Blog | “Keep up with what is going on with St. Anthony’s”

Another Way to End Poverty: Advocacy!

Rallying at the CapitolSeptember was an exciting month for public policy nerds in California, and for anyone who is interested in the fate of state-level legislation.

Throughout 2014, St. Anthony’s supported bills that would help to address poverty in California, with a specific focus on issues that directly relate to our guests and clients: low-wage workers, undocumented immigrants, CalFresh (food stamps) recipients, homeless people, and people who live in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels.  Click here for a complete list of the California legislation we’ve followed or supported this year.

With the help of our community, including our guests, volunteers, staff, supporters, and policy partners like California Food Policy Advocates, Western Center on Law and Poverty, California Association of Food Banks, and California Partnership, we saw some legislative victories, including the lifting of the drug felon ban, changes to prison release, the Hunger Free Education Opportunities Act, and the Healthy Babies Act of 2014.

Unfortunately, bills to align CalFresh and Medi-Cal, to provide healthcare and food and income assistance to immigrants,  to raise California’s minimum wage, to leverage federal dollars available for a “market match” program for low-income Californians to use at farmers’ markets, and to reduce childhood poverty by repealing the CalWORKs “Maximum Family Grant” rule were not successful during this year’s legislative session.

St. Anthony’s is gearing up for the next legislative session by talking to our guests, staff, and community partners about 2015 policy ideas that can help end poverty at home in San Francisco’s Tenderloin and throughout California.  We’ll likely pick up where we left off this year on bills that did not make it through the legislature or were vetoed by the Governor.  We’ll also be thinking about new ideas and working with our partners to support policies that will support our guests: the homeless, the hungry, people without access to health care, and people who have fallen through the holes in our tattered safety net.

Do you want to be a policy nerd, too?  Maybe you just want to raise your voice with us for economic justice and an end to hunger and poverty in our communities.  Join us by signing up for our advocacy newsletter and action alerts.

The End of an Era

end of an era 2

“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.” The Beatles were onto something:

89-year-young volunteer Carmelita served the ceremonial last meal in our temporary Dining Room at 150 Golden Gate Ave. this week. Guests, volunteers, and staff joined her to say goodbye to a space that has served us well for 2 1/2 years, and hello to our bigger, brighter, brand new Dining Room across the street.

Join us in honoring the past, looking to the future, and saying “Hello!” to #TheNewStAnthonys tomorrow morning at our Grand Opening:


Reconnecting to the Heart of the City

Barry Headshot with TrayWhen Zendesk, the customer service software company, moved into the rapidly developing mid-Market area adjacent to the Tenderloin, they connected with the neighborhood in a profound way. Their employees volunteer regularly in St. Anthony’s Dining Room. The company donates a portion of the proceeds from one of their products to St. Anthony Medical Clinic. And they helped the Tenderloin Tech Lab develop a mobile web site for low-income people to find the services they need, closest to their location, a project now being expanded upon by other partners and the City of San Francisco.

When Del Seymour got sober and stabilized his life, partly with help from St. Anthony’s, he decided to connect visitors to San Francisco with a community usually omitted from the guidebooks: the poorest people in the city, many of whom live in the Tenderloin. His Tenderloin Walking Tours are now a favorite among readers of The Huffington Post, the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

When Eric Barrett looked out the window and saw St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program serving hundreds of low-income residents, he did not content himself with looking on. He called St. Anthony’s and donated some of the stock he’d earned as an engineer at Facebook to support the work he saw. He participated in the work by making a gift.

These are people who bloom where they are planted, who live where they find themselves: across the street, across UN Plaza, across the economic divide. This is also the secret of living that St. Anthony’s guests teach our staff and volunteers every day. Be where you are. Join in. Don’t look the other way. Be part of the miracle.

The Tenderloin, for all its troubles and tragedies, is a vibrant community. Filmmaker Henri Quenette discovered this last year. He was so inspired by the people he met that he made a documentary about the neighborhood, Love me Tenderloin, spotlighting four Tenderloin residents, some of them St. Anthony’s guests, and inspiring others to see the beauty in these streets.

It’s easy for those who do not live or work in the Tenderloin to define the neighborhood by what is missing. We at St. Anthony’s define it by what—and who—is here, and we ensure that we not only connect those in need with stabilizing services, but also that we connect those who share a common dignity as human beings; that we bring together people who would not otherwise have met.

When people connect at St. Anthony’s, they reconnect to the heart of the city. We are so glad that you have connected with this community.


Barry J. Stenger
Executive Director

A Pantry Full of Food & Gratitude

Food Pantry with Br  Scott (3)She was holding her stomach as she approached. I could tell she was a few months pregnant. “I’m really hungry; I’m pregnant, and I’ve run out of food,” she shared with a hint of desperation in her voice. In San Francisco, one in five adults lacks the resources to provide food for themselves or their families. In the Tenderloin that number is as high as one in two.

I continued to listen to her struggles to find adequate and nutritional food. I made sure she was connecting with other resources, CalFresh (food stamps) and Women with Infants and Children (WIC). She was, but like other recipients of these benefits she needed to supplement them with other food program to meet her nutritional needs.

After paying rent she was forced to choose between food and health care. This is a situation that gets played out every day in the Tenderloin. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve heard this story. I’m stationed on Fridays at St. Anthony’s Social Work Center, where I help our guest access our emergency and supplemental food pantry for individuals requiring special nutritional support, seniors, and families.

Her sense of desperation began to fade as I told her she qualified for our supplemental food pantry. Within 20 minutes she was enrolled in our program and walking out the door with two full bags of groceries, and a heart full of gratitude for St. Anthony’s social workers, benefactors and volunteers. As I said good-bye to her my next appointment was coming in. He had a different story, but shared the same need for nutritional food to support his battle with cancer.

Br. Scott Slattum, OFM is a Franciscan friar of the Province of Saint Barbara. He is the Assistant Editor of Digital Content for The Way of St. Francis and volunteers with our low-income and homeless guest at St. Anthony Foundation’s Social Work Center.


Justice Education Event Series Begins!

Barry ZevinIn the late afternoon of the last Wednesday of July, social ACTion program hosted the first in what we hope will become a series of Justice Education Events. Beyond CompassionFatigue; an Encouraging Conversation featured guest speaker Barry Zevin, MD. Dr. Zevin of the SFDPH has worked with the homeless and impoverished people of the Tenderloin for 25 years.  Our event was attended by St. Anthony volunteers and staff, plus a wide range of community members and providers including Shanti, Gubbio Project, Hospitality House, Project Homeless Connect, YWAM, and SF Dept. of Public Health.

Dr. Barry said we need to remember “the bigger picture—homelessness is not only a San Franciscan issue—it’s a national one.” Dr. Barry said that he maintains by “…doing what I do: I’m a doctor”. He balances care for the marginalized by working both in direct care and in policy work. “But”, he said, “I always do some direct care”. He went on to say, disarmingly that his first reaction to the increase of degradation and suffering we all see on the street isn’t always the best. His first (silent) reaction might be “Why is this person in my way?”, but he reminds himself that “each person has a name”. He also takes a year off for every 10 worked. While this latter is not possible for many of us, the commitment to some kind of restorative respite in our lives is possible, even if that’s making some time each week for dancing for example, or for walking on the beach, whatever it may be —the point is to have some dedicated time for personal relaxation and renewal.

Although this event was not about “solutions” or “grievances and divided points of view”, Dr. Zevin said that in order for real change to happen, we need to move toward a family model (of community). He spoke about the experience of talking with older generations about homelessness, and they would always say “Oh, we had a person like that in our town…”, and that person was taken care of by the community.
John Hardin, OFM, Provincial and ED Emeritus of St. Anthony’s once told us that we all need “the three S’s to do this work: some kind of spirituality, self-care, and a sense of humor!” I was reminded of that sage advice as I listened to Dr. Zevin. His advocacy for a “family model of community” brought Francis of Assisi to mind as well. Francis referred to everything and everyone in kindred terms and even beyond human-to-human relationship to include “Brother Wolf, Sister Moon,” and so forth.

We are in this together, as demonstrated by the diversity of attendance at this “Beyond Compassion Fatigue…, and Dr. Barry’s hope for a thriving community of the human family underscores that! Please stay tuned for a follow-up discussion on this initial subject and for Justice Education Events in the future.
Pace e Bene, and here’s to a Healing Home & Community for one and all!

Help us set the table for our first meal!

help-us-set-the-table-to-our-first-mealWe invite you to celebrate our new space by moving the most essential elements of our meal service – the tray, cup and fork – into our new Dining Room. We need 200 people to set the table (picture a human relay line).  For over 60 years, San Franciscans have come together to serve over 40 million meals to people in need, never once missing a meal. Be part of this history as we set the table for the first meal in our brand new Dining Room!

When:       Thursday, October 2nd 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Where:     150 Golden Gate Avenue
What:        We need 200 people to help move our trays, cups and forks.
RSVP:        http://setthetable.eventbrite.com

Our Small World

Maddie TaslimMaddie Taslim, a new St. Anthony’s volunteer, recently moved to California from Indonesia to attend college at Santa Clara University. Maddie spent most her life in Jakarta, Indonesia; a city with a vast disparity between poverty and wealth.  Her parents are business owners who encouraged Maddie to serve and to give back to the community.  Maddie wanted to continue helping others as she journeyed to the US; and therefore when she came across the St. Anthony’s website, she signed up to volunteer.

When Maddie arrived in the Dining Room for the first time, she was in awe by the happiness and joy that filled 150 Golden Gate Avenue. When asked what impressed her most, Maddie replied, “I was impressed by how well everything was run in the Dining Room.  Every little detail from signing in to serving trays was well thought out.”

Maddie was also amazed by Saint Anthony’s incredible staff members and dedicated volunteers.  She pointed out, “Staff members are all so friendly, happy, and on point when it comes to being aware of what is going on in the Dining Room.”

The ability to interact with our guests is one of Maddie’s favorite parts about volunteering.  This is why she loves to bus the tables.  She says, “The guests are so polite and thankful, and I like to hear about their life experiences.”  Maddie was most surprised about the amount of well-educated people that now eat in the Dining Room.  She says this realization gave her a perspective on her own life.  Maddie added, “One bad decision or unfortunate situation can completely alter one’s life path.”  Maddie also enjoys talking with the residents of the Father Alfred Center.   They have amazing stories of addiction and recovery but their kindness and openness is what initially impressed Maddie the most.

Through volunteering, Maddie has learned that it is important to always have an open mind and not to judge. Maddie says she has met so many remarkable people with unbelievable stories.  She added, “St. Anthony’s is not only about us giving back, it is about us getting back from the guests.”

Since Maddie arrived in the Dining Room she has doubled the number of days she volunteers each week.  Her goal is to serve at St. Anthony’s long enough to earn her own personalized apron.  Maddie is the happiest when she is in the Dining Room; she claims that luck brought her to St. Anthony’s but the powerful sense of community made her stay.

We wish Maddie the best of luck as she begins her new journey studying Sociology and Accounting at Santa Clara University.  We hope you accomplish all your goals and much, much more.  Keep up the good work!

The Next Big Idea: Social Knitworking for St. Anthony’s

If you haven’t started already, get out your sticks and make something wonderful happen!  Join our 4th Annual Scarving Artists Drive today.

knit girzTogether we can provide  comfort to our poor and vulnerable neighbors this Holiday season. Your hand-knit hats or scarves will reach out to touch those in most need of comfort and solace.

 Whether you knit, crochet, or know someone who does, please help us by donating handmade hats and scarves to low-income and homeless guests who eat at St. Anthony’s. We need scarves in dark or neutral colors for men as well as hats for men, women and children. Our goal is to collect 3,000 scarves and 2,000 hats as gifts for our guests during the holiday season.

How can you join in? Click here to share the joy your handiwork creates. 

Sign up for our Social Knitworking Newsletter to get all the latest  news about our project!



Sending San Francisco’s Kids Back to School in Style

St. Anthony's Back to School 1230 low-income children are headed back to school in style thanks to the generosity & support of the San Francisco community and our hard-working Free Clothing Program staff. This year, our youngest guests will be walking tall on the playground with brand new backpacks, shoes, school supplies, and outfits from our biggest Back to School Day ever.

To help these kids start the school year off right, our Free Clothing Program teamed up with a powerhouse group of mid-market tech companies & nonprofits to organize the largest back-to-school drive for low-income families in our 64-year history. Twitter, Zendesk, Dolby Laboratories, One Kings Lane, Intuit Demand Force, TJMaxx, and Old Navy are among the companies who either made large donations or adopted entire grades of students. In addition, nonprofit partners Family Giving Tree, My New Red Shoes, and the Golden Gate Mothers Group provided all of the backpacks, shoes, and Old Navy gift cards for families who may need additional clothes. Friends from Flipcause did face painting, and Sophie’s Stress Free Soirees made jewelry with kids and helped them pick out temporary tattoos.St. Anthony's Back to School 2

St. Anthony’s Executive Director Barry Stenger expressed our gratitude to our community partners for their support: “In a time when tensions are running high in San Francisco between the haves and have-nots, we are fortunate to see the overwhelming generosity of people who are eager to make a difference for the poorest families in our community. St. Anthony’s is in a unique position to connect low-income children in San Francisco with a groundswell of support from donors around the Bay Area. In times like these, we see again and again that as a city, we are committed to taking care of each other. We extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the mid-market tech companies and our nonprofit partners for making this event possible.”

Our Free Clothing Program is the largest in San Francisco and serves over 8,500 men, women, and children every year. Visit our website to learn how you can help support San Franciscans in need.

-Check out photos from the event here. 

-Watch KTVU 2’s news coverage here.

Face Painting Superstar

Alison FlipcauseAlison from nonprofit fundraising platform Flipcause was a face painting superstar at our Back to School event today. Butterflies, motorcycles, superheroes, you name it—they asked, and she delivered.

The kids reminded her that backpacks & pencils aren’t the only supplies you need at school: “I gave a few little girls some advice about how to handle bullies, so I feel pretty complete today.”

Thanks to Alison and the rest of our incredible volunteers for helping our youngest guests start the school year off right.





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St. Anthony Foundation | 150 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102 | info@stanthonysf.org