Meet Ryan Shipley: Standing as a Voice for Those Who Have Lost Theirs
It has been two years, but I can still remember the last time I spoke to my father on the telephone. I remember his voice, his tone, how it sounded as if he had already given up on life. Most people around him, family and friends, had already given up on him. Every day I come to GLIDE, I see people that have little to no one left fighting for them, good people that have fallen like everyone else has, but didn’t have the solid foundation of family and friendship to help them back up. I hear the same tone in people’s voices that come here, the tone of my father. The difference is, unlike my father, everyone here has GLIDE, which always stands as a voice for those that have lost theirs.
GLIDE’s radically inclusive environment helps bring anyone and everyone together to help fight addiction, poverty, mental illness, racism, and anything else that oppresses a person. With most issues that occur in someone’s life, whether financial or otherwise, maintaining a continuous intake of both food and social interactions can be difficult. GLIDE brings both of these necessary things together in the meals program. The meals program is something special. It provides, not just food, but the simple interactions that keep people functioning and connected with one another. It brings people from every walk of life in one room, to prove we are all one and the same in this life. We all need love, we all need to eat, and most importantly we all need each other.
Once in our kitchen, everyone is greeted by staff, volunteers, and other people they may relate to. Most people that come to the meals program to eat, or even to volunteer, are not aware of everything else GLIDE has to offer, at least not at first. If you spend a few days here, you will start to hear about different programs and different opportunities. GLIDE offers men’s groups, women’s groups, recovery circles, health care, childcare, housing, shelter reservations, cooking classes, and even gardening classes on our roof top garden. Everything is free or made affordable and open to those seeking a way to empower themselves. To go from having no one to talk to and feeling like you have no hope, I can only imagine what it’s like to walk into this oasis of opportunity. GLIDE is the flagship, in my opinion, of how society should be; always with a hand reached out to those that might just want to stand up and shed whatever it may be that has kept them down.
I am back thinking about my father, where he is now, what he is doing, and even what he is thinking. I wonder how much happier, and proud of himself he might be, if he had access to even half of what GLIDE offers. I used to feel pain inside every time I would meet a guest and I would see or hear something that reminded me of him. But this soon turned to pure joy, when I realized that in a way, I am helping my father. I am giving a friendly hand to many people’s fathers and mothers. I know that my father at many times in his life has wished that a place like GLIDE and people that make GLIDE work were around to help. I may not be helping him in his issues, but I am helping people like him every day. Bringing hope, giving aid, listening, and becoming friends with my community is my way of helping my father, I and everyone on this planet.