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.”