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Shanti Project of San Francisco

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San Francisco, CA


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Our Story

OUR HISTORY AND PROGRAMS: Dr. Charles Garfield founded the Shanti Project (Shanti) in 1974 as a young psychologist working on UCSF’s oncology unit. It was there that he became aware of the profound isolation and loneliness experienced by so many of his patients as they faced a short life span. He resolved that no one should have to experience a life-threatening illness alone. And so, he began to train volunteers to provide sophisticated emotional and practical support while listening deeply, with compassion, to the stories and needs of people facing serious illness and death. This was the beginning of San Francisco Bay Area’s Shanti Project, one of the first organizations in the world to train lay volunteers to treat what mainstream medicine does not and cannot treat - isolation and loneliness.

In the early 1980’s as cancer wards were spread thin with patients dying from AIDS-related opportunistic infections, Shanti expanded to embrace this population and quickly became a central leader and crucial partner in San Francisco's community-based response to the epidemic.

Throughout our history, we have evolved to respond to changing community needs; today, under the leadership of our talented Executive Director, Kaushik Roy, Shanti is home to a host of inspiring programs that ease the burdens and improve the well-being of people navigating life threatening and chronic illnesses, isolation and other difficult life situations.

Shanti’s programs now include: HIV Services, LGBT Seniors Aging & Abilities Support Network (LASSN), Margot Murphy Women’s Cancer Program (MMWCP), Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), Peer Advocate Care Team (PACT), Volunteer Services Program, and projects that fall under the wing of our core programs (the Shanti Life Program, Hep C Services & Jeffery’s Place.) Additionally, Shanti is home to the San Francisco HIV Services Council. All programs continue to be grounded in The Shanti Model of Care that has guided us from the beginning - listening, speaking, and acting from the heart in service to others.

Each day at Shanti over 50 employees, and 500+ volunteers continue this legacy of compassionate support. Annually, over 2,400 people receive emotional and practical support and care navigation services to enhance their quality of life and reduce their isolation. Shanti’s skilled volunteers collectively dedicate over 18,500 hours of service annually. And our impact is far reaching; the Shanti training and service model has been implemented in 12 countries and more than 600 cities worldwide. 

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