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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Swords to Plowshares

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Human Services, Job Training, Military & Veterans Organizations, Veterans

Mission: War causes wounds and suffering that last beyond the battlefield. Our mission is to heal the wounds, to restore dignity, hope and self-sufficiency to all veterans in need, and to prevent and end homelessness and poverty among veterans.

Results: Founded in 1974, Swords to Plowshares is a community-based not-for-profit organization that provides counseling and case management, rapid re-housing and eviction prevention services, employment and training, supportive housing, and legal benefits assistance to nearly 3,000 low-income, homeless, and at-risk veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area each year.

Target demographics: all veterans regardless of era of service or discharge status

Direct beneficiaries per year: 3000+ veterans per year

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area

Programs: Founded in 1974, Swords to Plowshares is a community-based not-for-profit organization that provides case management, mental health assessment and referral, rapid re-housing and eviction prevention services, employment and training, supportive housing, and legal benefits assistance for low-income, homeless and at-risk veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area. Swords to Plowshares promotes and protects the rights of veterans through advocacy, public education, and partnerships with local, state and national entities. HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES / FRONTLINE DROP-IN CENTER in San Francisco helps homeless and at-risk veterans with: crisis intervention, mental health assessment and referral, emergency shelter assistance; housing placement assistance, eviction prevention, money management and representative-payee services, ancillary support, referrals to our in-house programs and coordinated referrals for needed services. EMPLOYMENT & JOB TRAINING services offered in San Francisco and Oakland help veterans by working one-on-one with them to identify and mitigate barriers to employment; become job-ready through pre-employment preparation, career counseling, and vocational training; and obtain and retain employment with job placement and follow-up services. We work with employers and vocational training partners to facilitate job brokering, job placement, and veteran cohort vocational trainings. LEGAL SERVICES TO OBTAIN VA BENEFITS including representation by an attorney, help disabled low-income and homeless veterans each year obtain healthcare, disability, pension, and other available VA benefits earned through their service. SUPPORTIVE TEMPORARY & PERMANENT HOUSING sites house more than 500 veterans each year at two transitional and three permanent housing sites, including one dedicated to veterans with families. POLICY ADVOCACY initiatives are informed by our direct services. Our Institute for Veteran Policy (IVP) staff educates the public, service providers, and policy makers on veteran-friendly policies and best service practices

Community Stories

79 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 1

Due to the death of my parents I had to travel from alameda to Medford Oregon two to three times a month since January 2019. I applied for assistance to pay my past due rent. I was told by Oakland office they would pay it for me. They told me to assure my landlord it would be paid. This was on 10/2/19 ... I’ve made calls that have never been returned three or four times a week. My hud vash counselor have also emailed and called multiple times. I’m extremely stressed and facing being homeless by eviction after loosing my parents this month. Swords to Plowshares needs better people working for veteran and they need to answer calls and stop making fails promises!!!! Mental breakdown !!!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great experience! We enjoyed everyone we met, loved the opportunity to work outside, and felt it was a wonderful way to support our veterans.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What a tremendous experience it was working with Swords to Plowshares. It was such a special experience and hope to work with this group in the future!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great people at the charity and great experience volunteering with folks at Veterans Commons!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Swords to Plowshares was a great opportunity to volunteer with. The staff is phenomenal and breakfast was delicious. You can tell how much the veterans value and appreciate the impact.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Worked with Soo and her team to serve breakfast to Veterans at their new Otis street location. They were just getting settled in the new location and hitting the ground running to support the residents. They had not only great rapport with the Veterans, but were also incredibly lovely to volunteer with. Looking forward to my next opportunity to work with the team!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great to get involved with such a great effort. I had a great time meeting the people in the community we helped and the people from Swords to Plowshares. A great group and although the work was easy, we know it goes a long way in helping the nonprofit. I look forward to participating in another event again soon.

Chris V.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Amazing experience working with Swords to Plowshares team.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

To gather with your colleagues in a different setting, giving back, stepping out of your own reality...it's truly a blessing. We're lucky that Verizon Media gives us corporate volunteer days to do just that! We absolutely loved engaging with the facilities coordinator and helping Swords to Plowshares with their needs for the day! We took on painting three separate housing stair railings, sorting/organizing three giant storage garages and picking up scattered and concentrated litter on the premises. We had a crew of about 25 working together. There's no offsite or corp event that connects you with your colleagues and your local communities in need the way volunteering does it. Gratitude to all.

Nicole P.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have a deep love and appreciation for the veterans of our country and applaud the work that Swords to Plowshares is doing. It is my honor to contribute, in whatever small way I can, to helping them carry out their mission. They put thought and care into serving our veterans and providing them with much needed services and resources. I look forward to coming back and getting to spend more time with the veterans!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This group is aimed to improve the quality of life for veterans by hosting social events and bringing everyone together.
As a veteran myself, I find this to be a unique opportunity and group where I can help out my own.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Swords to Plowshares through my office earlier this year and had a great experience. We helped prepare and serve breakfast to homeless / low income veterans and the entire process was smooth-sailing.

Soo was very kind and explained in great detail the mission of their organization and was getting involved in the volunteering herself as well!

Our team really appreciated the ease of knowing exactly what to do, how to do it, what to expect, etc. It's clear Swords to Plowshares has a ton of knowledge and education for newcomers like us to be able to help provide a small help in a very large and impressive cause.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We helped Swords to Plowshares serve a luncheon for at-risk and homeless veterans in November, 2018. The staff was excellent and gave us all the assistance we needed to help serve out luncheon and reach out to the veteran community in a big way. Soo Kim and Colleen Corliss were fantastic at communicating with us and keeping us abreast of all the pertinent information we needed to make this possible.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Swords to Plowshares have been awesome partners in providing the bridge between tech sector veteran employee resource groups and our homeless veterans in our SOMA community.

Andrew B.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been an amazing opportunity to volunteer with Swords to Plowshares these last two years to help my fellow veterans. This is awesome organization with dedicated and hardworking staff. I feel very honored to work with this organization and the great work they do for our brothers and sisters in need.

Heather V.1

Client Served

Rating: 4

What did s your offer or your non profit for or what does it wntail

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I moved to San Francisco I had to start from the absolute bottom after facing a divorce following my military service. Since I was a realtor prior, I didn’t have consistent income and couldn’t even qualify for an apartment. I had no job or degree, I didn’t know exactly what do. After meeting with Sword to Plowshares, I was able to rent a home in Oakland which paved the way for me starting and finishing my Bachelors Degree from Academy of Art, I also landed a job as a software engineer at a major corporation and now have custody of one of sons. If Swords would have never given me that initial support, I’m not sure how I would have made it here to see all the great opportunities that were to come. Very thankful to Randall Flagg and Swords to Plowshares for this great support!!

NormanCT

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had help filing for Service Connected Disability from the Military, and Swords Legal Department did a great job. Although it took 3 years, I was first denied, they filed an appeal, and in November 2017 I received 100% Disability from the Military. It was a great help to me and my family. They also have housing services, employment and training. They are a great organization who helps any veteran who walks through their doors. They have offices in San Francisco, as well as Oakland.

Previous Stories
4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been associated with Sword To Plowshares since 2007 when I saw an add on Craigslist for a Substance Abuse Counselor. I had never hear of this organization, even when I was a Homeless Veteran living on the streets of San Francisco, with mental health and substance abuse issues. I applied for the job, and was quickly won over with what I saw that they were doing in the lives of homeless Veterans. I was assigned as a Program Counselor at their Treasure Island Transitional Housing Program where I worked for 4 years helping Veterans change their lives. You see, not only was I a Vietnam Veteran, I had also recovered from a life of substance abuse issues as well as mental health issues. The attention to what has caused a Vet to become homeless. and what could possibly help them find the life that they always wanted, or productive and healthy is their mission. I have seen this organization grow from about 60 employees to over 150 since joining their staff. I have found my purpose in life, and not only that, have found a career that Im can be proud of. They not only help Veterans with their issues, they also help their employees as well, When I found that I was suffering from PTSD, they not only allowed me time to be treated, but the legal team is helping with my Service Connected Disability claim. I can only say that while working for Swords, I noy only helped other Veterans change their lives, but the work I am doing has also helped me changed my life as well. This organization is the best Veterans Service Organization I have found. A lot of people want to help Veterans because Vets are the new thing going and are in it for the money. Swords has been doing this work for over 40 years and are not in it for the money, they are in it because they save lives.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Swords to Plowshares does a number of things that set it apart from other non-profits. Among these include: establishing an excellent network of attorneys, local leaders, and veterans to help aid in the efforts of veteran's advocacy; developing and providing excellent educational and training opportunities to advance veteran's advocacy; and raising awareness that promotes outstanding volunteer support. It has been an honor to be involved with them and the success stories they are responsible for.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered at Swords to Plowshares' legal clinic on several occasions and have been impressed with the great work this organization does. In my former capacity as a law firm pro bono coordinator, I also helped place full scope cases with my colleagues. Swords was always very supportive. They go above and beyond to help vulnerable veteran populations and are all around a fantastic group.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with Swords as a volunteer for three years, and they provide significant programs to at-risk veterans in the SF Bay area. They are compassionate, caring and effective, and always strive to improve their programs.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer to provide Pro Bono services to veterans in need through Swords. As a direct result of Sword's focus, organization, and dedication, the volunteer activities are always successful and help many, many people. Swords is a compassionate, caring and effective group.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Swords to Plowshares is a fabulous organization that I've had the pleasure of working with for the past 5 years. They contribute an incredible amount of hard work to the Bay Area veteran community. I can't recommend them highly enough.

Chris B.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a OEF Marine Veteran (04-05') with an OTH discharge.. Currently I am fighting for clemency on this matter as it's been a 3 step fwd. 5 steps back kind of battle! I believe in the things this organization is doing for others as well as how it could possibly help me! Thank you so much for your contributions to our veterans!

1 Jesse Medlong

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have worked as a volunteer lawyer at Swords' clinics, and I now serve on its Pro Bono Advisory Board. I have been involved in many nonprofits over the years, and I can easily say that Swords is among the most dynamic, dedicated, and consistently successful organizations I have seen. They are pillars of the community, and I am proud of the work they do on behalf of the Bay Area's veterans.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have had the privilege and honor of 25 years as a Swords to Plowshares Board member. I was on active duty for 5 years and spent 1966 in Vietnam, so I am keenly aware of the plight of veterans in need. That sensitivity lead to me to Swords. At Swords I came into contact with vets who have had the courage to overcome their physical and emotional injuries and create or recreate successful lives. Through their stories and guidance, I came to fully and truly understand the meaning of courage. I thought I had some understanding of courage as soldiers displayed that quality in combat. Now I understand the same intensity and comitment to courage is necessary for damaged vets who manage to find a positive way forward. I am in awe of these men and women who have earned the hard won title of hero through overcoming their injuries and despair. My time with Swords has allowed me to know the best of best.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Swords helped pay my deposit for my apartment in my early sobriety and gave me the opportunity to work on recovery in a safe place. They housed me in a respectable transitional living environment prior to that. I have stayed sober since still working hard and will be forever grateful to the support Swords had given me. An absolutely great organization who help countles vets daily.

1

Client Served

Rating: 3

Swords has helped me on more than one occasion, first they helped me with obtaining my social security, they helped me with overcoming substance abuse and alcoholism. They placed me in housing, have given me computer skills , I took computer training at the Veterans academy all for free. They referred me to treatment services at the Day hospital at Fort Miley which I attended and graduated from. The helped me get a job at the VA hospital under the CWT Program where I successfully completed in 9 months. Also has helped me with many things. Got me permanent housing in the Presidio where I lived for 5 years. I Rarely Swords a 10 for excellence.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My mom (20 yr vet) and I were 1 day away from being homeless. My dad who died, was also in the military. So was just me and my mom. We had only one day left in our hotel room, no money, no food. I was crying from being so hungry, but we looked online with our last day, trying to find help.

My mom is the hardest worker you'll ever meet, but couldn't find a job. I had to see her work from 8am till sometimes come home at 2am and do it the next day..anyways, we found this place and they immediately helped us with several months for accommodations. We encountered severe bed bugs staying in bad hotels and they got us new clothes. My mom got a new job and can't imagine what would have happened in another life, if they were not there.

..thank you anyone that donates to them. (or helps in any way) :)

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have been working on pro bono cases for Swords for years. They do invaluable work for vets, helping them to get benefits and housing. It is a superb organization.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

They do excellent work for and under-served but highly deserving set of clients. The work they do for Veterans is unparalleled, and I am proud to be associated with their organization as an attorney volunteer.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first learned about this organization through its legal services for veterans. I soon learned that Swords helps our vets with so much more than just their legal needs (which are huge in and of themselves). Swords provides services to help with housing, education, job training, mental health and getting veterans the benefits to which they are entitled. It is run by some of the most energetic and thoughtful folks I know. I am proud to be involved and so impressed with all of the wonderful things they do. Thank you Swords to Plowshares!!!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Swords to Plowshares helped me more than any other veteran service organization in San Francisco. They helped me to secure stable housing and get caught up on utilities. They even helped me with some food and appliances while I was getting back on my feet. Thanks to their help I was able to get a great job, and I'm back on the right track. Thank you Swords!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Swords to Plowshares provides amazing wrap around care for veterans from housing and job support to healthcare and legal services. They provide critical support for our woefully underserved veteran community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There is always a wait list of volunteers for the Swords to Plowshares clinics. There is just not enough space for all the folks who want to volunteer at these clinics. What a wonderful problem to have.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Swords is THE leading non-profit addressing verterans' issues in the Bay Area. From housing, to job support and training, to legal representation, Swords is doing the hard work that needs to get done. Michael Blecher has led the organization as well as any E.D. of any organization I have been involved with. Swords would not be what it is without him. Great leader.