I Got “Glidified”

This past weekend I was super excited for my upcoming volunteer stint at GLIDE, a famous San Francisco institution that serves meals to the city’s homeless population. I signed up about 6 weeks in advance and drove a nearly 3-hour round trip to participate – and I’m happy I made the effort!

Glide – The Churchglide congregation

In fact, I made a day of it when my good friend Lizzie suggested we go to the Glide Sunday Celebration beforehand. Known for their rockin’ band and nationally recognized choir, the service started with a string of songs that lifted the roof. We were all standing and clapping and singing (with a few seriously gyrating up in the balcony!).

As a place of worship, Glide is a United Methodist Church opening its doors in 1930 and uplifting about 2,000 people each Sunday. Glide prides itself on being a radically inclusive, just and loving community working together to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization.

I have to say it was one of the most touching, inspiring services I had ever attended, featuring:

  • Testimonial from Glide parishioner Sara, who stood up to tell how she found acceptance at Glide as someone who suffers from bi-polar disorder and depression. She talked about how volunteering at the organization gave her a way to show her appreciation for the support she received from the Glide community.
  • glide truthSermon that talked about the culture of death in our country on the heels of yet another school shooting and how we as an American society have simply accepted violence and folded it into our everyday lives. Pastor Oliveto wrapped up her sermon by talking about abundance and all we have to be grateful for in our lives.
  • Rose petal blessing, which reminded (very vaguely) of the catholic communion of my childhood. Each of us stood up to receive the petal and receive a blessing to “go out into the world and share your strengthen and gifts.” Nice!

Glide – The Nonprofit

As part of Glide’s mission to nourish the spirit, they also seek to nourish the heart and body by providing neighborhood programs that feed the hungry and heal the sick. It offers two main community services:

Daily Meals: Glide provides 3 nutritious meals a day, 364 days a year to an average of 2,560 poor San Franciscans. It takes more than 30 staff and 60 volunteers every day to serve this many hungry people!

Health Center: Glide’s nurse-managed health clinic seeks to provide affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare, including specific programs for mental health, HIV/AIDS testing and prevention, and the treatment of diabetes.

volunteering at glide, photo by GoErinGoGlide health services also offer a host of behavioral health services, such as addiction and recovery programs, including a syringe exchange, suicide prevention, domestic violence support, and parenting classes.

The Glide Slide

My morning with Glide started on such a high note – the church service’s singing and dancing and spiritual messages were truly invigorating. I was eager to begin my volunteer shift too, chatting and laughing with all the other volunteers.

Yet as the morning wore on, I became a little less animated. The reality of the Glide experience had started to sink in. Along with the other volunteers, we served 840 lunches to our city’s homeless population that day.

I was working in the Glide Café, which was reserved for serving women and children, as well as the disabled. In addition to families, we also saw many veterans and nearly everyone who received lunch was clearly suffering from either mental health issues or severe physical ailments. I even served a man in the advanced stages of leprosy – which is not something you expect to see in America.

At the end of our shift, sweeping and mopping the floors, most of us volunteers were subdued. We were thinking about the patrons that we had served that day, reflecting on the humility we were feeling.

The volunteer experience at Glide was profound, especially after the high of the morning spirituals. In church they promised that everyone who walks through the doors got “Glidified” – infected with the mission of creating a lovingly respectful and inclusive community.

They were right. I got Glidified. I also got reminded of why it’s so important to share our abundance, to create a place that is healing and nourishing, and why everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.

Want to get Glidified too? You can!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 26th, 2014 and is filed under Hot Orgs.

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