First Light, Inc.

Birmingham, AL   |  www.firstlightshelter.org

Mission

Our mission is to work with homeless women and their children to create hospitality in a safe and nurturing community, encouraging them to maintain dignity, to find hope, to seek opportunity, and to grow spiritually, thereby achieving their full potential.

Ruling year info

1998

Executive Director

Ruth G. Crosby

Main address

2230 Fourth Ave N

Birmingham, AL 35203 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

63-1197189

NTEE code info

Temporary Shelter For the Homeless (L41)

Mental Health Disorders (F70)

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Homelessness is devastating. The homeless experience three to six times the rates of serious illness and injury than the general population and are three times more likely than the general population to use an emergency department at least once a year--creating a strain on the health care system. Homelessness doubles the chance that children will suffer from chronic and acute illnesses such respiratory illnesses. The rate of mental illness among the homeless is twice that of the general population. One study found that homeless mothers have three times the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder and more than twice the rate of major depressive disorders and substance abuse than the general population. Homeless children are four times more likely to show delayed development and twice as likely to have learning disabilities as their housed peers. Limiting the time people remain homeless can significantly minimize the negative outcomes of homelessness, especially for children.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Shelter + Care Program

Through Shelter + Care, First Light's social services professionals screen, select, and provide case management for families and individuals receiving housing vouchers through the Jefferson County Housing Authority.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Economically disadvantaged people

HUD 4th Floor - a HUD supported program for homeless women with disabilities, specifically mental illness.  Nine individual rooms in a community setting for women unable to live on their own due to mental illness.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people

38 women and their children can be housed in the emergency shelter on the 2nd floor of our facility.  In addition, we provide 15 and often more spaces in our overflow emergency shelter each night.  Overflow emergency shelter space is available to homeless women and their children 365 days per year. We strive to help each guest reach her highest level of self-sufficiency and a better quality of life.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Women and girls

HUD supported individual housing for chronically homeless women.  We provide apartments and furnishings to 10 women. This project provides intensive case management and supportive care by a licensed social worker in order to ensure the women will keep their housing and reach their fullest potential of independent living.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Homeless people

permanent supportive housing program helps guests leaving the emergency shelter who could not sustain housing without support. The residents continue to have access to all the services and activities at First Light and a social services professional provides case management to ensure they successfully transition from homelessness to a life of dignity in safety and security.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Homeless people

This program moves emergency shelter guests with children into housing as quickly as possible to prevent or reduce the physical ,psychological and cognitive impact of homelessness. It is the only privately funded rapid-rehousing program in our community. It provides diminishing financial assistance over 6 months and social services for at least a full year.

Population(s) Served
Families

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of homeless persons stabilized due to access to overnight shelter or other emergeny housing support

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Homeless people

Related Program

Emergency Shelter

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Reflects those served during a calendar. Annual reports reflect the number served during the fiscal year: June 30 - July 1. (Health Dept. restrictions caused drop in 2019-2020 fiscal year.)

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

First Light’s mission is to work with homeless women and their children to create hospitality in a safe and nurturing community, to encourage them to maintain dignity, to find hope, to seek opportunity, and to grow spiritually, thereby achieving their full potential. First Light provides much more than a safe place to sleep—ensuring that every guest gets the guidance and support to build confidence and competence to achieve her best level of self-sufficiency and independence.
We have purchased a building with the intent to make this a shelter for mothers with children. The emergency shelter will continue to serve single adults, but the next step in serving families in a space appropriate for their needs.

Each emergency shelter guest or supportive housing resident gets individualized guidance from a qualified professional to develop and adhere to a plan of action to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency. She is referred to the services and treatment she needs including healthcare, legal assistance, job-training, GED preparation, mental healthcare, and substance abuse counseling. “Wraparound social services” is a term of art referring to intensive, individualized care planning and comprehensive, holistic services addressing a wide range of needs. This level of service is the bedrock of First Light’s mission and success. The relationship a guest develops with a caring, educated, experienced social services professional is instrumental to her success in providing safety and stability for herself and for her children. And more than 1,000 volunteers each year ensure that every First Light guest knows she is part of a caring community.

Caring professionals and dedicated volunteers make First Light shine. Founding Executive Director Ruth G. Crosby was the Shelter Manager of the original temporary shelter in 1983 that became First Light. She is on the board of directors of One Roof, the continuum of care for local organizations serving the homeless. Sherry J. Webb, LMSW, Director of Social Services, supervises six social services professionals. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Alabama Conference on Social Work, and she serves on the Advisory Board of the UAB Social Work Program and on the Social Work Advisory Board for the University of Montevallo. Ms. Webb and her staff stay abreast of and work collaboratively with other agencies to provide the extensive supportive services necessary to help the most vulnerable members of our community achieve their highest level of independence and self-sufficiency.

First Light started as a makeshift shelter in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church in 1983 by volunteers would not turn a blind eye to homeless women on the streets of Birmingham. But as the homeless population grew, more space was urgently needed. In May of 1998, First Light was incorporated as a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. With the support of a generous community, the old Granada Hotel was purchased and renovated to serve more women and children, and to serve them better. First Light became the community’s only emergency shelter accessible to homeless women and their children 24 hours a day, providing extensive professional social services and the support of caring, dedicated volunteers. First Light has since established effective supportive housing programs to meet the needs of guests leaving the shelter who need help sustaining housing—and is expanding its reach to provide rapid re-housing to homeless individuals and families throughout the community. What's next is a capital campaign to renovate a building adjacent to the emergency shelter and create appropriate space for families.

Financials

First Light, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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First Light, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 7/20/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Staci Pierce

Action Resources, Inc.

Term: 2019 - 2021

Emma Taylor

Retired, BC/BS of Alabama

Ben Greer

Protective Life

Elizabeth Tucker

Community Volunteer

Darri Scott

Community Volunteer

Cary Lott

Iron Mountain Insurance

Heather Nelms

ProAssurnce

Dorothy Sanders

Community Volunteer

William Alexander

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Allison Chang-Roberts

Williams Blackstock Architects

Arthur Edge, III

Arthur Edge, P.C.

Davis Goodson

South State Bank

Rev. Terry Hamilton-Poore

First Presbyterian Church

Pamela Koehler

MortgageBank/Fairway Independent Mortgage

Virginia Miller

Sexton Miller, LLC

James Phillips

Community Volunteer

Damon Reed

Capital One Multifamily Finance

Blair Sandford

Southern Company

Dee Repici

MiraMed Glogbal Services, Inc.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 07/20/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data