Author. Marriage and family therapist. Nonprofit
champion. Speaker. Teacher. Sarri Gilman’s passion
for helping others has led her down countless paths
she never predicted she’d take. Although she’s
been a licensed family and marriage therapist for 30 years,
the work wasn’t something she thought she’d spend her life
doing. “I just had a natural curiosity about human behavior
and families. I swear to god that has not gone away. I am still
completely curious about people,” she said.

After getting her master’s in California, Gilman said she
came up to Whidbey Island for lunch and just never left. Her
first experience with nonprofits came next, when she noticed
a need for a homeless shelter for young people in Snohomish
County. Again, this wasn’t part of her plan. “If somebody else
had been doing it, I wouldn’t have gone down that road. I
don’t recommend just waking up and starting a nonprofit.”

“I just had a natural curiosity about human behavior and families…I am still completely curious about people.”

Gilman founded Cocoon House, a homeless shelter
that provides housing and outreach programs for local
youth. That was 25 years ago, and today the organization
is thriving. Although it wasn’t easy, Gilman said each day
brought a new lesson for the staff, kids, and herself. The
experience taught her what she was capable of, Gilman said.
There wasn’t room to fail. “If I couldn’t deliver, then people
would go hungry,” she said. Another challenge was working
on the administrative side of things once the organization
began to grow. Constantly trying to convince people of the
shelter’s need for money was maddening. “To me it was
very obvious that we needed money.” Thankfully, Gilman
found real champions in the community who were just
as committed to Cocoon House’s mission, which aims to
approach homelessness on three levels: outreach, housing, and
prevention. Today, three shelters are located throughout the
county—Monroe, Everett, and Arlington.

While Gilman has parted from Cocoon House, she said
it is beyond rewarding to see how successful it continues
to be without her. Today, she puts all her energy into what
she describes as her real purpose. Gilman released her first
book titled Transform Your Boundaries in 2014 and has
been teaching people the power of boundaries ever since. “I
stepped back and asked myself, what is the heart of my work?
The heart of it is the boundary work,” she said.

Everyone has boundaries, Gilman explained. Boundaries
are determined by what people say “yes” to and what they
say “no” to. The focus of Gilman’s work is to teach people
that putting themselves at the top of their list rather than the
bottom can improve their relationships, mental wellbeing, and
overall quality of life.

Since publishing her first book, Gilman has hosted
workshops, appeared as a speaker at events, and has begun
developing a boundaries app, which she hopes will be
released in the fall. The app will allow people to track their
choices, set boundaries, and even share them with Gilman
and others. “I’m hoping it is another tool to help people
build their boundaries because I feel like people are at a loss
about how to do it and where to start,” she said. Additionally,
Gilman said another book is due out this spring that will dive
further into boundaries. She said she’ll stop talking about
boundaries when people finally understand how to take care
of themselves, but until then, this is her purpose.

Powered by Jasper RobertsBlog
"Since publishing her first book, Gilman has hosted workshops, appeared as a speaker at events, and has begun developing a boundaries app."