Shanti was founded on the principle that every person deserves compassion, connection, and human dignity.

Founded in 1974 by Dr. Charles A. Garfield at the UCSF Cancer Institute, Shanti was one of the first volunteer organizations in the United States to provide support to people with life-threatening illness. From our earliest days, Shanti has engaged and inspired members of our community to be the difference between zero and one—the difference between facing life’s most difficult challenges alone or with one person by your side.

Shanti emerged from the UCSF cancer ward halls to become one of the world’s very first community-based organizations to help support people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS during the epidemic’s early, most traumatic days. In 2001, we expanded our services to include women diagnosed with breast cancer, and in 2015, we expanded again to serve women facing any cancer diagnosis. Also in 2015, we merged with community partner Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), which became a program of Shanti’s.

To bring our internationally recognized model of care to more members of our community, we launched two new programs in 2016. Our LGBTQ+ Aging & Abilities Support Network (LAASN) addresses social isolation as well as emotional, behavioral, and health challenges faced by LGBTQ+ older adults and adults with disabilities. Our Peer Advocate Care Team (PACT) supports current residents of Potrero Terrace and Annex to help them prepare for their public housing to be demolished and rebuilt into a mixed-income community.