Huge Week for Anti-Poverty Bills in Sacramento

April 4th, 2014
by Colleen Rivecca

Poverty-END-Poverty-Now

The week of April 7 is going to be an exciting one at the Capitol.  A bunch of anti-poverty bills will be heard in committees in both the Senate and the Assembly, and advocates from across the state will be there to tell our elected officials why ending poverty in our communities is so important.

St. Anthony’s is bringing a group of our guests –  people who are struggling with hunger, poverty, homelessness, and low incomes – to Sacramento to talk about issues that are important to them.  Here are some of the bills and issues that we’ll be focusing on:

SB 1029 (Hancock): Successful Re-entry / Lift the Ban

  • This bill would end California’s practice of banning people with prior drug felony convictions from receiving aid through CalFresh (food stamps) and CalWORKs (California’s welfare-to-work program).
  • Join us in supporting this bill.  Click here to sign on to our petition in support of SB 1029.
  • Tweet your support for SB 1029 using the hashtag #LiftTheBan.

SB 935 (Leno): Raise the Minimum Wage

  • This bill will raise California’s minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2017 and will index the minimum wage to inflation.
  • St. Anthony’s supports raising the minimum wage because we know that a source of income that is adequate to provide for basic needs is a critical component of our guests’ ability to transition from poverty to stability.
  • Click here to sign on as a supporter of SB 935, through our friends at the California Partnership.

SB 1002 (De Leon): Connect Essential Benefit Programs

  • This bill will improve coordination between health and food assistance programs serving low-income Californians.
  • Find out more about SB 1002 from our friends at California Food Policy Advocates.

SB 899 (Mitchell): Repeal the Maximum Family Grant Rule

  • This bill will repeal the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule, which denies CalWORKs assistance to children born to families who are already receiving aid.
  • You can submit a letter of support for SB 899 using the sample letter, here.

AB 2345 (Gonzalez): Support for all Legally Present Immigrants

  • This bill will extend equal access to food assistance (CalFresh) and public benefit eligibility (CalWORKs) for legally present immigrants.
  • Under current law, several categories of lawfully present immigrants who work and pay taxes, such as Deferred Action, and longtime residents who are in the process of securing lawful permanent residence, do not qualify for these CalWORKs and CalFresh.
  • Click here to submit your own letter of support for AB 2345.

Stay tuned to our twitter feed and our Facebook page for updates and pictures from this exciting week.

 

Diabetes Outlier Day

April 3rd, 2014
by Guest

blog 1

Through working with our patients here in this community we realized that there was a sub group of our total diabetic patient population that had consistently poor control of their diabetes. We noticed they were frequently admitted to the ER at SFGH and were seen more frequently at our clinic due to diabetes related health issues. Roughly 4-5 years ago we decided to confront this issue head on and outreach directly to this population so that we can put more of our efforts where it was most needed.  We described this population as our diabetes outliers, hence Diabetes Outlier Day.

We have this event quarterly beginning in March, then in June and September while using the last quarter event for our larger scale Diabetes Day.  Besides patients with poor diabetes control, we also outreach to our diabetic patients who have been out of care. Being out of care indicates to us that they are past due for the annual services that diabetics need to do to avoid complications around their diabetes such as blindness, neuropathy, nephropathy, dialysis and amputations.  Some of the services we offer during these events are retinal screenings, foot exams, med education and dispensing prescriptions and labs.  We also give patients increased access to medical care through appointments with their providers, health coaches and health coverage such as Healthy San Francisco.

We design these events to be interactive and to elicit dialogue from this patient population so that they feel comfortable talking to our diabetes team about their challenges regarding their sugar control.  We typically have at least two skits or presentations that are focused on both educating and entertaining our patients.  We invite our therapists to come and talk about depression, anxiety and stress reduction, mental health issues that are prevalent in our diabetic patient population.  The Social Work department here at St. Anthony’s also sends a representative to give information and offer assistance on food access, housing and any other social service issues the patients may be faced with. blog 2

We have come to realize that incentives are a good way of increasing attendance and bringing folks in for these events.  We work with the St. Anthony Dining Room and the Tenderloin Community Garden in order to get fruit and vegetables that are bagged for the patients to take home. This, along with raffle prizes and games makes this event more attractive for patients to attend.  Lastly this event allows for our most in-need diabetic patients to feel relaxed, comfortable and at home when talking to our diabetes team about their chronic illness.

View photos from the event here.

by Jaime Martinez, St. Anthony Medical Clinic’s Diabetes Care Coordinator

California’s Campaign to Lift the Ban

March 20th, 2014
by Colleen Rivecca

lift the ban2

Join the Campaign to Lift the Ban

California is one of only a handful of states that bans people with drug-related felony convictions from receiving SNAP (formerly known as “food stamps”, and called CalFresh in California) and welfare-to-work (known as CalWORKs in California) benefits.   St. Anthony’s has been working to lift the ban for more than a decade, and we’d like to invite you to  join us by signing on to our petition to support SB 1029, a bill that will lift the ban.

SB 1029 (Hancock)

On Friday, February 14, 2014, California Senator Loni Hancock introduced SB 1029, a bill to lift the ban.  SB 1029 will allow individuals previously convicted of a nonviolent drug felony, who meet all other eligibility rules, to receive CalWORKs and CalFresh, provided that they are complying with the conditions of their release, or have successfully completed their probation or parole.

Why St. Anthony’s Cares About Lifting the Ban

St. Anthony Foundation serves many people who have paid their debt to society, have been released from prison, and are working hard to build a better life for themselves and their families. As former offenders work to get their lives back on track, they face barriers in finding employment, housing, and keeping food on the table. We know that access to income and job training through the CalWORKs program and to nutrition assistance through the CalFresh program can help former offenders achieve a successful transition back into their communities. That’s why we support SB 1029 - because we believe that our communities will be safer and stronger when people who have served their time have the help they need in order to be successful.

First Hurdle – Senate Policy Committee Hearing

SB 1029 will be heard by the Senate Human Services Committee on April 8, 2014. Now is the time to let our California elected officials know that the community supports this bill.

Check our blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed for the latest news on SB 1029, including opportunities to take action.

California – A Road Out of Poverty?

February 21st, 2014
by Colleen Rivecca

endpovertynow

On Wednesday, February 26, St. Anthony’s will be joining advocates from across the state for a day of action addressing poverty in California.  We’ll be meeting with legislators to talk about ideas for addressing poverty and will attend a hearing of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, where legislators will discuss poverty in California and the impact of recent cuts to social service programs.

Although California has made economic progress since the recession, poverty and long-term unemployment in the state remain high.  Last October, Stanford University released a report using a poverty measure that takes California’s high cost of living into account.  The report showed that 22% of Californians live in poverty.  Census data confirmed the poverty level found in Stanford’s report and showed that California’s poverty rate is higher than any other state in the nation.

Over the years of the recession, the California legislature and governor have made significant cuts to safety net programs like SSI (cash aid for low-income seniors and people with disabilities), CalWORKs (California’s welfare-to-work program for low-income families) and the In-Home Supportive Services (home-based care for low-income people who need help with activities of daily living).

Over the years of budget deficits during the recession, California made significant cuts to SSI, cutting the program by $77 per month for and eliminating the cost of living adjustment for the state portion of the grant.  St. Anthony’s has noticed a significant increase in hunger among low-income seniors and people with disabilities who receive SSI.  SSI recipients in California are ineligible for federal nutrition assistance through the SNAP (food stamp) program.  SSI benefit levels in California are currently only 90% of the federal poverty level: a single SSI recipient receives $877.40 per month.  After paying their rent and out-of-pocket medical expenses, seniors have very little money at the end of the month for necessities like food, transportation, and toiletries.  Many seniors visit free meal programs like St. Anthony’s Dining Room to help make ends meet.

St. Anthony’s is bringing dining room guests who are SSI recipients to Sacramento on February 26 to talk to the legislature about the impact of cuts on their ability to meet their basic needs, and to ask for restorations.  If you’d like to share your views about how to address poverty in California, send an email to the members of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.  Click here for committee members names and contact information.

If you’d like to learn about advocacy opportunities with St. Anthony’s, email Colleen at crivecca <at>stanthonysf<dot>org to be added to St. Anthony’s advocacy email list.

2nd Annual Tsanitary Tsunami: Help Women in Need

February 19th, 2014
by Angelina Cahalan

Woman 1

 

Take a moment. Consider what your life would be like without hygiene products?  Unimaginable!

Believe it or not, there are women in our own community who do not have access to feminine hygiene products.

With your help, we can change that. Now is the time to help our fellow women who don’t have access to critical hygiene items and give to the St. Anthony’s Feminine Hygiene Drive.

 

Here’s how you can help:

 GET IT

We need 500 boxes/packages of pads and tampons by Saturday, March 8th, International Women’s Day.

Next time you are buying for yourself, pick up a package for a woman who doesn’t have them. Get together with your friends, classmates, co-workers. Join the conversation on Twitter (#TsanitaryTsunami) or share the message on Facebook and let’s take care of business.

Woman 2

 SHARE IT

Take photos and video along the way and send them via email or Facebook as an invitation to friends, family, and coworkers to participate in the drive.  Check out the video that the young women of Notre Dame High School created for last year’s drive: http://bit.ly/TsanTsun

BRING IT

Drop off or mail your donations to:

            Attn: Tsanitary Tsunami    

            St. Anthony Foundation

            150 Golden Gate Avenue

            San Francisco CA 94102

December 19 Memorial for SF Homeless Dead

December 10th, 2013
by Colleen Rivecca

The winter solstice marks the first day of winter and the longest night of the year.  On or near this day, cities across the country remember and honor the members of their communities who died while homeless.  This year, San Francisco will mark National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day on Thursday December 19, with an interfaith memorial for homeless San Franciscans who have died over the past year.  The San Francisco memorial will feature a reading of the names of homeless San Franciscans who have died, a candlelight vigil, and words of hope and inspiration from faith leaders.Homeless Memorial Vigil

We invite you to participate in this event with St. Anthony’s to honor the lives and the memories of our deceased homeless brothers and sisters.  We will gather as a group at our Dining Room (150 Golden Gate Avenue) at 4:30pm.  Participants can make signs and we will have a brief program.  Then we will march to Civic Center for the vigil.  If you would like to join us please register online at www.homelessmemorial.eventbrite.com

WHO:        All guests, volunteers, staff and friends of  St. Anthony’s

WHAT:      Participate with the St. Anthony’s contingent in the Annual Interfaith Memorial

WHERE:   Meet at St. Anthony’s ~150 Golden Gate Avenue.  Then march to Civic Center Plaza for the vigil.

WHEN:      Thursday, December 19th: 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

FAC Pumpkin Carving Contest

November 15th, 2013
by Angelo Bottoni

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it’s a good time to look back to the fun we had recently at the Father Alfred Center Pumpkin Carving Contest.  For years, the pumpkin carving has been a tradition here at FAC that allows the residents to engage the Halloween spirit in a way that is fun and safe.   

This year designs were drawn, and carving began promptly at 4PM.  Participants had 1 hour to flex their creative muscles and complete their carvings.  They remained on display for two days before staff members from Saint Anthony Foundation came down from 150 Golden Gate Ave to clandestinely judge the best and spookiest pumpkins of the patch.  Finally prizes were awarded to the top three pumpkins, at the weekly house meeting, by Father Alfred Center counselors.

We have an entire month each year to anticipate Halloween.  We plan costumes and parties that ultimately harold the beginning of the holiday season.  Most of the pumpkins are gone now, but the holiday spirit lives on.

Reconnect This Holiday Season

October 30th, 2013
by tskillin

At St. Anthony’s, dignity is always in season. This is especially true during the holidays when people yearn for a place where they feel welcome and appreciated. As the days get shorter and the temperature drops, we invite you to reconnect with the most sacred meaning of the holiday season: being part of a world where we celebrate the inherent dignity of all people.  Below, you’ll find the many ways you can make this holiday season a special one for low-income San Franciscans.

Volunteer:
Spend a day at St. Anthony’s serving meals, decorating the Dining Room, carving turkeys, or pouring some piping hot cocoa. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is the chance to reconnect with hundreds of San Franciscans who spend a part of their holiday season at St. Anthony’s. For the first time in 2013, most volunteer shifts are just a click away. Check out our new online volunteer sign up system and choose a day that works for you. (If you are interested in volunteering on Thanksgiving or Christmas day, please call our holiday volunteer line at 415-592-2829.)

Donate:
Drive by and drop off donations at our annual Curbside Donation Drive the week before Thanksgiving and the three days before Christmas. You’ll find teams of volunteers clad in bright red jackets lining the sidewalk outside of our temporary Dining Room at 150 Golden Gate Avenue. This year, we are collecting turkeys, hams, pantry items, unopened travel size hygiene items (especially shampoo, body wash, and toothbrushes and toothpaste), and new socks. We hope to collect 1,000 turkeys the week before Thanksgiving and 500 hams the week before Christmas. For more information, visit the events page on our website, or LIKE us on Facebook to get the real-time turkey tally and other updates.

Knit for St. Anthony’s:
Join thousands of crafters who send us hand-knit scarves and hats from around the world. Along with handmade cards, the scarves and hats will be given away as gifts for anyone who eats in our Dining Room on Christmas Day. Our goal for 2013 is to collect 5,000 scarves and hats. Find out how you can become a Scarving Artist here. We’ll share stories of people who have found a unique and heartwarming way to connect with the guests at St. Anthony’s, often times from miles away.

Tune into the Fight Hunger Bowl:
Huddle for hunger by tuning into the annual Fight Hunger Bowl on December 27th, the only collegiate bowl game that includes a philanthropic mission. The bowl will be a showdown between a team from the Pac-12 conference and BYU. St. Anthony’s will play host by including all of the players and staff of one of the teams as volunteers in our Dining Room on Christmas Day while Glide Memorial will host the other team in a friendly rivalry that has brought opponents together in the fight against hunger. Proceeds of the bowl have provided over 300,000 meals to people in need over the past 3 years. To find out more, visit the Hunger Bowl website.

A Summer in the Tenderloin

October 10th, 2013
by Intern Desk

Me (in the middle wearing white) and all my amazing coworkers in the Social Work Center. Thanks for an awesome summer St. Anthony's!

“This city is so weird. Everyone judges people on appearances and if you look bad you’re damned to look even worse because no one gives you a chance.” That is what one client told me as our conversation digressed from the California ID application I was helping him fill out. It was a Friday afternoon and we were in my office. He had just moved to the city 2 months ago and so far, he hadn’t been enjoying his stay. Being homeless is hard he told me. “The police tell me that I can’t sleep one place and tell me to go down the street. I go where they told me and then they wake me up again and tell me to go somewhere else. I’ve even been kicked awake by security guards… And the cold is horrible. I’ve been to Arizona when it was 100 something degrees, and that was fine, but the cold, I can’t stand. And everything is so convoluted. I spent two hours waiting to get into a shelter someone referred me to only to find out it was for people under 24 years old. I wasn’t even allowed to use the bathroom. People keep giving me wrong information. I put in volunteer hours to get a bike so I can get places but now I have no lock so I can’t even go into any of the buildings I get to”. For nearly an hour I listened as he told me all the things that frustrated and angered him. That hour I was able to see San Francisco through his eyes, an unfamiliar city of unwelcoming people, where his hopes to improve his life are blocked by a confusing tangle of paperwork, appointments and disconnected information. All I could do that day was refer him to a few shelters.  But when he left I could tell that we accomplished something very important that afternoon .Perhaps for the first time in weeks, someone was willing to put in the time to sit down and listen to his problems.

It is amazing how much simply listening to someone with patience, care ,and respect can mean to the people that walk through St. Anthony’s doors. For many who are homeless, poor, or mentally ill San Francisco can be a lonely and unforgiving place. However, no matter how one looks, talks or acts, as soon as they enter St. Anthony’s they are treated with dignity by people who take the time to get to know each guest on an individual level. I think that is what makes this place so special. A few weeks ago I took a client on a pantry visit and the client got very annoyed that I had to watch her while she shopped and she made it very clear that she did not like me.  Because of what I learned at St. Anthony’s  I was able to distance myself and realize that there are many reasons a client may behave this way. Many of our clients live under extreme financial and emotional stress and this could be an emotional outlet; or , the client may be used to interacting with people in such a manner due to her  harsh environments. St. Anthony’s taught me that behind every rough exterior there is a story and here in the Tenderloin it is a story that is often filled with numerous obstacles and hardships. Working here, I got an opportunity to get to know so many unique, kindhearted and amazingly resilient people with fascinating life experiences who have broadened my world view in magnitudes. St. Anthony’s is a haven for people from all corners of society and I am honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in their work this summer.

Diane Qi was a summer intern in St. Anthony’s Social Work Center and Medical Clinic.

Everyone Needs a Safety Net

September 30th, 2013
by Intern Desk

Imagine being homeless. Imagine trying to find or keep a job without a place to store a change of clothes and having to spend hours each day waiting in lines to get a warm meal or a roof over your head for the night. Imagine trying to control or recover from a physical or mental illness when you are spending your days exposed to the heat and cold in often unsanitary, unwelcoming and dangerous environments without promise of a full night’s sleep. This is reality for 7,350 homeless men, women and children in San Francisco. For the 105,600 people living below the poverty line who struggle to meet the demands of monthly rent payments that have risen around 30% in San Francisco in the past two years, one unexpected expenditure or misstep can land them in the streets.  Once homeless, it is difficult to return.

St. Anthony works hard to help people move off the streets and stay in housing during times of financial difficulties. Every Monday afternoon, after the dining room has emptied out, a crowd congregates in the main hall. With eviction notices and freshly signed rental agreements in hand they line up to explain their cases to the social workers.  Through St. Anthony’s rental assistance program, workers help qualified clients access funds to pay back rent they owe or put down security deposits to move into new residences. In the last year alone St Anthony’s has helped 265 clients with over $143,800 dollars of rental assistance.

Dan is a former client of the Social Work Center who struggled with addiction to drugs. After a relapse, he found himself unable to pay his rent and at risk of eviction. “I had no other options, if I couldn’t pay I was gonna be put onto the streets,” Dan recalled. As a last resort he turned to St. Anthony’s. To his relief, workers were able to help him pay back his rent.  About 6 months later, Dan successfully applied for housing in a safer neighborhood and through St. Anthony’s security deposit assistance program, was able to move in. The new apartment was a huge improvement. “The new place had no bed bugs or cockroaches and it was bigger and cheaper,” Dan told us. “In the old neighborhood I had been assaulted and mugged multiple times and you could look out the window and there would be people dealing and in the building people drank and did drugs in the open.” For Dan moving out of the unhealthy environment was truly a new beginning. Ever since, he has vowed to “never go down that road with drugs again” and has stayed clean  and sober for the past 11 months. All Dan needed was a second chance.  For men and women in similar situations with nowhere else to turn, a second chance can mean the world.  

Diane Qi was an intern with St. Anthony’s Social Work Center and St. Anthony Medical Clinic this summer.