Written November 2000; Posted 8/17/2001.

Bob Santos is a long-time community activist and public service official in Seattle. As the Northwest Representative for HUD, he worked enthusiastically with homeless organizing groups, and among other things opened the first homeless shelter in a Federal building. He left HUD with the change in administration, but is still working to start new housing projects. The members of WHEEL homeless women's organization are not the only ones to call him "Uncle Bob". He is one of the few community leaders trusted by both activists and elected officials.

At the party for Uncle Bob's leave-taking fom HUD, a very large room was packed. There was a wall full of panels displaying his accomplishments, the housing he'd seen built. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of tears.

I wrote this poem for that occasion, as WHEEL's gift to Uncle Bob.

There is joy
in the hard work, the long hours,
the bone-deep tired,
when you see their faces,
peaceful, happy,
There is joy
in the risk, the challenge,
when your soul in the mirror
is at peace, rested,

There is grief in parting.
We carry each other's hearts
in our treasure chest
to share with friends we look for in the future;
But we will miss the people
that our people will become
over time
all the time between.

Our grief will not drown the past.
Its well will water the growth of the future;
deep, dark and rich with the weight of memories
to lay at the roots of new growth.

Some souls risk all
for life,
for the lives of others.
They have faces like yours;
alive with growth,
rich with memory,
with a whole wide soul open in them
and joy.

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