A message received from a woman who ate at St. Anthony’s as a childJuly 13th, 2011
by Jacqueline Lintner
This is why we do what we do:
I was a homeless child in San Francisco during the 1980’s with my drug addicted parents and lived in Golden Gate Park. We panhandled day and night and I remember walking up and down the steep hills of San Fran! I also remember St. Anthony’s. I remember sleeping on cots at night in a large room or auditorium with hundreds of people (it seemed). I still remember the smell of the food in the cafeteria and how it made me feel!
On August 8th, 1984, I was with my father and his girlfriend at breakfast in St. Anthony’s (I called it “green eggs and ham! Not my favorite) and my mother walked in with her boyfriend. A dispute ensued and I was taken into custody by the state. The state placed me in foster care where my life was not much better than when I was on the streets. I was mistreated and singled out by my foster families. After winning custody, my mother moved me to Northern California with her and her boyfriend. The next six or seven years brought terrible abuse by my “step-father”.
We moved to Chicago when I was nine years old and I was, again, taken into custody by the state and eventually ended up in the group home system. I was pregnant by 16 and the group home staff scheduled my abortion. I refused over and over until I was finally sent to a Catholic girls home. At 17 years old, I gave birth to my first, precious child! She is 15 now! I had a long, hard, painful road ahead of me! Both of my parents are deceased as a result of complications from drug use. I restored my relationship with my mother and honored her until her death. My step-father is not well, nor mentally healthy, but I call him on Father’s Day and have compassion for him. I suffered greatly, but here I am, 32 years old, wife to my wonderful husband, John, and mother to my 7 fantastic children that go to bed every night in their own warm, safe, comfortable beds!
I head up a youth ministry at my very small church in Georgia where we open up our gates to the parking lot behind our building every Tuesday and let the poverty stricken children in our own back yard come to eat, play basketball and games, hear a message of hope, and receive love and attention! We have a small clothing closet and we give God’s love freely.
I can tell people where I come from, but they can never truly understand. It gives me peace to know that you are still there, doing the same work you were doing when I was a little girl. St. Anthony’s knows where I came from. I am proud to say that St. Anthony’s had a hand in my survival, my salvation, and my destiny! Thank you for providing me a safe place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Thank you for showing me how easy it is to serve!
Thank you for remembering the poor and the homeless, because I remember St. Anthony’s! You blessed me and I pray that God will continue to bless the ministry of St. Anthony’s!
Julia Lawson Phares