by Fr. John
St. Anthony Foundation began back in the middle of the last century when the children of the Depression joined together to help the victims of an economy still recovering from World War II. The booms and busts of population shifts and changing job markets left some out in the cold and many lined up on Golden Gate Avenue. In today’s extremely challenging economy, St. Anthony Foundation can continue to attend to the needs of those affected by this crisis because we still depend on that higher instinct that we share with our supporters–the courage to reach out in generosity. For St. Anthony’s, that means being prepared to serve more meals in our Dining Room, which means more food to procure and more volunteers to cultivate. For those who support our work with their large and small donations, that means framing personal financial concerns within the context of those whose struggles may be more immediate or critical. For those who support our work with their volunteer time, that means inviting friends to share in their volunteer experience, as a way not just of volunteering their time, but also of moving through this economic paralysis by sharing the values of gratitude and service. And for the staff, it means longer hours, more innovative resource management, and more opportunities to cheer on those who make it through the struggle each day. The experts are telling us that, like the Great Depression, these economic developments will affect a generation. Standing with the poor through seven recessions over the past fifty-eight years tells us that the impact will reverberate even beyond that. While some may see the sacrifice, others see the opportunity to invite more gratitude and generosity into their daily lives. And while some tighten their hold and fear for their own families, others invest in those most threatened by the economy as another way of investing in their own children’s futures. We share their hope that by narrowing the chasm between the haves and have nots in this generation, we insure more opportunity for spiritual and social cohesion in the next. Perhaps these difficult times will produce another generation like the one that established St. Anthony Foundation–people pushing beyond their fears and reaching out to those in need. I offer this reflection from a new vantage point. Recently I was selected the Provincial Minister of the Franciscans. The provincial conducts many other social programs, and this promotion will enable me to guide the work of St. Anthony’s as the president of the Board of Trustees. This broader perspective has given me an even deeper appreciation of the impact St. Anthony’s has on the poorest of the poor, and on San Francisco in general. Our Deputy Director, Linda Pasquinucci has stepped in as Interim Director and will continue to attend to the day-to-day operations of the organization. And I will continue to share the inspiration I receive from our guests, staff, and volunteers. As the season moves forward, I encourage you to reach out to those in need, be it our guests or your neighbors, for whom support and encouragement may be critical. For it is truly in giving that we receive.