Women’s Day 2019 at St. Anthony’s

Guest picking outfit
It’s March 8th, Women’s Day. In St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program, a small group of women look through a rack of clothes from San Francisco brand Marine Layer, then pause to read the quote on a colorful poster: “I am woman phenomenally, phenomenally woman, that’s me.”

Guests and staff sing along to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman”, and around the corner, other guests sit for make-overs by professional makeup artists, and select from free products donated by cosmetics incubator Kendo Brands. Still others try on ThirdLove bras, or browse the Free Clothing Program’s store with the help of personal shoppers.

Guest holding makeup

A Day for Guests to Treat Themselves

Women’s Day at St. Anthony’s has become a much-anticipated yearly event, when the second floor of 121 Golden Gate Avenue transforms into a haven for women as the Foundation hosts a variety of special events for female-identifying guests.

Guests enjoy a selection of free jewelry, makeup, high-quality clothing, and menstrual products, as well as bra fittings and beauty services. “Our goal is to create a special experience for female-identifying guests in the Tenderloin,” explains Jennifer Henry, Service Coordinator for the Free Clothing Program. “It’s an opportunity for them to feel really special, take their time, and enjoy themselves—with one-on-one care and attention.”

Guest looking for coats on Women's Day

“I’m ready to shop ‘till I drop!” a guest, Marilyn, gleefully exclaims. “I always volunteer at my [local] senior center at this time, but I took today off. Today is for me.”

Many guests feel similarly. The St. Anthony’s Women’s Day events allow them to step into a feeling of sanctuary: a space that was planned just for them, where they feel seen and cared for. The experience is about more than the new products, makeup, and clothes the attendees take home in red bags. “This day is about community,” Jennifer says. “Volunteers come specifically to this event every single year. Guests ask all year if we are going to do Women’s Day. People are invested.”

Other Female-Centric Services

In addition to pampering, guests have the opportunity to visit the Social Work Center, next door to the Clothing Program. On Women’s Day, the Social Work Center offers dedicated drop-in hours for women during which they can meet with a social worker, work on replacing an ID or birth certificate, and learn more about the programs and services St. Anthony’s offers, which can help them every day of the year.

Some of the guests visiting the Free Clothing Program and Social Work Center on March 8th returned on March 16th for the Tech Lab’s Free Coding Workshop for women and female-identifying adults, organized in partnership with nonprofit Techtonica. Women’s Day events span three of St. Anthony’s programs during the same month in this way.

To all the female-identifying guests, donors, volunteers, and friends of the Foundation who love this event as much as we do, we say, “See you next Women’s Day!”


Eggnog Mashed Potatoes

St. Anthony's Eggnog Mashed Potatoes

The guests in St. Anthony’s Dining Room inspire us daily. Faced with struggles, they display resiliency and versatility.

In that same spirit, we share this recipe — and the story behind it. Our chefs were preparing mashed potatoes one day, when they ran out of milk. Searching the pantry for a suitable substitute, they were delighted to discover gallons of donated eggnog that they immediately put to good use.

The joy of the holidays comes from being together. Around your dining room table and ours, people sit side-by-side to share warm, comforting dishes like this one — lifting the spirits of all.

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2018 Fleet Week: U.S. Service Members Volunteer

2018 Fleet Week - U.S. Navy Volunteers at St. Anthony's

St. Anthony’s was honored to host service members for a special day of Fleet Week volunteering again this year, continuing an annual tradition. Fleet Week’s 2018 day of service began with our Justice Education orientation, which highlights the history and characteristics of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood as well as the homeless, low-income, and vulnerable populations that St. Anthony’s programs serve. After the presentation concluded, the Fleet Week volunteers made their way to our Dining Room and Free Clothing Program to begin their volunteering shifts.
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Chef Pepe’s Chili

Chef Pepe's Chili - St. Anthony's Dining Room Recipe

It’s a joy for us to share this recipe for our Chef Pepe’s Chili. Hearty, filling, warming, and tasty, recipes like this have been served by us for decades and adapted in endless variations by Chef Pepe himself. Our Dining Room recipes are more than meals, they set the table for community and connection, and are sometimes the first step to making a lasting difference for San Francisco’s poorest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

When St. Anthony’s Dining Room prepares this recipe for thousands of hungry guests, we use 300 pounds of beans and 600 pounds of meat for a single day of serving. This version has been modified by a St. Anthony’s staff member, who carefully sourced the ingredients locally and scaled the recipe for the home cook. Prepared with care, intention, and love, she then photographed this lovely dish to share with all of you. We hope you try this recipe at home and share it with those you love and care for.

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Safe Injection Site Demonstration Project in San Francisco

Safe Injection Site Demo - St. Anthony's Blog

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.

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St. Anthony’s on a World Stage

St. Anthony’s on a World Stage

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.

St. Anthony’s Period Product Drive



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.

Give It

Drop-off or mail donations:

         ATTN: The Period Project
         St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program
         121 Golden Gate Ave
         San Francisco, CA 94102

Share It

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, call 415-592-2826.

CNN Visits St. Anthony’s

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.

Celebrate the holidays with St. Anthony’s

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!

Compassion, dignity, and respect ❤

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.”