People Making a Difference
A daytime refuge for homeless people: the duo behind the pioneering effort
In San Francisco, Laura Slattery and Tina Christopher open church doors to homeless people during the day. The women’s own lives have taken elaborate twists and turns.
By Patricia Leigh Brown, Contributor November 3, 2016
*** begin quote ***
San Francisco — Tina Christopher’s day begins at 5:45 a.m. as she cleans the sidewalk in front of St. Boniface Catholic Church in the Tenderloin, the once-colorful vice district in San Francisco now better known as a province of the poor, the desperate, the addicted, and the down and out.
She picks up the food containers, the needles, the flattened bits of cardboard, and the wet shoes before making her daily announcement to an awaiting throng, some of them already asleep on the sidewalk. “All right my beautiful brothers and sisters!” Ms. Christopher says in her always-chipper voice. “Good morning! Time to get up! Wakey wakey!” Then she unlocks the church’s heavy iron gate.
Soon, St. Boniface’s 74 backmost pews will cradle some 150 homeless people seeking “sacred sleep,” the sound of snoring permeating the incense-filled room. Beneath the saints painted on the church’s glittering dome, they stretch out for nine hours of vital slumber, resting their heads on ad hoc sweatshirt and T-shirt pillows or sometimes their folded hands. For a brief moment, their faces, beatific and babylike in sleep, do not betray the nights of fearful wandering and the way concrete seeps into a person’s bones and stays there.
*** end quote ***
It’s sad that this has to be a heroic effort.
Perhaps if we had stronger churches and more “Christians” this would be uncommon.
So sad. So glad that there are people like these.
# – # – # – # – #