Longtime CEO Karen McGlinn heads Share Our Selves compassionate service for the needy.
On an early weekday morning in Costa Mesa, volunteers, both young and old, sort a seemingly endless supply of food donations. Fresh produce, granola bars and a surplus of hot dog buns from the recent July Fourth Weekend are counted, separated and make their way into brown paper bags that are being handed out of a nearby service window. The food pantry is just one of the many services Orange County’s 45-year-old nonprofit organization Share Our Selves, or SOS, offers.
“We are a fully integrated service center,” says SOS’s CEO Karen McGlinn, “We provide comprehensive social services and health care.”
Besides social services, including a food pantry, case management, emergency financial assistance, and a law clinic, SOS also offers medical, dental and behavioral health services at its community health centers.
“We do primary care,” says McGlinn, “We cover people from pediatrics to geriatrics, and no one is turned away because of an inability to pay.“
The SOS Community Health Center in Costa Mesa is the nonprofit’s main campus, and besides the food pantry, the busy facility houses dental care, medical care, behavioral health services, emergency financial assistance, a public law center and offers financially fit classes, along with many other services. The organization also operates three other centers: the SOS-El Sol Wellness Center in Santa Ana, the SOS and PEACE Center Health Clinic in Lake Forest, and the SOS Children & Family Health Center in Newport Beach.
SOS mainly serves a population 200 percent below the federal poverty level, which they treat comprehensively with a focus on preventative care to improve their entire well-being and ultimately improve the health of the community.
“The best way to explain it is if you happen to be a patient at a health clinic, how can the doctor treat you effectively if every day you are dealing with the fact that your electricity is turned off,” McGlinn explains. “So, here the doctor has the ability to actually connect those dots by linking patients to our other comprehensive services so we can create a state of well-being for everybody.”
By tackling social problems, such as food insecurity, education and homelessness, medical problems can be better addressed because patients can focus on their health.
“We are all about the whole person,” McGlinn says. “We are about body, mind and spirit. Everything we do is fully integrated. We address each person’s social needs, just as we address their health care needs. This innovative model of care has been expanded to each of our locations.”
McGlinn has been involved with SOS from its inception. She served on the founding board in 1969 and remained a volunteer board member up until 1993, when the company was in need of an executive director. She has been serving as CEO ever since and was recently awarded the Mayor’s Award by the Mayor of Costa Mesa for her work.
“It’s humbling to be honored in the very city that you have lived in, raised your children in, invested in.” she says.
McGlinn’s work is important, but it isn’t always easy.
“Our challenge is the continual need to be sustainable and to raise funds,” she says.
SOS has developed some fun ways to raise donations. The organization holds two notable fundraisers each year: Wild and Crazy Taco Night and the Celebrity Chef Dinner, both of which have become popular benefits.
“Wild and Crazy Taco Night is the best kept secret in Orange County,” says McGlinn, “We have 22 to 25 of the most premium chefs come on-site here at SOS, and they make wild and crazy tacos. We’ve had dessert tacos, pheasant tacos, alligator tacos…nothing is traditional.”
A ticket to the event includes all-you-can-eat tacos, with proceeds directly benefiting the SOS Food Pantry.
As to the more upscale Celebrity Chef Dinner, McGlinn says, “It’s the elegant event–a five-course dinner with wine, aperitifs, hors d’oeuvres and a beautiful setting…but the mission is the same. It’s about making sure we are feeding people and nobody is at risk of hunger.”
Today, SOS continues to expand its outreach.
“Our newest facility, the Dr. Robert & Dorothy Beauchamp Children’s Dental Clinic, will open in Newport Beach in October,” McGlinn shares. “It is in the same building as our Children & Family Health Center, which opened last year.”
McGlinn says both the clinic and health center are due, thanks in large part, to Hoag Hospital anOn an early weekday morning in Costa Mesa, volunteers, both young and old, sort a seemingly endless supply of food donations. Fresh produce, granola bars and a surplus of hot dog buns from the recent July Fourth Weekend are counted, separated and make their way into brown paper bags that are being handed out of a nearby service window. The food pantry is just one of the many services Orange County’s 45-year-old nonprofit organization Share Our Selves, or SOS, offers.d the City of Newport Beach.
“We have a beautiful new health center that is serving all the children in the Newport/Mesa area, and I think that’s a worthy testimony from Newport Beach, a testimony from Hoag, surely, and a testimony that SOS has been doing the right thing.“
Since SOS receives major support from Hoag Hospital and Newport Beach residents, according to McGlinn, it’s a nice way for residents to physically see where some of their good has gone.
“Newport Beach has a giving heart and a lot of giving people, and our county is rich because of it,” McGlinn says.
As to where SOS is today, McGlinn says, “I am very proud that we are still volunteer-based. We never lost that mission. Look at some of the seniors you see around here today. This is their second career.”
And, she says, SOS’s core values remain unchanged.
“Our mission is the same today as it was in 1969. We were just a bunch of young people who thought we could right the wrongs,” she says, as volunteers behind her slide brown bag after brown bag filled with food though the service window. “Everything that goes on here, it’s the same. It’s just more.”
ShareOurselves.org :: 949.270.2100