Lack of sleep is one of the most critical health issues for the homeless. An average of 225 unhoused neighbors seek safety and rest on the pews in the sanctuary of St. Boniface church each weekday starting at 6 AM, and for an additional 100 guests at St. John's the Evangelist in the Mission. No questions are asked when our guests walk into the churches; in an effort to remove all barriers to entry, there are no sign-in sheets or intake forms. No one is ever turned away; all are welcomed, respected and treated with dignity. The spaces are all ADA accessible. Click here to watch a video of your body on no sleep by Buzzfeed.
The Gubbio Project uses the back 2/3 of the sanctuary; the church uses the front 1/3 to celebrate the daily mass at 12:15 PM. This sends a powerful message to our unhoused neighbors - they are in essence part of the community, not to be kicked out when those with homes come in to worship. It also sends a message to those attending mass - the community includes the tired, the poor, those with mental health issues and those who are wet, cold and dirty.
SANCTUARY SUPPORT SERVICES
The Gubbio Project has offered the following services to all guests at St. Boniface Church for the last 5 years. As of December 2015, Gubbio provides only the top five services at St. Boniface, and all 7 of the services at St. John the Evangelist:
- Blankets: Gubbio gives out approximately 150 blankets per month.
- Socks: On average, 100 pairs of socks per week are distributed.
- Hygiene Kits: include shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and soap. Gubbio gives out an average of 75 hygiene kits, 75 razors, and 50 toothbrushes each week.
- Referrals to Outside Services and Resources: All of Gubbio's Hospitality Monitors are responsible for referring Gubbio guests to outside agencies and resources.
- Chaplaincy Services: Interfaith Chaplains are available 5 hours a day, 3 days each week to provide nonjudgmental deep listening and accompaniment.
- Foot Care: a Registered Nurse Foot Care Specialist comes once a week and cares for 5 to 10 guests in the quiet and beauty of the sanctuary.
- Massage Services: Gubbio partners with the Care Through Touch Institute to provide head/neck/upper back massage for 2.5 hours a week. Gubbio pays for this service.
HISTORY OF THE GUBBIO PROJECT
The Gubbio Project was co-founded in 2004 by community activists Shelly Roder and Father Louis Vitale as a non-denominational project of St. Boniface Neighborhood Center located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood in response to the increasing numbers of homeless men and women in need of refuge from the streets. In 2007, with the exception of the Gubbio Project, St. Boniface Neighborhood Center ceased its operations. As a result the organization applied for and received permission from the State of California for its name to be legally changed to the Gubbio Project, continuing to operate as a 501(c) 3 non-profit, offering respite and refuge for thousands of people in the heart of the Tenderloin, while supporting connection and understanding between the housed and un-housed.
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 San Francisco's Tenderloin and Mission neighborhoods, 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 and Mission neighborhoods will be strengthened.
- 95% of those surveyed said they always or usually feel safe at The Gubbio Project: for this population who live on the streets, fearful of being beaten up or having their things stolen, this statistic is the most telling as to the success that we are having;
- 300+ homeless guests welcome into the sanctuary with dignity and respect
- 100+ housed volunteers engaging in a meaningful way with unhoused guests
THE THREE GOALS OF GUBBIO
- to provide a clean, beautiful, quiet, and safe space for people to rest during the day
- to cultivate a sense of community among the homeless and a sense of understanding and shared responsibility in the broader community
- to attend to the physical, social, psychological and spiritual well-being of homeless guests who share the Gubbio space at St. Boniface and St. John