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Day Shelter

Since 1984, St. Francis House has offered essential care and services that ensure our guests feel supported and welcomed.

Our ability to provide meals, showers, clothing, mail and other services such as art therapy and our women’s center all under one roof uniquely positions us to meet our guests’ needs comprehensively. To learn more about our day shelter services, please email programs@stfrancishouse.org.

Meals

Many guests first come to St. Francis House because they are in need of a hot, nourishing meal. Our menus feature lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. These meals give our guests the fuel they need to go about their day and helps them to develop healthy eating habits. Every day of the year, we serve breakfast and lunch, snacks and coffee throughout the day, and holiday celebration meals. We gratefully rely on our dedicated volunteers who help us serve more than 220,000 meals a year.

Daytime Shelter & Resource Center

Guests who stay in a nighttime shelter must leave early each morning to allow the facility to clean and prepare for the next night. Our Atrium, on the first floor, and the Resource Center, on the mezzanine level, provide a safe, comfortable alternative to spending the day outside. Here, guests can escape the elements, enjoy the company of friends, watch the local news or a movie, and participate in different activities such as board games and introduction to services that address housing, income, and behavioral health.

For those who are new to St. Francis House, the Hospitality Desk in the Lobby is their first stop. There, guests meet with a Guest Engagement Liaison to receive a St. Francis House orientation and ID that helps them access many of our programs and services, including on-call case management or mental health counseling.

The Resource Center also features a library, telephones, and computers – all vital tools for keeping in touch with loved ones and job-hunting. We offer guests a variety of support groups, meetings, activities, classes. One of the favorites is when our volunteer musician plays the piano and leads the guests in song. Our Community Engagement and Safety team is posted throughout the building and provides the guests with a warm welcome, and sense of belonging, and help safely navigating the space.

Clothing

St. Francis House is the largest distributor of clothing to people experiencing homelessness in Boston. Every year we connect thousands of individuals with clean clothing through our Fresh Threads program. Through the program, we provide guests with everyday attire, brand-new undergarments, shoes, socks, winter gear and other essentials. Having fresh clothing can be lifesaving in many cases. It increases dignity and reduces stigma.

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Showers & Toiletries

Showering daily and maintaining personal hygiene can be challenging for people who are experiencing homelessness. We provide nearly 10,000 showers a year to our guests, along with toiletries, including shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

Mail & ID Services

Receiving mail or conducting business transactions is nearly impossible without a permanent address or valid form of identification. Our mailroom is an accessible, convenient and secure place for family, housing opportunities, potential employers, and others to direct letters to guests who use 39 Boylston Street as their home address. We also provide St. Francis House ID cards, which can help guests acquire a driver’s license or open a bank account. The Mailroom Coordinator assists guests by prioritizing all housing correspondence mail and works with associated case managers so that these opportunities do not fall through the cracks.

Women’s Center

Inside our Carolyn Connors Women’s Center, we are dedicated to meeting the individual needs of guests who identify as women in a comfortable, cozy lounge setting. Each day women come here to support and inspire one another as they begin to take steps to rebuild their lives.

Meeting Women’s Complex Needs

Though women make up only 20% our total guest population, the number of women seeking help at St. Francis House has more than doubled in recent years, making them one of the fastest-growing groups among the unhoused population. Women experiencing homelessness are at an especially high risk for violence and nearly all of those who seek shelter here are survivors of trauma, abuse, or rape. Our Women’s Center provides a safe and supportive space.

 

Supportive Services

The Women’s Center provides special access to our basic services such as food, showers, clothing, and medical care. We also offer wellness activities, creative expression, inspirational outings, psychoeducation groups, and housing/legal advocacy. We welcome volunteers with ways to enrich our services and participate in events like our annual Women’s Day of Renewal that happens around Mother’s Day in May.

Expressive Art Therapy

Expressive Art Therapy hosted inside our Margaret Stewart Lindsay Art Studio is one of our most popular services. By exploring self-expression, participants find new ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills. The creation or appreciation of art is helpful in exploring emotions, developing self-awareness, coping with stress, boosting self-esteem, and working on social skills. Our art therapist and volunteers guide and support our guests.

Art can help guests feel empowered and realize that their identities expand far beyond their experience of homelessness. We integrate our art therapy into our recovery programming such as our workforce development programs to help job seekers explore their career paths and build life skills. We offer many activities such as working with acrylics, watercolors, sewing, crochet, making a mask, creating a visual journal or assembling a collage. Our guests have shown their work in a variety of local venues and shows, including the annual City Heart show and sale.

 

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