Going big for Back to School

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.

Huge thank you to our partners Dolby, Gap, Inc., Chronicle Books, and Warm Winters for supporting our youngest guests for this event.

Finishing up good

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 stories@stanthonysf.org.

‘One Way Down (Or Another)’ Reflection by Calder Lorenz

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.

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Hope sets St. Anthony’s safety team apart

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.

If you’d like to get involved in our community, why not learn more about our volunteer opportunities or sign up for a shift.

*Name has been changed

#Friday Feeling: In one word, how does volunteering at St. Anthony’s make you feel?

St. Anthony's on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in San Francisco, Calif.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.

Stories from our guests: Tommy

8:00 am

“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.”

12:00 pm

“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.”

5:00 pm

“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.

Stories from our guests: Mirabel & Alex

8:00 am

“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.”

12:00 pm

“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.”

5:00 pm

“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.

Stories from our guests: Elder

8:00 am

“I usually sleep in a park or at a bus station. I sit upright so that no one bothers me. Outside there is no safety, but I just close my eyes and hope for the best. Sometimes my stuff gets stolen. You’re trying to get ahead and then everything is just ripped out from under you. You hit brick walls.  Whenever I have a couple of extra dollars, I buy a bunch of bananas and give them to my friends living in the park with me.”

12:00 pm

“I have a real routine. When I open my eyes in the morning, I jump on the Muni and go to 16th and Mission. The center there has a place to do laundry and to take a shower, but there’s always a huge line of people. When I’m there, I can get a cup of coffee and charge my phone. I need my phone to find out about jobs. I’m working on my resume.”

5:00 pm

“I go to Planet Fitness on Sansome. It’s 10 bucks a month but I’m able to can stay clean that way. Sometimes I use the bathrooms at the library or the mall, but in an emergency, I just pee into a bottle and throw it into a dumpster.  I feel pretty well taken care of by the city but I think that people who are burned out need some inspiration to show them that someone cares.”

Every San Franciscan deserves the ability to properly maintain their personal hygiene. Add your name to our petition.

Stories from our guests: Jeff

8:00 am

“Toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, even when you do get them they’re so hard to hold on to. It might be three or four days before you can find someplace else to get it for free. To be able to go somewhere you can get it on a daily basis would be drastically helpful. When you don’t have it, you don’t have it, and you’re not going to spend all day looking for it.”

12:00 pm

“Hygiene is important.  You’re trying to better your life, you go to a job interview and you haven’t had a shower, and you don’t get the job. You look at that from the employer’s perspective, they don’t want someone who’s dirty. It’s really hard being homeless and being able to find a place to shower every day.”

5:00 pm

“We try to stay around one of the bathrooms that is open 24 hours. A restaurant or something like that. But a lot of people don’t have those choices. And it’s really hard on women. My wife is with me, and her having to go out in the grass to go to the bathroom, it hurts me on the inside. It’s real, real hard on me. And I do the best I can, I just pray it gets better.  Having more public restrooms open 24 hours would be tremendously helpful. I’ve worked these streets, I’ve swept these streets, I worked with City Clean, I know what it’s like.”

Every San Franciscan deserves the ability to properly maintain their personal hygiene. Add your name to our petition.

Stories from our guests: Kathy

8:00 am18882096_10154619747742644_2049661283275623213_n

“Do you know how hard it is to try to hold your stuff until you can find some place to do it? If by chance you can find a bathroom that’s open outside, you’re lucky. Especially if you’re not downtown. I was in the Bayview. There was absolutely no restrooms, unless you bought something. I tried to camp by McDonald’s so I could go and use their restroom. The security guard was cool with me. When they got fed up with it, I went to the Jack in the Box across the street. It was a matter of making every fast food joint mad at me. But when they were closed, it was find a car and squat.”

12:00 pm

“I found out why people act so weird when they become homeless. When you treat people like animals, they start to act like animals. Seriously. I have a Master’s degree, I’m an educated woman – when I became homeless, I became an animal. It was because of the way people treated me.”

5:00 pm

“When you treat people like they’re homeless but not hopeless, they’re still people, it’s a whole different feeling for the recipient. That’s why I always come to St. Anthony’s. During that time St. Anthony’s was my home. They made me remember that I was a person. They treated me with dignity no matter how I looked, no matter how dirty I was, how I smelled, whatever.”

Every San Franciscan deserves the ability to properly maintain their personal hygiene. Add your name to our petition.

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