It’s March 8th, Women’s Day. In St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program, a small group of women look through a rack of clothes from San Francisco brand Marine Layer, then pause to read the quote on a colorful poster: “I am woman phenomenally, phenomenally woman, that’s me.”
Guests and staff sing along to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman”, and around the corner, other guests sit for make-overs by professional makeup artists, and select from free products donated by cosmetics incubator Kendo Brands. Still others try on ThirdLove bras, or browse the Free Clothing Program’s store with the help of personal shoppers.
A Day for Guests to Treat Themselves
Women’s Day at St. Anthony’s has become a much-anticipated yearly event, when the second floor of 121 Golden Gate Avenue transforms into a haven for women as the Foundation hosts a variety of special events for female-identifying guests.
Guests enjoy a selection of free jewelry, makeup, high-quality clothing, and menstrual products, as well as bra fittings and beauty services. “Our goal is to create a special experience for female-identifying guests in the Tenderloin,” explains Jennifer Henry, Service Coordinator for the Free Clothing Program. “It’s an opportunity for them to feel really special, take their time, and enjoy themselves—with one-on-one care and attention.”
“I’m ready to shop ‘till I drop!” a guest, Marilyn, gleefully exclaims. “I always volunteer at my [local] senior center at this time, but I took today off. Today is for me.”
Many guests feel similarly. The St. Anthony’s Women’s Day events allow them to step into a feeling of sanctuary: a space that was planned just for them, where they feel seen and cared for. The experience is about more than the new products, makeup, and clothes the attendees take home in red bags. “This day is about community,” Jennifer says. “Volunteers come specifically to this event every single year. Guests ask all year if we are going to do Women’s Day. People are invested.”
Other Female-Centric Services
In addition to pampering, guests have the opportunity to visit the Social Work Center, next door to the Clothing Program. On Women’s Day, the Social Work Center offers dedicated drop-in hours for women during which they can meet with a social worker, work on replacing an ID or birth certificate, and learn more about the programs and services St. Anthony’s offers, which can help them every day of the year.
Some of the guests visiting the Free Clothing Program and Social Work Center on March 8th returned on March 16th for the Tech Lab’s Free Coding Workshop for women and female-identifying adults, organized in partnership with nonprofit Techtonica. Women’s Day events span three of St. Anthony’s programs during the same month in this way.
To all the female-identifying guests, donors, volunteers, and friends of the Foundation who love this event as much as we do, we say, “See you next Women’s Day!”
All women deserve access to basic menstrual hygiene products, period. Yet many women in our community cannot afford these critical items. You can help change that. Take action and help us reach our goal!
• Shop: Pick-up an extra pack next time you’re at the store for someone in need.
• Order: Buy products and ship directly to St. Anthony’s. Check out our Amazon Wish List.
• Host a Drive: Engage your community to collect products or raise money for the effort.
Drop-off or mail donations:
ATTN: The Period Project
St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program
121 Golden Gate Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
Spread the word! Involve others through social media with photos of your community and the donations you collected. Use our hashtags to join the conversation!
#ThePeriodProject #InternationalWomensDay #HopeServedDaily
For more information, call 415-592-2826.
During the Northern California wildfires, St. Anthony’s opened a temporary overnight refuge to help shelter our homeless neighbors from poor air quality. There were many emotions expressed by guests, volunteers, and staff as we watched our community go through great deals of hardship. One of our staff, Madeira, touched on her experience working at St. Anthony’s in this state of emergency.
“I just passed my year anniversary of working at St. Anthony’s. I’ve had highs and lows but today I was truly reminded as to why I chose to work here.
As the wildfires have continued to spread, and the smoke has continued to build up in the city, our guests are struggling at an all-time high. The air quality is worsening and most of our guests—quite literally—cannot escape it. Because of this, we have opened our doors an hour before our meal service starts so our guests don’t have to wait outside but can come in to the Dining Room where there is clean, filtered air.
Schools are now closing for the safety and health of their students in Northern California. This is affecting St. Anthony’s seeing as now we no longer have large groups of students coming with their schools to volunteer in our Dining Room (when on average we need between 50-60 volunteers). Our volunteer numbers are at an all-time low and we are doing everything we can in order to run our Dining Room Service each and every day.
Even though all of this has been happening, the thing that amazes me most is that our team of volunteers and staff, working together, is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure our guests are safe and healthy. If that means we open an emergency shelter, then we’ll do it. Our team decided last minute on Thursday, October 12th to provide a four-day shelter for our guests from 6pm-6am.
This is why I work at St. Anthony’s. In a state of emergency for our guests, volunteers and staff are proactive and put our guests first. Love, compassion, dignity and respect emulates throughout all of St. Anthony staff.
With all this being said, I’m writing this to say thank you. Thank you to everyone I work with at St. Anthony’s. I am more than proud to work with each and every one of you and just know that your work and love does not go unnoticed.”
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.
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.
Meet Michael C—a man in recovery after a longtime addiction to drugs. His story:
My first experience with St. Anthony’s was when I was homeless. I would come here and eat. I was like a ghost. I was embarrassed I was getting food given to me.
I’ve been with the Fr. Alfred Center for 13 months. Living in the program gives you time out in your life where you can really focus on things you need to work on.
My use of meth and my ability to lie to myself allowed me to break into offices to steal whatever I could find to support my habit. I finally got caught and I was scared. I was given the opportunity to go through drug court. They take all of your charges and they’ll excuse them. The financial aspect of it, they’ll get rid of it for you. I went through the Father Alfred Program because I was homeless and I needed a place to live. They offered me a live/work environment.