Convent & Stuart Hall sophomores participated in a class retreat at St. Anthony’s dining hall and social services facility in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district Friday, where students worked in different departments that benefit different parts of the community.
“It was really nice to just talk to people and get to know them while playing Dominos,” sophomore Ryann Minnis said, who was working with seniors down the street from St. Anthony’s. “A lot of them spoke Cantonese, and I don’t speak Cantonese, but it was cool that even with the language barrier we were still able to connect and play a game together.”
The students were split up and put into different groups that went to service sites, including the St. Anthony’s Dining Room, St. Anthony’s clothing store and off-site service locations like a church in the Mission where sophomore Jacqui Carlson handed out bagged-lunches to homeless people.
“When I handed a lunch to the people they were really grateful,” Carlson said. “Everyone is also really nice and welcoming. They interact with each other and they acknowledge each other and they acknowledge the volunteers. They know that the volunteers are taking part of their day to help them.”
According to Group Volunteer Coordinator Anna Hartman, an estimated 271 student groups visited St. Anthony’s in 2016, and 600 volunteer groups visit every year.
“Volunteer groups often are helping us to sort through clothing donations, chop veggies, or serve meals in our dining room,” Hartman said. “They are our workforce, and save us millions of dollars each year by assisting us with our daily nitty-gritty work.”
The students finished their service by eating lunch in the dining hall alongside the other guests, then visited St. Boniface Church across from St. Anthony’s.
“I love that my job means that I interact with everyone across departments and in walks of life,” Hartman said. “I love speaking to guests in the dining room. Those interactions give me a real sense of purpose. Guests usually have amazing attitudes and incredible warmth. I’m in awe of those who are experiencing poverty and yet are still able to navigate the world with such grace and optimism.”