Posts by dawn


By on Nov 30, 2015 in Blog |

WHAT IS #GIVINGTUESDAY? We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity. Please consider Sunset Youth Services as you make your decision to give. This year 93% of the young people (14-24) in our Violence Prevention and Intervention Program did NOT re-offend, 234 high-risk youth took part in innovative Digital Arts Training, twenty special needs high-school students learned basic restaurant employment skills, forty-three parents benefited from parent training classes and coaching support with 86% of the total budget going directly to program expenses. That’s a solid investment. We will work hard to ensure your investment pays dividends. Whatever you decide to support for #Giving Tuesday it is appreciated. None of us can make it alone. #ittakesteamworktomakethedreamwork...

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Extravagant Love

By on Nov 4, 2015 in Blog |

I have been shown extravagant love. Throughout my life I have been loved well. My parents and grandparents loved me. My husband loves me with pure love. My son loves me too. I have had friends through the years whom I know love me. I can safely say I know love. I give it, I feel it, I recognize it, I receive it. I know love. Even so, I was not prepared for the extravagant love that has been shown to me over this past month. I knew that turning fifty was having an interesting effect on me internally. Last year when I turned 49, I thought, “Okay, I have 365 days to get ready for this.” But how do you do that? The temptation to navel gaze is strong – asking questions about what I’ve really done with my first half-century and what I’ll do differently with the second half got distracting. Measuring myself against the yardstick of others to see where I fell short or excelled snuck into my thinking. Luckily for everyone around me I don’t have a lot of time time for that type of introspection. As life unravels around us for people we love the luxury of self-focus doesn’t last long. Last year we lost precious lives to drugs and violence. We had young men locked up for bad decisions and emotional outbursts that led to heavy consequences. We have had families torn apart by events that feel daunting and hopeless. Interestingly, as the San Francisco economy booms, the young people and families we serve get further and further from hope of survival. I am constantly praying for more – more resources, more wisdom, more time, more energy, more space, more, more, more. At the end of each day, while walking the dog and processing  with my husband, we often come to the conclusion that what we have done well for that day is love people. We don’t have answers and we certainly don’t have enough of anything to solve their problems, but we can love them so we do. It feels so trite and I wonder sometimes if we are just trying to make ourselves feel better. Then October, 2015 hit. I cannot begin to...

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Redeeming Our Shame

By on Aug 5, 2015 in Blog |

It’s been an interesting journey the last six weeks. I was called into jury duty, as I am every year, without fail. I typically see this as an unavoidable annoyance that will cost me a few days max and then I’ll get on with my life. This year however, at the end of day three, I found myself raising my right hand and swearing to do my duty as juror #7 while I stood bewildered and wondering what just happened. As I grappled with the emotions that come with feeling overwhelmed, I couldn’t begin to comprehend how I could cram a full time ++ job in around the edges of Monday-Thursday, 9-5 court hours. It was a weekend marked with ups and downs and lots of thought switching and pep talks. It was interesting because the District Attorney, while questioning me as a potential juror, asked if I could indeed vote guilty if the evidence proved this fact beyond a reasonable doubt, given that I spend my life trying to get people “out of convictions.” When I laughed and said I was offended she was genuinely confused. I then explained that I would never characterize what I spend my life doing as “getting people out of convictions”, but rather walking with people through the consequences of their decisions no matter what that means. We do, I added, advocate for alternatives to incarceration for youth in particular, because research shows that locking kids up is detrimental. That exchange left with me with lots of conflicted thoughts. As the trial wore on it became more and more difficult to think in terms of black and white, as the law demands. I am a redemption focused girl. Redemption is a word that fuels my life. I need it, you need it, we all need it. The law, however, has no place for redemption. The following weeks of testimony were an opportunity to discipline my mind. Much like a puppy that needs training, I found myself chasing after my wandering mind and scolding it. The constant re-orienting of my focus on the minutia being presented vs. the many tasks I knew were going unattended felt exhausting at times. I had to remind myself...

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One Step at a Time

By on Mar 13, 2015 in Blog |

When tragedy hits we go through the stages of grief, denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Sometimes we can cycle through these steps quickly, other times we might get stuck in the cycle. When we received word this week that two of our young men were victims of a double homicide it was like a hard kick in the gut. Most of us are still in the grief cycle for other tragedies that have happened in quick succession recently and before we can come to acceptance of those events, more arise. It’s times like this that get me asking questions about how valid the work we do really is. Does it matter at all? Is it like pouring fresh water into the ocean and hoping it becomes a lake? Nina, our high school admin assistant, was working on a project for me. I asked her to take grant proposals that we had written from the past 5 years and put them into a spreadsheet with information about the foundations areas of interest, contact info, etc. She came to me after working on it for a few days and said, “After looking at all those unsuccessful proposals I just don’t understand how you can keep going.” It made me laugh, I honestly hadn’t even thought about the fact that the files were filled with rejection after rejection. I said, “we just keep taking one step at a time.” When you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you must invest your life in a certain way regardless of the cost that’s what you do. However, my life will never be enough. I don’t have enough of hardly anything. Time. Money. Answers. Space. Food. The only thing I have enough of is love. We may not even live long enough to see all the ways that the investment of love takes root. I went to see “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the night we heard about these deaths. At one point the investor says to the older woman who is helping the young hotel owner reach his dreams “there’s nothing I admire more than someone who is willing to plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.” That...

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