I recently had the opportunity to hear Fr. Greg Boyle, founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries, give a speech. Fr. Greg shared many stories and experiences that reminded me of what I have seen at The Gubbio Project. There was something about his stories that really touched home for me. He mentioned that whenever a homie needed to talk to him, whether it was on the street, in his office, or over the phone, they would begin the conversation the same way. "Can I tell you something?" And then they would go on to share whatever it was that was on their mind. Fr. Greg joked about how sometimes a homie would say "can I tell you something" and then share the most random story and they would laugh and joke about it; and then explained that other times a homie would say "can I tell you something" and share a very deep and emotional story and they would cry and do some soul searching together.
Personally hearing many different stories at The Gubbio Project and listening to Fr. Greg's experience listening to other peoples stories helps me realize the importance of listening to someone. Genuinely and intentionally listening to someone. We all need it; I know I do. Since moving here to San Francisco I've found that there are many times I look for someone to share stories with; some stories not so important and others that mean a lot to me. No matter what the story is I always think of who would be willing to listen and care; actually listen and care. To me, my parents, my mom is who I can always trust will care about what I have to say.
Our guests do the same thing to Tina, that the homies do to Fr. Greg, that I do to my parents. People come up to me and all my coworkers to share stories with us all the time. Sometimes I'm being told things I have no idea why I'm hearing. But the way I see our guests talk to Tina, the way their face lights up when they see her, the way they get all giddy waiting to give her a hug, the way their voice jumps with excitement when she says hi to them, reminds me of how excited and giddy I get when I talk to my parents. I think it is safe to say that the role my parents play in caring about me getting awards or being there when I'm sad or being there and listening no matter what my story is, Tina plays that same role for dozens of people who come through our church.
In the last five years I've been taught a lot about seeing the human dignity in all people. Watching Tina work at The Gubbio Project since the first day I started here has taught me more about human dignity than I've learned all my life.