I was drawn to GLIDE by the soulful music…

by Katharina Neusiedler, 2011 Women’s Center Volunteer

I was drawn to GLIDE , probably like many people, by the soulful music. I used to sing in a choir years ago back home in Austria and was in search for a musical home in San Francisco. As I sat at Celebration, Sunday after Sunday, trying to muster the courage to audition, I also listened to the message that came from the pastors about unconditional love, radical inclusiveness and recovery. The sentence “we are all in recovery from something” struck a chord inside me and I realized that by coming to GLIDE and internalizing this message of total acceptance I began to heal from deep-seated shame.

Time came for me to finish up my sociology degree and I was looking for a place to learn some job skills and to figure out which direction I wanted to go after I graduated. I also wanted to give back to GLIDE for what it had already given me, so I went to a volunteer orientation. I had already heard about the Women’s Center at Celebration and I knew that this was where I wanted to contribute.

I can now say in hindsight that my time at the Women’s Center was the most significant time in the four years I spent in San Francisco and one of the most important experiences of my life. I met the leaders of the program, Zwazzi and Talilah, for my initial interview and sat in at each of the three recovery groups they were offering at the time. I then made a commitment to co-facilitate one group per week. From day one I felt a deep connection to the women who came through the doors of the Women’s Center, and I realized that despite our differences in national, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds, I had a lot in common with them.

I soon started coming in twice a week, and at the end of my nine months there I was facilitating groups three mornings a week and helping out with special events held for the women. For the time and effort I put in, I got plenty in return. I learned that the Women’s Center really practices GLIDE’s message of unconditional love. Never before had I experienced a place–let alone a workplace–where I was encouraged to voice my real thoughts and feelings! And from the way Zwazzi and Talilah interacted with the women, with me, and with each other I learned about listening, respect, and trust.

I had to go back to Austria after nine months at the Women’s Center and saying goodbye was tough, but I know that I want to keep working with women. And, you can take a girl out of the Women’s Center, but you can’t take the Women’s Center out of the girl.

P.S. I did muster up the courage to join the choir after announcing it to the women several times.

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GLIDE Instagram
Joyce Hayes, celebrating life, love and GLIDE with @doricamino and @edenchanstreetscooper at the 2014 Holiday Jam. A retro photo of Joyce Hayes, a true GLIDE hero, who so strongly believed in supporting children and providing them with stability, education and #unconditionallove. GLIDE regrets to tell our community that Joyce Hayes, an icon in our history and childcare program, passed away on Tuesday, 5/23/2017. Her life, love and legacy will not be forgotten. 
Please take a moment to read this tribute to our beloved "Joy": glidesf.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/in-memory-of-joyce-hayes-the-heartbeat-of-glides-fycc/ Shout-out @blueshieldofca volunteers! Our Harm Reduction Team always needs people to help assemble safer injection kits. Distributing these kits to our community members who inject drugs greatly reduces the spread of Hep C and HIV. It's about #publichealth and recognizing the dignity and human rights of ALL people living in our city! #harmreduction #cleansharps

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