The YWCA San Francisco & Marin provides low-income and disabled elderly residents an affordable place to live and thrive in one of America's most affluent cities. Most are monolingual woman from China (speaking only Mandarin or Cantonese), so the Chinatown location enables them to fulfill the cultural needs of everyday living in one of America's most affluent cities.
In a time when issues of race, age, gender, healthcare and immigration are at the center of passionate discourse, the YWCA serves as a safe haven; residents are treated with dignity in a stable and comfortable environment.
While volunteering to photograph events and fundraisers for the organization, I suggested a portrait project to celebrate the residents and document the extraordinary work being done by the YWCA staff. Some were reluctant to have their picture taken. Others were merely curious and sat for portraits. And still others generously invited me and my camera into their lives.
Taken together, the stories written on their faces speak to our common humanity; stories of resilience, courage and, perhaps most of all, our obligation to care for each other.