There are people, who without fanfare or seeking notoriety, go about the daily business of making communities better places.

They do this without a degree from any university or college. They do this quite often without any money other than their own. They do this not as a job but because they are compelled.

These people are non-traditional leaders, and a newly reorganized non-profit–Success A New Beginning Inc. (SANBI)–has just graduated a class of 34 of these individuals.

SANBI was initially incorporated in 1986 and then reorganized under the leadership of Jah’Shams Abdul-Mumin and Maryanne Galindo. Its mission is to develop communities not with the traditional approach of constructing buildings, but by building people instead, explained Galindo who is the SANBI chief operations officer.

“We take non-traditional leaders . . . many of them are already doing the work, and . . .we run into in the community. They are people who don’t traditionally get recognized . . . they may be peace officers looking for a way to connect to the community beyond the badge or the teen who wants to keep the streets safe for their siblings,” Galindo explained.

What SANBI does is first help these individuals do a deeper self examination to look at some key values. These include education and experience. This is done in a multicultural context using a series of meeting circles.

“Here they talk about each other’s experiences and values they have as a function of a past life, then we couple that with education through our relationship with Trade Tech,” said Galindo, who along with Abdul-Mumin has a degree in psychology and is an instructor at Los Angeles Trade Tech College.

The educational aspect gives participants certification as a community safety specialist.
Another vital part of their program is healing, said Galindo.

“We have healing circles that integrate core principles from the African tradition and the Mayan tradition (which are strikingly similar), to help build bridges and heal differences,” explained the organization’s COO. “Healing is part of owning your power and confidence. One of the benchmarks (of healing) is when you can unlearn all the labels, trauma and stigmas that have been put on you,” added Galindo, who is of Cuban descent and has siblings in her family who are incarcerated as well as those who are veterans returning from Iraq. All of these things cause traumas that are dealt with in the healing process.

“The whole first part (of the SANBI program) is about self development and personal development . . . it’s about reclaiming cultural values. This process allows people to be more effective in the second (phase),” Galindo said.

This first phase typically takes a minimum of one year through weekly meetings where participants interact with one another in three to four-hour blocks of time.

The graduation last week was actually a beginning of the second phase instead of an ending, pointed out Galindo, who said that now many of the 34 grads will take three of the core values they have claimed as fundamental to their being, and create projects designed to give back to their community.

In many cases, SANBI will continue to work with the individuals helping them further refine and implement their projects.

One of the first projects expected to come out of SANBI is a street law program that pairs graduates with a law student, and this team will go into the community and inform people–particularly youth–about their rights. Galindo said another project SANBI is looking to develop is a healing and community reconciliation program.

But that is for the future. Right now the organization is working on expanding its core program, and preparing for the next training session. That will begin at the end of August. The program is free to students, and those who meet the income guidelines can take the courses at Trade Tech at no charge. Those who do not fall within the income parameters will pay about $60 for tuition.

To get more information about the next session, visit the SANBI Web site at www.sanbi-ceo.org or call (323) 988-5721.