San Francisco is poised to be the first city in the U.S. to open a Safe Injection Site. The event would have great significance for the communities that St. Anthony’s has served for more than 60 years. This month, St. Anthony’s is partnering with GLIDE Memorial Church, the Tenderloin Health Improvement Partnership, and a consortium of other local community organizations to present a full-scale, operational demonstration model of a Safe Injection Site here in our Tenderloin neighborhood. The purpose of the temporary installation is to showcase the ways in which Safe Injection Sites may save lives that would otherwise be lost to overdoses, provide a bridge to treatment, reduce disease transmission and hospitalizations, and contribute to public safety for the community in the surrounding area. The week-long exhibition of the Safe Injection Site model will provide education through interactive displays, experiential learning through guided tours, and community engagement through multiple events, including speaker panels and forums. The collaborative project will also illustrate the integration of a safe injection site into an existing multi-service organization (GLIDE as host organization) in the Tenderloin.
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.
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.
By 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!”