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
Our front doorbell rang the other day. When I opened the door, a woman by the name of Rita introduced herself. In this newsletter, you will find her story that is a part of the story of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, who celebrate 85 years of service this year in San Francisco. Today the Sisters own and operate Good Shepherd Gracenter and help others in a variety of outreach services in San Francisco. The Women of the Good Shepherd Guild also celebrate 85 years of dedicated service in their support of Gracenter through their fundraising efforts.
We are thankful for each of you as supporters of our Mission. May God shower you and your families with many blessings and graces this beautiful time of New Life and Spring!
Sr. Marguerite Bartling RGS, MSW
Executive Director, Gracenter
I was with the Good Shepherd Sisters when I was a teenager at their University Mound School. The Sisters showed me love, kindness and respect and gave me the courage to trust, for the first time in my life. The Sisters continually tried to build me up, which was also a new experience for me. I even allowed myself to cry rather than hold everything in. My feet seemed to be made for running—which I did twice—but the Sisters came to juvenile hall both times to ask if I wanted to return. They accepted me—no matter what—and they taught me to use my mind. I learned so much that I still use today and now teach my grandchildren—especially about self-confidence.
Mr. Veldheuzen, my therapist, was so calm and gentle and could see through my tough facade. Fr. O’Connor was also a great friend and supporter. I remember that he took us to Benihana’s for our graduation. We stayed in contact and he even baptized my children much later.
I have so many wonderful memories, that I still dream about when things get tough. I remember the abundant and delicious food and the best Christmas that I had in my entire life. I especially remember Mr. Ben Swig bringing jewelry for each of us. It was such a safe haven for me that I refused to leave—and go to yet another foster home. I wanted to graduate from their school so I asked to go to Grace Cottage, which had been completed as a transition home in 1961. It gave me both the freedom to try out my new skills with the security of people around me who truly enveloped me with love, acceptance and support.
What does that food label tell you?
Thanks to our partnership with Leah’s Pantry and EatFresh.org, the women at Gracenter had a fantastic educational experience that will contribute much to their efforts to live healthy lives.
The instructor, Alex, included lessons, quizzing and helpful practices. With this foundation, we learned how to make balanced and healthy choices using “My Plate” (https://www.choosemyplate.gov/) as a guide.
A new dish was introduced in each class, which was often determined by what fresh produce was available from “Imperfect Produce,” a program that was also introduced to us by Leah’s Pantry. With their weekly donations of cosmetically challenged produce, Gracenter has been able to reduce its food expenses each week.
Those completing the course received a certificate of completion as well as a phenomenal gift of a “kitchen in a bag”. It included a crockpot, cutting board, chef’s knife, cooking utensils and much more. The women were thrilled with this incredibly generous gift with which they will be able to begin their new life upon graduation from Gracenter.
We are so grateful to Leah’s Pantry which provided so much knowledge, encouragement and enjoyment. We are especially grateful to Alex, our phenomenal instructor. We are all on our way to much healthier living and eating!
Good Shepherd Sisters celebrate 85 years of service to San Francisco
This year, 2017, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd are celebrating 85 years of service to San Francisco. They belong to an international order of Sisters, serving in 73 countries and which has a 376 year history of offering healing and self-sufficiency, primarily to women and girls who have been abused, exploited or are in situations needing healing and support.
In San Francisco, from 1932 to 1977, the Sisters owned and operated “University Mound School” which served more than 5,000 teenaged girls—most of whom were placed by the juvenile courts or social service agencies. Today, their service to young women continues at Good Shepherd Gracenter, a Licensed Recovery Residence, that offers a path to successful recovery and community reintegration by addressing the major barriers faced by many substance abusers—the lack of a safe home, spirituality, education and social skills.
Some of the Sisters also serve the city by working for other agencies. One is working at the Multi-Service Center South— which is the largest homeless shelter in Northern California and is operated by the St. Vincent De Paul Society. Another Sister is working at Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center that provides recreational, vocational and educational opportunities for people with disabilities.
In these ways, the Sisters continue their mission and are making a difference through their assistance to those in need and helping them to change their lives. With your support, the Sisters are ready for the next 85 years!