All the latest from St. Anthony’s
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.”
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.