“Never turn anyone away”: Glenn D.’s Story

by Bree L.

Glenn, a true local, was born and raised in Bayview-Hunter’s Point in San Francisco.  He was born into a large family, the youngest of seven children. He was a fraternal twin with one older brother and four sisters.  His mother was the primary caregiver as his stepfather, an alcoholic, was gone a lot. His father eventually died from cirrhosis of the liver.  Today, two siblings have passed away and the rest are living in the area. His mother died of lung cancer after smoking steadily for forty years.  Glenn, as the youngest, says, “they spoiled me.”

His sobriety date is October 28, 2003. Prior to getting sober, he was in and out of jail for many years. There was a reoccurring theme of getting sick and going to San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). He would be admitted for overnight observation and upon departure get discharge meds, and the whole circus would start over again. One time, while waiting for his medication he decided to take a walk. He stopped for a cigarette as part of his walk and ran into a sheriff’s department security guard. The guard recognized Glenn, detained him, and realized there was a warrant for his address. He landed in jail four more months. That was an example of how his life went up and down. 

His life went up and down

The last arrest before his incarceration, he was sent to drug court and sentenced to attend outpatient rehab in the Bayview, his old stomping grounds. He’d attend class on Carroll Ave. every day from nine to one and spend the rest of the day using. It was great to get treatment in his neighborhood as he knew all the dealers and where they were located. Periodically, he’d return to court, but treatment would be denied because he’d had too many dirties when they tested him.  The last time, he was sent to Redwood Center inpatient program. It was an opportunity to get out of the city. He was dressed for court at 850 Bryant, thinking he’d have a day or so before treatment but this time he was sent directly to Redwood City with no chance to visit his known neighborhood. 

Getting to Redwood Center, he questioned if he really needed to be there?  There were all these men, punk rockers, gays, straights, so different from his neighborhood but he decided to at least give it a shot. He didn’t see what they could do that would be so different, but there was at least a chance for change. He managed to graduate after ninety days. But with this new certification he was still unemployable. He says it was a lucky break that the city paid for all his treatment.

His new sponsor told Glen about the Dry Dock

Upon his return, he had a conversation with his godmother who lived in the Bayview. They both questioned if he could stay clean. He knew he was now more focused and had an idea of what he wanted out of life. He figured between his Higher Power and his godmother, they would help him stay on track. He moved in with her and began taking care of his godmother who had multiple health issues. 

His new sponsor, Terry, told Glen about the Dry Dock and how it had many meetings. Glenn took the bus from the Bayview (the 24 to Jackson, and the 22 to Lombard and Fillmore) and began attending the 8:30 pm meeting after putting his grandmother to bed. This worked well so he included the 10:00 pm meeting. Things got better as he got to know people, and with that, he added the 5:15 meeting after feeding his grandmother an early dinner. Her son was available after work help. Glenn stayed with her as a caretaker for four years until she passed

After his godmother passed, a man from the Dry Dock said he had an extra room in his place in Daly City. The man had a disability, needed help, and asked Glenn to move in. This worked well for ten years, but toward the end, Glenn needed to make a change. As our program works, he fortuitously connected with a fellow at the Dry Dock who said he had a condo in town with an extra bedroom. The fellow’s mother had originally bought the place before she died and left the condo to him. Here he was offered a San Francisco condo, centrally located. As Glenn says, it was a “God shot” to have this wonderful place available to him.  

Glenn now works the swing shift, customer service desk at the Dry Dock, which has the most meetings of any site in the city. His motto is to never turn anyone away, even during quarantine. When a room was full, he had a dial-in lobby connection. He truly adheres to our motto of always having the helping hand of AA available to anyone who reaches out.

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