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Reflections from Emerging Leaders Intern Juliana Mastro

My interview for the Emerging Leaders Internship was like no other. During the group dialogue, Isoke prompted us to speak openly and honestly about something we were passionate about. We were encouraged to express ourselves in any way we could, so I wrote a poem. No formal resumes were required. I was excited to share this side of myself.
Continue reading “Learning to Speak Up”

Eddie is a Meals Program Team Member who first walked in the doors at 330 Ellis looking to volunteer. Two and a half years later, Eddie can do just about everything in the Meals Program – coffee house, prep room, main dining hall, opening shifts, closing shifts and everything in between. He does it all with a big smile and a heart of gold! And because he speaks FIVE languages, including three dialects spoken in China, he’s adept in communicating with our guests who come from other cultures and countries, particularly our senior community.

We are grateful to him for sitting down to talk about volunteerism and daily life in Meals and for sharing some stories from his time working alongside clients and volunteers. Eddie, we’re lucky to have you around! 
Continue reading “Giving Back to San Francisco with Eddie”

Kent first came to GLIDE as a homeless teenager in search of a hot meal and assistance navigating San Francisco’s affordable housing system. Today, he returns every Monday and Thursday morning to volunteer in the kitchen, which comes easy to him – he has years of experience in the restaurant industry! He believes little things, like a smile or a warm greeting, can make a big difference – two things he provides plenty of each week during his breakfast shifts. Thank you for getting up early and making breakfast a wonderful experience for our community, Kent!
Continue reading “It’s Never Too Late (Or Too Early!) to Make a Difference”

Welcome to our Volunteer and Staff Highlight Series! Throughout the next five weeks we will be shining the spotlight on a few of our amazing volunteers and staff members in the GLIDE Daily Free Meals program. These people pull off something miraculous every day — three times a day. If you’ve ever joined us for mealtime you know it’s a major operation, requiring nearly 100 people a day to get right. But the real mark of success is when our guests don’t have to think about anything except enjoying their food, a welcoming atmosphere, some friendly and familiar faces, and a sense that they belong.

James Sampaga is a Meals Program Shift Lead in his 13th year at GLIDE. Everybody knows James. Recently we caught up with him in the middle of closing a lunch time shift. Amid the clamor of clanking dishes and soul music over the dining room speakers, James offered his thoughts on the importance of the Daily Free Meals program as well as the incalculable value of volunteering.  
Continue reading “Serving Lunch (and Love) with James Sampaga”

Maddi is a young man who is multi-lingual, a talented visual artist, and now homeless. He’s been coming to GLIDE frequently, and we have enjoyed getting to know him better. He graciously shared his story with us.  

I was born in Kuwait, but I was born as a non-citizen, without documents. My mom is Kuwaiti but in that country they don’t give you citizenship even if your mom is a citizen. Very unfair. So we emigrated to New Mexico.
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I got my B.A. in foreign languages — French, Spanish, and Italian. I came out here to get my master’s at the Academy of Art University for illustration and fine arts. I recently became homeless and just found out about GLIDE and I’m very thankful for it. I became homeless after living in the Sunset in a house with two other housemates. I feel like I have a problem with organization and foresight.

I was actually just going to the DMV to get my ID when I came by GLIDE again to get some food. I’m very thankful for it. Not that getting food out of the trash is that bad. You know, it’s San Francisco so they sort everything out so it’s easy to get the food without the trash and people have been really loving and open. It’s an eye-opening experience, more than anything, these last 20 days. I’m finding out about all the resources and programs the City offers, and just how it is to live in the streets. I’m planning to put it all into a graphic novel.

I’m painting outside at Fisherman’s Wharf and I’m also painting in the Mission. My friend led me here after we were hanging out in the Mission. Mostly I have just been eating here. I’ve also been trying to locate a residence, but I have a tarp so it keeps the ground dry. It’s been okay not to have a shelter of any sort because I usually end up feeling like I’m imprisoned because I can’t leave a room once I sign a lease. It’s been nice to be out and about and painting in public.

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A sketch of Ellis Street in front of GLIDE.

Eating at GLIDE has been really good. It’s been a resource when I just cannot find food. Honestly I’ve become accustomed to eating out of trash cans, and a lot of times someone will come up to ask you if you want some food. I’ve been eating here a couple times a week, while I’m out and about, trying to put my portfolio together. One application goes to Germany, the other goes to Florence. It’s been easier to not have a residence and do the things that I’m doing because when I had a residence it was so hard to just leave the house and see what I could see. In a lot of ways, you have to lose everything to look around and see what’s available.
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An example of Maddi’s work: “Mock advertising illustration for Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream done in acrylic paint.” You can find more of Maddi’s work at http://theartofmaddi.com/ as well as on Instagram @hamad.ani

Iona Lewis is a Case Manager with GLIDE’s Men in Progress program. Thanks to her father, Iona has been a part of the GLIDE community her entire life. Now, she and her husband Raphael are both employees here and their son, Carlo, attends GLIDE’s Family, Youth and Childcare Center (FYCC) during the day. Iona and Raphael were part of the GLIDE contingent to the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, in April.

In the following lightly edited excerpts from a recent conversation, Iona shares some memories of her father and growing up near GLIDE. With this offering from Iona, we wish everyone everywhere a loving Father’s Day weekend. 
Continue reading “A Father’s Gift”

Laura Thompson, founding member of the GLIDE Legacy Committee, remembers her mother by living GLIDE’s values

GLIDE Church has a long-standing tradition of featuring voices from the community in a segment of Sunday Celebration called “I Am GLIDE.” Personal testimonies on the strength and power of unconditional love from our program participants, congregants, donors and volunteers provide what we often refer to as “the GLIDE sacred text.” We feature these inspiring stories here when we can. Recently, Laura Thompson, founding member of our wonderful GLIDE Legacy Committee, spoke to the congregation.

I was raised by a badass single mom.

She survived an abusive childhood at the hands of a schizophrenic mother and alcoholic father, and escaped to San Francisco in the 1960s as a young adult, where she found GLIDE.
Continue reading “A Family Affair”

Thoughts from GLIDE staff who attended our pilgrimage to Montgomery

On April 25, a group of 85 people from GLIDE, The Kitchen, the Rafiki Coalition and Stanford Graduate School of Education traveled to Montgomery, Alabama for the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The trip was the culmination of a series of courses organized by Rabbi Michael Lezak, Isoke Femi and James Lin of GLIDE’s Center for Social Justice focusing on the issue of justice and reconciliation. We have come back from Montgomery with a range of feelings and thoughts concerning the deep connections between the history of the country and the ongoing challenges we as a society face here in the Bay Area. GLIDE continues to work for personal and social transformation toward a more just and equitable world. The following reflections from members of the Alabama trip speak to the power of this pilgrimage on our own understanding and resolve around the nature of the work ahead.
Continue reading “Reflections on Justice and Reconciliation”

March 2, 2018

We are kicking off the first Friday of Women’s History Month with the words of one of the amazing mothers in our community who sends her children to GLIDE’s Janice Mirikitani Family, Youth and Childcare Center (FYCC). Gabby emigrated to San Francisco from Guadalajara, Mexico 15 years ago, and, like hundreds of other parents, has relied on FYCC to lovingly care for her children so that she can work, study and provide a warm home and hopeful future for her family.

We’ve been around GLIDE for 13 years. I have two older boys who started at GLIDE’s Family, Youth and Childcare Center [FYCC] when they were babies. Now they’re teenagers, and now I have two little ones who are in preschool and the toddler room. I have a boy named Josiah, he’s four, and Jenny, who is two.

Right now, I’m getting financial aid, Welfare to Work and going to City College and studying child development. My dream is to become a preschool teacher. To me, the ages from three to five are very important because that’s when you learn the most, when you are learning to go to school. My interest is in helping kids prepare to transition to go to kindergarten. My kids are really supportive of me, and are always asking me if I need any help with my homework!

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Well, every single day they get excited just to come to school. I think it’s the environment with the teachers. Every morning Jenny goes in and starts yelling the teacher’s name and runs to give her a hug. I’m really happy leaving my kids with people that love them. The teachers don’t just take care of them; they give them a little piece of their love.

So, every single day my kids ask:
“Are we going to school?”
“Yes.”
“Yaaaaay!”

And then on Saturday they ask the same thing, and when I say “No,” they say, “Oh. When are we going back to school?” They’re just happy to be at school.

Thirteen years ago, I was looking for childcare for my son Jacob, and FYCC called me and said they had a space for me. I came in and looked around, and talked to La Monica [Director of FYCC]. At that time, she was the manager for preschool. And I loved it! Two days later Jacob started.

By my kids being in this program, I’ll be able to go to school. I’ll be able to take some classes that I need to finish my education and make a better future for my kids.

To me FYCC is very special in many different ways. I used to work here, too. The people around are really with you all the time and they give you love no matter what. What makes it special is that no matter what race you are, they still accept you and support you.

By my kids being in this program, I’ll be able to go to school. I’ll be able to take some classes that I need to finish my education and make a better future for my kids. Right now we’re having a hard situation in our family, which is the separation of parents, and I’m by myself with four kids. And FYCC helps me a lot with all the Christmas gifts [from GLIDE’s holiday toy drive]. It’s so helpful.

Programs like FYCC are important in San Francisco because, especially with afterschool programs, there is a place kids to go after school so they don’t get out of control. There’s a teacher to help them with homework. To me, the kids are the future, so if you have programs or resources that help them to grow up, it’s one of the best things that we as humans can do.

Isoke Femi on transformative learning and loving Blackness

We recently sat down with Isoke Femi, GLIDE’s Maven of Transformative Learning with our Center for Social Justice, to talk about the inspiration and philosophy that ground her approach to group facilitation, and what gives her hope for the realization of a just, equitable and loving future. 
Continue reading “Transformation Is Going to Happen”