Sister Mary Rogers officially retired on June 30, 2015 after a distinguished 15 year career as a drug and alcohol counselor at Fr. Alfred Center. For thousands of residents, she was the first face they saw when making the life-changing decision to seek treatment for their addiction. For many more, she was a critical link in their journey to remain clean and sober.
“If you told me 25 years ago I’d be doing THIS, I’d say you were crazy,” she chuckled. ‘THIS’ describes the experience of being an 80 year old nun and the only female counselor in a drug and alcohol recovery program for 60 homeless and low-income men.
Nearly 39 years ago, Sr. Mary took her last sip of alcohol and never looked back. At the time, she and her husband Jack – determined to find their own sobriety – checked into a recovery program for alcoholics in Santa Barbara. Two years later, in 1978, Jack died, leaving Sr. Mary widowed, newly sober, and searching for a way forward in life.
This year’s Penny Pitch raised nearly $80,000 to support San Franciscans living in poverty. Emceed by KNBR‘s dynamic duo “Murph & Mac,” the contest featured 36 teams vying for the coveted Penny Pitch trophy. Congratulations to veteran players Media Allstars for taking home the gold!
It was early on a Wednesday morning when I received a call from Mary about her mother, Teresa, one of our long-time volunteers in the Dining Room. Mary is usually available to take Teresa to her volunteer shifts, but couldn’t do so this day. She explained that Teresa, who is in her 80’s, values her weekly volunteer shift so much that she refused to miss it, even if her ride wasn’t available. “Mom feels a strong obligation to the people she serves at St. Anthony’s,” Mary explained. “She loves serving the guests in the Dining Room because she knows they need her, and being there to serve them is a big part of what keeps her going.” read more…
About 25 million Americans suffer from asthma, 7 million of whom are children. According to the American Lung Association, Asthma is a chronic and life-threatening disease for which there is no cure. In 2010, asthma attacks resulted in 2.1 million emergency room visits. Attacks like these take the lives of several thousand Americans each year. This is especially tragic when it comes to a manageable condition like asthma.
Clinics can serve to prevent many asthma-related emergency department visits through health maintenance and patient education. Our Clinic hosted Asthma Day 2015 to provide critical asthma medication updates and to empower patients through interactive education tailored to their condition. read more…
Adnan & Sarfraz, both in the US less than a year, both living in SF as pre-novices in the local Augustinian Community, and both serving as volunteers in St. Anthony’s Dining Room two days a week are united in their view that St. Anthony’s is a loving place.
Sarfraz left his native Pakistan about 6 months before Adnan to pursue his vocation into the priesthood of the Augustinian Community. “My mother once told me that I was ‘born to serve’.” Adnan, also feeling called to the priesthood was encouraged by Sarfraz to join the Augustinians. “I thought I was coming to give” Adnan exclaimed, “but it was I who received!” Only three days after his arrival in San Francisco, Sarfraz brought Adnan with him to volunteer in the Dining Room. Sarfraz confirmed his friend’s admission that he used to be a very shy and quiet person. (What?!?) How does this transformation occur? Sarfraz and Adnan agree that the guests feel truly loved and respected here: “They’re not coming just for the food! They know they are respected.” When asked what he received, Adnan responded: “Love; respect; friends!” read more…
Every day (365 days a year), we serve approximately 2,700 hot, nutritious meals to people in need in our bright and spacious Dining Room. But these aren’t your average mass-produced cafeteria meals. These meals are carefully planned ahead of time to utilize the food donations we receive along with the inventory we order to cook a quality menu for our guests. This menu is planned a month in advance, which works well not only for internal planning purposes, but also allows for our guests to see what’s being served ahead of time.
Happy feast of St. Anthony of Padua. This thirteenth century saint is the namesake of St. Anthony Foundation, and quite understandably so. For one reason, he brought together, in a unique way, the habits of a great friar scholar with a dedicated ministry to the poor in the Italian city of Padua—just as St. Anthony’s founder, Fr. Alfred Boeddeker OFM, a former theology professor, moved to the Tenderloin and started a dining room to feed the hungry.
“When people lose their appreciation of the inherent dignity of those who are poor, St. Anthony guides them to our Dining Room.”
The story goes that in 1950 Fr. Alfred, frustrated by the daily line outside the friary of hungry folks looking for a meal, knelt in front of the statue of St. Anthony in St. Boniface Church. The statue showed St. Anthony giving a loaf of bread as he did 800 years ago when he reached out to the poor of northern Italy. Fr. Alfred said to himself, “Why don’t you do that?” After pondering the possibilities, Fr. Alfred asked St. Anthony “What should I do?” and the answer came back, “You do it and I’ll help.” And for 65 years now, St. Anthony has helped the friars and their successors serve over 41 million meals to poor and low-income San Franciscans.
We themed this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Event “Casino Royale” because their support makes us feel like we’ve hit the jackpot each and every day. Thank you to all the incredible volunteers who spend their time & talent in the Tenderloin supporting our guests. Check out our Facebook album to view photos from the celebration and visit our website to serve hope with us today.
On Tuesday June 2, 2015, St. Anthony’s was proud to host the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, Hamilton Family Center, Chinatown Community Development Center, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, and Bevan Dufty, Director of the Mayor’s office of HOPE, as the San Francisco Homeless Emergency Service Providers Association (HESPA) released their report on family homelessness in San Francisco, including a 5-year plan outlining investments the city can make to end family homelessness. Homelessness among families in our city has reached a crisis point: approximately 3,222 children in San Francisco are homeless, the wait list for emergency shelter for families is months long, and the chances that homeless families will be able to find housing in San Francisco at the end of their shelter stay are slim.
The 5-year plan, called “The Roadmap” outlines six strategies that, if implemented, will house or prevent homelessness for 2,300 families over 5 years, with a total cost to the city of $9 million over five years.
- Increase Low-Income Operating Subsidy Program (LOSP) subsidies for homeless families. These subsidies allow extremely low income people to afford rent in buildings with affordable units. (These subsidies are typically used for newly constructed units.)
- Place homeless households in turnover non-profit housing using a city-funded subsidy. (These subsidies would be used in existing non-profit housing, when a unit turns over.)
- Invest in “rapid rehousing” — short term subsidies for families to stay in their homes or to pay part of the rent on a privately-owned apartment.
- Move homeless households in to vacant San Francisco Housing Authority (public housing) units.
- Fund need-based subsidy pilot for families who require temporary financial help in order to avoid homelessness. Current short-term subsidy programs help families who can demonstrate that they can increase their income in a short period of time. This subsidy would be need-based rather than time limited, meaning that a family would qualify as long as their income remains below a certain threshold.
- Prevent homelessness. Fund eviction prevention services for families in danger of losing their homes.
Over the next few weeks, our city government is deciding on spending priorities for Fiscal Year 2015-16. Now is the time to ask City leaders to begin to invest in the services needed to help end family homelessness in San Francisco. The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee is holding a public hearing on the city budget on Friday June 19, and public comment will be taken starting at 10:00 am in room 250 of City Hall. Public comment can also be given online at the Board of Supervisors Website.
On most days in St. Anthony’s Dining Room, you’ll find Cheryl singing tributes to the people she loves in the Tenderloin. This past Monday – Memorial Day – her songs were replaced by quiet contemplation and thoughts of her late husband, a Veteran of World War II. She held a small American Flag close to her heart, a remembrance for the sake of a song.
Cheryl was joined at the table by Henry, a Veteran from the Vietnam War era. Despite the hustle and bustle around them – this is St. Anthony’s busiest day of the year – Henry’s thoughts, too, were of fellow soldiers no longer here to be honored on this day. “Other people have other minds for festivities, but mine is focused on the Veterans who gave all.”
Memorial Day is a perfect storm in St. Anthony’s Dining Room. People surviving on a modest fixed-income have run out of funds for the month and the federal holiday means other services are closed. Add to the mix that many people in San Francisco have other things on their mind, namely the three B’s of Memorial Day: Beaches, Barbeques, and Baseball. Preparing for this meal is a herculean feat to accomplish for the chefs and regular volunteers who scramble to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for meals; 4,000 meals to be exact, fourteen hundred higher than the daily average. read more…