All the latest from St. Anthony’s
Br. Dick Tandy (DT) has been appointed chaplain at St. Anthony’s, teaming up with Br. Chris! Br. DT was about to retire when he saw a video clip about St. Anthony’s that deeply moved him. He immediately applied to work as a chaplain at St. Anthony’s and was accepted to the position. We sat down with Br. DT to learn more about the friars’ role at our organization. “A chaplain’s role is to minister and to meet the spiritual needs of our staff, guests, and volunteers”, explained Br. DT, “we are a listening ear that does not judge.” Can people make confessions to a chaplain? Br. DT noted that they can—however he himself is not a priest so he cannot grant absolution, that being said he can offer confidentiality, “It’s kind of like what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, Br. DT joked.
Appointments to see Br. DT or Br. Chris can be made by email, or by phone. If you would like to sit down with Br. DT you can see him during his office hours from 1:30 to 3pm most days in the chaplain’s office of 150 Golden Gate.
Br. Thomas, who volunteers weekly at St. Anthony’s, spoke to us about how volunteering at St. Anthony’s has changed his relationship to people who are homeless.
“Being a friar makes it really easy to have one’s own world and to live in that world. Volunteering forces me to step out of that bubble. Homelessness is no longer just a word or a concept when I come here, rather it has a face and a name and it is someone that I know—and that roots me into the larger picture. That is part of my larger take away from volunteering here—“I am here to help the homeless”, has become “I am here to help Antonio”, it is about real people, and that is grounding.”
“It’s comforting to know that you can walk away from St. Anthony’s and trust that these people will be getting a meal. It’s a huge burden lifted.”
In July, a group of San Francisco Giants’ Wives and their families visited our Free Clothing Program to give out 50 Project Night Night gift bags and volunteer with our youngest guests.
Our giveaway was truly one for the books—the Giants’ Wives came with loving smiles, open arms, and a bounty of basic nighttime essentials.
“What stood out the most was the experience of receiving such thoughtful gifts from such influential people in our community. Our guests wanted to get their pictures taken with the Giants’ Wives, they wanted to talk with them, share photos of their family, and connect beyond the donations,” said Jenna Fiore, Free Clothing Program Assistant Manager.
The Giants’ Wives were overjoyed with the opportunity to help our community members in need and to provide them with items that they can put to good use.
Giant’s wife Amanda said, “I feel it’s important to give back to the community. We have been very blessed and it’s important to pay it forward. It’s a small thing, but I hope it puts a smile on the faces of the children.”
Our Free Clothing Program serves 150 children, women, and men per day, providing fresh, clean clothing at no cost. If you’d like to learn more about this program, watch a short clip or sign up for a volunteer shift!
This year’s Back to School event has gone BIG—doubling the days of service and the number of children served. During our two day event, 400 children will receive a new backpack, set of clothes, and school supplies to get them ready for the first day of school. We will also be providing haircuts, writing activities, crafts, and a photo booth. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see live coverage the day of.
Dave, member of St. Anthony’s Client Safety Services team, is often seen going out of his way to be kind to the people that St. Anthony’s serves.
Manager of the Client Safety Services team, Wayne, told us how Dave, who arrives at work at 5 am, interacts with the guests who sleep on St. Anthony’s doorstep. “It’s a magic moment when Dave comes to work in the morning—he picks up Anne, a homeless woman who sleeps outside on Golden Gate, he helps gather her things, and then he runs across the street to get her coffee and fruit. Sometimes he’ll go upstairs to make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
We asked Dave to talk to us about what motivates him to reach out to people who are experiencing hardships, such as addiction and poverty, that most of us are tempted to turn away from. “For many, many years I was a meth cook. I’ve got 30 years in prison. I was responsible for making people that way (referring to those suffering from addiction). I’ve been clean now for 14 years but I still think about what I used to do to people with what I made. I want people to say when I go that he was an idiot for most of his life but he finished up good.”
Have you had an ‘aha’ moment or special experience at St. Anthony’s? We want to hear about it! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inspired by life in the Tenderloin, one of our very own, Calder Lorenz wrote ‘One Way Down (Or Another).’ Read his reflection and personal views on the novel.
Most days, I’m in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, working with staff and volunteers and guests who all share in the labor, share in the love of St. Anthony’s Dining Room. It’s a kitchen that never really closes. It’s a kitchen that is open to the public three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Seven days a week. It serves as a shelter. A sanctuary. A community. Despite everything that swirls and storms on the outside, we are here, building relationships with our brothers and sisters. Everyone, all of us, in need of something, all of us, in need of each other.
I found this place, St. Anthony Foundation, in 2008. I was in the MFA in Writing Program at the University of San Francisco. I answered a Craigslist Ad. I applied for part-time work with their Technology Lab and ended up as a full time coordinator with their largest program, The Dining Room. It wasn’t entirely new work, my father had run a free kitchen in Baltimore when I was a teenager, my summers filled with sweeping and making sandwiches and sweltering days in the kitchen, but what was new, what was astonishing, was the size and space. It was the daily need. It was the sheer number of meals cooked and served. The astounding number of folks who waited in line. The intensity of the streets and the flashes of violence. The mosaic of what felt like little miracles.
Our Client Safety Services (CSS) team provides more than just security to St. Anthony’s guests and staff.
Manager, Wayne Garnett, says that is also provides hope. “We give hope to people who are seeking hope. We give it to them with the words that we say, we give it to them with the things that we do. I remember one of our staff members taking his shoes off and giving them to a guy who came to us barefoot. I remember another staff member giving his CSS sweatshirt to a guy who was freezing on the ground. Those little moments are what sets CSS apart.”
The CSS team often comes together to support guests who are experiencing severe hardship such as chronic homelessness and addiction. Wayne explained, “When Lynn* first came to us we thought she was dying. She’s a lot better now than she used to be. The whole team really got behind Lynn, they would come out and make 911 calls for her, talk to her about getting help, get her a blanket. Lynn said some really foul things to people. But the thing is that the team had compassion for Lynn and when they look at her they can sometimes put themselves in her shoes.”
Wayne spoke of the daily exchanges that happen between CSS staff and guests, “In the morning when Dave comes to work he says “hey folks, it’s time to get up” sometimes he arrives with coffee or donuts—but some exchange always happens between CSS and the people at the door—some moment of connection. The little miracles happen out here at 6am. CSS gets to see the little miracles. The things not everyone gets to see.
*Name has been changed
Happy Friday! In celebration of the upcoming weekend we asked our volunteers to participate in a #FridayFeeling activity. The challenge: In one word, describe how volunteering at St. Anthony’s makes you feel. Here’s what they said:
Blessed, Loved, Valued, Fulfilled, Amazed, Humbled, Grateful, Appreciated, Affected, Moved, Reflective.
We were so excited to hear these powerful responses, and to feel so much love from our volunteers!
Each year, thousands of volunteers come through our doors to serve meals, sort clothes, offer tech training, and more to vulnerable San Franciscans. St. Anthony’s offers a variety of general, skilled, group, and corporate volunteer opportunities in our Dining Room, Free Clothing Program, and Tech Lab.
If you’d like to get involved with our community and volunteer with us, log in or create an account.
“I’ve been trying my best to get off the street. Contacting houses and stuff like that. But nobody wants to rent a place to someone who stinks, or smells bad, or in other words—not to be rude or anything—looks homeless. Because they automatically think that you’re a drug user. Me, I’ve been clean and sober 28 and a half years. I don’t use drugs, but people still put those labels on me. So the city could put the money towards things that we really need like showers, more bathrooms, even recovery centers, where people could get sober. That would help a lot.”
“It’s really hard. You try going into some of these shelters and 9 times out of 10 they tell you to come back tomorrow or some other day because it’s too filled up. San Francisco needs more bathrooms. They keep telling us not to urinate on the walls, but where is everyone gonna go? There’s no other place. I try my best to hold it as much as I can. I try to go to the city library. If by chance it’s after hours, then I try to avoid eye contact with everybody. Try to find some place secluded.”
“If I had a job interview tomorrow, I’d probably stay up all night looking everywhere for some place that I could get cleaned up. It’s like could I find a water fountain here? Could I use the restroom here? Anything to get clean and presentable. For regular people, it’s like 10-15 minutes to get ready to go to work. For homeless people, it takes four or five hours to get ready to do one tiny little thing. Pit Stops, I love those things. The only bad thing is that there are not enough of them. For showers, I try my best to get into Lava Mae at least once or twice a week. But it’s very hard to do because, I mean, it’s usually really packed with other people trying to get a shower.”
Every San Franciscan deserves the ability to properly maintain their personal hygiene. Add your name to our petition.
“I’ve been homeless for about six months. For him it’s been about four. We’ve been living on the street in a homeless community. I feel safe there because I speak English well and can defend myself, but he says that there are times when he doesn’t feel safe. We try to keep our community clean and our neighbors don’t complain, but it’s hard to do. We don’t have any facilities, especially at night. We do our necessities right on the street and then have to get rid of it. There isn’t much access to trash facilities and when you see a garbage it’s usually full and overflowing, but we do our best.”
“There’s a clinic at 16th and Capp in the Mission where we are able to take showers. There are only two showers for about fifteen women and two showers for maybe one hundred men. Sometimes we show up to take a shower and can’t that day. Yeah, it takes a lot of time for us. It takes us from about nine o’clock in the morning ‘til two in the afternoon just to shower and eat if we want to that day.”
“There’s times where I don’t take a shower because I can’t. On those days I clean with wipes. When I get dressed on those days it doesn’t feel the same; my self-esteem is down. When you don’t take showers you’re not as motivated to do things. I used to have a job with Costco. I can make it back I think. But it’s hard to get back there when I can’t wash myself and I always feel dirty.”
Every San Franciscan deserves the ability to properly maintain their personal hygiene. Add your name to our petition.