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

August 25th, 2014
by Dolores Gould

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.

Social Knitworkers: Get a crafting group together to build the and multiply the abundance.

How can you join in?  Click on this link to share the joy your handwork creates.



Sending San Francisco’s Kids Back to School in Style

August 19th, 2014
by Taylor Skillin

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

August 15th, 2014
by Taylor Skillin

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.

In the news: Family Life in an SRO

August 11th, 2014
by Shannon Shair

Laura Chinas

At our Free Clothing Program, we are able to run efficiently and effectively with the assistance of our many volunteers.  Our volunteers come through corporate groups, high school groups, the community, and also through programs that promote economic self-sufficiency for individuals looking to build vocational skills.  One of our new volunteers, Laura Chinas, found St. Anthony’s through Arriba Juntos, a non-profit employment and training organization. Laura was recently featured in an SF Gate article highlighting the difficulties families living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) arrangements face.  Here is some more information about Laura and her family’s situation, which is unfortunately not a unique story in San Francisco.

Laura, her husband, their 11 year old daughter, and three sons, ages 9, 8, and 5, as well as their two dogs live in an SRO on Mission Street.  Their monthly rent is $1000, which they have difficulty affording.  Laura’s husband does not have a permanent job and must find work on a daily basis.  Laura currently has applied for employment authorization, which may take several months.  One part of the process requires renewal of her California identification card, which has expired; our Social Work Center will be able to provide her with a voucher to get a new identification card free of charge.  Through Arriba Juntos, she is able to receive compensation through CalWORKS to work at St. Anthony’s for five hours a week.  The program, in addition to providing job training, also has its participants work on their English skills.  Laura is slowly but steadily working on her English skills.  She has a better grasp on understanding English than speaking it herself.

The Chinas family receives $800 a month from CalWORKS benefits and $620 a month in Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  The SRO they reside in does not have a full kitchen so Laura prepares meals on a portable stove.  She says that it is too expensive to eat out and she must buy food at discount stores, but that is still not enough for her family.  Thankfully, her children were able to take summer school classes this year, which provided free lunches.

Laura’s family lives in a 10 x 10 foot room.  All of her children sleep in one bed while she and her husband sleep on the floor.  The family has trouble getting adequate rest because their living space is so small.  Laura also has trouble sleeping because of constant worries about what the next day will bring.  She feels tired during the day due to the many tasks she needs to take care of and the feeling that others will not help her.  She often feels depressed and nervous because her family has been on the public housing waitlist for five years with no indication that the wait will end soon.  Her husband is desperate to find a new housing arrangement for the family, but they are having a difficult time because of the size of their family.  Her daughter in particular longs for some space of her own as she does not even have enough space to do her homework.

When she receives authorization for employment, she will search for a full time job.  For the time being, she has been enjoying her time at St. Anthony’s.  She was excited to start helping at St. Anthony’s and likes it here.  She enjoys working with clothing and the environment that St. Anthony’s fosters.

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 and children’s clothing.  Specifically, our greatest needs are:

School Supplies- Binders, Packages of Pens and Pencils, Loose Leaf Paper, Notebooks

Preschool Clothing- Boys and Girls, Sizes 3T-6T

Boy’s Pants- Sizes 12, 14, 16 and 18

Children’s Coats and Jackets- Boys and Girls, All Sizes

Children’s Underwear and Socks- Boys and Girls, Preferably New

Children’s Books, Toys and Stuffed Animals- Preferably New

If you have contributions, 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!

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