In 1963, a group of individuals from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Farm Labor Committee gathered at the organizing meeting of Self-Help Enterprises (SHE). These visionaries (pictured top left), were fueled by a shared belief in the power of mutual self-help housing. Little did they know that their humble beginnings would lay the foundation for a nationally recognized community development organization that would touch the lives of over 70,000 families over the course of six decades. As we embark on our 60th anniversary year, we take a moment to reflect on our journey and the impact we’ve had on the communities we serve.
These early meetings and the pioneering spirit of our founders set the stage for a unique approach – one where we work together with low-income families, rather than for them. Over the years, our dedicated staff has collaborated with cities, counties, and residents across the San Joaquin Valley to address the housing needs of our participants and the communities they call home.
“SHE is hardly an institution, it is a dream being realized,” said Robert Marshall, who took the helm as SHE’s Executive Director in 1966 and served for 24 years. “The dream is simple, yet profound. It is the concept that people working together, helping each other can solve their problems. By sharing labor, knowledge and friendship, homes are built, furniture is repaired, jobs are improved, money is saved and the quality of living is enriched. The problems are real and must be dealt with but it is the dream that makes them bearable and solvable.”
As we celebrate this milestone, we are reminded of our commitment to building and sustaining healthy homes and communities. We look forward to continuing our mission and making a positive impact for many decades to come. Stay tuned for 60th anniversary celebration details later this year and more historical highlights in our monthly newsletter. Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey!