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Dugald Stermer

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1 reviews

Review for Delancey Street Foundation, San Francisco, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

[My involvement with] Delancey street started when Delancey Street started. I’ve always been involved in political issues, and prison reform was one of them, so it was kind of natural that I gravitated to Delancey Street. The moving company moved me several times and I went up to the place that they had in Pac Heights and I would be asked to lunch, and I started doing the weekend sessions—dissipations—where people just talk about their lives and get rid of a lot of the baggage that they carry around, mostly guilt. Everybody does at least one. And I helped to facilitate those. And I gradually became very involved, and I’m the only one who works this deeply with the program who has never lived here. I had a group then, a “tribe” they called it, and I had a father’s group about being biological fathers if not fathers in fact, and now the group that I run is just about men’s issues in general. When this building [the Delancey Street restaurant] was built I walked around it with Mimi [Silbert, President and CEO of Delancey Street] and realized that it was so much better than it had to be, in terms of its structure and its design. So Mimi said, why don’t you move in here, and I said I have a house, and she said no I mean your studio (I’m an illustrator). And after a lot of arguing about her not wanting me to pay rent and me insisting on it, I came to work here. I come to work here everyday now. You don’t know why you do something until after you’ve done it, sometimes. I realized, after a while, that my involvement here is largely selfish—I would rather surround myself with people who were trying to change, regardless of where they come from, than people who are middle aged bored, which a lot of people are. This is an exciting place to be. I came in this morning and a woman came up to me and said “Good Morning Dugald! We’re going camping!” and this is a woman who’s probably never been out of the ghetto where she was living, and she was genuinely excited about going camping. I love this place. *This review was collected by GreatNonprofits staff and entered on behalf of the reviewer

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the success rate here is probably higher than almost anywhere else and really, you look at some of the people who come through here and you look at the whole world, and their attitude is different. Most of the people working in this restaurant had probably never been in a restaurant before this, or had never spoken to someone like you or me before this except to say "Stick em up," and to have them be kind and gentle is amazing. And to have this sense of community is amazing, and I think that they take that out with them into the world. But we're all on jury right now, and while they're here everyone is 100%, but people fall off the wagon, so it's dangerous to talk about success rates. One of the young men who was a gang banger in Fresno says that he does Delancey Street everyday. He's graduated, married, got a house, makes a good living, and he says "It's easy. I just do Delancey Street everyday."

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I know that I would go insane. There's a restaurant, there's a café, there's catering, there's other businesses. There are 4 other Delancey Streets. I wouldn't be able to do it.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

watching these people grow. The real friendships. My kids were basically brought up here. I’ve been around for 34, 35 years, so my kids, some of my best memories are here. I just love watching the people grow.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

just what it’s doing right now. It’s the people. My own feeling is the number of people Delancey Street can serve is directly related to the number of people who have become qualified by living here, so you can’t just put 1,000 people here because there would be no one here to monitor them, to teach them the ropes. Now maybe they could continue with replications, teaching other people, not Delancey Street people, but other people, to do this. Me, I don’t think that this is an issue of money. It could always use donations, but it’s not like some of the little shelters that the budgets cuts are just killing. This doesn’t depend on that. It depends on the people. They make their own money.

Ways to make it better...

I have nothing to compare it with. It’s the only one I know. Every place has its failures. I always feel that if someone doesn’t make it through, if I know them, it’s my failure—I feel like there’s something that I could have said or done. I know that it’s egotistical, to think that I have that much effect on people’s lives. But Delancey Street, on a scale of 1-5, it’s still a 5, you know.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Personally, I think the kind of drugs that are out there. Crack cocaine is probably the most addictive and most available drug out there. Also, the economy—this isn’t Delancey Street in particular, but the Delancey Street graduates who are looking for employment.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Board Member & I am a Board Member and I also eat lunch at the Delancey Street Restaurant pretty much every day.