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Justice Education Event Series Begins!

September 10th, 2014
by Marie

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!

September 9th, 2014
by Angelina Cahalan

We 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.

Willing to serve banner

The New St. Anthony’s Scavenger Hunt

September 8th, 2014
by Taylor Skillin

It’s The New St. Anthony’s Scavenger Hunt:

Ads for the Grand Opening of the New St. Anthony’s are popping up all over town: buses, light poles, billboards, Muni & BART stations, and newspapers. Shyla, Eunice, and Karl found this one at Civic Center.

Snap a photo of yourself with one of our ads, email it to with the subject “Scavenger Hunt”, and open the door to winning a very Grand prize.

We hope to see you on October 4th for the big day!


Our Small World

September 3rd, 2014
by Skyler McNulty

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

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.

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

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.


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