A New Member of the Chaplaincy Team

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.

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.

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Bridging the Digital Divide for St. Anthony’s Guests

B74Q6455-2-2Homeless and low-income residents of one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods will be able to access free, public Wi-Fi when St. Anthony’s new Wi-Fi service ‘switches on’ this week.

The divide in access to wireless internet is seen starkly in über-connected San Francisco: The Market St. corridor is blanketed with public and private wi-fi options, but not too far away, the Tenderloin is an island of digital isolation in an increasingly connected world.

The new service—backed by Craigslist founder and philanthropist Craig Newmark—will allow the thousands of guests visiting St. Anthony’s each day to log in from any St. Anthony’s building.

Without internet access it’s harder to find work, get medical care, and stay in touch with family and friends who may be a crucial source of support. We know that connecting our neighbors to these resources helps lift them out of poverty and onto paths toward stability.

Thank you to Craig Newmark and the many other donors who made this possible.

Back to School Day 2016

St. Anthony's Back to School Day 2015-3The first day of school is fast approaching and for many families this means a shopping trip to get a new backpack, school supplies and a fresh new set of clothing.

However, for many families in the San Francisco community, especially those that visit St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program, these shopping trips are simply not a financial reality. According to data from 2014, 81 percent of the families that utilize the services at our Free Clothing Program live at or below the federal poverty line, and the average monthly income for families that utilize these services is $1,441.20. When a family has to pay for rent, medical costs, food, and other bills, it doesn’t leave much behind in the budget to spend on getting the essentials for school. Therefore, we see a lot of families using our Free Clothing Program during this time of year.

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Beyond Outrage: Rediscovering our Neighbors

Beyond Outrage: Rediscovering our NeighborsThroughout last week, Bay Area media outlets made a concerted effort to focus on the issue of homelessness in San Francisco. They admittedly stepped beyond their role of just reporting the news and used their resources to try to creatively propose solutions to this vexing social issue. We consider this a real service to the folks we serve at St. Anthony’s.

St. Anthony’s has been very much a part of this effort: I have done a number of interviews for radio and TV, and our communications staff have arranged interviews with staff and guests and provided important background materials about our programs.

What consistently came through in the media’s coverage was confirmation of what surveys of San Franciscans show: 97 percent San Francisco residents say that they consider homeless to be a serious problem for the city (77 percent agree that it’s a “crisis”). Seventy percent say that they are pessimistic about whether this problem can be solved.

Perhaps not unrelated to this pessimism is the fact that most of the media’s discussion of the problem of homelessness in San Francisco pointed to city government as the party responsible for creating this crisis and the party responsible for coming up with solutions. That seems to me to be a recipe for pessimism: if we as members of the larger community point to those people over there, the homeless, as the problem, and then ask the agencies over here, the city, to clean it up, we are doomed to frustration and failure.

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