The End of an Era

1553080_10152341383382644_3275873845113905029_o“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.” The Beatles were onto something:

89-year-young volunteer Carmelita served the ceremonial last meal in our temporary Dining Room at 150 Golden Gate Ave. this week. Guests, volunteers, and staff joined her to say goodbye to a space that has served us well for 2 1/2 years, and hello to our bigger, brighter, brand new Dining Room across the street.

Join us in honoring the past, looking to the future, and saying “Hello!” to #TheNewStAnthonys tomorrow morning at our Grand Opening:

Justice Education Event Series Begins!

beyond-compassion-fatigueIn the late afternoon of the last Wednesday of July, social ACTion program hosted the first in what we hope will become a series of Justice Education Events. Beyond CompassionFatigue; an Encouraging Conversation featured guest speaker Barry Zevin, MD. Dr. Zevin of the SFDPH has worked with the homeless and impoverished people of the Tenderloin for 25 years.  Our event was attended by St. Anthony volunteers and staff, plus a wide range of community members and providers including Shanti, Gubbio Project, Hospitality House, Project Homeless Connect, YWAM, and SF Dept. of Public Health.

Dr. Barry said we need to remember “the bigger picture—homelessness is not only a San Franciscan issue—it’s a national one.” Dr. Barry said that he maintains by “…doing what I do: I’m a doctor”. He balances care for the marginalized by working both in direct care and in policy work. “But”, he said, “I always do some direct care”. He went on to say, disarmingly that his first reaction to the increase of degradation and suffering we all see on the street isn’t always the best. His first (silent) reaction might be “Why is this person in my way?”, but he reminds himself that “each person has a name”. He also takes a year off for every 10 worked. While this latter is not possible for many of us, the commitment to some kind of restorative respite in our lives is possible, even if that’s making some time each week for dancing for example, or for walking on the beach, whatever it may be —the point is to have some dedicated time for personal relaxation and renewal.

Although this event was not about “solutions” or “grievances and divided points of view”, Dr. Zevin said that in order for real change to happen, we need to move toward a family model (of community). He spoke about the experience of talking with older generations about homelessness, and they would always say “Oh, we had a person like that in our town…”, and that person was taken care of by the community.
John Hardin, OFM, Provincial and ED Emeritus of St. Anthony’s once told us that we all need “the three S’s to do this work: some kind of spirituality, self-care, and a sense of humor!” I was reminded of that sage advice as I listened to Dr. Zevin. His advocacy for a “family model of community” brought Francis of Assisi to mind as well. Francis referred to everything and everyone in kindred terms and even beyond human-to-human relationship to include “Brother Wolf, Sister Moon,” and so forth.

We are in this together, as demonstrated by the diversity of attendance at this “Beyond Compassion Fatigue…, and Dr. Barry’s hope for a thriving community of the human family underscores that! Please stay tuned for a follow-up discussion on this initial subject and for Justice Education Events in the future.
Pace e Bene, and here’s to a Healing Home & Community for one and all!

The Next Big Idea: Social Knitworking for St. Anthony’s

DSC_4373If you haven’t started already, get out your sticks and make something wonderful happen!  Join our 4th Annual Scarving Artists Drive today.

Together we can provide  comfort to our poor and vulnerable neighbors this Holiday season. Your hand-knit hats or scarves will reach out to touch those in most need of comfort and solace.

 Whether you knit, crochet, or know someone who does, please help us by donating handmade hats and scarves to low-income and homeless guests who eat at St. Anthony’s. We need scarves in dark or neutral colors for men as well as hats for men, women and children. Our goal is to collect 3,000 scarves and 2,000 hats as gifts for our guests during the holiday season.

How can you join in? Click here to share the joy your handiwork creates. 

Sign up for our Social Knitworking Newsletter to get all the latest  news about our project!

In the news: Family Life in an SRO

Laura Chinas

At our Free Clothing Program, we are able to run efficiently and effectively with the assistance of our many volunteers.  Our volunteers come through corporate groups, high school groups, the community, and also through programs that promote economic self-sufficiency for individuals looking to build vocational skills.  One of our new volunteers, Laura Chinas, found St. Anthony’s through Arriba Juntos, a non-profit employment and training organization. Laura was recently featured in an SF Gate article highlighting the difficulties families living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) arrangements face.  Here is some more information about Laura and her family’s situation, which is unfortunately not a unique story in San Francisco.

Laura, her husband, their 11 year old daughter, and three sons, ages 9, 8, and 5, as well as their two dogs live in an SRO on Mission Street.  Their monthly rent is $1000, which they have difficulty affording.  Laura’s husband does not have a permanent job and must find work on a daily basis.  Laura currently has applied for employment authorization, which may take several months.  One part of the process requires renewal of her California identification card, which has expired; our Social Work Center will be able to provide her with a voucher to get a new identification card free of charge.  Through Arriba Juntos, she is able to receive compensation through CalWORKS to work at St. Anthony’s for five hours a week.  The program, in addition to providing job training, also has its participants work on their English skills.  Laura is slowly but steadily working on her English skills.  She has a better grasp on understanding English than speaking it herself.

The Chinas family receives $800 a month from CalWORKS benefits and $620 a month in Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  The SRO they reside in does not have a full kitchen so Laura prepares meals on a portable stove.  She says that it is too expensive to eat out and she must buy food at discount stores, but that is still not enough for her family.  Thankfully, her children were able to take summer school classes this year, which provided free lunches.

Laura’s family lives in a 10 x 10 foot room.  All of her children sleep in one bed while she and her husband sleep on the floor.  The family has trouble getting adequate rest because their living space is so small.  Laura also has trouble sleeping because of constant worries about what the next day will bring.  She feels tired during the day due to the many tasks she needs to take care of and the feeling that others will not help her.  She often feels depressed and nervous because her family has been on the public housing waitlist for five years with no indication that the wait will end soon.  Her husband is desperate to find a new housing arrangement for the family, but they are having a difficult time because of the size of their family.  Her daughter in particular longs for some space of her own as she does not even have enough space to do her homework.

When she receives authorization for employment, she will search for a full time job.  For the time being, she has been enjoying her time at St. Anthony’s.  She was excited to start helping at St. Anthony’s and likes it here.  She enjoys working with clothing and the environment that St. Anthony’s fosters.

Back to School Event


Back to SchoolDo you remember your or your children’s first day of school? How exciting was it to get the cutest outfit together, pack school supplies in a new backpack, and head off to class?

At our Free Clothing Program, we will be serving 230 homeless and low-income children through our annual Back to School event in partnership with My New Red Shoes, which is contributing new shoes for all of our students. Our Back to School event will be held Friday, August 15th from 10am-3pm.

Currently, we are seeking contributions of school supplies and children’s clothing.  Specifically, our greatest needs are:

School Supplies- Binders, Packages of Pens and Pencils, Loose Leaf Paper, Notebooks

Preschool Clothing- Boys and Girls, Sizes 3T-6T

Boy’s Pants- Sizes 12, 14, 16 and 18

Children’s Coats and Jackets- Boys and Girls, All Sizes

Children’s Underwear and Socks- Boys and Girls, Preferably New

Children’s Books, Toys and Stuffed Animals- Preferably New

If you have contributions, please bring them over either to our Free Clothing Program at 101 8th Street or our main St. Anthony’s building at 150 Golden Gate Avenue.  If you have any questions, please contact Allan Shapiro, Manager of our Clothing Program, at 415-592-2800 or Shannon Shair, Assistant Manager, at 415-592-2801.

Thanks for helping our children prepare for a successful school year!


Volunteer Spotlight: Heather

Heather is a volunteer and former guest of our Free Clothing Program.  I spoke to her about her story and how she got involved at St. Anthony’s.  We are so happy to have her as a dedicated and passionate volunteer.

Heather at the San Francisco Giants game

Heather at the San Francisco Giants game

1. How did you hear about St. Anthony’s?

I had recently moved to San Francisco and I was needed to purchase clothing at a consignment/discount store.  I came across St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program online and then came here as a guest receiving services.  I was overwhelmingly surprised that people can come here and replenish a wardrobe for free.  I had recently gone through a difficult divorce and in relocating, I donated 90% of my wardrobe.  I knew that God would supply the clothes that I needed.  St. Anthony’s was the answer to that prayer.  I was truly amazed.

2.  Why did you decide to volunteer at St. Anthony’s Free Clothing Program?

After several months of receiving clothing services, I asked if the Free Clothing Program needed any volunteers and began volunteering.  I wanted to give “big” to those in need as well.  I had gotten to know some of the staff and they were so joyful, welcoming, and kind that I knew they would be great people to work with.

3. What do you do as a volunteer?

I work in the clothing store as a guest services volunteer, serving guests and restocking inventory.  In a way, I am kind of like the personal shopper for guests.  They may need specific items and I help them find the item in their size and preference.  I think it’s really important to be an encouragement to those who come here because everyone goes through difficult times and the simplicity of having these items of clothing and accessories that they need is very beneficial to their confidence level.

4. What do you see during a typical Family Service?

I see men, women, and children enjoying themselves as they are shopping in the store.  We provide a comfortable and safe atmosphere for children so they can play and watch a video while their parents can shop.  The children can also choose items like books and stuffed animals themselves, getting to participate in the shopping experience as well.  We get many thanks from individuals in need who are so appreciative of new shoes for their children and a warm blanket.  I also see fathers who can acquire proper work clothing and families who seem relieved because clothing is an extra expense that they couldn’t supply without our resources.

5. You were recognized as a committed volunteer during a home plate ceremony at a San Francisco Giants game (  How did it feel to be recognized as a St. Anthony’s volunteer?

First of all, I was so surprised because of the vast amount of volunteers that work through St. Anthony’s.  I was honored to have been chosen to be highlighted as one of St. Anthony’s volunteers at such an event.  It’s definitely a special celebration and it was great to cheer on each other and encourage people who were watching the game to know that volunteering at St. Anthony’s is a rewarding act of giving of your time.

6. What should potential volunteers know?

Just show up and be yourself.  A smile goes a long way.

If you want to join the fun and help clothe the community at our Free Clothing Program, we’d love to have you!  We are starting to put up volunteer shifts online at:  If there is a time when you’d like to come in that is not listed on the shifts, please contact Shannon Shair, Assistant Manager, at or 415-592-2801.  

Further, in the spirit of serving our families, we are in need of young children’s clothing (especially in sizes 3T and 4T), as well as backpacks and school supplies for our upcoming Back to School event.  If you have any items you can contribute, we accept donations at our program, located at 101 8th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.  We can also arrange for pick-ups of contributions totaling five or more bags.  To arrange a pick-up, please contact Eunice at 415-592-2826.  Thank you!