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    Going Above and Beyond for Others

    Celebrating Shanti’s 43 Years of Service to the Community–

    If you’re seeking an opportunity to celebrate compassion in our community, look no further than Thursday evening (6–8 pm), September 28, at the Palace Hotel. The Shanti Project will host its annual celebration, Compassion is Universal, to gather community champions and to honor those who have had a remarkable impact on the fabric of San Francisco through the years. This heartwarming evening begins with a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by a seated dinner and mission-focused program. This year, advocates and activists from across the city will be recognized, as Shanti publicly expresses the community’s gratitude to three very special individuals: the Honorable Mark Leno, Gerry Crowley and Chip Supanich.

    Senator Leno will be presented with the 2017 Nancy Pelosi Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his stewardship and advocacy over his nearly two decades of public service. In 1978, Leno founded his own small business, Budget Signs Inc., which he grew alongside his life partner Douglas Jackson. For the next 10 years, the two were also engaged in a range of community service work, including fundraising efforts to HIV/AIDS services as well as Democratic candidates.

    Following Jackson’s death in 1990 from HIV/AIDS complications, Leno redoubled his commitment to public service, serving as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1998 to 2002. In 2002, Leno was elected to the California State Assembly, where he represented the Eastern side of San Francisco until 2008. From 2008 to 2016, Leno went on to represent San Francisco, as well as parts of Marin and San Mateo counties, in the State Senate, where he served as Chair of the Senate Budget Committee for six years. Leno left the State Legislature after 14 years of service, having built an impeccable reputation for broad-based legislative accomplishment and a legacy of coalition-building.

    Shanti client and community champion Gerry Crowley will receive the 2017 Margot Murphy Inspiration Award, in recognition of Gerry’s legacy of community engagement. A client of Shanti’s Margot Murphy Women’s Cancer Program, Gerry speaks with a deep fondness regarding her two Shanti volunteers, Kevin and Jerry. Describing Kevin and Jerry as “a blessing,” “both brilliant,” and a “solid” presence in her life, Gerry credits both volunteers with her award.

    Described at times as a “one woman army” and compared to Princess Leia, Gerry first started her work in the San Francisco community as the social chair, then as board member of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood organization. In addition to her four terms as board president, Gerry also nurtured her dedication of improving San Francisco’s parks, serving as member of the Pioneer Park Restoration Committee, the Friends of Washington Square, and the Fay Park Advisory Board. Gerry co-founded the Neighborhood Network—comprised of a group of 20 citizens from all parts of San Francisco—to meet with City department heads, commissioners, and other officials on issues critical to neighborhood residents. From her days leading Aaron Peskin’s first supervisorial election campaign to her four-year role as Vice Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, Gerry continued to donate her time tutoring ESL students at Galileo High School for nine years.

    Activist, advocate, client, volunteer and Shanti Board Member Chip Supanich will receive the 2017 James C. Hormel Community Spirit Award. Chip’s contributions to the web of human support and services in this city has touched countless lives, taking on topics from standing for HIV care, prevention, and support services, to defending civil and social justice rights including housing and food security. Soon after moving to San Francisco in 1994, Chip Supanich began volunteering at community-based organizations. He engaged with people by giving emotional and practical support, harm reduction services, street outreach and public health education. During the 2000s, he often spoke to the press, at volunteer trainings and in college classrooms about the challenges he had faced with HIV, homelessness, poverty, drug use, trauma, and mental health. 

    Discussions with colleagues and friends encouraged Chip to write a book about his life, which he completed in 2014. Less a biography, the book chronicles the many people who have broadened his horizons, spurred personal growth or otherwise altered his life in significant ways. After joining the Shanti Board of Directors in early 2009, he gained membership to various civic boards and councils, frequently accepting leadership positions as they arose. A survivor of HIV for over three decades, areas of particular interest for Chip’s advocacy work include HIV long-term survivorship, disability rights, harm reduction, public health, and addressing the needs of marginalized communities.

    For tickets, volunteer opportunities, and more information regarding Compassion is Universal on September 28 at the Palace Hotel, please contact: or phone 415-625-5218. Information is also at Shanti’s website,

    Shanti Timeline

    1974: Under the leadership of Dr. Charles Garfield, the first Shanti peer support volunteers are trained to be a consistent and compassionate presence at the bedside of patients in the UCSF cancer ward. This effort, led by Dr. Garfield, was one of the earliest, pioneering efforts to utilize volunteers in the support of the dying and critically sick.

    August 21, 1975: The Shanti Project incorporates.

    1980: The UCSF cancer ward begins to fill with patients with what would later be known as AIDS-related opportunistic infections. Dr. Garfield and Shanti are asked to shift their focus to care for people who, in those days, were dying of this new disease.

    November 1, 1981: Shanti begins the first peer support groups for San Franciscans with AIDS.

    1983: Shanti Project opens its first independent location at 890 Hayes Street.

    1987: In the first U.S. Presidential Address on AIDS, President Reagan thanks Shanti and its volunteers for Shanti’s national leadership in the response to AIDS: “You know, it’s been said that when the night is darkest, we see the stars. And there have been some shining moments through this horrible AIDS epidemic … . Last year 450 volunteers from the Shanti Project provided 130,000 hours of emotional and practical support to 87 percent of San Francisco’s AIDS patients.”

    1988: Shanti continued to expand through the 1980s to keep up with the growing need of support services during the AIDS crisis. With 70 staff members and over 650 volunteers, Shanti in 1988 moved to 525 Howard Street to accommodate this growth.

    1998: Shanti finds a permanent home in the Project Open Hand building at 730 Polk Street.

    2000: San Francisco Department of Public Health notes an increase of women with breast cancer and a lack of available services.

    2001: With the help of federal funds procured by U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, Shanti expands services and launches the LifeLines Breast Cancer Program.

    2015: Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), San Francisco’s only program dedicated to keeping homebound, disabled, and very sick individuals together with their companion animals, merges into the Shanti Project to ensure long-term sustainability.

    2015: With increased support from local champions at City Hall, Shanti expands its services to treat women diagnosed with any type of cancer. Known today as the Margot Murphy Women’s Cancer Program, the program serves more than 600 women and continues to reduce the barriers that underserved women face accessing, maintaining, and completing treatment.

    2016: Shanti begins offering Care Navigation and wellness services to families living in Potrero Hill public housing. The Peer Advocate Care Team (PACT) Program of Shanti represents an important expansion of Shanti’s work to improve health related outcomes for people living in chronic conditions of poverty and frequent hardship.

    2016: Shanti launches the LGBT Aging and Abilities Support Network (LAASN), providing support to reduce isolation among marginalized LGBT seniors and LGBT adults with disabilities.

    Today: More than 2,200 vulnerable San Franciscans annually receive services from Shanti, through the dedicated efforts of more than 50 staff and over 700 volunteers. Through all of the organization’s various programs, Shanti has been proud to champion the power of compassion in our community for 43 years.