via The Gubbio Project

Recent estimates show that there are around 550,00 people who are unhoused on any given night in America. A large percentage of those who find their way to shelters are helped by faith-based organizations.

Forty-one percent of the emergency shelter beds for adults and around 16% of those for families are provided by such groups.

For the past 15 years, the St. Boniface Catholic Church in San Francisco, California has taken The Bible's teachings to heart by alllowing the unhoused sleep in its pews as part of an outreach program called the Gubbio Project.


Every day around 225 unhoused people arrive at St. Boniface to get some much needed rest after a hard night on the streets. Many people experiencing homelessness go to sleep at sun up because it's safer for them to be awake during the night.

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Sleeping in public during the night leaves people vulnerable to being attacked or robbed. It's also easier for people without a home to keep warm at night when they are awake.

The church also provides important services for those expericing homeless by handing out about 150 blankets a month, 100 pairs of socks a week, and hygiene kits with soap, shampoo, razors, and toothbrushes on a daily basis.

There are few areas in the United States where the wealth gap is more prominent than in San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area.

"In one of the richest cities in the world, one that 75 billionaires call home, the fact that so many must go without heat, shelter or blankets is confounding," Shannon Eizenga, the nonprofit's new executive director, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The scale of the need is staggering. We are living in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. It does feel as though it's 'A Tale of Two Cities,' and this gap is increasing more every day," she continued.

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The project relies on donations to keep its mission going and the church is currently struggling to fix a broken heating system.

"It's super cold in there, and we're in the coldest time of year," Eizenga said.

The project is run on a list of ten overriding principles, the most important being: "All people, especially those who are living on the streets or have mental health or substance abuse issues, are worthy of respect, dignity, and loving kindness."

via Gubbio Project / Facebook

The Rev. David Erickson of the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, a volunteer with the project, belives the work Gubbio does perfectly aligns with his personal spiritual mission.

"We either get disgusted or numb," he said. "But this is a place where I experience grace deeply. The ability to look somebody in the eye and said, 'Can I help you, sir?' I had a gentleman say, 'You called me sir! I haven't been called sir in years!'"

"What they do here isn't going to solve the problem," he continued. "But it's going to do something for the problem right now."

You can donate to the Gubbio Project on its website.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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