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January 2013
It Feels like Home ~ from the Director
 

The daily interactions at the Gubbio Project can be uplifting, sacred, or tragic - sometimes all of them at the same time. This regular column hopes to capture some of them.

There was a funeral for a parishioner last week. Seventy-five people attended the funeral; ninety more were silent (or sleeping) observers. I love it when different communities use the space at the same time, fulfilling Gubbio's goal of bridging the gap between our brothers and sisters who live on the streets and those who attend church. I heard that the service was healing for some of our guests and eye-opening for some of the funeral attendees unaware that a church could be of service to those without houses in this way.    

Some students from the University of San Francisco were doing a week-long immersion program in the Tenderloin and South of Market Area. On Friday, they came to the 7:30 mass and then stayed to learn about the Gubbio Project. When I asked them what it was like
to attend mass with 90 folks sleeping in the back one student replied, "It feels like home." She explained, "the mass was very relaxed. It didn't seem so formal. And the people coming and going who were sleeping on the pews just seemed so comfortable here. Like they belonged. Like it was home." Amen, we are doing our job!
Homeless Reflections 
"Homeless Reflections"  
A Short Film   
"Homeless Reflections" is another thoughtful film created by Fran Guijarro, Gubbio volunteer and community member. We previously featured a short film of his in November 2012, titled "I Wish." Enjoy!

Violence Against the Homeless

One of the greatest provisions of our project for our homeless brothers and sisters is a safe place. We were proud when we looked at our incident reports from 2012 and found that we averaged only 2 incidents of any kind each month. Surveys showed that guests overwhelmingly feel safe (81% always safe; 19% usually safe), an major accomplishment with our community, considering the hypervigilance required of living on the street.

According to the National Coalition on Homelessness, California is the number one state for violent acts against homeless people. This recent article points out that there has been an increase in Anti-Homeless Hate Crimes across the country as well. There is also a nation-wide increase in outlawing activities needed for survival for the homeless (think sitting, sleeping, receiving food, etc. in public spaces). These laws effectively make is illegal to be homeless.

We are sad to see a cultural shift toward dehumanization of the victims of extreme poverty. We hope by valuing each person in our project we can do a small part in changing attitudes. We also support policy changes that move away from criminalization and toward respect and protection for homeless individuals; for example, the "Homeless Bill of Rights" passed in Rhode Island and it's California counterpart recently proposed here.

Want to read more?
National Coalition for the Homeless Report on Hate Crimes

 National Alliance to End Homelessness Report on The State of Homelessness in America 2012 

 

In This Issue
It Feels Like Home
VIDEO: Homeless Reflections
Violence Against Homeless
Spotlight on Andrew
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Spotlight on Andrew   

 

Andrew has been a volunteer with The Gubbio Project for two months and more recently was hired as another "on call" Hospitality Monitor. He is a great addition to our team, always anticipating what might be needed and doing it before anyone asks.   

Here are some of Andrew's thoughts as a newcomer to our project:

 

"Seeing people resting in places not designed for rest is commonplace in San Francisco, but I had never seen a church put to this purpose, here or anywhere else. It was jarring, at first, and then I thought, why haven't I seen this before? Why don't all churches open their doors to meet that most basic of human needs, a safe place to sleep?"
"....I am still amazed by the bounty of magnificent art within the church (and I probably spend more time than I should gazing at it). I am more amazed still by the relationships that are nurtured in the church; I am amazed by the dignity, fortitude, and good cheer of the guests; and I am amazed by the community that finds common ground in this sacred space--a community born of lack, that now overflows with love. I am grateful to be a part of it."

Thanks Andrew! Welcome to the Gubbio Community.