[August 27, 2016] My grandmother used to tell me that an important measure of a person’s character is how they treat the poor. Do we treat them with respect and help them lift themselves up? Services for the Underserved (SUS) is an organization dedicated to doing just that and more. Their core values have gone a long way to helping shape the assistance they provide the underserved in our cities and towns.
A few months ago I had the privilege to meet with a number of folks working in their Manhattan office. I was informed that SUS is a relatively large nonprofit with an annual budget under $200 million; nearly all of it going to help others. Although not their words, I likened them to those who help others with emerging problems and long term issues. Their focus is local as it should be and they rely on “street intelligence” to find and assist those in need.
Here is the official Services for the Underserved list of their core values1:
- Continuous Quality Improvement: SUS engages in an ongoing effort to improve its services and internal practices.
- Respect: SUS acts on its belief in the essential dignity and value of each individual by treating everyone with compassion, care and courtesy.
- Maximize Individual Potential: SUS works with people to help them reach their individual potential.
- Supportive Environment: SUS believes that people need each other to achieve their goals, and creates a supportive environment where people can share ideas and information freely, to foster creativity, communication and collaboration.
- Integrity: SUS is committed to acting with integrity, as demonstrated by treating people consistently, honestly and fairly to help them achieve their own goals and the goals of the agency.
They envision a city where everyone has a roof over their head, is healthy, productive, and can enjoy the social connections that create a life of purpose. I like that. When I spoke with those in their office, I could tell that they’d truly internalized that vision of the organization’s vision statement. My grandmother would have liked these people.
This, my grandmother told me, is the Christian thing to do and also an important indicator whether you are worthy of her time and effort to make us “better citizens of our town.” Her focus was local, just like SUS has a local focus.
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