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Be The Change: December Volunteer Newsletter

Volunteer serving lunch at our 2019 Christmas Luncheon; that is the last time we held Christmas Meals indoors.

Hello & Welcome Back

Welcome back to our monthly volunteer newsletter. My name is Tessa, and I am the editor for our Volunteer Newsletter ‘Be the Change’. 

The theme of this month’s newsletter is our interconnectivity and finding ways to honor that closeness in the new year. For many volunteers, like our Volunteer Spotlight, Tommy Garvin, it is volunteering regularly with our Daily Free Meals Program. For me, it is setting a few hours aside each week to dedicate to an organization I love and building relationships with the other regular volunteers I find myself in community with. That is just one example of how we can build our community as we continue returning to how vibrant life was pre-COVID. 

As always, please reach out if you have any experiences or volunteers, you would like us to highlight. You can reach us for newsletter inquiries via volteam@glide.org. Please put Volunteer Spotlight in the subject line. 

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

Call for January Volunteers 

For those looking to make New Year’s resolutions to give back and build up our community, we welcome you to sign up for regular shifts via our website. Our need for volunteers is high during the first few months of the year. Make one of your New Year resolutions to dedicate one day a month to volunteering perhaps you have a few hours to spare on the weekend or want to bring your office to volunteer during the work week. Options are endless due to our multiple shifts available daily! GLIDE is open 264 days a year, and we would love to have you become a regular volunteer with us. 


Join our Legacy Committee 

We wanted to share this opportunity with you to engage with GLIDE. The GLIDE Legacy Committee is our young professionals board focused on engaging the next generation of change agents and supporters of GLIDE. You may have met some of the members at various volunteer events, specifically Legacy Gala as it is their marquee event. Recruitment is open now! To learn more about the Legacy Committee– their events, their members, and their mission – you can visit glide.org/glide-legacy-committee. If you or someone you know is interested, please email youngprofessionals@glide.org to be connected with the recruitment team. 

Thank you for supporting GLIDE! 

Finding Purpose Through Service

Photo of Tommy Garvin during Lunch Service - Thanksgiving Day 2023.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tommy  

2024 is a year I plan on sustainably volunteering with an organization that I love. Is volunteering with GLIDE a part of those plans? Although I work for GLIDE, I sometimes shift my work priorities in my day to join other volunteers serving meals! This act grounds me and reminds me that it is us that takes care of our community. 

Our volunteer spotlight for this month is an example of six degrees of separation theory. This theory dictates that we are six or less social connections from any given person. Only through opening ourselves up to those around you, would you find connections like the one Tommy found on Thanksgiving Day. 

Tommy Garvin looks like any other man on the streets of San Francisco. He carries his bag pack with his portable speaker on his bag pack strap – ready to jam at any time! Tommy volunteers with our Daily Free Meals Program’s Breakfast Shift. We first met when he came to inquire about our volunteer opportunities. At the time, he was part of a reentry program for formerly incarcerated individuals and had chosen to volunteer with GLIDE as he transitions back into the community.  The soft speaking Tommy hit the ground running the minute he signed up to volunteer. 

Over the months, I built a rapport with Tommy and learned that he has known GLIDE for decades. His brother was a GLIDE crisis center employee way back in 1998 and for several years he lived in a tent across the street from GLIDE, and also, occasionally accessing our services.  

It wasn’t until this past Thanksgiving that I realized how small our community is and the interconnectivity of our volunteer community. Tommy volunteered with us over Thanksgiving and while serving lunch in our main dining room, a member of Kings of Cali, a local motorcycle club that was volunteering with us, recognized him, but Tommy did not. The club member asked where Tommy was from, and he mentioned he’s not from San Fransisco but has been around Hunters Point and the Tenderloin for a couple of decades.  

The club member stared at Tommy for a minute, and asked if he had a son, to which he replied that said he does but hasn’t spoken with him for 10 years! Tommy had lost contact with his son since he was incarcerated. 

The Kings of Cali member called Tommys son and opened with I’m standing here with your daddy!”.  It was like a Thanksgiving miracle, which allowed Tommy to reconnect with his son. He got to tell him about his sobriety, and volunteering with GLIDE.  

Tommy also learned something new in that call – that he is a grandfather! He shared pictures of his family with me when he came to visit the Volunteer Office and is looking forward to meeting with his son and grandson. 

Photo of Tommy Garvin during Lunch Service on Thanksgiving - 2023.

While Tommy’s story might sound like it’s written for a movie, it is just another example of how one can find purpose through service. For Tommy he found a lost family connection and community from a complete stranger. You too can find purpose through service by volunteering and being in community with the people we serve every day.  

Thank you again to our Volunteers

Thank you for reading this month’s newsletter. As always, you can contact us via tstapp@glide.org if you would like to suggest a story to be featured.