These Moments of Humanity

by Val Green, Walk-In Center’s Epworth Summer Intern

When I arrived at GLIDE at 6:30 a.m. last Wednesday, the building was already alive with chatting, laughing, shouting. It was my first day making shelter reservations entirely alone, and I was nervous. What if there were no beds? What if I had to turn people away? What if clients got frustrated with me? The night before, I asked my co-worker Jasmine to sleep with her phone turned on in case I needed her for information or help with the reservation database. When I arrived at the Walk-In Center Wednesday morning, I placed a Post-It with her contact information next to the phone and plopped down at the desk.

Just five minutes after I began making reservations, I was finished because there were no more beds available, and I realized I had nothing to worry about. The morning was calm. And as I sat in the Walk-In Center with Jerome, the security monitor, a couple of remarkable things happened.

A regular case management client walked in around 8:00 a.m. and looked around the room for Ana, his case manager. Though I have learned bits about his story throughout my internship, I have never directly worked with him. I told him that Ana would be in later on and I suggested he come back in an hour. For my first four weeks in the Walk-In Center, he ignored me when he came for meetings with Ana. Last week, he called me, “Whatever-Your-Name-Is” and dismissively waved his hand at me. But that morning, he greeted me with a smile and said, “Hi, Val.” Then he left.

Ten minutes later, another familiar client dashed in asking for Angela, who normally makes the morning shelter reservations. I apologized and explained that Angela was on vacation, and asked, “Is there anything I can help you with this morning?” He ran out. About a minute later, he came back into the Walk-In Center and stood at my desk. He looked me straight in the eyes and he said, “No, thank you, I am okay.” Then he left.

I worked with a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

As I finish my nine-week internship at GLIDE, I do not feel ready to leave. I have finally learned the ropes here—I have a group of clients I frequently work with, I feel I am becoming a part of the Walk-In Center’s tight-knit team, and I am finally developing a handle on the unique sense of community and core values here. I will miss San Francisco, the Tenderloin, GLIDE, my friends and co-workers, and the wonderful clients I have met.  But most of all, I will miss these moments of humanity. Although I never directly worked with the two men I described above, I watched as they fought for truth and love when they walked through the doors at GLIDE. Last Wednesday, I became a part of their fight.

You might be thinking that remembering someone’s name is not all that important or popping back in to say “no thanks” only takes a moment. But last Wednesday, those two clients both offered me an invitation to join them and to connect to them. Those interactions were the two biggest compliments I received all week.

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GLIDE Instagram
Thanks to everyone who stopped by last night to make signs for this Saturday's @womensmarch in San Francisco! Meet us at 10:30 am at GLIDE this Saturday! @womensmarchbayarea #womensmarch #hearourvoice #powertothepolls Thanks to everyone who joined GLIDE at the #mlkjrday March on Monday! This Saturday we will be pounding the pavement again with the #WomensMarch. Hope to see you there! GLIDE will be marching at the 2018 Women's March in San Francisco! We would love for you to join us in demanding equal rights, opportunities and representation for women! See the flyer above for details about times, transportation & options for folks with limited mobility.
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Tomorrow (Wednesday) evening, we will host a sign-making event in anticipation of the march. All are welcome to join the the preparations! @womensmarchbayarea @womensmarch @angelabrown17 @feliciahorowitz @butterscotchmusic @vbozeman @goapele @judithgloryhill @edenchanstreetscooper @msmichellearce @leahtysse @tenderloinmuseum @tndcsf @zendesk @kathysittnick The GLIDE Legacy Committee had their first meeting of 2018 last week! Sending our newest members a warm welcome. We're very excited for everything we'll accomplish together this year! @glidesflegacy

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