All the latest from St. Anthony’s
In February of this year, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health announced that the city was weighing the viability of piloting two Safe Injection Sites for intravenous drug users.
In this era of opioid crisis (to illustrate the magnitude of this issue with a single data point: in 2016 alone, drug overdose deaths numbered more than the U.S. death toll from the entire Vietnam War and the trend is worsening), leaders in many cities across the U.S. are considering evidence-based approaches such as Safe Injection Sites (that are already working in other countries) to contain the epidemic. In San Francisco, the Department of Public Health’s announcement comes less than a year after the Board of Supervisors appointed a task force to determine the feasibility of a Safe Injection Site operating in San Francisco. The task force found strong evidence in support of the idea.
San Francisco is poised to be the first city in the U.S. to open a Safe Injection Site. The event would have great significance for the communities that St. Anthony’s has served for more than 60 years. This month, St. Anthony’s is partnering with GLIDE Memorial Church, the Tenderloin Health Improvement Partnership, and a consortium of other local community organizations to present a full-scale, operational demonstration model of a Safe Injection Site here in our Tenderloin neighborhood. The purpose of the temporary installation is to showcase the ways in which Safe Injection Sites may save lives that would otherwise be lost to overdoses, provide a bridge to treatment, reduce disease transmission and hospitalizations, and contribute to public safety for the community in the surrounding area. The week-long exhibition of the Safe Injection Site model will provide education through interactive displays, experiential learning through guided tours, and community engagement through multiple events, including speaker panels and forums. The collaborative project will also illustrate the integration of a safe injection site into an existing multi-service organization (GLIDE as host organization) in the Tenderloin.
St. Anthony’s plays a role in bringing global awareness to a critical reality that’s been at the forefront of our work for generations: extreme poverty as a human rights issue.
In June, St. Anthony’s hosted German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his wife, Elke Büdenbender, and a delegation of high-ranking German officials and cultural dignitaries. President Steinmeier, who wrote his doctorate of law thesis on homelessness and the traditions and prospects of state intervention to prevent and overcome it, toured our Tech Lab and our Free Clothing Program, taking note of the holistic, interconnected nature of our services and how they work in tandem to recognize every guest as a whole person with rights and dignity.
“Aligned with our core values, we serve people where they are, respecting their needs, goals, hopes and choices. We appreciate that President Steinmeier looks to St. Anthony’s as a model of integrated community solutions to extreme poverty.” – Barry Stenger, Executive Director, St. Anthony’s
Just two days later, at a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, a global spotlight was trained on the growing trend of poverty and wealth inequality in our country when Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations’ expert on extreme poverty and human rights, delivered a report on poverty in the United States.
“Growing inequality and widespread poverty…has deeply negative implications for the enjoyment of civil and political rights by many millions of Americans.” – Philip Alston, United Nations
Professor Alston visited St. Anthony’s late last year, when he was in the Bay Area to gather material for his report. He toured our neighborhood, the Tenderloin, with its encampments of homeless. In a gathering held at St. Anthony’s, Professor Alston heard first-hand our neighbors’ and our guests’ stories of deprivation and desperation, but also those of support and rehabilitation. In his report, which suggested that extreme poverty undermines the enjoyment of human and civil rights, he made a strong case for how widespread poverty and homelessness are not a societal inevitability:
“At the end of the day, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power. With political will, it could readily be eliminated.” – Philip Alston, United Nations
In the absence of this political will, St. Anthony’s makes the choice daily to provide services that respect the human rights of all.
We were proud to show Professor Alston and President Steinmeier our work and our world, to contribute to their knowledge, and to bring our Franciscan values of community, personalism, and justice to bear on the global conversation about the link between poverty and human rights.
St. Anthony’s strong and influential voice at these events is made possible by supporters, donors, and advocates like you. Your energy and passion enable us to keep speaking up, making a difference, and changing lives. During a time when it is common to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face the human suffering, we are invigorated by the global focus on these issues, and humbled to be studied by the international community as a model of how we, as a people, can harness our power to break the cycle of extreme poverty and inequality.
Today, we are starting a discussion of how, when we dedicate our skills, energy and passion to change the status quo, we create a healthier, stronger, more resilient society that benefits us all. For the next twelve weeks, we’ll be posting about everyday actions you can choose to help alleviate widespread suffering in your community and beyond. We’ll be covering everything from volunteering opportunities, to local and national calls to action, to ways you can maximize your giving and get your friends, families and colleagues involved and engaged.
Father Alfred Boeddeker’s vision—to create a refuge for San Francisco’s poor and marginalized to get nourishment and support, without judgment—was an embodiment of the values we still uphold today, sixty-eight years and millions of guests later.
Our recent interactions with global leaders have been a reminder of how well those Franciscan values have stood the test of time, and what a wonderful framework they provide for the reduction of extreme poverty worldwide. When we channel those values into a plan of action, we can all choose a future where no one has to sleep on the street; where no schoolchild goes to bed hungry; where families are allowed to remain whole; and where our elderly, disabled, and sick are cared for, not abandoned.
Together, we will see what can happen when we choose to take concrete steps toward a better future.
All women deserve access to basic menstrual hygiene products, period. Yet many women in our community cannot afford these critical items. You can help change that. Take action and help us reach our goal!
• Shop: Pick-up an extra pack next time you’re at the store for someone in need.
• Order: Buy products and ship directly to St. Anthony’s. Check out our Amazon Wish List.
• Host a Drive: Engage your community to collect products or raise money for the effort.
Drop-off or mail donations:
ATTN: The Period Project
St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program
121 Golden Gate Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
Spread the word! Involve others through social media with photos of your community and the donations you collected. Use our hashtags to join the conversation!
#ThePeriodProject #InternationalWomensDay #HopeServedDaily
For more information, contact email@example.com or 415-592-2826.
Just before New Year, CNN visited St. Anthony’s to speak with one of our youngest supporters, Walt, whose concern for homeless people in the Bay Area led to a huge viral fundraising campaign.
Good news! Phone lines to sign up for our special Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day volunteer shifts open as of Sunday, October 15th. To sign-up for a holiday shift call 415-592-2829.
Due to the popularity of this service, volunteer shifts fill up very quickly. However, we have many other volunteer opportunities this holiday season. Please see all available holiday volunteer shifts here.
Thanksgiving Day Shifts: 8:00 am– 12:30 pm and 11:00 am – 2:45 pm
Christmas Day Shifts: 8:00 am – 12:30 pm and 11:00 am – 2:45 pm
We are looking forward to celebrating the holiday season with you!
During the Northern California wildfires, St. Anthony’s opened a temporary overnight refuge to help shelter our homeless neighbors from poor air quality. There were many emotions expressed by guests, volunteers, and staff as we watched our community go through great deals of hardship. One of our staff, Madeira, touched on her experience working at St. Anthony’s in this state of emergency.
“I just passed my year anniversary of working at St. Anthony’s. I’ve had highs and lows but today I was truly reminded as to why I chose to work here.
As the wildfires have continued to spread, and the smoke has continued to build up in the city, our guests are struggling at an all-time high. The air quality is worsening and most of our guests—quite literally—cannot escape it. Because of this, we have opened our doors an hour before our meal service starts so our guests don’t have to wait outside but can come in to the Dining Room where there is clean, filtered air.
Schools are now closing for the safety and health of their students in Northern California. This is affecting St. Anthony’s seeing as now we no longer have large groups of students coming with their schools to volunteer in our Dining Room (when on average we need between 50-60 volunteers). Our volunteer numbers are at an all-time low and we are doing everything we can in order to run our Dining Room Service each and every day.
Even though all of this has been happening, the thing that amazes me most is that our team of volunteers and staff, working together, is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure our guests are safe and healthy. If that means we open an emergency shelter, then we’ll do it. Our team decided last minute on Thursday, October 12th to provide a four-day shelter for our guests from 6pm-6am.
This is why I work at St. Anthony’s. In a state of emergency for our guests, volunteers and staff are proactive and put our guests first. Love, compassion, dignity and respect emulates throughout all of St. Anthony staff.
With all this being said, I’m writing this to say thank you. Thank you to everyone I work with at St. Anthony’s. I am more than proud to work with each and every one of you and just know that your work and love does not go unnoticed.”
It’s officially San Francisco’s Fleet Week! This year, St. Anthony’s was fortunate to host over 30 Marine and Navy personnel from the U.S. and Canada.
Fleet Week’s day of service began with our Justice Education (JE) talk, which highlights the Tenderloin neighborhood as well as homeless and low income populations that St. Anthony’s serves. After orientation, our Fleet Week volunteers made their way to the Dining Room and Free Clothing Program to begin their shifts.
As service began, our volunteers got right to helping out by getting meals ready, delivering trays, and bussing tables. Through the shift, it was apparent that volunteers were doing much more than serving meals and sorting clothing—they were spending time with our guests and becoming part of our community.
Volunteers and guests smiled, shared stories, and enjoyed each other’s company—all in all, it was a great way to celebrate Fleet Week and connect with our global community.
Interested in learning more about St. Anthony’s? Watch a short clip about our Dining Room, which serves 2,400 meals every day of the year.
Today marks St. Anthony’s 67th birthday! Founded in 1950 by Franciscan friar, Fr. Alfred Boeddeker, St. Anthony’s has been providing essential support to San Franciscans living in poverty.
Every day, with dignity and respect, we offer thousands of the most vulnerable among us the basics we all need to feel human: a hot meal, fresh clothing, an opportunity to connect with the world.
Watch a short clip about Fr. Alfred below.
When Douglas first came through St. Anthony’s Father Alfred Center recovery program, CSS Manager, Wayne Garnett wasn’t sure that he was right for Client Safety Services. “Douglas had this frown on his face. He was angry a lot,” Wayne remembers, “Prior to his graduation I hired him, and I did that as a favor, because I was alumni at Father Alfred Center, which taught me something about judging people by the way they look. I’ll never forget when Douglas said to me ‘Just give me a chance man—all I need is a real chance to show you that I can do this.’ And the moment he said that to me was the moment when I started to see a big change in Douglas. I depend on Douglas so much because Douglas reaches out to people. Douglas has this understanding of what these people are going through. I mean a lot of us have it, but his is just a little deeper. Things that he does are, to me, spiritual—there’s just something about him. From the first time I saw him to seeing him now I think to myself—how many opportunities have I missed on people just by judging them?” by judging them on the way they look?”
We spoke to Douglas about his experience working with the guests at St. Anthony’s. “I have learned to talk them through things when they are having a rough time” Douglas explained, “It diffuses the situation and it also builds more character in me. Instead of being violent, I’ve learned to show compassion for people and that ability is a blessing that I got from working here. I try to give people the incentive to keep pushing. They look at me and say ‘Man, you still doing good,’ and that helps me too. I say to them, ‘Hey, look at me, I used to be like you.’ They ask me how I’m able to stay clean. I tell them that I pray everyday and ask God to give me the courage to change my life. And so far so good—I love where I’m at today.
Coming here was a blessing for me. I’ve been able to give back. People see me and how my life has changed. I got an open door policy with everybody. I can talk to them about anything, I don’t have to feel ashamed about things if I’m having a hard time. They’ll see me not talking and say, “Doug what’s going on with you today?” the time that they take out with me has been a blessing. I got great people to talk to from the top to the bottom. That’s helped me a lot. I would say that St. Anthony’s saved my life. I’ll scream and shout that all over the world. I was able to get my own place, been able to live my life, responsible. All that. It’s been a blessing.”
We sat down with Kevin Bouey, 5th generation San Franciscan, to ask him about his San Franciscan roots, his connection to St. Anthony’s, and his hopes for the future of the organization.
“Both of my parents had volunteer roles over the years. It was never a discussion. It was just what they did. They went to work, they spent time with their kids, and they volunteered. My own expectation was that I would go to college, get a job, and then find somewhere to give back.”
“When I got a job at Wells Fargo and settled back into the City, an opportunity came up for me to serve on the Finance committee of St. Anthony Foundation. I jumped at the chance to get involved. I was excited because I knew how unique St. Anthony’s is. The staff is committed to their jobs in a way that I have never seen before and that creates this tangible feeling that we are part of something more powerful and more meaningful than ourselves.”
Kevin has now served on the Board for nine years. “It’s been an amazing learning experience to go through the capital campaigns to build two new buildings and the transitions that we went through during the financial crisis. We need to ensure St. Anthony’s is there, ready to serve the many needs of this community.”
Kevin noted the importance of St. Anthony’s commitment to its core values. “When you are out walking downtown and you see someone homeless or troubled you try to look away. This is how our society has trained us to deal with these issues. To know that there is a place where you can have the opportunity to see people for who they really are is so important. The staff and volunteers genuinely care about everyone who comes through our doors and they truly want to develop those relationships and make those connections. It’s incredible.”