Gems is a column devoted to spotlighting the various denizens who contribute to the rich mosaic that is the south Seattle area.
Who: Gabbie Guncay
Best Known Around South Seattle As: That bubbly tutor lady from Lake Washington Apartment’s Youth Tutoring Program
Typical Day: 1)Wake Up 2) Somehow manage to keep 30 children who are at the peak of a sugar high and overstimulated from social media focused on a lesson plan 3) Sleep a merciful sleep.
Most Oft Quoted Phrase: “What just broke?!?”
What do you like most about South Seattle?
I appreciate that people are really friendly here. It’s so interesting because the last few weeks they’ve been doing these Corner Greeter activities to promote the idea that Rainier Beach is a more friendly and open place, but I already feel like it is despite the recent going ons. Every time I go somewhere, or ask someone a question, or go to the grocery store, people automatically come up to me and talk to me. I don’t ever have to initiate a conversation.
You’re the head of the YTP (Youth Tutoring Program) at the Lake Washington Apartments in Rainier Beach. What’s the best thing about the kids you tutor?
The best thing about the kids I tutor is that I get to be a part of their lives and share some great moments with them. For example, I have a student whose father is a truck driver- so he is never home- and the other day (during our summer session) I noticed that an older man was hanging out with the student, so I asked him about it, and he said: “Oh yeah, my dad’s home!” So, it’s just fun to share in their joy,such as a parent being there for them, or them getting a new bike, or new shoes. I’m one of the two or three people that they tell their story to, and who actually sits and listens to them. It’s just fun to be part of their lives.
What’s the most surprising thing about South Seattle in comparison to other areas of the city?
It’s not surprising, but that Seattle is highly segregated. You have North Seattle and the Eastside where many wealthy upper class people live who don’t know that they have all these privileges that they have. They then go down to South Seattle and think:“This isn’t where I want to be. These are not the people I want to associated with. This isn’t the area I feel like I belong in.” I think that a lot of that would change if there was more interaction between people who live in different areas of the city.
I feel like our tutoring program helps to foster that interaction, because we have tutors who live in Rainier Beach and Skyway, but we also have ones who live in Capitol Hill and Greenwood. In fact,I have a tutor who comes all the way from Woodinville, so that he can tutor in Rainier Beach! I asked him if he wanted to come to a place that was really unique and where he felt feel like he belonged? He said,“Yes”, and he’s been welcomed in by the kids. They make a big commotion every time they see him! He could not find the same opportunity in Woodinville. I guarantee you!
As you are helping to foster the next generation of South Seattle residents, what would you want people to be able to say about our area by the time your students have reached adulthood?
I just hope that people can see it as being an equally rich community as that of any other area of Seattle, and that it’s equal in economic opportunity as anywhere else. I just hope that it becomes a place that people respect, and that people want to make a safer place. My main hope is that people stay and don’t move away.
If you had the power of the Genie in Aladdin (R.I.P Robin Williams) what wish would you grant to South Seattle?
I would wish that there was someone who would fund all the various micro projects that are in need of funding in the area. There are people in the area who have great ideas, but just can’t get the funding for them. I think micro projects are awesome because they get people together who wouldn’t normally come together. That’s what the Corner Greeter Stations are doing. South Seattle really needs more anti-violence programs, especially Rainier Beach. We don’t need more police. We need more friendly faces.
You recently did a project with the YTP kids that required them to come up with book titles for stories they created. What would the title of a children’s book based on South Seattle be named?
Well, we titled one: The Boy Who Loved A Seed. The seed was a metaphor for nurturing something that you love. It takes hard work in order to do so. Since this area is a place we all love, I would title it: A Community That Loved A Seed.
Know of a Gem in the South Seattle community? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org