Community-Based Organizations of San Mateo County
by Cayman Bentley, PVF’s Program and Communications Associate
Recently, I visited the Catholic Worker House in Redwood City and got to catch up Larry Purcell. Larry is a former priest who started San Mateo’s Catholic Worker house back in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s with the help of PVF Founder Bill Somerville. We toured the worker house, the nearby St. Anthony’s Catholic Church (which also operates as a food hall for those in need during the week), and the St. Francis Center (which was founded in 1986 by Sister Monica Ashman).
San Mateo County is one of the wealthiest areas in the country. Despite this, there is still an enormous amount of low-income individuals and families that are struggling with housing, work, transportation, and overall survival. This is where the community organizations such as Catholic Worker House and St. Anthony’s are trying to make a difference in a community that definitely needs it. On most weekdays, if you drive through Redwood City and the nearby unincorporated North Fair Oaks, you’ll notice many unhoused and low-income individuals and families making there way to either Catholic Worker or St. Anthony’s for their free food halls. Those who are in need can come and get hot meals, free groceries, clothing, medical supplies, hygiene packs and more. While visiting St. Andrew’s during their morning food bank, I met with over 20 volunteer workers who dedicate over 30 hours a week to helping prepare, cook, and serve those who are in need.
I was also able to tour the nearby St. Francis Center which started out as a helping center for those in need in North Fair Oaks, regularly giving out food, clothing, and providing other resources. Since then, the center has expanded tremendously and now has the Siena Youth Center, the Holy Family School, and 8 apartment buildings for low-income families. St. Francis Center, together with Catholic Worker House, continues to provides services with compassion as an expanding community based organization that isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Though Catholic Worker House, which is fiscally supports by Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, St. Anthony’s, and the St. Francis Center are able to provides resource to those in needs in San Mateo County, the fight is not over and everyday more and more people are becoming low-income and in need of assistance. Visit these organization websites to find out how you can help support these amazing groups in helping the people of the Peninsula and if you would like to make a donation, you can do so at the button below.