The creation of a new non-profit last year was a singular experience and at the start felt like an oxymoron in action: developed by a consultant and funded by a public agency. After all, non-profits come from the community – not government or the head of a consultant – don't they?
In July of 2012 Guided Pathways–Support for Youth and Families was officially birthed with the help of SLR. The creation of Guided Pathways (GPS) was funded through the King County’s MIDD (Mental Illness and Drug Dependency Action Plan ) with the goal of filling in a gap in the County’s system of mental health care for children and families: peer support for families, an evidence-based practice that is a critical component of improving outcomes for kids and families.
So what made it work?
Family members, with the lived experience of caring for children and youth with severe mental illness, behavioral challenges, or substance abuse make up the Board, the staff, and its volunteers. This summer the family run, family support organization, located in Kent, Washington began offering one to one, parent to parent support as well as parent education and family social events.
We know that the life of a non-profit is difficult, but GPS has not just the the passion and energy of the founders going for it, but the values, systems, and relationship to those it serves that will, if our organizational theories hold true, enable GPS to grow and thrive.
Board members and I gave a workshop at the Federation of Families Conference in Washington D.C. about the story of Guided Pathways and building a sustainable family support organization last November. Take a look to learn more about how we built the organization.