05/19/2010 05:26 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Glide: Changing Lives in San Francisco

I had the great fortune of visiting Glide Foundation and the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church recently. Several of us from Microsoft spent over three hours looking at the various programs that they have serving the homeless, families in need, and the youth. It was indeed a privilege to meet Reverend Cecil Williams, the Founder and Minister of Liberation and Janice Mirikitani the Founding President. These two individuals have dedicated their lives to helping those that need support.

Microsoft has provided a significant software donation to help them upgrade their technology. However, what impressed me most was their humanistic approach. The health clinic is state of the art serving thousands of clients and making referrals for critical services to the St. Francis Hospital. On the rooftop is an urban garden where the youth from the community are taught healthy eating and living habits. The majority of the work is done by dedicated volunteers who come to serve here from all over the country -- over 65,000 volunteer hours keeps the place humming.

We visited two new beautifully designed housing complexes -- one for those that need extensive support and have chronic homelessness and substance abuse issues, and the other for low income families. Both of these establishments are run efficiently and effectively with a personal touch. The highlight of the visit, besides meeting with Reverend Williams and Janice, was to spend time in the food kitchen preparing meals. I have never cut so many carrots in one go. (Aside: I also figured out that if I could cut three carrots lined up together I would be far more efficient and faster). We then helped load up trays of food. Unfortunately we had to leave just before lunch time and as we left we saw a very long queue of people lining up all the way out to the street waiting to get their one free hot meal. Over 500 people are served here during lunch -- an incredible feat.

We all left impressed with the quality, creativity, and efficiency of the programs. Glide is quite an institution in San Francisco and a model for other organizations around the world. They have created quite a legacy. We are are proud to be a partner and our employees are incredibly passionate about volunteering there. From rooftop gardens and playgrounds to sparkling new housing and a bustling medical clinic, the work of Glide is going to be even stronger with the transformation of new software. We are excited to be part of the action.


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