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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

80 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

Client Served

Rating: 4

Swords has been a good organization for me over the last few years. They were instrumental in helping me navigate through some personal difficulties. The organization helped me with housing in San Francisco. they have competent and passionate administration and staff. Trust is key to the organization in many ways. you have to trust that they know what they are requiring and suggesting. they also need to trust that you are committed to improving your life, not just flopping some were. I give this organization 4 stars out of 5. i leave out one star only because i would like to see them create a transitional housing unit that is not based only on substance abuse, homelessness, or psychological issues. The best thing about the veterans only housing was the "break" from the stresses of life, while being able to "focus", if even for just a couple months, on personal, professional, financial and educational goals moving forward after the "break". Having veterans my age living together to bounce ideas off, helped tremendously.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Hello, I have worked with Sword for the 10 years. Everyone their has aways been very helpful. The work that they do is amazing. David T. and David P. are aways helpful, understanding,compassionate and always willing to do what they can to help a Vet. Thank you Swords Barbara Y

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

S2S offers veteran's an opportunity to regain their dignity while providing a wholesome and supportive environment. THeir approacht is empathetic, but realistic. S2S provides a very needed service in our community, and more of this type of services are needed through out california.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Swords To Plowshares, wow waht a group. I was suffering from PTSD sleeping on my sisters couch. They took me in put a roof over my head. Set me up with a Therapist on the island that not only helped me with mental health issues from my days as a Marine, yet, even ones from childhood.They use varies levels of treatment to help cope with anxiety, depression and PTSD. I have since reconnected with my family and still reframe from using acholol and drugs. They helped with school which I am still continuing my education. Their legal team is the best I have ever seen. They have help me with my servce-connection disablities and even in the search of my Birth parents. I have and will continue to support Swords To Plowshares and recommend them to any veteran that can use their help. Thank GOD for them.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Swords to Plowshares totally turned my life around. I was homeless, had an impacted wisdom tooth and suffering from PTSD. I had been trying to get the wisdom tooth pulled way back in 2004 while I was still serving in the military but had no success. They deployed me to Iraq shortly after, and I could not get the dental services that I needed. Swords hooked my up with dental at Ft. Miley and had the tooth extracted free of charge. They are also helping me with my service-connected disability claim with the VA and are going to provide me with legal assistance. If it wasn't for Swords, I would still be living on the streets. Thank You, Swords to Plowshares!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Swords is one of the first places I send veterans and servicemebers in need of resources. If they cannot help with disability, benefit, financial, counseling, educationalal job/employment information, they find a resource that can. Committed, dedicated professional, down to earth, men and women who have walked the walk..been in the military, etc.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been a law enforcement chaplain since 1992. Since 2003 I have been helping vets that "fell through the cracks" in the military / VA system. The need is much greater than my resources, or the resources of my department. When in need of help "Swords" is often the first organization that I call. I have found them to be caring and knowledgeable when it comes to handeling vet's issues or getting them help. They have earned my respect by their dedication and mission focus. A few months ago I had a vet that was going to be unfairly "admin" discharged. He would have lost all his benefits and receive a less than honorable discharge, a stigma that would have been with him for life. Amy Fairweather gave me sound advice and a referral to another attorney that was highly qualified to handle the case. Many vets organizations will not help a vet if they were discharged under less than honorable conditions. "Swords" on the other hand will help them. This becomes extremely important to a vet that needs help, and was unfairly "admin" discharged. Changing and "admin" discharge to honorable can take up to two years. For a vet in crisis, it is two years too long and the consequences can be devistating. Biggest for Swords to Plowshares? They offer and give real help, not just lip service.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The folks at Swords to Plowshares are AMAZING! I could not believe that I was able to receive the financial assistance I needed to complete my training as a paramedic. The whole process was done in a way that I felt supported and dignified. There was very little waiting and I was never left wondering if I was going to be able to do it. Dave, my contact, was particularly understanding, compassionate, and helpful in my being able to achieve my goals. As a Desert Storm Era Veteran whose GI Bill already expired, I was particularly thankful to have this service provided by this GREAT NONPROFIT. Thank you!!!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I cannot speak highly enough about this extremely meritorious organization. I have been working with Swords for more than two years now, consulting with several of its departments on a major project regarding the criminalization combat-induced trauma. This has involved my consulting with individuals and groups on many different and complex issues. The staff at Swords is a very diverse group with a broad range of backgrounds, experiences and expertises, which keeps their projects at the cutting edge. That the organization is dedicated to having veterans integral to its operations is an essential aspect of its unassailable reputation, its integrity and its success. At the numerous meetings I have attended at Swords, the room just sparks with energy; the commitment of each and every person to the organization's mission is apparent and profound. I am continually inspired by the intelligence and creativity of Swords' staff and regard my involvement with the organization as one of the highlights of my career thus far.

1 DF

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My relationship with Swords goes back to 1992 when I volunteered for the Stand Down for homeless veterans. Since that time I have watched Swords grow and change to meet the needs of the veterans it serves, whether it be homeless veterans or veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Swords not only provides services to veterans but also works on the policy side, advocating for veterans' benefits.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was a Marine Platoon Commander in Vietnam and lost 11 young Marines and two Navy Corpsmen over a 14 month period in 1965 and 1966. I was bitter and avoided anything to do with the military until the late 1990s, when I heard about Swords to Plowshares and the work they were doing with homeless veterans in San Francisco. After learning about veterans who had been helped by Swords and meeting Executive Director Michael Blecker and his staff at Swords, my wife and I began contributing to Swords' work, I joined the Board and my wife became active in Swords' Annual Veterans Day Dinner. We have watched Swords grow from a smaller, locally known agency to a nationally recognized veterans' organization that helps Vietnam and older veterans deal with homelessness and benefits issues, and, more currently, helps recent Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans with legal, education, training and housing issues before they sink into or near homelessness. Swords works. Vets in need benefit. We're proud to be a part of Swords' continuing work. Jon Paulson

3 Chuck Woodson

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Swords has been assisting Veterans in need since the 1970's in the San Francisco Bay area. To really evaluate a non-profit organization all you have to do is go to the men and women who are receiving the benefits from the organization. Having served 24 plus years with the U.S. Army and being a combat Vietnam veteran, I can relate to our veterans in need. Since volunteering with Swords I have had the opportunity to interview several of the veterans that have received care, treatment, training and schooling, and placement back into society as productive citizens. The stories have been remarkable and very moving, which provides those of us who are honored to be associated with Swords with real pride. Swords works with men and women who have faithfully served our country and suffered some real tragic after effects that put them in tough scenarios where they were unable to come back out without the help of an organization with strong resolve and resources. I have found that there is no better non-profit to spend my valuable volunteer time with then Swords to Plowshares.