Thursday night saw the return of in-person celebrations at San Francisco Glide Memorial Church's Annual Gala and fundraiser.
But it was missing one key part of the evening, the event's long-time organizer passed away earlier this year.
The Glide memorial ensemble choir led the audience in song.
For most of the people who attended, they said it was the first time they've been in a large group setting since the start of the pandemic.
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"I haven't done, like any in person big events. But I wouldn't want to miss this one,” said Berkeley resident Bitka Eisen.
This event was called “Still We Rise." It was in reference to Maya Angelou's famous poem, which is said to have inspired this event.
Thursday’s celebration was also a tribute to Janice Mirikitani, who passed away in the summer.
"Janice Mirikitani has been a backbone of glide for decades. We miss her,” said Karen Hanrahan, President and CEO of Glide.
Her husband, co-leader of Glide memorial, Cecil Williams was joined on stage by San Francisco Mayor London Breed to kick off the evening's musical program in Mirikitani's honor.
"I feel her spirit here tonight. I feel her love, her compassion,” Breed said.
The money raised at Thursday’s gala will help fund glide memorial church's sprawling set of services for the needy and underserved, which has made their mission more complicated.
"Since we've had the shelter-in-place, we put people in safe sleeping sites. They're actually spread out across San Francisco,” said Jean Cooper, CIO of Glide. "So, what we're seeing is our services are needed in a variety of places."
This year, they are hoping the rise in fuel and food costs won't make it even more of a challenge to help those who need it most.