We Are All in this Together

I had 108 guys and just two of us adults. When I first went in there it was a totally unsafe place. People were punching each other out, all kinds of stuff. It wasn't going to happen on my shift. Eventually a dangerous place became a safe place. I became a lead counselor. It was all intuitive."

I met John Malloy at one of ServiceSpace’s weekly events, an Awakin Circle. It was typical in that there were 60 or 70 people there. And, as usual, there were many I hadn’t met. At one point in the evening, each person has a chance to speak and it’s always fascinating to glimpse the different worlds that come into view this way. There are always some who make deeper impressions. John Malloy was one of those. He has a presence that’s palpable. I haven’t had the chance to listen to many Native Americans, but an idea has formed in me about their speech, that it’s more measured, less dressed up. More direct. That was how Malloy spoke.

In the last few years we've gotten to know each other better. I’ve come to realize he has a remarkable gift, especially for working with at-risk kids and young adults. Through his own experience, he's internalized a kind of knowledge that’s both in short supply and urgently needed.

I met with Malloy at his home south of San Francisco. We stood outside admiring a beautiful view looking east. And I had to ask him about some of the various objects and figures in his garden. We chatted amiably and then, before entering the house, he performed a little ceremony with sage. As we were sitting down inside, John must have mentioned something about his bad eye.