At Westlake Dental Care, we are very proud to be a regular contributor to the residents of Delancey Street Foundation. We have helped them be able to go to job interviews with the confidence of a full set of teeth.
Delancey Street Foundation is considered the country's leading residential self-help organization for substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless, and others who have hit bottom. Our average resident has been a hard-core drug addict for sixteen years, abusing alcohol and multiple drugs, has dropped out of school at the 7th grade, and has been institutionalized several times. Many have been gang members; most have been trapped in poverty for several generations. Rather than hire experts to help the people with problems, we decided to run Delancey Street with no staff and no funding. Like a large family, our residents must learn to develop their strengths and help each other. It’s an approach to changing lives that is “against all odds.”
We said we were going to take ex-convicts and ex-addicts and teach them to be teachers, general contractors, and truck drivers. They said it couldn’t be done. We said we were going to take 250 people who had never worked and had no skills and teach them to build a 400,000 square foot complex as our new home on the waterfront. They said it couldn’t be done. We said we were going to partner with colleges and get people who started out functionally illiterate to achieve Bachelor of Arts degrees. They said it couldn’t be done. We said we were going to run successful restaurants, moving companies, furniture making, and cafés and bookstores without any professional help. They said it couldn’t be done. We said we were going to do all this with no staff, no government funding, and no professionals. They laughed and said it couldn’t be done.
We struggle a lot but we’ve been doing it. For more than 40 years we’ve been developing a model of social entrepreneurship, of education, of rehabilitation, and change that is exciting and full of hope. If you need help, or want to help, please contact us. Most of all, we hope you can feel as inspired by ordinary people’s abilities to achieve extraordinary accomplishments as we’ve been.