Did you know that more than 15,000 people access shelters in Philadelphia each year? Unfortunately, many more need the services. There are communities of men and women like our team members at SELF, Incorporated whose daily work is to not only find emergency housing for people experiencing homelessness, but to help those in need access health care, save money, go to back to school, attend college, find permanent housing, gain employment and overcome all kinds of challenges. In short, we empower, motivate, and inspire individuals by combining science-based approaches and best practices with data analysis to identify individual housing solutions and pathways to employment and self-sustainability for the people we serve. We go beyond testing theoretical hypothesis to employing proven strategies that really help people move forward and make communities flourish.
In the beginning of each year, I am reminded that the New Year brings hope for a better and happier future for many of us, especially the men and women we help. When I joined SELF last June, I was moved by the staff’s professionalism, compassion, and tireless work to transform lives one person at a time. Dr. Outley, who founded SELF more than three decades ago, would be proud that his legacy thrives. With the help of our team members and under the direction of Dr. W. Wilson Goode, SELF served over 400,000 meals in 2017, provided emergency housing services to 500 individuals daily, designed independent housing plans for all emergency housing participants, and found permanent housing for many. But the numbers tell only part of the story. The numbers don’t tell you about one of our Outley House alumni who now works for the City of Philadelphia. He comes back to our Southwest Philadelphia site every year to give participants a feast and a message of inspiration and hope.
This year, you will hear more about our story, about our participants, about our partners and about how we all work together for social change. We will show you the faces of homelessness. They may surprise you. And, you will find that they are not much different from yours and mine. We will show you how a scientific approach to problem solving can change lives and bring about social justice. We look forward to 2018 and working with you to continue to improve the community and the lives of men and women in the city that we love.