Yearning for a world healed of violence and injustice, We of the St. Boniface Neighborhood Center embrace our mission: to cultivate a sense of community—

discovering where it exists,
healing where it is wounded,
nurturing where it is absent;

to be a place for neighbors in the Tenderloin –

to join together, connect and celebrate,

to nurture the capacity of each to be fully alive—

loved and loving, secure and at home,

to be allies for each other –

working together for a neighborhood that is beautiful, sustainable, peaceful and just.

October 4, 2004
Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

SBNC programs have and continue to develop in four inter-related areas: direct service, outreach and hospitality, advocacy, and community enhancement and collaboration.

Direct Service

In collaboration with the City of San Francisco and the St. Anthony Foundation, SBNC operates St. Boniface Shelter, a year-round emergency shelter for 80 men. Open daily from 6:15pm to 7am, the shelter provides a safe and comfortable night’s sleep while nurturing a respectful community atmosphere. Amenities are sparse, but St. Boniface Shelter is safe and clean, and provides the men who reside there with a reliable, stable base from which to seek employment, affordable housing, benefits eligibility, education and/or job skills training, treatment for illnesses of mind and body. For some, this stability is all they need to provide a springboard back to “life before it crashed”; for others, additional supportive services are needed.

Outreach and hospitality

In collaboration with St. Boniface Church, the Gubbio Project began in April 2004 as a tangible response to the increasing numbers of men and women seeking refuge from the streets during daylight hours, particularly during periods of inclement weather. Inspired by Francis of Assisi’s solidarity with and love for the poor and outcast, and named for the town where Francis negotiated peace between frightened townsfolk and a ferocious wolf who had been raiding their flocks, the Gubbio Project seeks to work with people—both St. Boniface parishioners and refuge seekers—in a spirit of cooperation and negotiation, standing on the common ground of the human hunger for recognition as fully human, for connection with others, for community.

The Gubbio Project includes a consistent ministry of presence for those seeking a listening ear, a referral, a blanket or simply the gift of a smile and a word of welcome; maintenance of a quiet, sacred space for prayer, sleep, or meditation; availability of clean, safe, drug-free restrooms and volunteer opportunities.

Advocacy

Advocacy has many faces and facets: from providing assistance with a housing application to participating in community coalitions to speaking at a Board of Supervisors’ meeting on issues that affect the lives of poor and homeless San Franciscans. SBNC is creatively engaged in advocacy at every level, always seeking ways to broaden the collaborative aspect of advocacy, mindful that those most affected by a policy have the most right to speak and to be heard in the public arena. To advocate with, not simply for, is the touchstone of SBNC’s advocacy work, at both the personal and the communal levels, within the TL community and beyond.

Community enhancement and collaboration

For over a year, SBNC has been facilitating monthly meetings of the service providers and residents of the 100 block of Golden Gate Avenue. Known as the Golden 100’s, this group has promoted positive community activities such as an Open House Block Party and a Holiday Festival. Working together, sharing common concerns and building upon existing strengths in the Tenderloin, the Golden 100’s are attempting to strengthen community ties, promote safe and healthy living, and develop leadership among residents on the block.

Welcoming visitors from area colleges and churches (who bring dessert or a potluck supper to St. Boniface Shelter) provides an opportunity for community-building on a broader scale: visitors bring the gift of their presence and guests offer the gift of their life experience. Spending an evening listening to a shelter resident’s story, sharing a game of chess, or talking about local politics or the latest movie—these moments of exchange can have a lasting effect on both the person living at St. Boniface Shelter and the person who is just visiting for the evening. This sort of human-to-human contact is an act of outreach, but also among the building blocks of advocacy: for visitors, “the homeless” are no longer faceless statistics, but fellow human beings with names and hopes and dreams and stories, individuals who have touched their hearts.

In collaboration with Capacitar (an international organization that educates people in war-torn and poverty-stricken areas of the world in the wisdom and practicality of holistic wellness practices) SBNC has offered training to service providers in the Tenderloin who will, in turn, provide free Capacitar workshops to both housed and unhoused residents of the neighborhood.

Working with Pace e Bene Service in Nonviolence, SBNC is offering free “From Violence to Wholeness” trainings to people surviving poverty and violence in the Tenderloin. Hoping to develop a network of Tenderloin residents who are committed to and educated in the practice of nonviolent social change, SBNC sees this work as part of promoting the health and well-being of the whole neighborhood.

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