Julie Bluhm

Julie Bluhm: Defining Guild’s Purpose

Aug 11, 2020

*Written by Julie Bluhm. Julie, a social worker by training, is passionate about driving systemic change and creating solutions that really work. Julie joined Guild as the CEO/Executive Director in 2017.

For over 30 years, Guild has provided services to people that enable them to live their best lives. We were founded as an organization focused on serving people with serious and persistent mental illness, grounded in our core belief that all people can live, and participate fully, in the community of their choice. For our clients, this has meant surrounding them with services at an intensity tailored to their specific needs. Over the years, our services have evolved to meet the changing needs of our community. We have moved upstream to provide services to youth earlier on in their mental health journey. We have a thriving, quickly growing housing program, reflecting the fact that health is not possible without housing. We have also worked hard to build our evidence-based employment services because 80% of people with serious mental illness are unemployed. We are particularly proud that the employment model we use matches people with jobs they want and are fully integrated into their community. 

At the end of the day, one thing is true. We work hard to ensure that our clients have the same choices and opportunities as anyone else. As we began planning last year to re-brand Guild to better reflect our organization today, we also looked hard at our mission and vision.

Our mission was this: helping individuals with mental illness live quality lives through integrated treatment and services.

Our mission and values needed refinement to better reflect who we are today. So, we went on a walk through our history, had honest conversations about who we are today, and started dreaming of the future. 

What we found was clear. Guild’s core – who we are – has not changed. We walk alongside people who are struggling. We don’t lead or tell them what to do. Guild is sought out by communities who need the services we provide. We listen, offer knowledge, give choices, and, if it’s a good fit, partner.  We don’t speak for people, we elevate their voice. We don’t judge or tell them what they need, we listen and embrace the needs they identify. Working this way, we aren’t the ones who create change; we empower it. We know that empowering others to make the changes they want to make in their lives leads to lasting, meaningful, genuine change. 

Individual change is not the only change we are interested in empowering. As we work, we have a front-row seat to inequities that have been built into the systems our clients depend on for their wellbeing. We recognize that these systems, built on racial inequity and social injustice, significantly impact the lives of the people we serve and have resulted in shocking disparities in health care and social determinants of health. We are committed to addressing equity, inclusion, and access as critical components to the fulfillment of our mission.

Our purpose is clear:  We engage and empower individuals & communities by embracing needs, elevating voices, and empowering change.