#ThrowbackThursday: We miss our corporate volunteers!!!

#ThrowbackThursday: We miss our corporate volunteers!!!

After 27 years, Associate Director of Clinical Supervision Tim Bulla retired this month.

On his final day, staff and guests formed a Walk of Honor, lining our stairwell (6 feet apart!) from the third floor to the lobby, forming a human line of gratitude as he took his final walk down the stairs to leave the building. The staff gifted Tim a photo album of momentoes, pictures, and notes, and everyone enjoyed spending a few minutes flipping through and reminiscing on their own experiences with Tim.

“Tim has given so much to the community of St. Francis House. He has taught us all, in what he does and what he says, what it truly means to be in service to the guests we serve. We will miss him deeply and wish him the best.” comments President and CEO Karen LaFrazia

Thank you for everything, Tim! You will be missed.

Too hot for comfort, especially when you don’t have a home of your own.

The past few weeks have brought Boston some extremely hot days. Most of us can manage to escape the heat. We can turn up the AC or turn on the fan. We can cool down with a soda from our fridge. Sit under the shade in our backyard and dangle our feet in the kiddie pool.  But for those without a place to call home, there are many dangers associated with summer. Dehydration. Heat exhaustion. Heatstroke.

In addition to these established risks, COVID-19 amplifies the risk of hot weather. People at risk from high temperatures may also be vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. The impact of coronavirus restrictions also poses new problems for those experiencing homelessness. Access to drinking water (many public water fountains are turned off) and air-conditioned public buildings, like the public library, have been restricted. Social distancing and hygiene measures might be compromised if people share bottles of water or gather together to stay in the shade. For those who are living in poverty but may have a home of their own, that home may be a small, cramped room with inadequate cooling.

Extreme heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States. As a result, being prepared and acting early are key to protecting people’s health, especially considering the high-risk factors and vulnerability of the community we serve at St. Francis House.

When the temperature skyrockets, the team at St. Francis House goes above and beyond to ensure the safety of the individuals who rely on our services to survive long summer days:

Emergency Shelter Response

Air Conditioning: St. Francis House has several air-conditioned spaces to ensure a peaceful and relaxing environment where guests can find refuge from the heat. For example, guests can sit in our Atrium, or explore our Resource Center, both providing a safe, comfortable alternative to spending the day on the street. The Resource Center features a library, telephones, and computers with Internet access, vital tools for keeping in touch with loved ones, and job-hunting.

Hydration, Meals, and Social Distancing: To reduce lines and minimize close contact, the Dining Room is open and meals are served all day. We are increasing the number of hot, nutritious meals available for our guests, and still preparing takeaway containers so they can be eaten anywhere in the building – or even taken outside under a shady tree.

We are in the process of serving cold breakfast, coffee, and juice immediately, ensuring those who do not stay in night shelters have access to comfort and nourishment as soon as they enter our refuge first thing in the morning. Water is available all day long, and sandwiches are always prepared to be taken at the end of the day.

Proper Clothing and PPE: Year-round, men and women can receive clothing at St. Francis House. During COVID, we’ve ensured that the emergency clothing supply purchased by our team includes summer clothing such as cotton shirts, baseball caps, drawstring shorts, and light, nylon jackets. We continue to distribute over 400 face masks each day to our guests.

Toiletries and Personal Hygiene: In our Resource Center, anyone can sign up to take a cool shower, 7 days a week, and toiletries are available. Every day our guests need access to toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, soaps and shampoos, razors, menstrual items and more, and can always get what they need at St. Francis House.

In addition to these necessities, we’ve begun distributing sunscreen, bug spray, and aloe vera, as well as combs, face cloths, and more. These items are critical to surviving the summer sun.

How can you help?

Click here to support our summer efforts. We’ve created a Summer Needs wishlist through Amazon that includes critical clothing and toiletries, in addition to chapstick, sunscreen, bug spray, reusable water bottles, and other things that can bring our guests comfort as they navigate the summer season.

If you know of someone on the street in need of help, Pine Street Inn’s daytime outreach van hotline is 866-910-7463.  If the situation is an emergency, please call 911.

And remember — stay cool! 

MAP Grads Demonstrate Resilience

COVID-19 has disrupted pretty much everything, and that includes the experience for our Moving Ahead Program’s 184th class. When the class began this winter, it was business as usual. Eager, ready to learn, and often a tiny bit nervous — our students began their journey in the classroom. They got to know each other, mapped out their life journey, and settled in for what we all realized could be a life-changing experience. Then COVID hit. And we were facing the challenge of remapping a program that has always been in person, intensely so. We recently wrote about how MAP was remade from a face-to-face course to a hybrid model combining virtual and in-person learning.

And now, thanks to the resilience of our class members, MAP Class 184 has graduated. Their hybrid graduation ceremony, with some attendees (in masks, and socially distancing) participating in person while others joined in the celebration via Zoom. Class 184 has four amazing graduates — William, James, Heather, and Larry — and Heather and Larry were present for the ceremony. Resilience was the theme of the day.

In her remarks addressing the graduates, St. Francis House President and CEO Karen LaFrazia spoke of “the most unusual MAP journey that ever existed.”

She continued that “never before have our students been so tested. But you both reached in and dealt with all the uncertainties that were being thrown at you.” There were so many additional hurdles that this class had to overcome. When MAP went on hiatus, students had concerns about whether their housing and stipends would continue. (They have!) They were, of course, concerned about their own health. And whether, in the COVID economy, they would be able to find a job.

Through all these challenges, the members of Class 184 forged on.

“And what does that tell you about yourself?” Karen asked. “That you’re strong, you’re flexible. That you’re resilient. Getting through all this is a badge of honor. You can look the world in the eye and say, “come at me world; I can take it.”

Karen also noted that today’s graduation “isn’t the end. It’s a milestone, a marker you place on the journey of life,” and emphasized that St. Francis House would never stop supporting its MAP grads.

Class instructor (and ceremony MC) Jae Spalding underscored Karen’s remarks, telling the grads how proud they are of the class. “The journey ahead of you is to fulfill your own purpose and your own potential,” Jae said. “And as you embark on this new day, moving forward, we’re walking with you.”

For Ashley Cilenti of the Workforce Development Team, the ceremony – her 40th after nearly six years at SFH – was bittersweet, as Ashley will be leaving to move to Virginia. She stressed how difficult the MAP program is, and that graduating from it is a true accomplishment. Heather and Larry thanked the staff for their support, Larry noting that “you always treated us with love and respect.”

The graduates were awarded their certificates, and each grad received a professional portfolio, donated by our supporters at Natixis Investment Managers, holding their printed resumes and a notepad, to be used on interviews.

From all of us at St. Francis House, a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Heather, James, William, and Larry — the resilient graduates of MAP Class 184. We know you’ll do us all proud, and remember — the St. Francis House community is always with you.

Thank you to the St. Francis House Founder’s Society for your incredible support this past year.

Honoring the visionary leadership of our founder, Father Louis Canino, the St. Francis House Founder’s Society is our committed group of leadership donors who make gifts of $1,000 or more every year to sustain our lifesaving work.

Annually we hold a gathering to celebrate and recognize their dedicated philanthropic commitment to our guests, sponsored by our close friends Natixis Investment Managers.

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, we will not be meeting in person this year, but wanted to use this time to thank our Founder’s Society for their critical support. In 2004, we started with 182 members. This past year, we expanded to welcome over 500 individuals to the Founders Society who invested an incredible total of $2.2 million to support our guests as they rebuild their lives with dignity!

If you would like more information about the Founder’s Society, please contact Matt Farrenkopf, Senior Leadership Gifts Officer at 617-654-1231 or mfarrenkopf@stfrancishouse.org, or visit sfhclothingdr.wpengine.com/get-involved/founders-society/.

Here’s a look back at past Founders Society events over the years:

Yawkey Foundation Provides Vital Support — St. Francis House

This past month, we received not one, but two generous gifts from Yawkey Foundation, doubling their commitment to the St. Francis House mission and ensuring we can continue to meet the critical needs of our guests – including clothing, toiletries, access to medical care, and nutritious meals.

Homeless individuals have disproportionately taken the brunt of this public health crisis as statewide closures have limited the places they can go, but St. Francis House has remained open seven days a week from 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM, serving 300-400 guests each day. A friendly face at the door always offers a smile and a clean face mask to the folks coming inside. At 7:30, we begin to serve hot meals — no questions asked. Anyone who is hungry is welcome. For some guests, this may be their only meal of the day.

Our meals are served with love and respect – and always free. It’s free because of the overwhelming and humbling support we continue to receive from the community that enables us to not only do this work but do it with a smile. We are so grateful for the support of the Yawkey Foundation.

“COVID-19 has created a need that is not abating, and the most vulnerable still seek our services in order to survive every day. Our guests depend on us — and we are so grateful that we can depend on our partners. Thank you for your generosity and compassion, Yawkey Foundation, and thank you for thinking of our guests,” St. Francis House President and CEO Karen LaFrazia expresses.

About the Yawkey Foundation

The Yawkey Foundation has supported St. Francis House since 2004. As part of its mission to fulfill the philanthropic legacy of Tom Yawkey and Jean Yawkey, the Yawkey Foundation supports nonprofits that align with its areas of giving: human services, health care, education, arts and culture, sport and amateur athletics, and conservation and wildlife. To learn more about the Yawkey Foundation, follow them on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.