Fully Invested

Priya, a dedicated volunteer in our Dining Room, is also a professional economist. When she arrived in the US in the spring of 2014 she was shocked by the poverty and inequity she witnessed in San Francisco: “You can’t NOT see it!” Within two months of her arrival, Priya began volunteering at St. Anthony’s. In addition to the Dining Room, she’s also volunteered in our Free Clothing Program, at our annual Curbside Donation Drives, and most recently—in our Emergency Winter Shelter. Indeed, how can anyone not see how people are struggling to survive? Nevertheless, a painfully obvious poverty is too often ignored or viewed as an eyesore to be swept away. Priya has a website dedicated to revealing “the Hidden America”, but “there’s only so much one can do by reading and writing. You need to get out and meet people.” And therein lies the hope. While speaking with Executive Director Barry Stenger, Priya says she was struck by something he said: “We don’t give people dignity… Dignity is intrinsic, but because of the challenges so many of our guests have been through, the sense of their own dignity can be deeply buried. What we do is try to restore that intrinsic dignity.” “Hope served daily” is the restoration of dignity Priya experiences when volunteering. “Really, it’s just the simple things—smiling, knowing and saying someone’s name, really listening to someone, remembering something they said and following up on that the next time you see them.” She too is served hope daily by “their indomitable spirit! When I ask someone how they are the answer is nearly always: ‘I’m blessed!’...

Finding His Way

Philip said that when he was in college, a lot of his friends knew exactly what they wanted to do when they graduated, but he wasn’t so sure. He knew it would be in the area of medicine, but beyond that, he was still searching. He began volunteering in our free Medical Clinic in February 2012 and remains a dedicated and highly trusted volunteer to this day. Phil says he does all kinds of things in the Clinic – from administrative tasks like updating patients’ charts – to transporting labs and assisting at the Diabetes and Asthma events. “I can see myself doing this. I like it! It’s never dull. I like being with the patients and always learning. And I really like working with the underserved; they are so appreciative!” Phil says he feels what he calls a “positive obligation” to serve those in need. If I had a crystal ball, I would most likely see medical school in Philip’s future. What I do see clearly is a wonderful person who has definitely found a calling as a volunteer at our Clinic. Thank you, Philip for trusting your journey and following it to St....

Hearts in Tandem

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!” Both of these wonderful gentlemen bring tray after tray to our guests, overflowing with food and with irrepressible joy. “It’s a family”, they insist. The young men acknowledge their gratitude and dedication to their vocation within the Augustinian Community, but they celebrate their inclusion in the community of St. Anthony’s as well—The St. Anthony’s “family” they call it—of guests, volunteers, and all who support St. Anthony’s. “If I could summarize what St. Anthony’s is all about”, Sarfraz says “It’s about love and...

Going the Distance

Daniel Andrade first came to St. Anthony’s in 2012 to volunteer with a group of co-workers. He became an individual volunteer with us in August of 2014. Dan had decided he wanted a career change—he wants to become a social worker. Besides applying to schools, Dan applied to become a skilled volunteer with our Social Worker Center, and we’ve been fortunate to have him 2 days a week serving at SWC’s Info Desk in the Dining Room. The Info Desk is where our Dining Room guests can come to ask about resources beyond food that they’re in need of. As an Info Desk volunteer, Dan interacts directly with Dining Room Guests during our meal service, offering resource materials and referral information for needed services such as shelter, health care, Veteran affairs, and substance abuse recovery. When Dan started up in August, we were still in our temporary Dining Room at 150 Golden Gate. Dan says the biggest change he’s seen at the Info Desk since the new Dining Room opened is the much improved quality of the experience for the guests. In the temporary Dining Room (because of space limitations), the Info Desk was located in the lobby where our guests would file by it as they were coming in to the Dining Room to eat: “People were HUNGRY!” The exit from the temporary Diner was at the opposite end of the building. “Now that we’re actually inside the Dining Room, the guests come to us AFTER they’ve eaten and are much more relaxed and interested in connecting to additional support resources. “Location! Location! Location!” It does matter. “Personalism”–...

A Closer Look into St. Anthony’s Mission Statement

The mission of St. Anthony’s is to feed, heal, shelter, and clothe those in need. But how does this mission come alive in our work? As a newcomer to St. Anthony’s I set out to discover how each of these goals is fulfilled by spending time in several programs.   The Dining Room is without a doubt St. Anthony’s most popular program. Three-hundred and sixty-five days a year the dining room is open to feed thousands of people. One of my favorite moments was witnessing the joy that filled the Dining Room on Thanksgiving Day. The dining room provides a safe place, a shelter, a feeling of home for many that crave a little companionship and a place to go. Guest Services Intern, Bethany, says “Our biggest goal in the Dining Room is to make sure that [the guests] feel like they are served with dignity and respect… we hope to feed them daily, not just with food but with friendship.” The Social Work Center provides individual case management to over 3,000 people a year. A Friday afternoon in St. Anthony’s Social Work Center during drop-in hours is no ordinary afternoon.  When the elevators open up at 1 o’clock people pour out of them. Twenty plus people wait to be seen, all in dire need. Each personal case is different; they span from housing needs, applying for California ID’s, seeking employment options, and many other needed benefits. I got to sit in on some meetings with social worker, Sarah, and her drop-in clients. I heard only the reader’s digest version of each person’s life, but each story managed to...