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Be The Change: March Volunteer Newsletter

Women’s History Month Special Edition 

Photo of Maya Angelou and Janice Mirikitani

Celebrating the Woman who Co-Founded GLIDE

For Women’s History Month, Be the Change will be celebrating the woman who co-founded GLIDE! We want to pay homage to Janice Mirikitani, GLIDE’s Co-Founder and San Francisco’s second Poet Laureate. Janice was a driving force for GLIDE and was deeply committed to uplifting women through her poetry and advocacy work.  

In combination with celebrating Janice, this newsletter celebrates GLIDE’s Women’s Center, which recently held its grand opening. Contact us directly at VOLTEAM@GLIDE.ORG to volunteer and support their transformative work. 

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

Daily Free Meals Program

Volunteering with our meals team is one example of how you can make a difference instantly in another person’s day. Either by serving meals directly to those in need or supporting our chefs in the prep room; you become a part of GLIDE’s larger mission of providing basic needs and combatting food insecurity in San Fransisco.  

By signing up via our volunteer portal, you make all of GLIDE’s work possible. Meal service is just one of the many opportunities we offer that allow our volunteers to directly engage with and support the local community. For Daily Free Meals Team and all other volunteer opportunities, please visit our shift calendar. 

Call for Volunteer Client Surveyors

GLIDE’s Center for Applied Learning (CALI) needs volunteers to administer our annual Client Survey across all our programs. This is an excellent opportunity to directly meet with and get to know GLIDE clients while administering the survey. Also, as a volunteer, you would play a key role in ensuring our client’s voice is heard and GLIDE can act on the feedback to improve our services. All volunteers are welcomed, and Spanish, Cantonese, and Vietnamese speakers are especially appreciated!      
 
Survey results are used to make key program improvements and ensure they are culturally relevant, impactful, and meet our community’s needs. Please sign up here. 

CELEBRATING JANICE

Photo depicting Cecil and Janice laughing

Spotlight Janice Mirikitani: Humanist, Poet, Activist, and Community Leader 

By Tessa Stapp, Volunteer Coordinator 

In the previous newsletter, I wrote about my experience accessing the GLIDE archives held at the San Francisco Public Library, and while researching GLIDE history, my respect and understanding of Janice grew exponentially.  

I never had the pleasure of meeting Janice and after researching GLIDE’s archives, I wish I got to know her in person. It is abundantly clear that Janice has made a permanent mark in so many people’s lives. I learned about her local and transnational feminist work in the Third World Women’s Alliance and about the numerous poetry benefits she facilitated. In 1973, Janice hosted a third world feminist poetry reading event in solidarity with the Chilean women’s fight for liberation.  

At the end of this article, I will include a link to the Third World Women’s Book; which was published with the help of Janice and can be borrowed from the San Francisco Public Library. 

Language is released 

That all understand. 

“Love affords wonder…” Maya Angelou says. 

We are arranging our faces. Our mouths bloom with orchids and simple words, elegant words. 

Hope surrounds us. 

Her Face, a poem for Maya Angelou, by Janice Mirikitani 

 

My journey into understanding Janice motivated me to interview people who knew her on a personal level, people who interacted with her both at GLIDE and outside of GLIDE. Thomas Walsh, James Lin, and Vicky Lee all knew and experienced Janice differently but the common themes that weaved their stories together was the unconditional love that Janice had for everyone, her unshakable confidence, fabulous sense of style, deeply caring heart and raucous laughter.  

Thomas Walsh, who was Executive Assistant to Janice and Cecil, met Janice in the early 2000’s. “Her words were her power,” Thomas fondly remembered as we sat in his office. He warmly reminisced about her spirited discussions on topical issues.  Likewise, James Lin, a former GLIDE colleague and friend of Janice, spoke of her with reverence – her life was steeped in love and fiery passion, one dedicated to resisting the ways society easily forgets social issues of women, children and marginalized groups. James added that Janice specifically wanted to be “remembered for the work she did uplifting people’s voices.” 

“You did not come here to be silent 

Not Silent, a poem featured in Love Works, a poetry collection of Janice’s work published by the City Lights Foundation  

Janice’s passion for lifting people’s voices and meeting people where they were is something Vicky Lee, a GLIDE employee of over four decades, remembers and holds near and dear to her heart. “She held my face in her hands and told me how important I am” Vicky, a quiet but tenacious woman, fondly remembers Janice fostering her artistic self. At Janice’s encouragement, Vicky’s calligraphy and art was printed in GLIDE’s poetry collection Watch Out! We’re Talking. 

Janice’s life and legacy were defined by her unconditional love for both those she knew and strangers alike.   

Janice performing at Church Celebration

I am left in awe. Janice reminds me so much of my mother and my grandmother—and I am sure there are strong women in your life who Janice reminds you of as well. She is someone that was able to overcome adversity, find her own voice, and to Be The Change in our community that we needed. 

 

Additional Resources if you would like to keep learning about Janice’s story.

Personal Reflection

by Tessa Stapp, Volunteer Coordinator

In orientation last month, I met a volunteer that spoke about his admiration of Janice as an Asian American artist and activist. As a Hunters Point native, he was inspired by how she intertwined those identities.  

There are no downtrodden here. 

We gather, we women 

With men to reap 

Equally in our labor  

And intent to love. 

We do this with the sun 

Hot in our hearts, 

The rain cool in our breath, 

And the harvest abundant. 

Quote from Delicious, a Janice Miritikani poem featured in Love Works  

dedicated to the women of GLIDE for international Women’s Month 

 

I see Janices feminist work living on through the volunteer and internship opportunities GLIDE offers today. I feel deeply connected to Jan and Cecil’s legacy they left throughout our community. I am grateful to write about Janice for our Volunteer newsletter 

Photo of a Women’s Center Case Manager during their Valentine’s Day Event 2024

If you have a memory with Janice, or a favorite quote, I encourage you to write it down and share your thoughts with the Volunteer Office by emailing us at volteam@glide.org 

Also, I hope you were able to learn a little bit about yourself and Janice through this brief spotlight. If you have a woman at GLIDE who you admire, I encourage you to write in a compliment for them as well and I will pass those compliments along to relevant parties. 

Thank you again to our Volunteers

Thank you for reading this month’s newsletter! It is because engaged volunteers like YOU who make all the difference at GLIDE.  

If you would like to donate books to our GLibrary initiative, we appreciate books in new or gently used condition across all genres. If you have any questions or would like to coordinate the dropping off books, please contact our GLibrarian, Waverlee Craig, at: Wcraig@glide.org . 

You may contact me at Tstapp@glide.org. If you have a story suggestion, please put Volunteer Newsletter Story in the subject line and I will get back to you as soon as possible. 

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