GLIDE: A Champion Non-Profit

GLIDE is featured this week by the White House as a Champion Non-Profit. Below is the full version of the blog posted on whitehouse.gov
by Kristen Growney Yamamoto and Rita Shimmin, Co-Executive Directors, and James Lin, Manager of Organizational Integration

“Volunteer lending a helping hand during GLIDE’s annual Grocery Bag Giveaway”

GLIDE is a vital social service and social justice foundation, in the heart of San Francisco, that delivers inclusive, culturally sensitive, soulful and effective services to those with nowhere to turn.  Powered by a vision that is supported by nearly ten thousand volunteers a year, we catch people and families in a safety net and provide services to alleviate their suffering, and help them return from crisis to full lives of work, family and community participation. We work to change the way we all view the poor and the marginalized, from the downtrodden ‘other’, to mutually valuable participants of society.

Our Work and Impact
When people have lost a job or lost their home to foreclosure, divorce or a violent relationship; or because of an unexpected emergency room visit attached to a big hospital bill; or because of addiction or mental illness, we provide groceries and meals to make sure the kids are fed. We provide medical care so people can care for themselves when they have lost their insurance coverage, or perhaps a one-time grant to help a family put together the deposit for an apartment. We let those returning from prison know there are ways to gain back a true sense of self and contribute to society in positive ways.

GLIDE serves over twelve thousand individuals and families each year through an integrated and holistic array of programs designed around our community needs. We are built on the vision of creating a community where we affirm our shared humanity and a common need to give and receive. We do this through our programs. We started with church potluck meals in the 1960’s and have grown to serve nearly one million meals a year. We started with one building. Today we have five buildings including one dedicated to youth and their families, and three others to permanent, affordable housing. GLIDE Health Services, with its holistic approach to primary and mental health care in a nurse–managed facility, turns no one away for lack of funds. Our family resource center is turning into a model program for how to blend our breadth of services seamlessly to meet the needs of families in our community.

“A mother and daughter sharing a meal in GLIDE’s Daily Free Meals Program”

In the 1960’s Reverend Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, co-founders who remain active today, created a different kind of leadership that expressed mutual respect with those served. As providers, we work to change ourselves and be honest about our own prejudices and our own needs, so we can accept all who come and deliver our services without ourselves being barriers for them to access services. We believe all of the knowledge, material, and skill in the world is of no use if you can’t sustain that kind of cooperative empathy. At GLIDE, staff and program participants alike learn and lead together in a community context, and the people in need design the programs.

A Snapshot of How GLIDE Helps Our Community:
We keep people and families off the streets. Through our one-stop shelter reservations process, GLIDE efficiently connects people in need to available beds in San Francisco. As a result, 2,260 individuals and families had a place to sleep for 10,726 nights last year. We’ve also been pioneers in getting chronically homeless folks off the streets over the long term: last year, working with San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, we moved 54 chronically homeless individuals into studios built specifically to stabilize people in tough circumstances and reduce the burden on the public health system and city services. These units complement our 133 additional apartments, together providing stable housing for well over 400 people in the center of San Francisco.
We create platforms for financial stability. Our services are designed to help people return from crisis to full lives of work, family, and community participation. We have over 100 children a day in our childcare and after-school programs, and 80% of the parents of these children were able to keep their jobs because they had a good place for their children to be while they worked. Similarly, our nurse-managed health services keep uninsured people out of the public emergency room and free of bankrupting medical expenses by providing preventative care including diabetes management, immunizations, mammogram screening, and psychiatric medication maintenance. For those teetering on the edge of homelessness, GLIDE’s rental assistance programs were able to help 416 individuals and families keep their housing or move into permanent housing last year alone.

We give people the tools to support healthy lives and healthy families. From our parenting classes to our community anti-violence trainings and addiction treatment programs, GLIDE is helping people build the skills needed to take control of their own lives. Our Meals Program began a “Healthy Choices” series that educated guests about the food we serve and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 87% of the families in our youth and childcare programs reported that they had access to healthy options because of GLIDE. The Women’s Center, working with over 400 homeless and marginally housed women in 2010, reported that that 93% of participants grew in their understanding of domestic violence and co-dependency, while 83% changed their understanding of substance abuse. “Men in Progress” groups work with men to end violence and increase intimacy in their relationships, and our outpatient addiction and recovery program received a national AND a regional award last year for excellence in service. The work of equipping people for change is something we’ve done for decades.

Sometimes the best support is just to love people through the bewilderment of finding themselves in unexpected life circumstances. At GLIDE, we draw a horizon with them, help them imagine possibilities, work together to plan their journey back to wholeness and self-confidence. We catch people when they fall and provide a social trampoline, helping individuals and families bounce back from crisis.

GLIDE’s programs embody a radical belief that people can transform their own lives with the help of that trampoline of support and the involvement of a community. Our methodology is radically simple: love, acceptance, and compassion for all people no matter where they come from, what they look like, what they smell like, who they love, or any political or religious beliefs they may have. It is from this place of acceptance that it becomes clear how you can alter a life, a community, and a society. This is GLIDE’s foundation for social change, and we invite others to join us in breaking down boundaries and celebrating our differences.

Our Future
As GLIDE looks forward, Co-Executive Directors, Rita Shimmin and Kristen Growney Yamamoto, and Pastor Karen Oliveto will continue to innovate, respond, and create comprehensive programs and services to meet the needs of our underserved communities with the same liberating spirit found in our church celebrations-welcoming and accepting everyone, unconditionally.

We know the leaders of the future need to be able to manage the complexity of baby boomers and Generations x and y, expressing a diversity of languages, race, cultures, abilities, and class, all working together in fluid teams and that the old framework of positional authority, making rules and enforcing them, will not get us through these transitional times or create the future we desire.

In order to achieve our current dreams to embrace radical diversity among ourselves and our program participants, bring affordable nutrition and wellness to the poor, increase literacy and college access among the children of the working poor, and give all our children a legacy of love and respect for all, we are creating revolutionary practices of radical love in our workplace with those we serve through staff transformation and the innovation and implementation of socially disruptive policies and practices in our everyday work life.

Please join us in creating a radically diverse future that includes love and respect for all, unconditionally. It’s the GLIDE way!