St. Anthony’s Provides Vital Resources to a Guest Seeking Justice and a New Beginning
January 10, 2024
Raymond was born in San Francisco’s Excelsior District, where his working-class parents provided a stable upbringing. An impeccably well-organized individual with a creative eye and keen interest in arts and civic issues, he showed remarkable potential early on, as evidenced by his election as student body president in high school. Among his many achievements later in life was success as a skilled machinist who designed and manufactured products for retail companies like Cost-Plus World Market. He manufactured fire hydrants for ships used during the Vietnam War and was also actively engaged in community leadership roles throughout his life.
In 2009, a workshop Raymond operated in the Mission District was burglarized while he was on-site. Raymond’s attempt to manage the situation independently inadvertently resulted in the burglar sustaining an injury. This ultimately led to his arrest and, tragically, a prolonged eight-and-a-half-year jail sentence. This period was fraught with legal struggles and uncertainty, which drastically altered his life’s trajectory. While incarcerated, Raymond suffered from anxiety and a major heart attack, which severely impacted his health.
Raymond was released in 2019 and faced societal stigma as a former inmate. An energetic, resourceful individual who strives for self-sufficiency, he initially found refuge at the Salvation Army, then a Market Street hotel during the COVID lockdown. Eventually, he sought the services of St. Anthony’s Tech Lab for his ongoing legal affairs, a pivotal decision in his effort to clear his name, as well as stabilize his life and get back on his feet. The Tech Lab at St. Anthony’s became a sanctuary for Raymond, offering daily access to vital resources for rebuilding his life. He particularly valued the free printing services, remarking, “St. Anthony’s is vital for what I do.”
As Raymond was connected to other services, St. Anthony’s impact went beyond technology and community; it provided comprehensive care, including Medical Clinic services for chronic medical issues, housing assistance, case management, clothing, and sometimes a meal in the Dining Room. Today, after working extensively with our Resource Center, Raymond receives veteran benefits for his previous work manufacturing fire hydrants and lives in a comfortable apartment in the Mission District, where he crafts furniture, reads, and continues to build a new life.
Raymond has also formed meaningful relationships with other guests, staff, and volunteers at St. Anthony’s. He regularly helps guests with computer questions and system navigation. On one occasion, a fellow guest, visibly distressed and in tears, entered the Tech Lab. When Raymond inquired as to why she was crying, she lamented the loss of her financial stability and blamed God for taking her money away. Raymond responded with an impactful act of kindness. Over the course of a year, he discreetly placed $20 bills in the guest’s bag when he saw her in the Tech Lab. This anonymous gesture had a transformative effect, and reignited her faith and hope for the future. On one occasion, she remarked, “Oh, Raymond, that money showed up right on time!” We only catch a small glimpse of all the love and generosity that is shared on our block.
St. Anthony’s has played a pivotal role in giving Raymond hope and community, and he describes it as a “miracle.” As he continues to navigate his legal challenges and seek a peaceful, fulfilling life, we stand committed to supporting him every step of the way.