The following is the speech that Crystal Y. Gibbs delivered at Elizabeth Gregory Home’s 2016 Annual Dinner. Sadly, Crystal did not survive her battle with cancer passed away on 9/1/17. We will miss her sense of humor, determination and hearty laugh. All of us at EGH send heartfelt wishes and prayers to family and friends whose lives Crystal touched.
I moved to Seattle from St. Louis in May 2014. I was an addict and an alcoholic. Life downtown Seattle was full of chaos and danger, and I was scared, lonely and didn’t trust anybody. I started asking around for help because I realized there was no way I would ever be able to get sober if I stayed in the middle of all that mess downtown. I was tired and ready to surrender.
A woman at a night shelter I was staying at told me about Elizabeth Gregory Home. So the next morning I came with her. I could tell from the minute I walked through the doors of the Day Center that this place was different.
I hate to admit it, but those first couple of days at EGH I behaved like a beast! Somewhere along the line in my addiction and homelessness, I forgot how to act. But thanks to EGH staff, I figured out what was at stake, and that if I didn’t start treating myself and others with respect, I would be throwing this whole opportunity away. I chose to change my ways because I wanted to stay.
The EGH Day Center is warm and comfortable. You can rest in a recliner if you need to. There aren’t any other programs that I know of that let you do that. There are two hot meals served each day, but you can also cook for yourself.
The staff at EGH take the time to know your name. They sit down with you and ask you what your hopes and dreams are. When I was asked that, I didn’t know how to answer. I had completely lost track of my hopes and my dreams.
Last year, I was diagnosed with cancer. After two surgeries, chemo and radiation, I am in remission. Throughout my recovery, the folks at EGH had my back. As I’ve been recovering, I figured out what one of my hopes and dreams is – to get back to cooking.
So, I asked myself, what better place to start cooking than for my sisters at Elizabeth Gregory Home? The staff helped me get my food handler’s permit online. The very next day, I cooked up my family’s favorite meal of chicken, corn bread, cabbage and macaroni and cheese!
The bottom line is that at Elizabeth Gregory Home, we are all treated equally. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or transgender or what race you are. This is home. This is family.