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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

In the news: Family Life in an SRO

Monday, 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.

On Schedule to Serve San Francisco

Friday, 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!

Twitter Nonprofit Fair: New Volunteers from the Neighborhood

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
by Dolores Gould

Twitter Nonproft Fair

Twitter’s Nonprofit Volunteer Fair connected St. Anthony’s with a plethora of new volunteers. Folks were interested in volunteering in our Tech Lab, Dining Room, and offering pro bono services.

We met a Twitter Dining Room volunteer who found his experience so meaningful he stayed around to share his story with co-workers visiting our table, and we got to say hello to some of our Tech Lab volunteers too!  Kudos to Twitter for hosting this event, held on April 29th, and for serving most excellent cupcakes to everyone.

Diabetes Outlier Day

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
by Guest

blog 1

Through working with our patients here in this community we realized that there was a sub group of our total diabetic patient population that had consistently poor control of their diabetes. We noticed they were frequently admitted to the ER at SFGH and were seen more frequently at our clinic due to diabetes related health issues. Roughly 4-5 years ago we decided to confront this issue head on and outreach directly to this population so that we can put more of our efforts where it was most needed.  We described this population as our diabetes outliers, hence Diabetes Outlier Day.

We have this event quarterly beginning in March, then in June and September while using the last quarter event for our larger scale Diabetes Day.  Besides patients with poor diabetes control, we also outreach to our diabetic patients who have been out of care. Being out of care indicates to us that they are past due for the annual services that diabetics need to do to avoid complications around their diabetes such as blindness, neuropathy, nephropathy, dialysis and amputations.  Some of the services we offer during these events are retinal screenings, foot exams, med education and dispensing prescriptions and labs.  We also give patients increased access to medical care through appointments with their providers, health coaches and health coverage such as Healthy San Francisco.

We design these events to be interactive and to elicit dialogue from this patient population so that they feel comfortable talking to our diabetes team about their challenges regarding their sugar control.  We typically have at least two skits or presentations that are focused on both educating and entertaining our patients.  We invite our therapists to come and talk about depression, anxiety and stress reduction, mental health issues that are prevalent in our diabetic patient population.  The Social Work department here at St. Anthony’s also sends a representative to give information and offer assistance on food access, housing and any other social service issues the patients may be faced with. blog 2

We have come to realize that incentives are a good way of increasing attendance and bringing folks in for these events.  We work with the St. Anthony Dining Room and the Tenderloin Community Garden in order to get fruit and vegetables that are bagged for the patients to take home. This, along with raffle prizes and games makes this event more attractive for patients to attend.  Lastly this event allows for our most in-need diabetic patients to feel relaxed, comfortable and at home when talking to our diabetes team about their chronic illness.

View photos from the event here.

by Jaime Martinez, St. Anthony Medical Clinic’s Diabetes Care Coordinator

Treat Yourself at St. Anthony’s-National Women’s Health Week

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
by Dolores Gould

Treat Yourself- St. Anthony celebrates National Women Health Week with a day-long health fair for women.

Women often serve as caregivers for their families, putting the needs of their spouses, partners, children, and parents before their own. As a result, women’s health and well-being becomes secondary. As a community, we have a responsibility to support the important women we know and do everything we can to help them take steps for longer, healthier, happier lives.

On May 7th , 2013 St. Anthony Medical Clinic is hosting Women’ Health Day to celebrate National Women’s Health Week.  The day will cover women’s breast health, nutrition, physical activity, and emotional health including education and resource building around issues of domestic violence and abuse.

We will collaborate with San Francisco General Hospital’s Mammo Mobile, which will provide screenings, Kaiser Permanente, Women’s Community Clinic and La Casa de las Madres, as well as St. Anthony’s own health care providers to offer a comprehensive program to the women of the Tenderloin.

It can be challenging to get low-income women into health services.  Many barriers delay or prevent accessing care, including linguistic and cultural differences, financial pressures, and the fact that most low-income women’s resources go to providing food and housing for themselves and their families leaving little money or time to devote to their own well-being. Low-income women face the same pressures most women face, but with far fewer resources to manage them.

The theme of the day is ‘Treat Yourself’ that that is that taking care of yourself is important for wellness, but also that caring for your self has additional rewards that ripple out to families and communities.

To make the experience complete, we will offer our attendees some additional gifts.  Sephora has donated make-up, perfume, skin care, and other “treatment” gifts to help us complete our wellness day.  These are items often completely beyond the reach of low income women and so important to women’s self-esteem.  The clinic staff are preparing healthy food from their own “recipe box” to share and printed recipes will be available for our guests.

Move Your Body!

Monday, April 15th, 2013
by TMerkel

This last Wednesday, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. St. Anthony’s Dining Room was transformed into a dance studio. That’s right- a dance studio. If you had happened to be passing by the building, you might have heard the rapid squeaks and taps of people’s shoes dancing across the linoleum floor and Beyonce singing “Move Your Body” on the loud speakers.

At this time every Wednesday, you will find this fun-loving group of people doing something truly spectacular- getting fit together. Some of the members are patrons St. Anthony’s free clinic, and have been diagnosed with diabetes or may are be at serious risk for other ails. Although anyone, guest or not is encouraged to join the class. Fresh fruit is also offered for free as a snack during the workout to encourage healthy eating.

Their fearless leader and teacher, Dexter encourages getting active in any way possible. “Most people think of marathon running when they think of exercise. But exercise is fun, and we prove that every Wednesday.” This fitness group’s activities will range from anything to stretching, power walking, and circuit training. This week the workout theme happened to be Beyonce. So, St. Anthony’s encourages you to join the movement in getting fit, and find ways to “Move Your Body”!

Announcing St. Anthony’s New Executive Director: Barry Stenger

Thursday, March 21st, 2013
by Taylor Skillin

St. Anthony Foundation, our Board of Trustees and our Board of Directors are pleased to announce the appointment of Barry J. Stenger as our Executive Director. In St. Anthony’s 63 year history of serving the poor and low income of San Francisco, Barry is the seventh person to lead the organization.

Barry has over twenty years of nonprofit management experience. He has been St. Anthony’s Director of Development for the past eight years. He holds a Ph.D. in social ethics from the University of Chicago, taught at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and Santa Clara University, and has contributed to the work of the Franciscans on the west coast in a variety of capacities.

When asked what he’s excited about in assuming these responsibilities, Barry said that he believes “St . Anthony’s is poised to enter a new and dynamic phase of its service to the community: we’re building a new Dining Room; we’re reaching out to new generations of San Franciscans who want to be involved in our work; and we’re focusing on new metrics to measure the life-changing outcomes for the guests we serve.”

A Young Eagle Lands at St. Anthony’s!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
by Marie

What comes to mind when you think of an Eagle Scout? I think of wilderness camping and daring feats of strength…Imagine my surprise when Joshua Nascimento, a young high school student contacted me about fulfilling his Eagle Scout project at St. Anthony’s! Talk about daring feats of strength…and I don’t mean scaling the walls of our building. I mean the courage and compassion of responding to the needs of the impoverished—and helping to break down the walls of misunderstanding, or even simply of “not knowing” that some more fortunate members of society are held within.

Joshua, well on his way to earning the highest ranking possible in Boy Scouts, learned more about the deeper experience of poverty that many of our guests and clients are keenly familiar with. He chose to help meet some of the most basic needs that many of our guests encounter day in and day out—access to basic hygiene products. Lacking the resources to buy these item (soap, shampoo, lotion, etc. ) many folks—housed and not, go without. The consequences of not having these simple basics can aggravate health problems and can certainly contribute to increased isolation. Thanks to Joshua and his fellow troop members, his campaign to collect these items and more (combs, toothbrushes and paste, and even snacks …) resulted in enough materials to fill more than 100 handmade tote-bags chock full of these supplies and more, topped off with a hand written greeting card. Joshua’s troop assembled these together, having fun while learning the deeper issues and reality. Joshua’s project makes a positive difference now for those receiving the tote bags. His Eagle Scout project also makes a difference going forward for those who understanding of daring feats of strength has been deepened by young Joshua’s vision.

Our guests will be receiving these wonderful “care packages”, as Joshua calls them—and they are truly that. Joshua and his Mom pulled up to deliver all these gifts on a cold and rainy Tuesday, 2/20. They’d also packed the car with boxes of food donations that were given to Joshua from private vendors and businesses in support of his project. It doesn’t take “eagle eyes” to see that Joshua’s kind nature has been nurtured by caring parents. I met with Joshua and his Mom and Dad at the beginning of this project and it was clear from the start that this family could see that some of the most severe challenges in today’s world are found in our own cities and neighborhoods. Rather than turning away, they responded with real support to those in need. I had asked Joshua to share a few words about his experience with his Eagle Scout project, and this is what he had to say:

“I first learned of the charitable work of St. Anthony’s a couple of years ago when I had the opportunity to serve meals in the Dining Room as part of a school service learning project. This participation led to subsequent volunteer visits during which I gained further understanding of the plight of some of St. Anthony’s guests. Humbled by my first-hand experience of St. Anthony’s mission of service and compassion, I aspired to find a way to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than me. I put my dream into action in the form of care packages, continuing a unique St. Anthony’s tradition of personalized hospitality. Containing basic daily necessities of socks and personal hygiene items, as well as candy and an individualized birthday card, these care packages will be presented to the guests of St. Anthony’s on their birthdays. I hope that this small act of kindness will brighten their day and show appreciation for their inherent value and dignity as children of God.

I am really grateful for St. Anthony’s support in allowing me to give this gift of service. I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the support of the many who contributed to this undertaking. They include the scouts, parents, and adult leaders of Troop 12, the dental office of Dr. Bruce Newman, and the many vendors from the Travis Air Force Base Commissary and Base Exchange. Without their kind and generous support, my service project would remain just a dream.”

Eagle Scout indeed! … “Raising (others) up on Eagle’s Wings” to borrow from a beautiful song. Thank you, Joshua!

Peace in the Pews

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
by TMerkel

When I first passed through the doors of St. Boniface, I was awestruck with beauty. In every possible direction were ornate stained glass windows, towering marble columns, and sacred relics. All of this illuminated by hundreds of meticulously arranged candles. Yet these weren’t the captivating sights which left me utterly speechless. Honestly, these adornments paled in comparison to one sight which possessed a simple but staggering beauty: the congregate of the homeless peacefully slumbering in the pews.

From 6 a.m to 1 in the afternoon, those who enter the Tenderloin may find refuge in St. Boniface during the daytime hours. Here in these 76 aged wooden pews, those who face the perils of homelessness may finally experience hours of undisturbed sleep. The plain fact is the houseless are often denied rest on a regular basis. This is partly due to the city’s recent ban forbidding individuals to sleep or lay in public walkways, along with many shelters shutting their doors in the daytime.

The Gubbio Project, which started up in the Spring of 2004, seeks to provide the necessity of sleep to those in need. In addition to providing shelter, they distribute blankets, serve food on special days, and offer use of clean restrooms.

Laura Slattery, executive director of the project, spoke with me about our homeless neighbors and the project’s simple mission to care for them. The Gubbio Project’s mission is quite simple,  to do away with one more challenge which the homelss must face- and to bring them peaceful rest in this chaotic world.

Many have wondered why these people have coped with their trauma through substance abuse or apparent self-destructive behaviour. Although Laura Slattery would say you must alter your line of thought and realize this, “We should forget about questioning why the homeless have dealt with life in this way, but rather realize after all they have gone through and seen- what a true miracle it is that they are still here”.

In my wanderings around the church, I visited with a woman by the name of Ivy, a self-proclaimed regular. She lamented on how utterly worn she was from tumultuous events in her life as of late. With every step forward to a better life, the loss of a potential job, depression and struggles with addiction took her back to the starting point. As our conversation was approaching it’s end, she cast a smile upward to the magnificently painted ceiling, and in one perfect moment made all the work of the Gubbio Project worth it, “Despite everything, this is the one place I really have peace”.

Tyler Merkel is a Communications & Digital Media intern at St. Anthony’s

What is the poverty line?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
by Emily

A recent article in The Christian  Science Monitor named Below the line: Poverty in America by Jina Moore explains how poverty is something that cannot be defined or explained simply.  Whether it is being comfortable with the amount of money left over after all other expenses are paid, or not even having the luxury of having the option of what will and will not be paid each month.  Many Americans today cannot afford fresh fruit or low-fat meats and are forced to buy the unhealthy option.  It is becoming more common to stretch foods over multiple meals to use everything possible out of one ingredient.  But are these people living in poverty, and if so are they the only ones?

A big misconception about people living in poverty is “they aren’t trying hard enough”.  15% of America’s population is living in poverty, which is the biggest increase the second year in a row.  More than 40% of job added between 2008 and 2010 were low-wage jobs – about six out of the 10 jobs that are expected to see the most growth by 2020 are also low-wage jobs.  With these low-wage jobs, and many more who are still unemployed, people are going to continue to live in poverty.

The stereotypical image of someone living in poverty is someone who is homeless, but that is not the truth.  One can have a roof over their head, and may be able to afford food, but the mark that places the poverty line on the scale shows a lot more factors are included.  It is estimated that 60% of adult Americans will live below the poverty line for at least one year.  What is said to be under the line on paper may not reflect the living situation in reality.  A great example is of a woman named Kacey Orr who works on her grandfather’s farm.  She chose to become an organic farmer after giving up her hair salon last year.  The lives and works on the farm and earns around $300 a week by selling jam.  Although on paper she’s considered to be “cash-poor”, she considers herself to be “resource-rich”, and this is the life she has chosen forherself.

Emily Wondolleck is a Media and Communications Intern

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