By: Lillian Mark, GLIDE program team member since 2004
This year I celebrate 10 years on GLIDE staff not including the 3 semesters I spent here as an intern prior. During my tenure at GLIDE the people in my life and the people I meet have had many questions: Did you always know you wanted to help people? Why would you choose to do this? Why would you choose to work there? What makes you stay? My response to those questions change as I am changed by this place every day.
John Powell, GLIDE Security Staff, shares a 20-year journey with GLIDE and he says “When you come to GLIDE, you’re always going to come out with something, maybe a piece of fried chicken, no matter what you’re going in for you’re going to come out with something better than what you went in with.” Ten years ago I came to GLIDE seeking community and justice. I wanted to be a part of a legacy, a mission, a body of people that believed in justice and acted on those beliefs valiantly. I found all of those things, but more importantly, I found LOVE. GLIDE has changed how I understand and hold LOVE; it is greater, deeper and more daring than I have ever known.
Ana Guillen, GLIDE Walk-In Center Manager, was sitting at one of the workstations in the Center wearing two hats: attending to her managerial administrative duties while providing coverage for staff out sick. A client approached her and pushed a document towards her and said “Type this.” In the moment she was taken aback by the abruptness and forcefulness of the request, especially given the myriad of tasks before her. Nonetheless, she typed up the documented, printed it, and handed it back to him. He held it in his hands, looked up at her and says “This is LOVE. Here, this, this is LOVE. I have a job, but I come here for shelter and I come here to eat. This is LOVE.”
I sat in a Women’s Center drop-in support group the other morning. One of the women who had spent many months homeless previously handed staff a plastic bag and said “This is a shirt. It’s for Ms. Kathy. It’s a bigger size and I know she needs bigger sizes.” I was humbled. Many times when we look in at a community like GLIDE’s, we think about scarcity. While this may be true for food security, access to quality health care, affordable housing, and workforce opportunities, there is another story that is unfolding here – from one woman to another who knows what it feels like to walk in her shoes, there is LOVE and bountifulness, and there is still room to be generous even when we ourselves may not have enough.
The LOVE we receive in this very moment gives us strength and hope for the next moment.
It lets us know that people see us, hear us and care about us.
It restores our faith in ourselves and others.It lets us know that we are worthy.
This incredible basic, human need is what GLIDE has always provided.
It cannot be measured by tools made by men and women, but I know it is here because I feel it deeply, and it has changed me forever.
And this is why I am still here.