A Record-Breaking Year For St. Francis Center
St. Francis Center is a wonderful place to be any time of year. During the holiday season, however, SFC is an absolutely magical place. The smell of coffee and breakfast, maybe some delicious baked goods if we’re lucky, all create a cozy atmosphere that invites you in from the cold outside. Throughout the day, the sound of music and the excited chatter of guests, volunteers, and partners dropping off their toy and coat drive donations create a community of warmth. It’s a wonderful way to wrap up a record-breaking year at St. Francis Center.
We welcomed new staff and grew our team. We welcomed our new Food Rescue Driver, Ruben, Resource Services Assistant, Sara, Programs Coordinator, Carolina, Volunteer Coordinator, Amy, and Security Guard, Kiah, to St. Francis Center. We celebrated some major work-a-versary milestones, like our Cook, Xochitl’s 18th work-a-versary, and our Purchasing Coordinator, Fernando’s 10th work-aversary. We were excited to announce that Danielle, our former Development Manager, is our new Associate Director. And Jasmine, Executive Director, continues to lead our team while growing St. Francis Center to reach its full potential.
We are incredibly proud of our team. Not only did they keep our programs and services going, but they exceeded every goal we set for them. Serve more meals to our unhoused community? This year we distributed 18% more meals than last year. That’s no small feat when we already were serving over 100,000 meals. Provide pantry to anyone in need? Our pantry program had over 2,000 more visits than last year, highlighting just how essential and valued SFC’s pantry program is to the community. We launched a new youth program, Youth Achievement Year (YAY) Program, a whole health and wellness program that equips our youth with tools to set them up for success. We provide mental health wellness through nontraditional methods, tutoring, and life skills to help our youth succeed.
Though this year has been full of growth and change, we have remained true to our Franciscan roots and our mission. St. Francis Center remains a place of hope and refuge for those who need it most. We’re honored and grateful to our community for referring their family, friends, and neighbors to our services. It is the greatest compliment and honor that our guests trust us so much that they refer those they care about to Hope Street.
At our heart, we remain the original St. Francis Center, the one established by Fr. Hugh in 1972. Anyone in need can come to receive services and be welcomed with dignity and respect. With this mindset, we continue to grow our programs beyond immediate hunger relief services to include wraparound services that fully support our guests. In the last two years, we have expanded our health and hygiene services to include showers four times a week, laundry services twice a week, clean clothing every day, and medical partners who come to SFC on a consistent schedule to provide aid to our guests. When a family registers for our pantry program, we also encourage them to sign up for our diaper program, youth programs, classes offered by our partners, and refer them to our resource department if needed. Our senior services not only provide our seniors with groceries for the week, but combats isolation by providing a social interaction with other seniors, staff, and volunteers.
A success story that stands out to is K (name redacted for privacy), an unhoused young man struggling to find a place to live even though he had a stable job. K came to us, desperate for assistance. He had a stable and reliable job as an Amazon delivery driver, and yet was living out of his work truck as he was unable to save enough to afford a security deposit and first month’s rent. This was not an ideal solution, as he was risking his job in order to have a safe place to sleep at night. Imagine working your hardest, picking up extra shifts, but with the rising cost of housing and simply living in Los Angeles, you are still unable to afford the astronomical cost of moving into a new apartment. We were able to assist K with his first month’s rent and security deposit, enroll him in our pantry program, and provide him with a new mattress, kitchen supplies, and household items for him to make his apartment home. We see him now from time to time volunteering at the center because now that he is in a stable position to do so, he feels the need to give back.
As we end the year, we reminisce on the fact that we choose to see the good in everyone and everything around us at St. Francis Center. We are satisfyingly reminded that our choice is the right one when we receive a drawing from an unhoused neighbor, a donation from a formerly unhoused member of our community, a handwritten note of thanks from a family, a teenager telling us how much they love the financial literacy classes offered during the YAY program. Our goals and dreams continue to grow, especially as we see that our community needs more than just immediate relief services, but our mission remains simple: choose to see the good, everyone is a brother or a sister, and continue serving hope.
Our second home is yours as well. Whenever you’d like to visit St. Francis Center, we would love to invite you to our community on Hope Street. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a bright New Year. We look forward to all that’s to come in 2024 and sharing it with you.
Best wishes for a happy holiday season,