Good Shepherd Gracenter helps women without resources break free from drug and alcohol addiction. By providing long-term transitional housing with an individualized 12-Step recovery plan, we offer each woman the opportunity to live a healthy and meaningful life.
Executive Director's Report
By Sr. Marguerite Bartling, RGS, MSW
Good Shepherd Gracenter is presenting its 3rd Annual Fundraiser, A Taste of Autumn, on Sunday, September 20, 2015. We invite you to a lovely luncheon and the opportunity to join us in our mission of making an impact in the lives of the women at Gracenter.
Finding stable transitional housing with supportive services at Gracenter, women educate themselves and their peers. They obtain employment, open a bank account, pay off past debts, volunteer in the community and chose a lifestyle of health and wellness. Becoming strong and independent, the women in turn give back to their families and to their communities. One woman summed up her life at Gracenter with the words, “Happy, healthy and grateful.”
We are grateful too for your support of Gracenter and ask God’s blessings on you and all your loved ones this summer season.
Sr. Marguerite Bartling RGS, MSW
Executive Director, Gracenter
Peer Education Motivates Outreach
The women at Good Shepherd Gracenter are involved in peer education, researching and presenting a wide variety of topics to other women in the residence. Exploring healthy relationships, homelessness, yoga and smoking cessation are among some of the lively discussions.
In a recent discussion on homelessness, the peer leader, Shatoya, offered sobering statistics. In San Francisco, there are sufficient shelter beds for only about 10% of the homeless population. About 25% of those who are released from S.F. County jail are homeless and about 50% of those seen in S.F. General Hospital Psychiatric Emergency services are homeless. This topic touches most of the women who come to Good Shepherd Gracenter as they too have experienced the stark reality and vulnerability of being homeless.
Shatoya suggested that the women of Gracenter do some outreach services. For a very long time, she wanted to reach out and help others and saw the perfect opportunity to invite the women from Gracenter to join her in giving back.
Going as a group, the women wore white t-shirts with the Gracenter Logo and distributed 100 sandwiches among the many homeless women, men and even some families on Potrero Avenue. One of the women plans to bring her ten yearold son on the next Gracenter outreach event in order to teach him to think of others.
As the leader of the homelessness discussion and Gracenter’s outreach to serve the disadvantaged, Shatoya was pleased with the outcome. Afterwards she stated, “I believe I have become a better person. I was in their shoes once and I know how it feels. I love giving back in this way and will continue to so in someway going forward because I have such a good feeling in my heart.”
Growing and Giving Back
Two years ago, Lisa Whitney came to Good Shepherd Gracenter to continue her journey of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. She had experienced many challenges, personal losses and homelessness yet chose to live a healthy lifestyle in the supportive community of Gracenter.
Always a lover of nature and dogs, she went through the training at the San Francisco SPCA and became a faithful volunteer. She experienced that she “had a lot of love” in her heart to give to the new puppies in the shelter, getting them ready for adoption and a better life. A year later, the executive director of a local non-profit, Care Through Touch Institute (CTI), which offers massage therapy and compassionate presence to the poor and homeless approached Lisa. Lisa was invited to be trained in the 180-Hour Certificate Program in Seated Massage Therapy, Social Responsibility and Spiritual Practice. Lisa eagerly accepted the invitation.
Today, she has not only completed the certification with honors but is also part of CTI’s advisory committee representing the homeless community. As a formerly homeless person receiving the services of CTI, Lisa now experiences an honoring of her gifts as she in turn practices compassion towards others. It is a “win/win situation,” she said.
When asked what is different in her life because of being at Good Shepherd Gracenter, Lisa recounts she is more “open, willing and honest from the core of her being.” She can tap into her inner gifts and try to make the world a better place. She feels great pride that she is doing good work. “Everything I do matters. My intentions are honorable and I am more compassionate. Good qualities now bring direction to my life. It is like a rose blooming.”