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This month GLIDE celebrates the 20th anniversary of the eBay Auction for Power Lunch with Warren Buffett. This exciting annual effort raises funds for GLIDE’s comprehensive programs benefitting some of the most in-need and marginalized San Franciscans. It also represents a special relationship that has only grown stronger with the years—one that includes Mr. Buffett, who first came to GLIDE at the invitation of his late wife Susie Buffett, and also our friends at eBay.

“There’s plenty of good things to do in the world with money,” notes Mr. Buffett of his longstanding commitment to the auction and his endorsement of GLIDE’s programs and services. “The one thing I can do is I can give them a 100% guarantee, so this is one of them.”

Regarding GLIDE’s work on behalf of San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents, Mr. Buffett remains as passionate as ever.

“You offer them the chance to find out what’s within them that hasn’t yet surfaced. That can start with things as basic as food, but it goes beyond that. If you can help somebody be something better than they thought they were or that the world told them they were, that’s the ultimate accomplishment in life.”

The following is an excerpt (lightly edited for readability) of Karen’s chat with Warren Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska, on April 4. You can also watch the interview here. GLIDE’s community is blessed to have friends like Warren Buffett and eBay, and we thank them for their stalwart commitment to GLIDE’s mission and the diverse and beautiful communities we serve.

Karen Hanrahan: It’s the 20th anniversary of the auction. You have so generously supported this legendary effort for two decades. This is a very special partnership to GLIDE. It’s not just Warren Buffett and GLIDE, it’s also eBay and now a growing circle of winners who’ve become part of the GLIDE family. This partnership has really allowed GLIDE to lift even more people out of desperate circumstances. It’s allowed GLIDE to innovate on the front lines of poverty. It has really fundamentally changed the lives of the people that we serve, and it’s a special relationship for us.

When you think back over the past two decades, what are some of the experiences you’ve had and people you’ve met that really stand out?

Warren Buffett: Well, it’s been nothing but good. We’ve raised money, but I’ve had a good time. I’ve met a lot of very interesting people from all over the world. . . . The one universal characteristic is that they have a good time, and they feel they’ve got their money’s worth. But the most important thing is they feel that that money is going to be put to very good uses. . . . And it translates into human beings finding that there is hope in life.

KH: I was brought to GLIDE to help it evolve, to help GLIDE grow, and to really build on the legacy that Cecil and Jan have built for over 50 years.

WB: I was skeptical going in [to GLIDE the first time]. Susie told me about this wonderful organization, this wonderful man, the wonderful things they were doing and everything. But when I saw it! You know, I like backing the right people.

KH: At GLIDE, we know we couldn’t do this auction without eBay. They’ve got an ethos and a commitment to philanthropy. They’ve been an incredible partner.

WB: Well, it’s been so successful. We were raising $25,000 a year by talking to just a few people. And as soon as we went on eBay, we essentially were talking to the whole world. Now we raise in the millions every year.

KH: The winners and eBay, they’re investing in GLIDE’s legacy. We spend money on the people. And everyone has our clients at the front of their minds.

WB: I talked to a couple of the top executives at eBay over the years and they feel really, really good about their participation through GLIDE. There’s nothing like backing winners, and helping people become winners.

 

 

Watch the full interview. 

Building social justice mindsets in law enforcement communities

With the arrival of Rabbi Michael Lezak last year, GLIDE’s Center for Social Justice (CSJ) has been able to expand and deepen the ways we emphasize truth and reconciliation in our efforts around advocacy, staff development, and community building. In April, CSJ welcomed police departments and district attorneys’ offices from around the western United States for our first “An Officer and a Mensch” training. This curriculum seeks to instill greater understanding and care between law enforcement and the people of historically oppressed communities like the Tenderloin.

Rabbi Michael leads the initiative in partnership with Chief Matt Carmichael from the University of Oregon Police Department, and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

“I look at GLIDE as a lifeboat in a sea of need,” says Matt. “It’s a simple idea, to come where the need is and teach our criminal justice professionals that to be a good leader you have to know your community and who you serve. What better way to learn who you serve than spending time at GLIDE.”

Matt and Jeff along with about 25 law enforcement professionals spent three days at GLIDE, discussing everything from racism in the criminal justice system to the causes of the opioid crisis to what truly compassionate human interactions should look like. They also volunteered as a group in our Meals Program and met with GLIDE staff from across the organization to learn about our values-based approach towards serving our Tenderloin community.

“The vision was to create an opportunity to change the paradigm, to bring law enforcement leaders into this experience of opening our minds and broadening our perspectives, even if it’s just a little bit, to a different way of approaching the issues that affect us all: homelessness, poverty, addiction, mental illness,” says Jeff. “The goal and the prayer is for law enforcement leaders to develop more hope, more understanding and maybe change the way we do the job a little bit.”

GLIDE Senior Director of Programs Kyriell Noon speaking to the group about GLIDE services and community engagement. Photo credit: Alain McLaughlin

The training left a positive and lasting impression on the participants, so much so that Rabbi Michael and GLIDE are already prepared to welcome another group after Thanksgiving this year. Michael, along with Director of the CSJ Miguel Bustos, are in the process of refining the curriculum and in conversation with various law enforcement professionals about instituting it as part of the core training for officers in departments across the west coast.

“This partnership at GLIDE is the only one of its kind in the country,” says Matt. “What’s wonderful about what you did for us is that it’s a re-connection, a reminder of our responsibility to leave no one behind. We have to serve everyone.”

Chief Matt Carmichael speaking during the final session of the training. Photo credit: Alain McLaughlin

 

Iona Lewis is a Case Manager with GLIDE’s Men in Progress program. Thanks to her father, Iona has been a part of the GLIDE community her entire life. Now, she and her husband Raphael are both employees here and their son, Carlo, attends GLIDE’s Family, Youth and Childcare Center (FYCC) during the day. Iona and Raphael were part of the GLIDE contingent to the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, in April.

In the following lightly edited excerpts from a recent conversation, Iona shares some memories of her father and growing up near GLIDE. With this offering from Iona, we wish everyone everywhere a loving Father’s Day weekend. 
Continue reading “A Father’s Gift”

Karen Hanrahan on Warren Buffett, a unique GLIDE tradition, and the power of community

Tonight, we count down to one of the most unusual and powerful fundraisers any nonprofit might aspire to: the eBay for Charity Auction for Power Lunch with Warren Buffett. The story of how it came to be is often told and dear to us, since it starts with a much loved and missed member of GLIDE’s congregation and community named Susie Buffett, who took it upon herself to introduce a certain relation named Warren to the place that she had come to believe in so passionately. Her introduction worked. To the no-nonsense investor whose success has made him a household name, GLIDE was the real deal. And he has lent his name and time to the cause ever since. We asked GLIDE’s President and CEO Karen Hanrahan for her perspective on this singular tradition.
Continue reading “Pulling Together”

GLIDE’s Karen Hanrahan reflects on the power and promise of women and girls

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I’d like to ask you what drives your own connection to GLIDE’s efforts on behalf of women and girls in the Tenderloin and beyond? Well, firstly, I was raised by a single mother, a strong woman and a role model who raised three children by herself and worked very hard to do that. I watched how hard it was in the 1970s to get divorced, to build a life that would take care of her children. Women of her generation had to break a lot of barriers.

When we talk about injustice, about inequality, what I have seen is that women and girls are still viewed as having less value. That was the case when I began working on human rights issues, and it continues to be the case in many places around the world. That for me was a calling, addressing this injustice and inequality. At the same time, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to form very close relationships with girls and young women in places from Afghanistan to Africa to the Middle East, and I have seen how courageous these girls and women can be—particularly if they are standing up for something they know they can be put in jail for or can bring great risk to them. But women and girls who make very courageous and positive changes in their community—it’s where real change can happen.

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Karen with a group of children from GLIDE’s Family, Youth and Childcare Center.

 

What’s the significance of International Women’s Day for you?
It reminds me of the power of women for positive change, in the U.S. and globally. We’ve learned, for example, that when you put money directly in the hands of women, their children live longer, their households do better, their communities do better. When women are in power in government, they tend to be agents for peace, rather than violent conflict. It’s a reminder of the power of women to make the world a better place. At the same time, the fact that we have only the one day is a reminder of how far we have to go. There are still too few women in senior positions in government, in the private sector, even in the public sector. There remain high levels of inequality. Women have the highest risk of being impoverished in the United States, actually. So we have a long way to go.

“… We all come into the world wanting dignity, respect and equality. I’ve seen incredible women, including young women and girls, pushing the boundaries of their circumstances, and pushing against the forces that are keeping them out of school or out of politics or forcing them into child marriages.”

 

When you look at the challenges facing women and girls in the Tenderloin, do you see things that are similar to those you saw in other parts of the world?
A lot of people think the United States has made a lot more progress than most other countries, that it’s some sort of beacon of equality for women. But the #MeToo movement has shown just how common and deep the discrimination and abuse faced by women here really is. It happens everywhere around the world. Again, it comes from a lack of valuing women for who they are, turning them instead into these objects over which men will try to exercise some kind of power.

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GLIDE Meals Navigator Pamela Brown helped prepare special gifts for our woman-identifying guests on International Women’s Day.

 

The Tenderloin has reminded me of certain cities I’ve been in around the world because of the state of poverty and homelessness in San Francisco, but also because of the dramatic differences in wealth. One of the fastest growing groups among the most marginalized are women and particularly women of color. So that combination [of growing inequality and a disproportionate impact on women of color] is happening here and on a global level.
There’s another great common denominator among girls and women: We all come into the world wanting dignity, respect and equality. I’ve seen incredible women, including young women and girls, pushing the boundaries of their circumstances, and pushing against the forces that are keeping them out of school or out of politics or forcing them into child marriages. I think it comes down to that common human factor, wanting to be free and to have dignity.

“Overall, one of my objectives is to help GLIDE be a better place for women, as well as to grow our capacity to work with families.”

 

What about GLIDE’s work do you think is the most hopeful and relevant to women and girls today?
I can say that generally GLIDE provides a place for everyone, and welcomes everyone no matter their circumstances and treats them with dignity and respect. But in all honesty I also see that women don’t always feel comfortable in a very male-dominated space, in terms of coming in that front door. I’ve talked to women in the Women’s Center about this, for example. One of the places I want to push us to improve is in ensuring that GLIDE is a friendlier place for women and girls, and provides them with a supportive environment. Their needs are sometimes similar but also often quite different from the men. So this is part of what I want to do at GLIDE.

And from a practical perspective, investing in women and girls and families in the U.S. is one of the smartest investments we can make because it’s one of the best ways to actually break cycles of poverty or prevent poverty in the first place.

So one of my objectives is to grow our capacity to work with families. We do already provide a wonderful environment in our Family, Youth and Childcare Center to support families and to provide early childhood education. That support allows women to continue their own educations and to remain employed. I don’t think everyone truly understands the value of a safe, high-quality place for families to put their children. It means women in particular can get onto a more sustainable path out of poverty—and we’re really going to grow that work.

———-

Karen Hanrahan is the President and CEO of GLIDE. She has 20 years of experience advancing human rights and building high-impact global initiatives around the world, most recently as a senior appointee in the Obama administration, where she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. In a variety of roles throughout her life and career, including as a United Nations aid worker and the chief program officer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Karen has brought creativity and innovation to intractable challenges in economic development, global health and international human rights.

A Statement from GLIDE Leadership

GLIDE stands with the 800,000 DACA Dreamers who are our neighbors, friends, colleagues, loved ones and fellow Americans, including the more than 220,000 throughout California and here in the Bay Area.
Continue reading “GLIDE Stands with All Immigrants”

On May 23, 2017, an irreplaceable member of the GLIDE family and essential figure in our organization’s history passed away. Joyce June Hayes first came to GLIDE in 1971 as a church member, and quickly became instrumental in developing GLIDE’s early children’s programs, which later became the Janice Mirikitani Family, Youth and Childcare Center in 1991. While at GLIDE, Joyce served in many roles from resident writer to Youth Program Director. Joyce’s love was boundless and in her life was foster mother to 87 children from the community.

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GLIDE Co-Founder Janice Mirikitani described those early years with Joyce and the kids.

“We started with 15 latchkey kids running the streets of the Tenderloin, giving them tutoring, books and shoes and school supplies,” remembers Janice. “The program grew through the months until we had to take down walls to make a bigger space for all the kids, volunteers and parents in the program, but Joyce was the heartbeat of it all. She worked two other jobs and volunteered here every day, including every Sunday, with mostly homeless kids or small children whose parents were on drugs and left them to her.”

“Joyce pointed a new way for saving children, and that was through her love,” says Rev. Cecil Williams, GLIDE Co-Founder and Minister of Liberation.

In the 1980s, Joyce became the director of the Children and Families Program. Sometime later, the building at 434 Ellis Street that is now the Janice Mirkitani Family, Youth and Childcare Center was offered to GLIDE at a favorable price. Janice and Joyce worked to raise the money to remodel the building in order to make it the safe and welcoming space it is today.

“I always said to Joyce, we bought this building for you,” Janice recalls.
In 2001, Joyce received the prestigious Congressional Angels in Adoption Award from Nancy Pelosi for her commitment to making a difference in the lives of children and families through her work at GLIDE as well as by being a foster parent for so many years.

“I do it because the need is there,” Joyce used to say. “I love the spirituality at GLIDE. Here, spirituality means action, seven days a week. When I first came to GLIDE, it changed the concept of what I wanted to do with my life.”


“I met Joyce when I was a teenager,” remembers La Monica Hopkins, FYCC’s Education Director. “At that time my grandmother, Etta Page, worked at GLIDE in the Celebration office as a receptionist. I would come to GLIDE a little infrequently, mostly for church. I became better acquainted with Joyce as a mentor when, as an adult, I applied to be one of their Licensed Childcare Teachers in 1999 when FYCC was being renovated. I remember Joyce telling me, ‘I won’t be in your interview because I already know you,’ which I really appreciated honestly because it was important to me to get the job not because I knew Joyce or was related to my grandmother but because the interviewer felt that I was the right fit for the position.

“Joyce was the on-site model of the vision for FYCC,” says La Monica. “It’s important to have someone who is always living a vision of a place like FYCC. From her I learned compassion organically. Not by just what she said, but by what she did. Beyond what I already knew or where I grew up. She encouraged me to always be accepting of others, consider their faults but never to judge them for them. To think beyond my assumptions and ask more questions empathically. Through her eyes and way of being I could literally feel what compassion was supposed to feel like even when I didn’t agree with the way something was being done.”

“Joyce, who we called Joy back in the day, was the most loving, kind and compassionate woman I have known,” says Janice. “She loved to laugh and make others laugh. Her unconditional love for all people, but especially children and teenagers, is the model of how holistic healing can save the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Her beautiful smile and laughter is contained in GLIDE’S walls, and I can still hear the echoes of her laughter in our rooms. I am reminded, each time I look into the faces of young people, of the power of love, the comfort of kisses, and the warm embrace of a mother—Mother Joyce Hayes, who took every child in need into her arms.”

GLIDE is blessed and privileged to have had the support, talent and love of Joyce Hayes through the decades. So, too, is San Francisco. On June 13, on behalf of the City, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim introduced and presented a posthumous Certificate of Honor for Joyce, accepted by her daughter Jayne Rovianek, in recognition of Joyce June Hayes’s many accomplishments and her fostering 87 children over four decades. Her legacy of love is vast, and she remains a model of how each of us can save one life at a time through our own commitment, passion and perseverance.

There will be a Celebration of Life on June 4th at 1:00 PM in the Sanctuary. A reception will follow the services in Freedom Hall.
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As we have seen in recent weeks, presidential executive orders can come swiftly, barreling down on a population with the stroke of a pen. They can have enormous influence, enormous consequences. And, again as we have seen, they can also be resisted by the populace and overruled by the judiciary when they outrage our sense of decency and conflict with the letter of the law.

But we can never take such an outcome for granted—especially when an executive order seems to fly in the face of this society’s most basic and revered values, while severely and cruelly impacting the lives of innocent people.
Continue reading “Remember, and never be silent: On the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066”

The great Grocery Bag Giveaway is a huge event in more ways than one. It is one of the most anticipated events of GLIDE’s holiday programming: hosted each year by GLIDE Co-Founders Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani and attended by thousands of community members, many of whom line up before dawn on streets closed to car traffic for several blocks around in expectation of receiving a free grocery bag containing all the fixings for a Holiday banquet for four. It is also a mighty logistical challenge, involving months of planning and fundraising and, on the day of the event, the pre-dawn mobilizing of most of GLIDE’s staff along with literally hundreds of community volunteers (including a ready-to-roll posse from key supporter GAP, Inc.). Finally, given the spirit of celebration that is always a key ingredient of the proceedings, the day carries an outsized impact on the holiday season for many participants (including volunteers) who might otherwise find these days hard emotionally and/or materially. Thanks to an amazing citywide team effort, GLIDE’s Grocery Bag Giveaway is huge in scale, and huge in heart.
Continue reading “Hold the Judgment: GLIDE teams up with community partners to deliver food and choice to those in need”