Service-Learning at St. Anthony’s

December 1, 2017   |   Student Post « Back

by Madeleine Johnson ’20

From September through October, 10th graders have the opportunity to complete a day of service learning at St. Anthony’s Foundation through their English classes. St. Anthony’s is a nonprofit organization in the Tenderloin that provides meals, clothing, health care, addiction rehabilitation, technology access and medical services to those in need. The day of service sophomores experience begins with a prayer at school before walking down to Golden Gate Avenue. After receiving an introduction to the history of the organization and its goals, students are split into different tasks. These tasks include food service and preparation, meal delivery through Salvation Army and the free clothing program. After eating lunch with other guests in the dining room, a recovering addict shares their story. It is an opportunity to interact with the community of San Francisco through giving back. The connections and service students complete brings us closer to our motto of “Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve.” Here are a few perspectives from several different trips.

William​ ​Veatch​ ​’20
One of the things that stood out to me the most during my trip was a conversation I had with a man named Richard. When we sat down across from him during lunch, it seemed like he was filled with joy. He almost immediately asked us our names and what school we went to before he started talking about his life. He talked about how he had abused drugs in high school and had been arrested several times. He shared how he had found Catholicism in prison and had tried to get his life back together. Remembering how he had found work but ended up not getting paid brought sorrow to his face. After doing some jobs, his boss had gotten fired, so Richard was not paid and was instead given a bus ticket to California and a few hundred dollars. His story made me realize that people are often trying to work and that they want to succeed. The reasons they are poor may out of their control. It was very meaningful to learn this because it completely changed my view of people less fortunate than me.

My view was also changed by delivering meals. It was incredibly interesting to see the living conditions of people. The rooms we saw were small and are expensive for what they are. Seeing their living conditions left me wondering what I could do to make changes. It is a complicated issue that cannot be easily resolved especially in such an expensive city. After watching a video about wealth distribution it made me realize that there are people living at the bottom of the spectrum, but that they are not just “the poor.” They all have stories and their lives are not black and white.

Roxanne​ ​Kohlmyer​ ​’20
During my trip, I observed one man who was talking to himself. I didn’t think much of it at the time until I started listening to what he was saying. He was saying some very intelligent things, and no one was listening. At first, I was a bit nervous because I had a negative experience with a homeless man the week before, but everyone at St. Anthony’s was very nice. I was able to make connections as I met people while I served food. Being of service to others through distributing food felt like I was able to give back to others who aren’t as lucky as I am. It was sad to me when I saw people my own age and younger because they don’t have the resources to get out of that situation. I would like to continue to help people in need in the future.

Matthew​ ​Winslow​ ​’20
The part of my St. Anthony’s trip that made the biggest impression on me was not the service itself, but rather the people that I served. I did see very impoverished people, but I also saw people who you would have never expected to possibly be low income. That was very telling of how San Francisco can have one of the biggest economies in the United States, but still have such a huge low income community. I also learned a lot about San Francisco’s homeless population and how addiction to drugs and alcohol are tied to that. We had a visitor, who was 60 days sober at the time, talk to us about his alcohol addiction and how he views it as a disease. He talked about how it took him a long time to even come to a place in his life where he wanted to change. I really enjoyed my trip to St. Anthony’s. I would love to go back and meet more people and continue to learn more about others’ lives.

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