to James Richardson. I recommend him wholeheartedly.”

– Helen Lamar,

Executive Director of The Providence Foundation of San Francisco

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