As stated on the St. Anthony Foundation webpage: “The mission of St. Anthony Foundation is to feed, heal, shelter, clothe, lift the spirits of those in need, and create a society in which all people flourish.” St. Anthony’s is committed to giving the poor and marginalized in San Francisco the basic human services they need to reclaim personal dignity and stability. The St. Anthony Dining Room was established in 1950 to provide a place where people can be served a meal with dignity and respect. Since then the Dining Room’s services have grown to meet more needs. Service at St. Anthony’s is founded in several basic tenants including healing, community, justice, personalism, and gratitude. Service based on these values allows St. Anthony’s to fulfill their mission to treat every person with dignity and respect and work to eliminate injustice and empower people.
The groups that comprise the staff at St. Anthony’s each have different duties. Guest Services primary duties are in the Dining Room, but we may be asked to help other groups such as Volunteer Services when needed. Guest Services Interns main duties are to provide clients with information, awareness and resources regarding issues that affect them. Most of our work is direct service with the Dining Room guests. This includes asking them how they are doing, getting to know them, and offering services that they may be able to use.
After my first few days on the Dining Room floor I have learned that there is never a routine, and at times it can be very overwhelming. I am still learning all of the procedures I need to follow when I am in the Dining Room and the only way I can really learn them is by asking what to do whenever a certain situation arises, which can be especially nerve racking when the Dining Room is busy and quick service is important. The standard procedures become even more complex when guests with special circumstances come in because we may need to meet their needs in a different way. St. Anthony’s is committed to working with its guests and giving them options to succeed so knowing how to meet their needs is important. As a new intern I also am learning how to interact with the guests that sometimes try to take advantage of my new position by asking for services they know they do not qualify for. This, I know will teach me how to handle confrontation and say no, which are struggles for me. As an introvert I hope that direct contact with up to 2000 people a day will help me learn how to handle my anxiety in stressful situations. I also hope that I will gain more confidence in my work.
During my next seven weeks at St. Anthony’s I will be organizing and running a children’s book collection so that Guest Services can hand out a book to every child that comes to the Dining Room. When school ends for the summer more children visit the Dining Room because they do not have a lunch they would normally have at school. By giving away books to the kids we want to encourage them to read during the summer so that they retain the skills they learned during the school year. I’m really looking forward to beginning this project.