Community Blog

Stay up to date with the St. Francis Community 


Window Depot and Legacy Window

Nov 15, 2023

We have wonderful news! St. Francis Shelter Community is getting new windows, thanks to the generosity of Window Depot and Legacy Windows. The new windows will be more energy efficient, which will help to save the shelter money on its electric bills. They will also be more secure, which will help to keep the residents safe.

The residents of St. Francis Shelter Community are very grateful for this gift. It will make a big difference in their lives.

Thank you to Window Depot and Legacy Windows for your generosity!



Ward 3 Partners with St. Francis to Open New Cooling Center

By CJ Boyd

June 28, 2023


While we all know how brutal the summers in Arizona can be, nobody feels the brunt of the heat like those who live outside full-time. Unsheltered folks are subject to the elements in all its extremes, from the sub-freezing temperatures in winter to the baking sun during the summer.


A few years ago, the City of Tucson sought to address this issue by opening up city-run cooling centers throughout the city. Located in recreation centers (like Ward 3’s own Donna R Liggins Recreation Center in Mansfield Park), each ward was given one cooling center operated by the Parks and Recreation Department. These are air-conditioned rooms where people can get some respite from the heat outside, drink some water, and take a load off.


This year Ward 3 has partnered with St. Francis Shelter Community to offer our own Ward 3 Community Room as a cooling center Monday through Friday 1-5pm. St. Francis who formerly operated their own men’s shelter, also operates a food pantry out of Sacred Heart Church on Wednesdays and Saturdays 9-11am, as well as operating a shower truck for unhoused people every Wednesday 1-4pm, in collaboration with the City of Tucson’s Housing First Program. In addition to these other services they provide, starting on June 26th, they will help the Ward 3 office open our doors to those seeking respite from the heat.


With thousands of Tucson residents living outdoors, this new cooling center now provides unsheltered neighbors of Ward 3 two locations to go. In addition to air conditioning and water, the cooling center at Ward 3 will provide sack lunches, Gatorade, cots to lie down, a charging station, and volunteers to help connect guests to other services such as housing, job training, and rehabilitation services.


In past years, city-run cooling centers have opened when the temperature reached 110 degrees or higher. However, last year mayor and council discussed this policy and gave the Parks Department to lower the threshold. This year the six cooling centers run by Parks and Rec opened the first week of June, and will remain open throughout the summer. The St. Francis operated cooling center at the Ward 3 office opened earlier this week on June 26th, and will stay open until September 15th.


While Ward 3 only contains the two cooling centers, there are also some churches that operate cooling centers very near the Ward boundaries. Just south of Speedway on Main Ave in Ward 1, the Salvation Army runs a cooling center at their Hospitality House. Unlike the cooling centers at the Ward 3 Community Room or Donna Liggins Center, the Hospitality House is a massive operation almost entirely dedicated to services for unhoused people. They run a women’s shelter, a men’s shelter, and a day center for unsheltered folks. The space that serves as a cooling center during the afternoon is also a dining room in the morning and evening.


Similarly, the cooling center run out of Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in the Ward 6 neighborhood of Blenman-Elm. While Grace St. Paul does not operate a shelter, they use their church campus for their Joseph’s Pantry program, which feeds folks who need it on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Whenever the temperature reaches 105 or higher, the keep the dining space open into the afternoon, keep the lights fairly dim and show movies in the space.


Cooling centers are a lifeline for those exposed to extreme heat. Besides being open to unsheltered neighbors, we also invite folks living with inadequate cooling systems in their homes to visit the cooling centers to escape the higher temperatures. Ward 3 has flyers showing the locations and amenities of all 4 cooling centers in the area and we invite our readers to come by and pick up some to hand out to anyone they think could benefit from the information. For more information about cooling centers outside of Ward 3, Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness has put together a wonderful resource list.



C.J. Boyd

He/Him

Ward 3 Council Aide

Council Member Kevin Dahl

1510 E. Grant Road

Tucson, AZ  85719

520-791-4711




A Few Words about our Food Pantry 

April 25, 2023

On Wednesday and Saturday 9AM-11AM we host our ‘Food Pantry’; providing food, clothing and hygiene products to an average of 40-50 neighborhood families. Our Food Pantry is led by Shawn, Terry, Margie, Bob, Rick, Fred, Patrick and Linda, and has for years been providing food, hygiene products, and clothing for hundreds of our Amphi neighbors. Our Pantry provides order sheets for guests to review, and can pick from our current inventory, allowing our guests to pick the items they prefer. This adds a special, personalized human touch to our services. For many, visiting our pantry may possibly be the only human touch they receive for the whole day. We strive to provide a bit of hospitality to all and we like to go out of our way to make their lives a little bit better, every chance we get. We welcome you to come see us on Wednesday or Saturday, and see our volunteers in action.


Please call Shawn Milligan our Director of Operations, at 520-461-4943 to plan a visit. 


Gregory Boyle, SJ, Wrap-up 

April 11, 2023

On Friday March 24th, at Sacred Heart Church, our St. Francis Shelter and Community had the pleasure of hosting an evening with Fr Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries and author of New York Times best seller Tattoos on the Heart

Fr. G, as he is affectionately called, flew in from Los Angeles to join us for our spring fundraising event. His message of the power of compassion and the transcendence of kindness and tenderness takes us to the heart of our mission here at St. Francis Shelter. Homeboy Industries is a model for us to emulate and their success is an inspiration to us all. 

We found Fr. G to be gracious, and kind, and truly a joy to be around. His presentation was engaging and touching. His generosity of spirit is palpable, and we were treated to a special surprise as he brought two of his fellow Homeboy companions on this trip; Ociris Galicia and Desiree Nerio. Their story was forthright and courageous, speaking in front of hundreds of unfamiliar people sharing the intimacy of  their journey, from seasoned gang member to Homeboy Industries advocate, husband, and father. 

Though Fr. G spoke about his experiences surrounding Homeboy Industries and working with gang members, the thrust of his message was a call to the heart. "You must experience the tender glance of God. When you experience that glance, it will put your feet into motion to go to the margins to share God's glance with others. But don't think you're going there to change things; then it becomes about you. When you go to the margins, the people there will change you." Amen.

I wish to offer special thanks to Fr. Gonzalo Villegas, pastor of Sacred Heart Church and his entire staff for providing the very beautiful Sacred Heart Church for our event. 

Also, special thanks to our friends at Salpointe Catholic High School, whom, over the last decade have consistently and generously offered up their time and talents volunteering and collaborating with our shelter to help us make our Tucson Community a better place to live. Their exuberance is contagious and heartfelt, and we appreciate their dedication and friendship.


Sincerely,

Chuck Dunn, KM

Interim Executive Director

St. Francis Shelter



Respite, Shelter, and Nourishment

November 30, 2022

"The greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving.  In giving gift, we give what we can spare, but in giving thanks, we give ourselves.

Brother David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness, the Heart Prayer

During this very special holiday season, I would like to give thanks to our supporters, volunteers, board members and staff.  Reflecting over the years since we established our 501c3 in early 2016, I am blessed to report that we have flourished, shaping a shelter dedicated to providing refuge and resources to those in need in our Tucson community.

I would like to highlight a few special projects that we have focused on over the years:

Our Food Pantry, led by Shawn, Terry, Margie, Bob, Rick, Fred, Patrick and Linda, has for years been providing food, hygiene products and clothing for hundreds of our neighbors. We work together with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, including their Caridad Community Kitchen, helping to provide free food for anyone in need.


Our summer cooling shelter in conjunction with the Z Mansion, has just completed another season providing hundreds of our less fortunate neighbors a place to rest during the hot days of summer, offering shade, food, cold drinks, and medical care.

Our St. Francis Community staff has continued to provided security, maintenance, and landscaping services for Sacred Heart Catholic Church.


Bob, Margie, and Rick

Robert

We also continue to provide bridge housing for our ‘houseless’ veterans at our All-Saints House. Special thanks to Old Pueblo Community Services (OPCS) with whom we provide moving services for those receiving housing in our community.

I would like to give thanks to our Director of Operations, Shawn Milligan, for his daily kindness, dedication and focus on continuing to connect with likeminded organizations to continue to provide additional services that are desperately needed in our community.

I would like to give thanks to our amazing staff including Leo, Robert, Mike and Fred. These compassionate men are the backbone of our shelter, and their daily efforts make the St. Francis Shelter successful.

I am grateful also to Carl Zawatski, whose is enjoying a much-needed sabbatical, for his vision. Carl pointed us in the direction to do the work that really makes our community a better place.


I am especially grateful to Brother David Buer, OFM, who in his Franciscan spirit reminds us daily of the importance of human dignity of each person.

Our future is bright with new projects in the works including our fundraising to purchase mobile showers and provide convenient opportunities for those who live on our streets to take a hot shower.


Chuck Dunn and Brother David

Chuck Dunn, Richard Rohr, and Carl Zawatski

As always, it is because of your support that we can continue forward in our ministry to the poor and the hungry and try our best to make our Tucson Community a better place.

With your support we can continue to flourish.

I ask that you please take a moment to donate either via PayPal.  Please use the link to our "Donate" page listed on the navigation bar at the top of the page, or send a check to:

Remember, St Francis Shelter is an AZ Qualified Charitable Organization, so your donation is eligible for an AZ Tax Credit – Tax Credits are a way for Arizona taxpayers to direct their taxes to causes that are important to them.

Blessings to you and yours,

Charles ‘Chuck’ Dunn, KM

“Interim” Executive Director


St. Francis Shelter Thanks You!