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.

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



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


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…