Dear Friends,

In April of 2018, I walked the haunted and hallowed streets of Montgomery, Alabama. I was on the ground in the cradle of the Confederacy along with 85 people from GLIDE for the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. We were there with educators and activists, staff and board, old and young, to look head-on at the birth story and evolution of systemic racism in this promised, yet blood-soaked land of ours. Our days there were some of the most heartbreaking, soul-wrenching days of my life. Despite decades working amidst trauma and terror around the world, the images and stories of generations of racial terrorism in America brought me to my knees.

“Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on…I’m gonna board that big greyhound…Carry the love from town to town. Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on, hold on…”  Eyes on the Prize

I kept hearing the civil rights freedom song, “Eyes on the Prize,” that anchored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the myriad of activists and ordinary citizens who stood up and marched through Alabama for voting rights and justice. What kind of courage must it have taken to keep singing, “Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on,” as they were assaulted with billy clubs and hatred? How did they find the strength to keep marching when police unleashed attack dogs and pointed fire hoses at their children?

These days, I find myself thinking frequently about their fortitude and the power of their collective, non-violent action.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with his wife Coretta Scott King (both center right), at a Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, civil rights march in March 1965. Among the group are civil rights activists Bayard Rustin (far left), a young John Lewis (third from left), Reverend Ralph Abernathy (fourth from left), Ralph Bunche (center), and Hosea Williams (right, with hand on child’s shoulder). (Photo by William Lovelace/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Today, as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I cannot help but wonder at the courage and conviction he inspired in millions of people in one of the darkest periods of American history— and in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. What does it mean — today — to keep our eyes on a prize; to hold fast to his prophetic dream of a morally clear and courageous America in which systemic equality and empathy have taken root to heal our collective past and our divided present? Where everyone has a vote and a voice in our shared democracy? A dream in which we can all equally take for granted reliable systems that deliver basic human rights like housing, health care and equal treatment under the law?

We are experiencing hard times. The COVID pandemic has taken the lives of almost a million Americans, decimating families, and shining a bright light on the gross inequities that still surround us. Police and vigilante violence against people of color continues at an alarming rate. The terrifying attack on the Capitol Building by right-wing extremists was a wake-up call to an American democracy that is teetering and in need of desperate life-saving repairs.

As Dr. King stood in the vicious throes of the racist American south in the 1960s, he too faced staggering challenges. It would have been human to cave to fear, to capitulate to violence, to put his hands up and say to the naysayers, to the Klan, to the quietly racist, “You win.” And yet, King and millions of others swam upstream, endured violent attacks, stared death in the face, and painted a redemptive dream for this promised land of ours, a land whose full promise has not yet been realized.

King’s dream of an inclusive American democracy remains embattled, despite incremental progress. The challenges remain formidable. Yet, there is hope and promise, fulfilled every day by courageous people who have come after Dr. King and by a new generation called to meet the moment. Coretta Scott King said it aptly, “Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.” 

In that spirit, GLIDE is here, standing at the corner of Ellis and Taylor, at the edge of the promises of Dr. King. For generations now, we’ve been a treasured home to thousands and a hub of national significance. And like Dr. King’s prophetic dream, GLIDE’s hope-filled and healing vision for our city and our country is a shared prize we seek, a prize of moral clarity and courage, of equality and equity for all with lasting change in our nation.

So we will continue to hold on, to carry the love and to keep our eyes on the prize, reminding all who come in our orbit that progress and healing are indeed possible, even in the face of insurmountable odds.

In Solidarity,

Karen J. Hanrahan 
President & CEO, GLIDE
Twitter: @KarenJHanrahan

Hello GLIDE Community,

As 2021 comes to a close, and I reflect back upon this year, I feel such gratitude – and even awe – for the way GLIDE has continued to grow, change, and serve this city better than ever, even in the face of a global pandemic. For decades, the only constant at GLIDE has been change. GLIDE has always evolved to meet the needs of the people it serves. We continued that tradition as we adapted during the pandemic and found creative ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and housed. Through it all, we continued to build the next generation of GLIDE and develop new and improved ways to help our city and its residents address the crises on all of our doorsteps. It is this progress – and the pragmatic optimism of our staff – that gives me hope even at a time when so much in the world seems to be pulling in the opposite direction.

GLIDE is transforming and growing to have greater impact in this city. And we are doing so while always maintaining our foundation of unconditional love and acceptance. In 2021, GLIDE’s evolution could be seen in our focus on systems change – the influence we have had on laws and policies that impact homelessness, hunger, racial equity, addiction and more. And in our growing presence in more places, from encampments to new neighborhoods, all with the aim of helping people change their lives for good.

This year, more than ever, we celebrate our staff and the communities that support them – board members, donors, community partners, and congregants. Countless people contributed in countless ways to ensure that our community made it through this pandemic. Our staff and supporters provided vaccines, healthcare, education, food, access to housing, harm reduction, and, perhaps most importantly, the hope, love and inspiration needed to keep going.

These things do not happen by magic. They come to fruition because of consistent support. The food gets from farm to table because of staff and volunteers like you – people that show up at early morning hours to sort, pack, and share. This year, our events once again reflected the loving and joy-filled community of GLIDE via our celebration at the Holiday Jam, our welcoming feast for all at Thanksgiving, our city-wide distribution of food and hope at Grocery Bag Giveaway, and our joyful celebration at Toy Wonderland… all attended by many of you.

So it is with deep appreciation and gratitude – and love for ALL that GLIDE is – that I wish you all a happy and joyful holiday season.

In solidarity,

Karen Hanrahan
President & CEO, GLIDE

(@KarenJHanrahan) · Twitter

Dear GLIDE Community,

Mayor London Breed has declared an unprecedented State of Emergency in the Tenderloin, a bold step with the intention of disrupting illegal activity and making the Tenderloin a safer, more livable place for the families who call the neighborhood home. At GLIDE, we appreciate the intention behind this effort because we know strong leadership and radical solutions are needed to revitalize the Tenderloin and protect all of its residents.

If this initiative is to have any chance of success, its anti-crime fervor must be matched with an equally strong commitment to the underlying causes that are perpetuating destitution and crime in the Tenderloin. In other words, the antidote to what we are seeing on Tenderloin streets cannot be a war simply on violence, crime, and drugs. It must be a war on poverty, homelessness, addiction and mental illness that takes on those things we have not yet gotten right as a city – the solutions required for lasting transformation of human lives, as well as the systemic changes necessary to stop the endless flow of new people into our lines and onto the streets.

At GLIDE, we see the challenging realities of the Tenderloin every day. We are painfully and acutely aware that violence and despair have escalated in the Tenderloin. Layered underneath are the devastating health and economic impacts of the pandemic and the pre-existing crises of unaffordable housing, food insecurity, poverty, addiction and lack of opportunity. Combined, the TL can feel unlivable – for everyone.

Anchored in the Tenderloin for nearly 100 years, GLIDE has been witness to countless efforts to eradicate the poor, unhoused, mentally ill, addicted and marginalized from our streets with no permanent or lasting effect other than perpetuating trauma. The violence, crime, and drug use we are seeing today are dangerous symptoms of deeper systemic and institutionalized inequities – and they need systemic solutions that go well beyond basic services. These are not simply actions of individuals who have lost their way, but the widespread effect of our neighbors being excluded from actively participating in San Francisco’s social safety net.

We agree that immediate solutions, dedicated resources, and a collective focus on the Tenderloin are required. However, this approach must be anchored in what data and experience tell us will be effective for both the immediate and long-term: a two-tiered approach that changes both people and systems. First is the coordinated and customized continuum of care and services (that actually work), coupled with access to safe and dedicated housing that is required to transform individual lives. Second is the systemic change to laws, policies, practices, funding and institutions that are failing those most in need and perpetuating poverty, inequity and homelessness in our city.

San Francisco has a historic opportunity to marshal and focus its tremendous resources to address the many issues plaguing the Tenderloin. GLIDE is already on the frontlines every day helping hundreds of families, seniors, unhoused, and mentally unwell to emerge from crisis, get off the streets and transform their lives for good. While we are increasingly focused on systems and changing laws, policies and institutions that drive inequity, the scale and scope of the problems in the Tenderloin go well beyond what any one agency can do alone. GLIDE is actively increasing our efforts to help more people in crisis, and we remain ready to collaborate with the City and our community partners to help design and deliver coordinated, humane, and equitable solutions.

Throughout the pandemic, the people of the Tenderloin and the City of San Francisco have turned to GLIDE and we have been here to help. While that commitment remains, our mission to serve the most vulnerable in our city is our guiding compass. We stand unequivocally with the Tenderloin, and the city’s most marginalized, and we will continue to do so always and unconditionally.

In solidarity,

Karen Hanrahan
President & CEO, GLIDE
(@KarenJHanrahan) · Twitter

Hello GLIDE Community,

We are delighted to be part of the Latinx community during these 30 days acknowledging and celebrating National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month and the cultural and historical contributions of those among us whose family heritages include Mexico, the Caribbean, Central, and South America, and Spain.

Every day, we support, lift up and celebrate the people, voices, and issues of the Latinx community through acts of social justice and service. Our Latinx family extends from our innovative staff and bold leaders to our righteous community partners, generous donors, and resilient clients. We act and advocate in solidarity with coalitions that advance equity for Latinx communities throughout the city. We continue to walk in the footsteps of social justice warriors like Delores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. We draw inspiration today from activists such as Sister Norma Pimentel, honored for her unwavering support of migrants, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and the many other Latinx leaders who are pursuing justice for all in our society.

This month, we mark Latinx Heritage as American Heritage, with a legacy of cultural and historical achievements in the sciences, arts, literature, law, technology, economics, and government. There are more than 6,800 elected Latinx officials nationwide, and Congress is now, thankfully, more diverse, with six Latinx Senators in the U.S. Senate and 46 Representatives in the House. The fastest-growing population in the U.S., the Latinx community is also an economic driver. In 2019, the economic output of the Latinx community was $2.7 trillion, a nearly 60 percent increase over 2010. Eighteen percent of America’s middle class is now Latinx, roughly four times higher than in 1980 when it was predominantly white.

While we honor this heritage month, we also recognize the stark inequities facing many in the Latinx community. The criminalization of migrants and the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is abhorrent. This summer, there were nearly 200,000 migrant apprehensions and expulsions — the highest total in more than two decades. Additionally, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on Latinx health, jobs, and families. Latinx people are diagnosed with COVID-19 at rates nearly twice that of whites, are hospitalized 2.8 times higher, and dying at a rate 2.3 times higher. The economic toll of the health crisis has been severe. The Latinx community accounted for 23 percent of initial pandemic job losses. Latinas continue to bear the brunt of this job loss, experiencing disproportionately high unemployment and dropping out of the workforce at higher rates than any other demographic group.

At GLIDE, we see the impact of systemic inequity on the Latinx community up close:
• 20% of our clients are Latinx.
• 75% of our Family Youth and Childcare Center families are Latinx — all are low-income.
• 93 % of FYCC families surveyed reported income losses due to the pandemic.
• 71 % of FYCC women surveyed said GLIDE helped them avoid hunger.

Every day, GLIDE is taking steps to overcome these challenges within our Latinx communities across San Francisco. We prevent homelessness, alleviate hunger, support women in the workforce, and intentionally address the systemic inequities that drive more Latinx people into our service lines. We are doing that through our transformative programs and expanded services across the city. In particular, our investments in Latinx women and families are stabilizing families and advancing the financial independence necessary to combat these economic inequities.

GLIDE is proudly part of the Latinx community. As we celebrate this month-long tribute to the community’s diversity, rich culture, and extraordinary contributions, we do so with gratitude for all the progress that has been realized and hope for all that is still to come.

In solidarity,

Karen Hanrahan
President & CEO, GLIDE

(@KarenJHanrahan) · Twitter

Dear GLIDE Community, 

Celebration is a cornerstone of our values at GLIDE. Seeing our national leaders align to make Juneteenth a federal holiday is a joyful moment. This historic step forward represents progress towards a new vision of American inclusivity. It reflects a new ownership of our collective history. It is an important step forward towards our nation’s growing awareness, acceptance, and honoring of our diversity. It also recognizes our collective history of the enslavement of people of African descent.

Juneteenth isn’t just part of African American history; it’s American history. It’s a day for inspiration and recognition of the foundations of our society. What we celebrate as a country – and what we choose not to celebrate – reflects our national values, our worldview, and our cultural priorities. Juneteenth is a day to recognize the lived experiences of African Americans, a journey through oppression marked by the Middle Passage, chattel slavery, Jim Crow laws, and mass incarceration. It is a day to honor and celebrate the triumph of Black genius, courage, resilience, family, faith, love, and artistry, along with the profound impact Black people have in shaping this nation.

For those of us who have been working on systems change for decades, it is encouraging to see forward progress, unprecedented investments, and efforts to remedy longstanding racial inequities across sectors. Every step towards justice and equity counts.

Still, much more must be done. At GLIDE, we are focused on the critical work necessary to address a legacy of systemic racism. We continue to build on our history of fighting for the people and advocating for policies and investments that address the consequences of racial injustice, including homelessness and intergenerational poverty. Our racial justice and reconciliation programs deepen understandings of systemic racism and build empathy in private and public corridors of power to transform lives as well as institutions and to drive systemic change.

As we commemorate Juneteenth in America, together, we also look forward to a future when the Federal holidays of this nation truly reflect the diverse nature, values, and people of this country. This is an important step; taking the moment to celebrate gives us strength to keep going. Every day at GLIDE, we work to advance this vision. This is what we do. At every level. We embody the spirit, the vision, and the purpose of Juneteenth.

In love and solidarity, 

Karen J. Hanrahan 
President & CEO, GLIDE

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you today, feeling acutely the burden of the collective heart. Across this country, there is an increase in alarming reports of antisemitic hate crimes, assaults, and harassment. Of course, GLIDE condemns these actions that are born out of deep-seated bigotry, intolerance, and blame. There is never a justification for hate crimes. And there is also something deeper to address. 

Scapegoating of many shades has long been a precursor to violence and harassment in our nation, all proliferating from the common roots of fear and shame. Roots that are hard to bear. When we examine the collective history of our nation, we find narratives brimming with antisemitic hate crimes committed by individuals, groups, and government officials. We recognize the patterns and cannot be silent witnesses to a new wave of religious scapegoating and violence that targets a community that has suffered from centuries of oppression. History and our values demand more of us. 

GLIDE’s role has always been to bear resounding witness to this collective trauma, to shine a light on those bare roots, and to bring people together in shared humanity to forge solutions. We are both heartbroken and angry at the increasing scale and depth, and magnitude of scapegoating. Let me touch again on the burden of the collective heart – isn’t this ache a call to awaken to the larger task ahead of us? 

We know, at GLIDE, that America is at its best when we come together to support each other. This is our vision of what this country might be. May is Jewish American Heritage Month. Our nation is made stronger by the resilience, history, and cultural contributions of American Jews. Let us join together in recognition and celebration of this truth. 

We are mindful that the meaning of the Hebrew word Shalom means both peace and also wholeness. We work every day on the ground here at GLIDE to help and support everyone to feel safe and whole. We want to affirm, as always, that American Jews, like all of us, deserve to feel safe and secure in who they are, and deserve to feel Shalom wherever they might be. 

As a nearly 60-year-old social justice organization rooted in radical inclusion and unconditional love, GLIDE has always stood firmly with the Jewish community. We all are in this together. GLIDE is for the people. Always. 

L’ shalom,

Karen J. Hanrahan 
President & CEO, GLIDE

Dear Friends,

Throughout May we celebrate and honor the rich culture, contributions, diversity, and resilience of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. It is a special month at GLIDE. And it is also every day at GLIDE, where we embody the opportunity for healing and unity through our diversity.

So much of the GLIDE community is comprised of people of AANHPI heritage – our leadership, our staff, and clients, our donors and volunteers, our friends. All are fundamental to who we are and how we transform lives across San Francisco. Our heritage is rooted in the legacy of GLIDE’s co-founder, Janice Mirikitani, whose legacy of love, strength, and healing for all people is also rooted in her personal experience overcoming abuse and injustice.

The lived experiences of the AANHPI community resonate daily within and around GLIDE. From accomplishments on the national stage in leadership, social justice, business, and philanthropy, to the heroism and ingenuity of our staff, volunteers, and community partners who assist those in need across San Francisco. Throughout GLIDE’s nearly 60-year history, we have celebrated members of the AANHPI community, because they are us and we are them. Together we are the beloved community.

Yet, echoes of historical injustices against the AANHPI community sound again as hate crimes increased with the rise of COVID-19. These acts of violence are a chilling reminder of the consequences of political scapegoating and our nation’s long and systemic history of erasing and denying our patterns of stereotyping, silencing, exploiting, and perpetuating acts of brutality against the AANHPI community.

It is time to end this violent history and to carve new paths for healing and justice. We must begin by shining a light on the realities of the AANHPI experiences in our country, by exposing the travesties of history, speaking out loudly against violence, and demanding accountability. This radical truth-telling is a prerequisite to progress, an essential step for any nation to move out from under and beyond hate crimes and racial injustice. Once we lift up the truth, we must take action that fosters accountability, compassion, dialogue, and, eventually, reconciliation. GLIDE is doing this work. As we publicly condemn the violence and call for accountability, we are also leading initiatives that build pathways to empathy, trust and reconciliation. Our innovative work with police, healthcare workers, companies, and our own diverse community is changing how people see themselves and each other.

When we come together in these ways, with resilience, lifting each other up and embracing and cherishing our diversity, we build a better future that is bigger than the sum of the parts. GLIDE has stood for and with the AANHPI community. We always have, and we always will.

With love and in solidarity,

Karen J. Hanrahan
President & CEO

Dear GLIDE Community,

When historians look back on the COVID-19 pandemic, they will tell the story of women rising to challenges of historic proportions with profound resilience, power and leadership. They will also tell a story of tremendous sacrifice, loss and disappointment. The biggest insight from this tragedy will be how the pandemic clearly exposed the fragility of women’s progress and the persistence of longstanding and ubiquitous gender inequities.

As COVID-19 ravages our communities, exacerbating poverty, housing instability and food insecurity, the virus is taking an especially devastating toll on women. Many women, who were already straining to hold on to precarious and superficial advances, have had the bottom fall out from under them. And every indicator points to women of color suffering disproportionately.

Throughout this crisis, already overextended women have lost jobs, experienced food insecurity and spent increased time on unpaid childcare. Violence against women and children has escalated significantly, as many people have been forced to stay home in increasingly hostile and unsafe environments. In a matter of months, hard-fought gains women have made in pay equity, employment and financial stability were nearly wiped out. And on top of the virus’s economic toll, women of color have been significantly more likely to be infected with COVID-19 and to die from its impact.

Despite living in the wealthiest state in a wealthy country, women and children in California do not escape the same tragic inequities we are seeing around the nation. It may be surprising to know that, according to data from the California Women’s Foundation, California has the highest rates of child poverty in the country and women in San Francisco rank in the lower third of all California counties for indicators of wellness, safety and food security.

We see these realities every day at GLIDE. In a survey conducted by our Family, Youth and Childcare Center, which predominantly serves families of color headed by women, 93 percent of respondents reported income losses due to the pandemic, 47 percent didn’t have any weekly income and 71 percent of the women surveyed said GLIDE helped them avoid hunger. Through our essential support services, GLIDE helps women and their families stabilize their lives and thrive.

Research shows that investing in women drives progress for everyone. According to USAID, “A woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending benefits to the world around her, creating a better life for her family and building a strong community.” This is why GLIDE prioritizes support of women and families of color to help break intergenerational poverty and drive systemic change. Through our new Center for Women and Families, and increased policy and advocacy efforts from our Center for Social Justice, more people will access pathways out of poverty, increase stability and gain lasting economic independence.

To realize the collective progress we all make from lifting up women, we must first seek to understand why so many women lost so much so quickly. Then, as the world starts to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, elected officials, policymakers and leaders across sectors must place women’s economic opportunity and stability at the forefront of the nation’s recovery efforts.

On this day, March 24, 2021, people across the country will mark Equal Pay Day, which calls for an end to longstanding gender pay gaps in our society. It is time to invest in women at all levels. It is time to bring women into leadership, bolster our social safety net, address food insecurity, close the gender pay gap, provide paid family leave, expand access to quality healthcare, and invest in affordable childcare. It is time to create lasting structural change to ensure equality, equity and opportunity for all women. There is everything to gain, for our children, for our families, for our communities, for our world.

In Solidarity,

Karen J. Hanrahan 
President & CEO, GLIDE

Dear Beloved Community,
We are outraged by the violence that has been directed at our Asian American community members. The reports of violence against our seniors are especially heart-wrenching. This must stop.
This wave of violence emerges from a recent plague of disinformation and demagogic strategies of division and scapegoating. It has roots in our nation’s legacy of racism and xenophobia. That legacy is a scourge. It undermines the social bonds that hold us together, support our greatest capacities as human beings, and give us collective strength to overcome any obstacle—strength we need at this time of profound social challenge. 
Racism has powerful institutional sources and racism also feeds on our willingness to perpetuate divisions among ourselves. We must not give systemic racism more power. Instead, we must see one another, in all of our diversity and circumstances, as fellow human beings in a common effort to belong, to love ourselves and one another, to survive and thrive. When we do this, we strengthen each other’s liberty, and we break down the barriers of white supremacy and systemic racism.

In the language and organizing around racial justice, we must make sure that when we demand justice, we demand it for all. Now is the time for collective solidarity. Now is the time to practice radical inclusion and love in action. Not in abstract ways but in our daily lives—by looking out for one another, calling out hate, protecting each other, taking the time to appreciate one another, to be curious, and to cultivate dialogue and respect across our differences while holding up the values and potential we all share as human beings.

In our homes, places of employment, and circles of influence, we must promote respect, kindness, and love for all communities, including our Asian American sisters and brothers. 

We call on everyone to stand with us in solidarity with our Asian American neighbors, family, colleagues and friends. Together, we will overcome violence with understanding and love. We will be and grow the loving community we are, seeking inclusion and justice for everyone.

You can find more information, resources and ways to help by going here.

In solidarity,

Miguel Bustos
GLIDE Center for Social Justice

Dear GLIDE Community,

At this moment, more than 21,000 National Guard troops are stationed in Washington DC – four times as many soldiers as in Iraq and Afghanistan combined – to ensure the peaceful transfer of power in our democracy. This unprecedented military presence is symbolic of a nation historically divided by white privilege, racism, and violence. 

We are witnessing what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed during the struggle for Civil Rights: that violent behavior breeds bitterness and chaos and undermines progress for us all. In contrast, Dr. King championed the idea that nonviolent protest, inclusion and reconciliation would lead to a more just and loving society – a beloved community.

On Monday, we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and his vision of a world where inequality, discrimination and hate are transformed into equity, inclusion, and love. This vision has inspired our collective hopes and imagination, and our fight for justice. 

Guided by our core values of unconditional love and radical inclusion, GLIDE continues to embody Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community by advancing racial equity, creating pathways out of poverty and transforming lives –- by meeting hate with love and inclusion. We recognize from the division in our nation and the growing needs of the people of San Francisco — disproportionately people of color – that our work has never been more critical. 

To create the beloved community in our lifetime, we must take steps, both individually and collectively, to bridge our differences and strive for justice for all. Join me as we continue our efforts to realize Dr. King’s vision. I am honored and proud to be engaged in this work alongside all of you.

In Solidarity,

Karen Hanrahan

P.S. I invite you to participate in GLIDE’s Center for Social Justice virtual event, “How Am I Martin? Celebrating the Man,” on January 18 at 5:00 pm, which will feature insights on Dr. King from our co-founder Rev. Cecil Williams.