As we wind down 2021 (its unbelievable that we getting ready for a new year!) we are gearing up for 2022 when we will celebrate our Thirtieth Anniversary. In June of 1992 we opened the doors to our storefront on Mattison Ave and began to figure out a way that we could serve this growing population of people living with HIV/AIDS and also confronting homelessness, addiction, poverty, alienation. It was a major task and slowly we found ways to help. But that help, that energy to live our Mission always happened through the love and dedication of volunteers who joined the journey. And that still continues. And so, we are looking for ways to commemorate all that has happened during these thirty years. If you have any memories of how you experienced The Center either through your own volunteering, your own sharing in the Mission of The Center I’d love to hear from you.
So much has happened over these years sometimes we need people to help us remember!
In an early issue of our Newsletter, in 1995, I shared something that had been pointed out to me. It seems that among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa a most common greeting, equivalent to “hello” in English, is the expression Sawa bona. It literally means, “I see you.” When you hear this greeting, you respond by saying Sikhona, “I am here.” The belief is that until you see me, I do not exist. It’s as if when you see me, you bring me into existence. And beside that there is a folk saying which translates as “A person is a person because of other people”.
When you think about it, that’s a lot of responsibility placed upon us. If we walk past another and don’t pay attention to them, if we’re so preoccupied with our own concerns and worries and miss someone else’s needs, existence we are missing the opportunity to bring that person into existence.
Back in 1995 we hoped and dreamt that that is what The Center could do: pay attention to the folks who came to us and “see” them. Bring them out of their fears, isolation, aloneness and improve their existence. Hopefully that’s what we done these thirty years. And hopefully we can continue to find ways to do this. We know that we’re not here simply to feed people and house people. We are here to “see” them and love them.