Jeanette Gleason was born in Chicago and grew up in Puerto Rico, where her family is from originally. When she was 23 years old, she moved back to Chicago as a bilingual young adult. She has three children. The oldest daughter is now a police officer in New York. The middle daughter lives in Chicago and is working on her psychology degree. The youngest, her son, is a barber.
Gleason moved to Washington Park with her husband Pat Gleason. She did not know anything about the neighborhood when she arrived. Nowadays when she hears people complain about this neighborhood she argues that she never had problems here and, indeed, she likes to live here.
Jeanette and Pat Gleason own the Bus Stop Coffee Shop. She does not like to cook, so her job is to assist in the café kitchen and serve the customers. When asked what she likes most about working at the Bus Stop Coffee Shop, Gleason replies that she loves to interact with people and reveals that she usually knows what her customers want to eat—even before they order. Sometimes customers will ask for "something new," and Gleason loves the opportunity to be creative with the menu.
Living in Washington Park is a unique experience for Jeanette Gleason. When she talks about her childhood memories, she confesses that it was like living in a “bubble.” Her parents were protective and she studied in a private school. She began to learn about life when she moved to this neighborhood. She meets all kinds of people and loves to engage with individuals who enter the coffee shop. She has come to know diverse kinds of people and she likes to do what she can for them. The discovery of this world outside her "bubble" taught her important lessons about life. She has learned not to judge people by appearance and treats everyone equally.
Gleason helps her community in every possible way— making crochet hats and scarves for babies and the homeless, encouraging neighbors to clean their sidewalks, and giving free coffee to sad people.
Jeanette Gleason, interview by Phyllis Reske, June 2014.
Jeanette Gleason talks about customers at the Bus Stop Coffee Shop
Jeanette Gleason talks about her personal experience with the "friendly ghost" that lives in her building.
Jeanette Gleason talks about what home means to her.