Hello! Olivia, Mandy, Mackenzie, and Katie are your writers today. It’s Tuesday, our second day of service. Five words to describe our experiences so far include exhausting, fun, rewarding, ouch, and FRANTASTIC.
Today was our second and last day with Glide and the Women’s Building. Some observations we had today included the distinct divide between the districts, all of the amazing street art, interacting with patrons at Glide, and all of the multi-lingual conversations we had and witnessed at the Women’s Building open house event. On our ventures to and from Glide and the Women’s Building and in all of the neighborhoods, we’ve had the gift of seeing some of the most beautiful street art. The outside of the Women’s Building is one giant mural of women from different cultures, ages, and all other kinds of appearances.
On our way from Glide, there was a mural constructed by CityArt on one of the many tall buildings in our neighborhood of Little Saigon. Among all the murals are a variety of graffiti tags and spray painted pieces on the sides of walls. For a culturally colorful city, the art is an added bonus!
The last two mornings we have gotten up and been on our way to GLIDE by 6:45. Walking to GLIDE means that we have to pass through the Tenderloin’s Skid Row. The closer you get, the more trash there is strewn across the ground. Then come the people on the streets. Some are still in their sleeping bags, or other makeshift beds, but many are already up and about. This is not the San Francisco that you see in travel brochures.
However, if you go a few streets over to another district, the cool little high-end specialty stores start becoming the norm. Instead of the poverty, you can clearly the wealth that has come with the booming high-end businesses. The difference between poverty and wealth is literally a couple blocks. Income inequality is a huge problem through out the U.S. (and the world), and in San Fran, the divide is very visible.
We did service work both days at the Women’s Center. First day was flyering for the organization called Women Against Rape (WAR). We went all over a part of the city for at least 3 hours. Today, we helped with the resource center in setting up and advertising the open house that took place today for anyone who were interested in touring the building or attending the event and there was FREE food available for visitors. During this volunteering experience, some of my group members’ notice the interchangeable ways that bilingual speaker does. For example, many of the visitors who came to the event today were Spanish speakers. There was a mix of two languages during a dialogue, such as using Spanish words interchangeably with English. This became fascinating and interesting for us to observe as we serve the community and yet trying to engage in conversation with them, simply as asking them whether they want fruits or drinks.
Serving at Glide was incredible (again) mostly because for the first day, my group had a staff member helping us serve an entire room of people food and beverages, but today we were on our own. We certainly rose to the challenge and fed over 200 people breakfast! Something that really stuck with me was being able to have little conversations with the people who came to us for food, people who we have been conditioned to not speak to or even make eye contact with when we cross the street. We could tell how much it meant to them to have someone take an interest and give a smile.
After lunch, we headed back to the Women’s Building to help them prepare for an open house event. Even though it rained, we still had a lot of fun gathering supplies, decorating, and creating games. It was so clear to us all how important the Women’s Building is to the community in the Mission and to all of SF. It is a safe place for so many.
We had a great spaghetti dinner tonight, and now it’s time to write and reflect. More soon!