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

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“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.

Stories from Our Guests

dsc01476-2dsc01476-2As the Executive Director of St. Anthony’s I often find myself speaking on behalf of the people whom we serve in an effort to ensure that their perspectives are understood. However, it is my belief that it is always better to hear from them directly, in their own words. They feel respected when they are listened to, and we hear their voices more clearly—both their passion and their plight. So, in this spirit, I am happy to share with you the observations of some of our guests about an issue that is important and sometimes difficult to talk about.

For the next five weeks we will be sharing stories from people in our community who, through lack of housing, do not have access to bathrooms, showers, laundry and garbage services. These stories are an opportunity for us to get a glimpse of what it is like to go without access to basic necessities that most of us take for granted.

Follow us on Facebook to read these stories as they are posted and to have the opportunity to join the conversation.

Peace and All Good,

Barry Stenger

Supporting our neighbors in the throes of addiction

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screen-shot-2017-05-10-at-9-22-34-amBy Barry Stenger, Executive Director of St. Anthony’s

For seven decades, guided by the teachings and example of this city’s patron, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony Foundation has served those who are poor and homeless in San Francisco. When Francis walked among the poor and the marginalized of 13th century Italy, he did not see problems to be solved, nor morally depraved individuals to be avoided—he saw brothers and sisters who revealed to him God’s abundant love.

Francis pinpointed his conversion to that moment when he was able to climb down off of his horse and embrace the moral outcasts of his day: those suffering from leprosy. Medieval society believed leprosy was caused by moral failure. Today, with the help of medicine, we know that leprosy is caused by Hansen’s disease—a sickness, not a sin.

Every day, on the sidewalks of the Tenderloin and in the alleys and bathrooms of our programs, our sisters and brothers struggling with addiction inject drugs, openly and in public. What other options have they but to use the curbside, the doorway or the park bench? When we consider their plight not as the wages of sin but as the ravages of the disease of addiction, we must ask the Franciscan question: how do we embrace the moral outcasts of our day? When Fr. Alfred, our founder, opened the Dining Room in 1950, he was just as concerned about sharing a meal in a way that respected the inherent dignity of those who were hungry as he was about meeting basic nutritional needs. He used to insist: “It’s not a soup kitchen, it’s a Dining Room!”

In that spirit, I invite you to read about what some of my fellow leaders of nonprofits in the Tenderloin are thinking about those who have to deal with their addiction in ways that deny their worth and push them further toward disgrace and death. You may also like to read an interview with one of our guests, Sandra, pictured above, who speaks candidly about the impact of addiction on her life.

If you have any questions about this or any other issue please do get in touch with us by calling 415-592-2736 or emailing community@StAnthonySF.org

Update May 22, 2017: A task force was launched by the City to examine hard reduction issues. Watch Barry speak at the launch below.

 

A Difference In 30 Days: Our Shelter

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Our winter shelter isn’t just a place of refuge in adverse weather conditions, it’s also an opportunity to move towards greater stability. In the first 30 days our shelter was open, 259 people stayed with us overnight who otherwise would have been out on the streets.

Our shelter is designed to increase stability for those we serve as we have on-site social workers, medical clinic staff, clean clothing, hot meals, and availability to showers via our partnership with Lava Mae. With these added services, we’ve seen our guests take first steps towards stability.

Check out the statistics we’ve gathered and learn about how our shelter is helping homeless San Franciscans reach stability.

read more…

Stability, Support, and Shelter

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Carlos has been coming to our winter shelter for one month now—he has been homeless for two years.

What does he think of St. Anthony’s facility? “It’s clean. People are respectful. The staff is respectful…I’m very grateful for this place being here—especially when it’s raining,” said Carlos.

As winter swings into high gear and San Francisco endures severe rain and wind, homeless men and women have very few choices for refuge. City shelters are oversubscribed and there are simply not enough spaces to go around.

Our shelter provides a safety net, without which our guests would be left to fend for themselves. It promises hope and fosters community spirit—housing 60 guests per night and supplying basic necessities like hot meals, clean clothing, personal care supplies, and access to medical and social work services.

We work hard to create a calm, welcoming atmosphere at the shelter. “Everybody knows everybody and they know their space,” says Carlos. “You’ve got to treat people the way you expect to be treated. You’ve got to give respect to get it,” he adds.

Our shelter provides vital additional support to our most vulnerable neighbors. St. Anthony’s receives no public funds for our work feeding, clothing, and sheltering the needy. We rely entirely on our wonderful team of donors and volunteers to make it happen.

Standing Up for Health Care

The Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or “Obamacare”) has been an important advance in health care policy for St. Anthony’s guests, allowing homeless Dining Room clients, single adults with disabilities who find support through our Social Work Center, and Fr. Alfred Center residents who are rebuilding their lives after struggling with addiction, to access the medical care they need.

Should Congress eliminate the Affordable Care Act, California would lose $16 billion in federal Medicaid funding, eliminating coverage to 3.5 million low-income Californians, including St. Anthony’s guests.   This would be due to the loss of the federally-funded “Medicaid expansion”, which allows low-income adults who previously were not eligible for Medicaid (called “Medi-Cal” in California) to be able to receive health care through the program.  Should the Medicaid expansion end, 78,000 San Franciscans, including homeless people, low-wage workers, and people who are unemployed, would lose access to health coverage through Medi-Cal.

How can we stand up to protect health care for the St. Anthony’s community? The answer to this question is simple: we need to engage with our elected officials and encourage our friends and family members to do the same.  Here are a few things we can do:

Sign up for St. Anthony’s advocacy email alerts here and we will let you know when it’s time to get in touch with your elected officials.  We will send advocacy alerts with information about the latest political news, and a link to a simple online form that makes it easy to send an email to your Congressional representatives.

Call your member of Congress.  Use the number for the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and the operator can connect you to your Senators and Representative.  Not sure who represents you?  Click here for the U.S. House of Representatives or here for the U.S. Senate.  You can search for your representative by zip code or by state at each site.

Share your storyHealth Access California, a  statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, is collecting stories from people who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.  Click here if you’d like to share your story with them.

Please feel free to contact Colleen Rivecca, St. Anthony’s Advocacy Program Lead with any questions about advocacy at St. Anthony’s.

 

4th Annual Tsanitary Tsunami Drive

 

Take a moment—consider what your life would be like without hygiene products. Unimaginable! Believe it or not, many homeless and low-income women in our community do not have access to feminine hygiene products. These items are requested at food pantries and shelters, yet organizations often do not have enough in stock.

All women deserve access to basic feminine hygiene items, period. You can help!

read more…

A Closer Look at a Difficult Problem

fb-insta-blogWhen asked why people addicted to drugs use them in the street, St. Anthony’s guest Sandra looks incredulous. It’s the worst option, she says, but “if you don’t have any other place to do it, what can you do?”

Sandra has been visiting the Dining Room for more than fifteen years. It has been a beacon of stability in a turbulent life on the streets. She is a likeable, approachable and intelligent person who is keenly aware of the toll that drug abuse has taken on her, her friends and her community.

When passers-by see addicts use drugs, she says, they are “seeing someone at their lowest point.”

“That’s the last of your dignity. To be out there in front of everybody…it’s bad enough living day-to-day, when people already frown on you, that just really puts the icing on the cake.” For some years St. Anthony’s has monitored contentious proposals to take drug use off the streets and into facilities where addicts can receive advice, access medical help, counseling and more.

read more…

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