—Old Celtic Proverb
In 2003, St. Boniface Neighborhood Center began working toward a concrete response to the increasing numbers of women and men seeking refuge from the streets during the daylight hours, particularly during periods of inclement weather. Working in Collaboration with St. Boniface Church, this response took tangible form in April 2004 with the launching of The Gubbio Project. Inspired by Francis of Assisi's solidarity with and love for the poor and outcast, The Gubbio Project provides a system of outreach, compassionate support services and lots of advocacy. All services are open to anyone regardless of their religious affiliation. We seek to serve those individuals and families who survive without any safety net from the public sector.
Facets of The Gubbio Project include: A safe, welcoming, beautiful space to rest or sleep with few barriers to access; availability of clean, safe restrooms; toiletries; weekly free haircuts; blankets; socks; monthly HIV testing; weekly community meal for 35-50 guests; and a listening ear. Our two "Hospitality Monitors" give out 200 referrals a week as they build relationships with guests and maintain the clean, restful, and welcoming atmosphere. We also have an intern chaplain and a volunteer counselor available each week.
The Gubbio Project is named for an Italian town where, according to legend, St. Francis negotiated a peace agreement between frightened townsfolk and a hungry wolf. Francis brokered a deal between the two parties in conflict by recognizing that with communication they could find common ground. In the Tenderloin, working poor people live next to desperately poor people and sometimes misunderstandings and conflicts occur. The Gubbio Project is a creative response to this situation—helping housed parishioners and visitors of the church connect with their unhoused neighbors. The Gubbio Project believes that by creating opportunities for these two groups to interact and care for each other's needs, the Tenderloin neighborhood will be strengthened.