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No Safe Place: Criminalizing Homelessness in America

July 18th, 2014
by Taylor Skillin

HomelessnessCriminalization is the most expensive and least effective way of addressing homelessness. We’re not providing enough public housing while simultaneously making basic acts of survival—sitting, sleeping, asking for food—illegal.

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty’s report on the criminalization of homelessness highlights three studies that show how providing housing, rather than jail time, can save cities money:Homeless Person's Access to Justice

-Creative Housing Solutions in Central Florida found that providing chronically homeless people with permanent housing & case managers would save taxpayers $149 million in reduced law enforcement & medical care costs over the next decade.

-The Utah Housing & Community Development Division reports that it costs $11k annually to provide an apartment & social worker vs. $16k for emergency room and hospital stays.

-The University of New Mexico has shown that by providing housing, the city reduced spending on homelessness-related jail costs by 64%.

Criminal convictions–even for minor crimes–can create barriers to obtaining critical public benefits, employment, or housing, thus making homelessness more difficult to escape.

“I’m just simply baffled by the idea that people can be without shelter in a country, then be treated as criminals for being without shelter. The idea of criminalizing people who don’t have shelter is something that I think many of my colleagues might find as difficult as I do to even begin to comprehend.” —Sir Nigel Rodley, Chair of the U.N. Human Rights Committee

Read the full report here:

From Volunteer to Staff Member: Demetra

July 10th, 2014
by Shannon Shair

DemetraDemetra volunteered at our Free Clothing Program through Arriba Juntos during March of this year.  She was such a friendly presence, a very productive worker, and took a lot of initiative to ensure that our guests had the best experience and received the highest quality clothing.  Shortly after her time as a volunteer, Demetra was hired as a staff member at St. Anthony’s.  We are so happy to have her as a part of St. Anthony’s family.  Here is a short interview with Demetra about her time with St. Anthony’s as past volunteer and current staff member.

1. How was your experience volunteering with our Free Clothing Program?

It was challenging at first because it was something new for me and I had to learn a lot of new things.  I loved it though because I got to work with different people and learn about the different ways that people were living.  I was able to hang clothes, get the program and clothing ready for service, help guests find different resources for other organizations, spending a lot of time conversing with guests while I helped them with clothing services.

2. How did you find out about the job opportunity with St. Anthony’s?

Allan, the manager at our Free Clothing Program, told me about an opportunity with Guest Services, asked if I wanted to apply, and I said, “sure.”  He said that it would be a good position for me because of the guest interaction.  I was excited even knowing that someone was paying attention to me for job opportunities.  My position is Guest Services Relief.

3. What is your job at St. Anthony’s?

My position is in Guest Services Relief.  I help people find resources and also help them with finding clothing.  If our guests need someone to talk to, I am available.  Something fun people may not know that we do is that we make birthday bags for guests.  These bags include different items that have been donated that our guests would appreciate.  The guests love receiving these bags.  One guest said that he has not received a gift in ten years and he was grateful for St. Anthony’s.

4. How do you like being a staff member at St. Anthony’s?

I like helping people because I was once in a predicament when I was younger.  I knew what St. Anthony’s was about and wanted to lend a hand and offer what I was offered when I was in the same situation.  I love working here because I get to interact with different people.

5. Is there anything that people should know about St. Anthony’s?

St. Anthony’s will always be there for you.  There are a lot of programs available at St. Anthony’s to serve others and the staff is really great.  Staff members really do appreciate you here; one example is that one of the Franciscan chaplains wrote me an appreciation letter and a card and it made me cry.  I keep it above my bed because I appreciate it so much.


Guest Services Toiletry Drive

July 7th, 2014
by Taylor Skillin

DSC_8087Many of St. Anthony’s guests do not have access to basic necessities. Help fulfill our guests’ critical needs by donating unused travel-sized toiletry items. Going on a vacation? Save your unused toiletries and bring them in.

We are in need of:

  • Shampoos & conditioners
  • Toothbrushes & toothpaste
  • Soaps
  • Lotions
  • Razors
  • Deodorants
  • Combs

Please contact our Guest Services staff with any questions: (415)592-2742

Thank you for your support!

Back to School Event

July 7th, 2014
by Shannon Shair


Back to SchoolDo you remember your or your children’s first day of school? How exciting was it to get the cutest outfit together, pack school supplies in a new backpack, and head off to class?

At our Free Clothing Program, we will be serving 230 homeless and low-income children through our annual Back to School event in partnership with My New Red Shoes, which is contributing new shoes for all of our students. Our Back to School event will be held Friday, August 15th from 10am-3pm.

Currently, we are seeking contributions of school supplies.  Several companies are adopting a grade to sponsor school supplies for, but we still have grades available that need your help (Grades 5-12)! Please consider adopting a student or a grade in need.  Also, we are in need of  new children’s clothing, especially in sizes 3T and 4T. If you have clothing  or school supplies you’re able to contribute, please bring them over either to our Free Clothing Program at 101 8th Street or our main St. Anthony’s building at 150 Golden Gate Avenue.  If you have any questions, please contact Allan Shapiro, Manager of our Clothing Program, at 415-592-2800 or Shannon Shair, Assistant Manager, at 415-592-2801.

Thanks for helping our children prepare for a successful school year!


Organic Greens for St. Anthony’s Guests

June 24th, 2014
by Taylor Skillin

Garden for the EnvironmentThese donors are makin’ it rain organic greens down at St. Anthony’s Dining Room!

Students from the Urban Trailblazers youth leadership program teamed up with the Youth Stewardship Program to harvest kale, rainbow chard, and spinach from their garden in Golden Gate Park.

Thanks to their green thumbs and thoughtful gift, our guests will enjoy an extra special meal with ingredients grown right here in San Francisco.

Volunteer Spotlight: Heather

June 23rd, 2014
by Shannon Shair

Heather is a volunteer and former guest of our Free Clothing Program.  I spoke to her about her story and how she got involved at St. Anthony’s.  We are so happy to have her as a dedicated and passionate volunteer.

Heather at the San Francisco Giants game

Heather at the San Francisco Giants game

1. How did you hear about St. Anthony’s?

I had recently moved to San Francisco and I was needed to purchase clothing at a consignment/discount store.  I came across St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program online and then came here as a guest receiving services.  I was overwhelmingly surprised that people can come here and replenish a wardrobe for free.  I had recently gone through a difficult divorce and in relocating, I donated 90% of my wardrobe.  I knew that God would supply the clothes that I needed.  St. Anthony’s was the answer to that prayer.  I was truly amazed.

2.  Why did you decide to volunteer at St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program?

After several months of receiving clothing services, I asked if the Free Clothing Program needed any volunteers and began volunteering.  I wanted to give “big” to those in need as well.  I had gotten to know some of the staff and they were so joyful, welcoming, and kind that I knew they would be great people to work with.

3. What do you do as a volunteer?

I work in the clothing store as a guest services volunteer, serving guests and restocking inventory.  In a way, I am kind of like the personal shopper for guests.  They may need specific items and I help them find the item in their size and preference.  I think it’s really important to be an encouragement to those who come here because everyone goes through difficult times and the simplicity of having these items of clothing and accessories that they need is very beneficial to their confidence level.

4. What do you see during a typical Family Service?

I see men, women, and children enjoying themselves as they are shopping in the store.  We provide a comfortable and safe atmosphere for children so they can play and watch a video while their parents can shop.  The children can also choose items like books and stuffed animals themselves, getting to participate in the shopping experience as well.  We get many thanks from individuals in need who are so appreciative of new shoes for their children and a warm blanket.  I also see fathers who can acquire proper work clothing and families who seem relieved because clothing is an extra expense that they couldn’t supply without our resources.

5. You were recognized as a committed volunteer during a home plate ceremony at a San Francisco Giants game (  How did it feel to be recognized as a St. Anthony’s volunteer?

First of all, I was so surprised because of the vast amount of volunteers that work through St. Anthony’s.  I was honored to have been chosen to be highlighted as one of St. Anthony’s volunteers at such an event.  It’s definitely a special celebration and it was great to cheer on each other and encourage people who were watching the game to know that volunteering at St. Anthony’s is a rewarding act of giving of your time.

6. What should potential volunteers know?

Just show up and be yourself.  A smile goes a long way.

If you want to join the fun and help clothe the community at our Free Clothing Program, we’d love to have you!  We are starting to put up volunteer shifts online at:  If there is a time when you’d like to come in that is not listed on the shifts, please contact Shannon Shair, Assistant Manager, at or 415-592-2801.  

Further, in the spirit of serving our families, we are in need of young children’s clothing (especially in sizes 3T and 4T), as well as backpacks and school supplies for our upcoming Back to School event.  If you have any items you can contribute, we accept donations at our program, located at 101 8th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.  We can also arrange for pick-ups of contributions totaling five or more bags.  To arrange a pick-up, please contact Eunice at 415-592-2826.  Thank you!

Reflecting on the first year of partnership with SFUSD Project Opportunity Works

June 16th, 2014
by Shannon Shair

This post is a follow-up to:

Our Free Clothing Program has recently finished its first year of partnership with San Francisco Unified School District’s Project Opportunity Works (POWS).  This program pairs up high school students with different work sites where the students can develop entry level work experience to prepare them for the future.  Our Free Clothing Program was a work site for several students during the 2013-2014 school year.

Aubrey and Jenny at POWS Graduation

Aubrey and Jenny at POWS Graduation

I spoke with Aubrey Green, a job coach for the program, to gain his insights on how our first year working together has been.

1. How was the first year of partnership with St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program?

It was a great start since it was the first year and it was a way to get our students retail experience dealing with St. Anthony’s guests, which is valuable experience, and working with clothes.  The partnership has been really beneficial and is something we want to continue into next year.  Perhaps, we could even expand to other programs of St. Anthony’s.  We definitely were happy and felt like St. Anthony’s was happy with what the students did.  The students got what they needed, which was experience and learning how to take responsibility.

2. What did the students learn from their time at St. Anthony’s?

The students learned active listening skills, being able to really listen to what they needed to do, on focus on directions.  Their duties required them to stay on task, learn time management, and switch between tasks.  Their learning objectives were information ordering (ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules), reading comprehension (understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents), and monitoring (assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action).

3. How did you see the students grow over the year?

I saw the students grow a lot.  One of them barely interacted with people due to her speech impediment and language barrier, but over time, it was nice to see her grow and communicate with other volunteers.  Most of students in POWS have a big issue with interacting with others and both students at St. Anthony’s were able to grow in their communications skills, be more open in learning how to interact in the workplace, and be mature in that aspect. Before their time at St. Anthony’s, both students had no work experience and had some discipline issues, but both of them did not have any disciplinary issues while at St. Anthony’s.

4. Will POWS be partnering with St. Anthony’s again?

Yes, we look forward to doing that and hope to expand so we can serve our students with other interests.

5. What were your thoughts and feelings at POWS graduation?

Jenny at POWS Graduation

Jenny at POWS Graduation

My thoughts were that I was just really proud of the students, a lot of the students have started things and not finished them so it was a culmination of all the work the students have done.  It was nice to see how happy they were and some parents showed up to the event.  I was proud and it was nice to see it all come together and it was worth it seeing them grow up and mature into young adults.

5. Any closing thoughts?

We’re always looking to expand with other sites to place students at (e.g. hospitality, food service, entry level positions in retail)  There are so many students at the school district that can be served in the program that are seniors in special education.  People with direct knowledge of work sites that would be good for teens to gain and improve their skills in the workplace can contact our Transition Partnership Program Specialist Bedford Williamson at  Our website is:

Observations of Family Service

June 9th, 2014
by Shannon Shair

This post is from Carina, who is a high school intern at St. Anthony Foundation’s Free Clothing Program:

Family Service SampleDuring Family Service at St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program, I see a lot of women coming with their children. These women are looking for clothing for their children, themselves, and their partners. On some days, Family Service can get hectic with the amount of guests who need help, but we survive. These women come to us to receive our help and to move forward with our help.  These women are happy when they can get something for their children. Women always ask for shoes and toys for their children. I see that these women always put their children before themselves. Their children are their priority and it will always be that way. Every parent’s priority should be their children.

What happens at Family Service?

Well, guests first check in then they can get one full outfit for every immediate family member that is currently living with them. For example, they could get an outfit for their husband/partner, their children, and themelves. Then they check out with Mariana who makes sure that guests are taking only one outfit per person on the list of their family members. After that, they get to go home with clothes that now belong to them.  We are also able to give goodie bags of hygiene products, such as shampoo, soap, body lotions, and body washes.

We are all proud to be part of St. Anthony Foundation and help families that are low-income, homeless, and in difficult situations. We love to make changes and we love to see change. The smiles we see on our families’ faces bring smiles to our faces because we are making a change. I know I repeat myself but I repeat myself because it is true that WE ARE MAKING A CHANGE TOGETHER!

Some facts about Family Service at St. Anthony’s:

St. Anthony Foundation has the only program in San Francisco that offers free clothing services for families.

There is an increased need for family services throughout all of St. Anthony’s programs.  We address these needs at our Free Dining Room with space set aside for our families to sit together, the only free pediatric services in the Tenderloin at our Medical Clinic, and of course, our clothing services at our Free Clothing Program.

In 2013, at our Free Clothing Program, we saw 1,450 families.  This included 2,856 children.  The average size of our families was ~4 members.

Back to School Event:

At our Free Clothing Program, we hold an annual Back to School event, providing necessities for our guests heading back to school.  We are focusing on reaching homeless children this year.  So far, we have partnered up with My New Red Shoes, which will be providing 230 pairs of shoes and gift packages for our guests!  We need the support of our community too to provide new backpacks and school supplies.  Please keep us in mind when back to school shopping.  We will be accepting contributions at 101 8th Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.  Thanks!

Volunteer Spotlight: Carina

June 3rd, 2014
by Shannon Shair

This post is from Carina, who is a high school intern at St. Anthony Foundation’s Free Clothing Program:

Carina  Mom blogpost

Carina and her mom

I remember coming to St. Anthony Foundation’s Free Clothing Program when I was about twelve years old with my mom. It was a nice experience to see the staff and volunteers help others in need. My family and I are not homeless, but we are a low-income family. Getting the services here at St. Anthony’s really helped my family and me keep our heads up and move forward with our lives to better ourselves. When my mom would get me an outfit from the Free Clothing Program and she would show it to me, I would get so happy and would wear it as soon as I got it. The look on my mom’s face would be of great happiness because we could not afford designer clothing and she was happy that I was happy with what she had gotten for me.  See, St. Anthony’s does help change lives; my family and I live in a stable home, but we are still low-income, and we still receive services from many non-profit organizations that help others.

Now I am 19 years old and I am currently a high school intern at St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program; I work with guests, processing donations, and with program planning. That’s great, right? Right!! I am so happy to see the other side of St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program. Throughout my time here, I am excited to say that I am happy I am volunteering here! I LOVE seeing the faces on the families I have served, just like the smiles my family had when we received services from St. Anthony’s.  When I was given the opportunity to intern here, I was thinking to myself, “I get to give back to the community that helped my family and me get back on our feet, to better ourselves, and to keep moving forward.  Now, I have that chance to help others get back on their feet, better them, and move forward.”  Now, I know what it is like to be a staff and have families asking you questions like: “Can you find this, in this size?” or “Do you have this?” or “Please, check the back for me.” Honestly, I am proud that I have been volunteering here at St. Anthony’s Foundation Free Clothing Program. It is so different, but at the same time so alike to be on the side of receiving services and giving services, because you still have that huge smile on your face; you see a change happening right in front of you, or you are making the change.

When I told my mom that I was going to start volunteering at St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program, she was really happy. She told me “Hija, Dios nos brindo la ayuda de ellos y ahora Dios les está brindando de tu ayuda a ellos … Eso es la Buena Karma.” This means, “My Daughter, God gave us their help and now God is giving them your help … That’s Good Karma.”  When I came home from my Orientation/training day, she asked me how my day went.  I told her “It was great, Mom, I love it there.  I feel at home volunteering.” She asked me if Marcellus was still working at the Free Clothing Program. I told her “Yes, Mom, he still works there, he is a nice person.” And she told me, “El es bien nice, el fue el que me ayudaba mucho a mi cuando necesitaba de su ayuda.” This means, “Yes he is, he is such a sweetheart, and he would help me when I needed his help.”

I am grateful to have this opportunity to give back to the community that gave my family and me so much! I am happy to be here and help others the way I was helped. I know the joy and happiness one feels when they receive help from someone else.

On Schedule to Serve San Francisco

May 30th, 2014
by Taylor Skillin

The scaffolding’s coming down, the drywall’s going up, and we’re on schedule to open the doors to the New St. Anthony’s Dining Room this fall.

When construction’s complete, we’ll be able to serve 43% more guests in a gorgeous space with floor-to-ceiling windows, state-of-the-art equipment, and easy access to the rest of our programs & services, helping San Franciscans in need find a path to stability.

Stay tuned for details on the grand opening!

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