And now, I have decided to dedicate this year to doing a full-time year of community service. I am doing this through the Vincentian Service Corps in San Francisco. I will be serving at The Gubbio Project. In a nutshell, the projects focus is sacred sleep. St. Boniface, a Roman Catholic Church, located in the Tenderloin district, opens its doors all morning to mid-afternoon to people who are homeless. Our guests are allowed to come into the church and use the pews to sleep on.
I started my service this week!
I have some experience working with people who are experiencing homelessness; but after two days I already know nothing has fully prepared me for the service I am going to be doing this year. Today was my first day at the church. The sound of people sleeping and the undeniable smell that comes with living on the streets immediately hit me opening the doors. Today, being my first day, I was mostly following the staff that work for the project. I met the staff yesterday at our first ever retreat. The five staff that work there glow with compassion. Five minutes into me being there, one of our guest came up to the staff and thanked us. He told us he had finally landed a job. The happiness that overcame my coworkers was amazing.
I first heard the concept "sacred sleep" yesterday. I will explain it how my coworkers explained it to me. Our guests spend the night on the streets or in shelters. Places where they have to sleep with one eye open in case someone tries to steal from them or hurt them. On the streets there is nobody that is looking out for them. On the streets there is no compassion. At St. Boniface our guests sleep in the house of God. We don't know if our guests are Catholic, we don't even know if they believe in God; we know our guests appreciate being in a spiritual place. Here, they are able to rest. My coworkers not only truly believe in this concept, they help generate it. They offer to charge their phones in a safe area so they don't have to worry about their phones being stolen. They have implemented a wake-up service so they don't miss out on the plans they have for the day. One of my coworkers explained "this way they can truly get that deep sleep without having one worry".
I walked out of the church later that day to run an errand and when I was walking back to go inside, the door was already open; I remember thinking:
"it sounds like the church itself is snoring".