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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Do you care about building community and advancing social justice in San Francisco? Are you searching for ways to serve and advocate for our city's most vulnerable people? The GLIDE Legacy Committee is recruiting new members through November 3! .
Join a group of motivated young professionals who are committed to GLIDE's mission to create a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. To apply or request more info, please send your resume and a statement of interest to Moses Ike and Kevin Pong via youngprofessionals@glide.org .
We look forward to hearing from you! #unconditionallove #community @glidesflegacy @wyattmm @brentongieser @amygardner9 @lauranthom @like_theres_no_tamara @krayjay_ @msemmyhelene @sublimerubbish @alissagrier @just_faffing @sldowd Check our homepage for a message of hope and recovery from GLIDE's leadership team. Link in profile. #northbayfires #recovery #disasterrelief #wednesdaywisdom TOMORROW, 2:00 pm, Freedom Hall: Join the GLIDE community for a free performance by Golden Thread Productions of "Oh My Sweet Land." Check out our interview with the director, Torange Yeghiazarian, to learn about this moving and timely story and why she chose GLIDE as a venue (link in profile)! Following the performance, there will be home-cooked Syrian food and community conversation. All are welcome! 
#sftheatre #bayareaarts #realtalk #community #discussion #syrianconflict #middleeast #refugeecrisis @cuttingball @zendesk @tndcsf @stanthonysf @projectopenhand @counterpulse @odcikin Did you know that October is #domesticviolenceawarenessmonth? Stay tuned for news on how GLIDE recognizes and addresses this important issue. #repost from @anewyearsrevolution  #takeastand

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