Housing, Shelter

First Light, Inc.

Birmingham, AL

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

1998

Executive Director

Ruth G. Crosby

Main Address

2230 Fourth Ave N

Birmingham, AL 35203 USA

Keywords

homeless, women and children, emergency, shelter, mental illness, elderly, therapy, case management

EIN

63-1197189

 Number

0282669025

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Temporary Shelter For the Homeless (L41)

Mental Health Disorders (F70)

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Shelter + Care Program

HUD 4th Floor

Emergency Shelter

HUD Bessemer, Alabama

HUD EAST

Forever Home

Where we work

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

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.

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

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.

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.

Careful records are kept to quantify the number of women and children served, volunteer hours logged, and the number and location of guests transferred to transitional or permanent housing. An individual, confidential, case record is retained to evaluate the personal accomplishments of each guest in overcoming obstacles such as mental health issues, substance abuse, and in developing life skills to achieve her personal best in independence and self-sufficiency. First Light is about tough love. If a woman is not willing to help herself, she will simply have to make room for someone who will. But First Light guests are not quick-fix projects. They are not pressured to move on or move out after some fixed, arbitrary number of days. Each guest at First Light is given the tools she needs to identify the barriers and challenges that have derailed her and to find the solutions that will enable her to rebuild her life.

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.

External Reviews

Photos

Financials

First Light, Inc.

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Operations

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

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FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

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  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & 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 & 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

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Gender

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.

Disability

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.

Diversity Strategies

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We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
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We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
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We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
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We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
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We have a diversity committee in place
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We have a diversity manager in place
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We have a diversity plan
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We use other methods to support diversity