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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
*Name has been changed
As 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,
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.