Helping the Homeless at St. Anthony's
Last December, The New York Times ran a story titled “The Tent Cities of San Francisco.” The titular cities are those of the homeless – across San Francisco, about 40,000 homeless live on the streets, often erecting tents in parks, on sidewalks, and under bridges to provide shelter. It’s impossible to walk around San Francisco and not notice the homeless; when we moved to San Francisco, we were immediately taken aback. As The Times notes, it’s not that San Francisco has more homeless people than cities like New York City (in fact, there are fewer homeless per capita in San Francisco than in New York). Rather, it’s a lack of adequate shelters and infrastructure to facilitate such a large number of homeless. After moving to San Francisco, we wanted to get involved with helping the local homeless population. These people are just like us, but they've fallen on hard times as a result of circumstances and bad luck. We've been lucky enough to enjoy opportunities in life that not everyone is fortunate enough to have. If our circumstances were different, we could easily be in the same situation as those living in these "tent cities."
We heard about St. Anthony's from some local friends. St. Anthony's is located in the Tenderloin, one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods, and is committed to feeding, sheltering, and caring for the homeless. We opted to volunteer in food preparation, preparing lunch for about 1,000 homeless men, women, and children. When we volunteered, it happened to be Labor Day Weekend, and St. Anthony's was serving watermelon as a holiday treat. We didn't think it was possible to slice so many watermelons!
St. Anthony's serves about 3,000 meals a day, an incredibly impressive number. They also provide 150 people with fresh, clean clothing, and support 70 people each day with addiction recovery services. As first time volunteers, we were able to eat lunch with the guests and get to know them and hear their stories. It was an incredibly moving and rewarding experience, and a huge reminder of how lucky we are.
If you want to get involved, you can sign up to volunteer at St. Anthony's here! You can donate here. The organization relies on volunteers and private donations, so please consider offering some time or money to those in need.