This month's guest post is by Sarah Kass, Uffizi Order board member:
I first learned of Uffizi Order several years back when friends told me about the amazing efforts of a group of people to respond to the needs of those in our city without homes. My interest was piqued, and when I met the soon-to-be "director of missional initiatives," Jeff Shaffer, and "executive director," Rich Sander, my heart resonated with their vision of missional work right here at home. I soon plugged myself into Uffizi's early programs with the youth on the Westside by helping to facilitate a talent show and raise funds for a summer camp for the youth. The talent show was a small "hit", the funds were raised, and the youth earned themselves as extended weekend camp in the Gaviota hills. It was all very empowering for everyone. Somewhere down the line, I was asked to serve on the Uffizi Board of Directors, and have been a member of the board for the last 2 years. My husband and I have hosted and I have assisted with two annual fund-raisers. I now am also a part of a tutoring program with the Westside youth, and have worked with and built a close relationship with a young student and his family over the past 5 months.
Uffizi is about building relationships. I have a heart for justice, and one way I can make a difference is one-on-one. Uffizi programs revolve around building individual relationships and trust.
Whether it's with people without homes on the street, youth and families from the Westside, advocating for homeless vets, or understanding the plight of the sexually exploited, all the work we do is based on working WITH the people we serve.
Uffizi Order is based on a collaborative model in which we work with already-existing agencies (county, city, faith-based, human services). Santa Barbara has issues of disempowered people that need to be more thoroughly and efficiently addressed, and we believe this can only happen through collaboration. Uffizi is in a unique position to utilize agencies that are already at work, build a volunteer and intern pool, and create collaborations that effectively serve the most vulnerable of our community. In this way, the ENTIRE city succeeds.
We invite you to join us in our collaborative efforts to care for the marginalized in Santa Barbara!