Welcome to the Tina Keker Playground
February 3, 2023
Honoring the contributions of Christina “Tina” Keker (1943 – 2021) and the impact she had on
Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center (TEL HI).
In the Spring of 2022, TEL HI’s playground will undergo a much-needed renovation and will be named the “Tina Keker Playground” in honor of an amazing woman who helped make TEL HI Neighborhood Center (TEL HI) what it is today.
John and Tina Keker moved to the North Beach neighborhood in 1971. They had a young son named Adam and a baby on the way and like all working parents, needed a safe, convenient place for Adam to go during the day. They learned about a little community center one block from their house that offered childcare and an early childhood education program. <photo of Adam at TEL HI as a kid>. After enrolling Adam in TEL HI, Tina quickly got involved, volunteering in the classroom and supervising the children on the playground. When their second son, Nathan, was old enough, he too was enrolled. TEL HI soon became more than just a preschool for their two boys; it was a home away from home and the playground became one of their favorite places to spend their time.
In the late 1970s, TEL HI was in financial trouble. With a shrinking budget and a small team of staff, it seemed that TEL HI would need to cease operations and close for good. John and Tina recognized how detrimental this would be for so many families who relied on TEL HI and they spearheaded efforts to make sure it didn’t happen. They helped recruit key staff and were instrumental in fundraising for salaries and other important operating expenses that helped keep TEL HI’s doors open.
Tina began working on TEL HI’s annual fundraising dinner to provide a steady stream of income. From the late 1980’s to 1999, she volunteered and helped to create a fundraising committee, locate venues, secure donations and sponsorships, and use her growing connections to book prominent speakers. This fundr
aising dinner, now named A Taste of TEL HI, continues to be the largest fundraising event of the year.
Tina’s contributions to TEL HI continued after she began working as a graphic designer and went into business with a close friend. She volunteered her skills to design the programs and invitations for
TEL HI’s fundraising events, as well as newsletters and other marketing materials. In 1988, Tina joined TEL HI’s Board of Directors. She served as a board member and Vice President, helping to grow the programs and services and keep TEL HI on a successful path.
In the 1990’s, Tina designed a much-needed updated logo for TEL HI which included a house with an open door and chimney on a deep red background. When TEL HI’s current logo was designed in 2013, it included a modernized roof and chimney – a nod to the iconic aspects of the logo Tina designed. The deep red color was also carried over and today is an important brand asset that represents TEL HI. Tina continued to stay involved with TEL HI throughout her life supporting fundraising efforts, joining committees, making important connections, and more.
Tina Keker was a young mother looking for a community and became an integral part of building a small neighborhood nonprofit into one of San Francisco’s oldest and most successful community organizations. During the fifty plus years that Tina was involved with TEL HI, she not only helped keep the doors open, but she also helped to expand TEL HI’s programs and services which benefit thousands of people in the community. The mark she left on TEL HI is significant and will never be forgotten.
When the renovations are complete and the playground is being enjoyed by all, Tina’s influence and mark on TEL HI will be visible to the kids and parents who spend their time in the same place that Tina and her boys did.