Friday, March 8th, is our annual community service day. CSH faculty and staff will travel to various service sites around the city to engage in a morning of service followed by an afternoon of reflection back on Broadway. In preparation for our day, I spent a day a few weeks ago visiting one of our service sites: St. Vincent de Paul Society in SOMA. I visited their main activities center and their homeless shelter, which they told me is the largest homeless shelter of its kind in northern California. The two staff members I met with–Sister Katie and Anjali–were extraordinarily kind and spoke at length about the ways that their sites serve the city of San Francisco. They and their colleagues do amazing things to serve homeless, unemployed, and at-risk adults in San Francisco both at night (with their shelter and meal service) and during the day (with yoga classes, mindfulness training, and other courses). Check out these photos to see what these sites are like. Of particular note: the men’s dormitory with words of inspiration on the walls, in English and Spanish, and the perfect health ratings of the cafeteria. Think about this next time you eat in a restaurant: the people working in this kitchen serve people who may have nothing else to eat, and the staff members take pride in keeping their kitchen and dining room absolutely pristine.
On Friday, Mr. De Anda’s PAWS group will travel to the St. Vincent de Paul MSC, the homeless shelter, and work to fold blankets and clean towels after they’re washed by the two dedicated volunteers who was these linens every day for more than 400 guests at the shelter. It’s a small job, but it’s a meaningful one.
Keep this in mind as we engage in our day of service. One day isn’t much, but it matters. We’re part of an extraordinary city and we’re blessed to live here. The Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria call us to “educate to a social awareness that impels to action.” My goal for our community service is to both build more of that social awareness and to take action. The people we’ll serve are our neighbors. They’re the people we see on the street, on the bus, in the supermarket. It’s critical for us to realize our neighbors’ needs and to reach out to them however we can. This is one small step. But it’s meaningful nonetheless.