The 3 goals of The Gubbio Project are:
- 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's
Sanctuary and Sacred Sleep
Lack of sleep is one of the most critical health issues for the homeless. An average of 150 unhoused neighbors seek safety and rest on the pews in the sanctuary of St. Boniface church each weekday from 6 am to 3 pm, and for an additional 75 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.
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.
The Project uses the back 2/3 of the sanctuary; the church uses the front 1/3 to celebrate the two daily masses. 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.
Gubbio Breakfast Program: The Breakfast program is offered weekly at St. John's. Every Friday the Gubbio Project invites volunteer groups to make, serve, and eat breakfast with our guests. Volunteer groups come to St. John's kitchen weekly with food to prepare home-cooked meals that they share with 30-40 guests, and cleanup following breakfast. Through this program, our volunteers and guests learn about one another's lives, helping to build community and understanding among the housed and un-housed.
Events: The Gubbio Project holds events regularly that bring our community together and facilitate deeper engagement with issues at the core of our mission. We hosted several speakers including Martin Sheen, speaking on his social activism work; Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles; W. Kamau Bell, sociopolitical comedian from the Berkeley Area; and Shari Roeseler, former executive director of St Anthony's in San Francisco. We've also held arts events such as a professional play, titled "Hunter's Point," which explored issues of mental illness, homelessness and family and our "Social Justice Arts Night."
Engagement with Schools: Students from DeMarillac Academy and students from other local elementary and middle schools, and Universities have regularly come to learn about homelessness and participate in volunteer opportunities such as assembling toiletry kits for guests, making breakfast and helping out at events. Students have also participated in mini-retreats and even donated the monetary portion of their 'Perseverance Awards' to the Gubbio Project! Students from USF, St. Mary's College in Moraga, and Oregon State University have slept on the pews in the church at night, pilgrimaged through the streets of the Tenderloin in the morning, and then prepared and shared a breakfast with our guests.
Volunteer Opportunities. We have a robust volunteer program at The Gubbio Project. Volunteers share and prepare breakfast; assist our Hospitality Monitors in maintaining the safe space in the sanctuary; assist with office support; provide chaplaincy, counseling, haircuts and HIV testing for guests; assist with fundraising and event planning; and collect, organize, and maintain our donations. We have 60 regular volunteers each month clocking 50 hours weekly. We also host visiting volunteer groups periodically. With a staff of only 2 full-time and 4 part-time employees, and little time to routinely recruit, these numbers speak to how deeply moved many are by the experience of visiting the sanctuary during the project's open hours. READ MORE »
Each month, we conduct voluntary, anonymous surveys of our guests. The results show that we are indeed succeeding in creating a place where residents feel safe and respected, that is clean and beautiful.
- 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;
- 93% said that the Gubbio Project is always or usually clean;
- 88% of respondents said that the church is always or usually peaceful and quiet;
- 98% of guests reported that they always or usually feel welcome.