Data Served Daily: Dining Room Survey Results

A new survey of our guests has shown that they are significantly older, more isolated, more frequently homeless, and more likely to be female than in previous years: The proportion of female guests has risen to 26% (from 12% in 2011), the share of seniors has risen to 33% (from 20%), and 46% of guests are homeless (up from 37%). Our new Dining Room was designed to be a safe, clean place where guests can eat, relax and chat with our community. The results suggest we’ve achieved our goal: 97% say our Dining Room is a warm and welcoming environment. This data allows us to understand in more detail what’s happening in our community. We’ll use it to better meet our guests’ needs in the present and adjust our services to plan for the future. Check out the full results...

“God Draws with Crooked Lines”

Each year St. Anthony’s celebrates our founder, Father (Fr.) Alfred Boeddeker, by giving an award in his name to those who carry out his mission to “feed, heal, shelter, clothe, and lift the hearts of those in need.” This year, the award will honor Fr. John Hardin, OFM, a man who followed Fr. Alfred by becoming a Franciscan and by serving hope daily at St. Anthony’s. As Executive Director, Fr. John helped reshape St. Anthony’s programs to fit changing needs in a changing economy. He helped prepare the organization for the demands of the 21st century by replacing our deteriorated original building with two new, more efficient ones. He has been noted for connecting emotionally with our guests, and for his Franciscan qualities of personalism and joy. John Hardin graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in mathematics and was successful in the transportation business before entering the Franciscans. On his first trip overseas, John was eating dinner at the Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong harbor when he looked out and saw a group of boat people coming in from Vietnam. “The nickel dropped. I was having a great time and not worrying about anything, and here were these people who had barely survived a very dangerous journey to escape Vietnam and certainly did not know where they were going to get their next meal.” Once at home, he went to a retreat center and met the Franciscans for the first time. He has now been in the order for thirty-five years. Fr. John lived at St. Boniface with Fr. Alfred from 1986 to 1991. “Alfred’s motto was:...

A Digital Bridge

  San Francisco has never been more connected. But even as public and private Wi-Fi access accelerates throughout the City, The Tenderloin neighborhood remains an island of digital isolation. We’re transforming our area by installing high-capacity public Wi-Fi and secure public charging stations. These will have an immediate and sustained impact on our neighbors’ lives: helping them keep in touch, seek work and make appointments. Access to these things help lift people out of poverty and put them on a path to stability. Most of us take them for granted. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has pledged to match all donations we receive up to $25,000. Will you help us reach our target so we can act decisively to keep our community in touch? Click here to donate...

Digital Justice: Reflections from our Tenderloin Technology Lab

Since I have been managing the Tenderloin Technology Lab at St. Anthony’s, I have come to believe that we are missing something significant when discussing certain aspects of technology. In my opinion, we need to steer the conversation away from the limiting concept of how to close the digital divide and instead focus on the overarching need for digital justice, the pillars of which are access, education and understanding of relevancy. Digital justice occurs when we prioritize digital inclusion, when we ask ourselves and those at every level of society to co-create conditions, as well as programs and services, that create access for all, offer and promote learner-centered education and require society as a whole to understand why it is important to include and bring everyone into the digital era. We are in the process of moving towards digital justice, and in this process there exists three categories of people, the first of which is often shocked to learn that the other two exist: CATEGORY 1: Those who a) have access to the digital era through functioning and connected devices and computers; b) know how to use their devices, apps, programs to participate in the digital era; and c) understand the relevancy of being connected in the digital era. Many people in this category not only are unaware of those who are not in this category, but are also designing platforms, programs and apps that assume all people are in this category; unfortunately, this is not the case.  CATEGORY 2: Those who are in various stages of gaining access, education and an understanding of relevancy, but who do not...

2016 at our Tenderloin Tech Lab

Hello from the Tech Lab! We’ve had an exciting few months here. We wrapped up 2015 in style with our annual Tech Lab Holiday Party, where staff, volunteers, and more than 60 guests celebrated the season with desserts, bingo, a raffle, and gift bags. In late December, the lab closed for two weeks so Assistant Manager Omid Khazaie could install updates throughout the lab. Computers in two of our drop-in rooms now have privacy screens so guests can’t see the screens of their neighbors. All workstations have new large-print keyboards as well. In the classroom, we’re in our second month of Basic and Intermediate Computer Skills courses. The next round will begin Monday, March 7. If one of your 2016 resolutions is to brush up on your computer skills, it isn’t too late to get started! These classes run for three weeks at a time, and we’re offering them every month. To sign up, call us at 415-592-2766 or email us at enroll@tenderlointechnologylab.org. In the first week of February, we organized a series of workshops, which included Job Searching with Indeed.com and Google Drive. I also coordinated our first Smartphone Basics workshop to give guests an introduction to Android devices. Some people brought their own phones, and those who didn’t were able to practice on the lab’s Android phones. Our class was full that day and we continue to hear requests for smartphone workshops, so we’re hoping to offer more of these in the coming months. Workshops returned this week! We offered a two-part social media day on Wednesday, March 2. From 10-11 am, we talked about the basics of...

Fully Invested

Priya, a dedicated volunteer in our Dining Room, is also a professional economist. When she arrived in the US in the spring of 2014 she was shocked by the poverty and inequity she witnessed in San Francisco: “You can’t NOT see it!” Within two months of her arrival, Priya began volunteering at St. Anthony’s. In addition to the Dining Room, she’s also volunteered in our Free Clothing Program, at our annual Curbside Donation Drives, and most recently—in our Emergency Winter Shelter. Indeed, how can anyone not see how people are struggling to survive? Nevertheless, a painfully obvious poverty is too often ignored or viewed as an eyesore to be swept away. Priya has a website dedicated to revealing “the Hidden America”, but “there’s only so much one can do by reading and writing. You need to get out and meet people.” And therein lies the hope. While speaking with Executive Director Barry Stenger, Priya says she was struck by something he said: “We don’t give people dignity… Dignity is intrinsic, but because of the challenges so many of our guests have been through, the sense of their own dignity can be deeply buried. What we do is try to restore that intrinsic dignity.” “Hope served daily” is the restoration of dignity Priya experiences when volunteering. “Really, it’s just the simple things—smiling, knowing and saying someone’s name, really listening to someone, remembering something they said and following up on that the next time you see them.” She too is served hope daily by “their indomitable spirit! When I ask someone how they are the answer is nearly always: ‘I’m blessed!’...