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!”