Heart iconDonate
St. Anthony's Foundation logo mark
St. Anthony's Foundation logo mark

Bridging Differences: A Volunteer’s Journey in the Tenderloin Tech Lab

July 10, 2024

Tabreez has been volunteering at St. Anthony’s Tenderloin Tech Lab for just over a year. Like many others, Tabreez was driven by a desire to give back to the community. However, what he discovered at the Tech Lab was a meaningful lesson in humanity and a reminder that, at our core, we all share the same needs and desires.

“While volunteering at St. Anthony’s, I have been surprised by the powerful self-reflection that’s taken place in me,” Tabreez said. His initial days were marked by the challenge of encountering guests with communication styles, hygiene habits, abilities, or behaviors vastly different from his own. This discomfort acted as a mirror, showing Tabreez that what made him uncomfortable was simply a reflection of his own ideas and preferences. “Seeing my thoughts and feelings helped me keep an open mind,” he explained, “enabling me to experience the person I was working with directly through their expression in the present moment rather than through my beliefs about them.”

Tabreez’s accepting approach allowed him to look beyond superficial differences and connect with guests on a deeper level. “As I continued to work with guests in this way, I saw more deeply and was reminded of how similar we all are, though the particulars of our situation may be different,” he reflected. This realization inspired a sense of compassion and patience. “It’s amazing how being confronted by perceived differences in others has brought me more appreciation for the ways in which we are the same.”

One particularly memorable experience for Tabreez occurred when a guest came in looking for help to find guitar tabs and lyrics for a song he wanted to play. Tabreez helped the guest navigate to a site that had what he was looking for. “I still remember how he just lit up with amazement when he saw the guitar tabs,” Tabreez recalled. The guest’s joy was palpable, his shoulders moving to the music in his head as he reconnected with the song.

The simple act of finding the guitar tabs sparked a conversation that revealed the guest’s deep connection to music. He shared how playing the guitar was a vital part of his life and a medium for self-expression. As the guest recounted the first time he heard the songs he cherished, his enthusiasm grew. “Can we get the guitar tabs and lyrics for those songs? I’d love to play them!” he asked eagerly. Tabreez was more than happy to help, recognizing the significance of these small moments of joy and connection.

After they said their goodbyes, Tabreez felt grateful for the encounter. “I was reminded by this guest just how important it is to spend time enjoying what we love, expressing ourselves and our passion, and being with each other.” Tabreez’s interaction, like many others that happen every day at the Tech Lab, highlights the universal experiences of joy, connection, and self-expression that transcend our differences.

Through his work at the Tenderloin Tech Lab, Tabreez continues to bridge gaps and build relationships, one guitar tab at a time. His experience is a testament to the transformative power of volunteering and the profound impact of seeing beyond our differences to the shared humanity that unites us all.

If you are interested in volunteering and looking for ways to help the local community, visit our website to learn more and sign up!

Our Partners

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. If you continue using our website, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.

Accept cookies
Skip to content