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Harm Reduction and the Heroes Among Us


It fills us with immense pride to announce that on August 31st, two of our own, Felanie Castro, Case Manager, and Rizzy Spoer, Opt-in Outreach Worker, have been honored with the esteemed Community Service Award (CSAM).  

Since its initiation in 1985, the CSAM award has been a symbol of community service, spotlighting those non-physicians who’ve dedicated their energy to enhancing the lives of those dealing with substance dependency.  

Many legislators, activists, community leaders, and more have received the award, including our co-founder, Reverend Cecil Williams, in 1994. They all share one unifying trait: they have catalyzed genuine transformation in substance dependency, leaving an enduring imprint on the community. 

Being acknowledged with the CSAM award is no minor accomplishment. It highlights the priceless contributions its awardees make to the betterment of the communityBy shining a light on the exemplary work of individuals like Felanie and Rizzy, CSAM emphasizes the heart of community involvement and the crucial role every individual embodies in molding an inclusive, compassionate society. 

“I feel like I’m built to do this work. I know it’s essential, not easy, and being in the field daily is odd. Unless you are out there, it’s sometimes difficult to describe because every day is different. I know the van is seen, yet I’m shocked we have been noticed this way. Our focus is always on the people we serve, so I guess theirs is the feedback I’m used to. It feels good to know what we do is seen and appreciated,” said Felanie Castro.

Here at GLIDE, our Harm Reduction team has consistently championed a unique perspective on addressing substance dependency. We’re steadfast in our commitment to engaging individuals in their particular situations, comprehending their individual stories, and molding interventions to suit their needs.  

Felanie’s role as a Case Manager has been pivotal in this endeavor. By creating a space free from judgment, she ensures that every individual receives the support they require, fostering trust and building relationships, guiding them towards recovery and wellness. 

Rizzy, through her relentless outreach, stands as a connector between the community and the plethora of services GLIDE extends. It’s through her tireless dedication that many have discovered solace, support, and, above all, hope. 

“It was humbling and inspiring to discover that my coworker Felanie and I would accept an award that CSAM gave to Rev Cecil Williams in 1994,” said Rizzy.

“It is not uncommon for someone to tell us the Reverend got them into housing or directly changed their life in some way. The trust that has been built over time between San Francisco’s most marginalized communities and Glide as an organization makes it that much easier for us to connect people to care and support, and our partnership with the doctors from UCSF’s addiction medicine cohort is tremendous in repairing that same trust between our participants and the medical system.”

For us at GLIDE, harm reduction isn’t just a mechanism to reduce the adverse effects of substance use; it’s a testament to our belief in valuing human life. We strive to ensure that everyone feels acknowledged, listened to, and nurtured regardless of their battles. 

We celebrate the exceptional contributions of Felanie Castro and Rizzy Spoer to our community. Their dedication, zeal, and commitment exemplify the wonders achievable when individuals unite for a communal cause.  

Here’s to Felanie and Rizzy!