If you've been following our "Meet the Neighbors" series, we hope you've enjoyed getting to know the vibrant neighborhood surrounding HI-SF City Center as much as we have. Since 2011, we've been introducing you to the local businesses, entrepreneurs, and artists who are helping the hostel's Tenderloin neighborhood evolve into a hip, up-and-coming district.
And it's not just the Tenderloin's retail and restaurant landscape that's changing: thanks to a local organization called Glide, area residents in need are getting opportunities to make their lives better, too. We're proud that HI-City Center has gotten involved with the cause, and even prouder that Hostel Activities Coordinator Anthony Jones is passionate about getting guests involved, too.
About a year ago, Jones hooked the City Center Hostel up with Glide, which calls itself a "radically inclusive, just, and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization" in San Francisco. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Glide has become a powerhouse institution for good in the Tenderloin. It serves thousands of free meals each day, offers supportive housing and medical attention to the needy, and brings together community members of all faiths, races, genders, sexual orientations, and classes in celebration of "recovery and unconditional love."
It's a message Jones says guests at City Center have embraced enthusiastically. On Sundays, Jones takes groups of hostel guests to see the Glide Ensemble's gospel performances; many other days, he organizes groups of guests to volunteer for a few hours serving meals to the needy at Glide's nearby kitchen.
Getting involved with Glide is not just a way for HI-City Center guests to go way beyond the tour-book San Francisco experience, Jones says, but a way for them to help make the community a better place.
"At City Center, we're able to offer (guests) more information and expose them to organizations that are actually doing something (for the homeless and needy)," Jones says.
At the hostel, helping out can even mean something as simple as participating in on-site group activities such as the regular "Indian Love Feasts" or "New Orleans Fat Tuesday" dinners, or this year's Candlelight Christmas Caroling night. Any time guests make a donation during a free meal or event at the City Center Hostel, the money goes directly to helping Glide serve three meals a day, 364 days a year, to the city's poor, homeless, and hungry.
"By having these activities where people can get a cheap, homemade meal at the hostel, and they can donate a dollar or two that's going to help Glide at the same time – that's really in line with HI's mission," says Jones.
Ready to get involved on your next visit to San Francisco? HI-City Center is making it easy. The hostel has chosen to work with Glide for the 2014 Great Hostel Give Back, which will give hostellers free overnights in exchange for volunteer service hours in January and February (click here for details). For a more casual volunteer commitment during your stay in SF, just contact Anthony directly and ask him how you can help HI-City Center and Glide make the community a little brighter.