Catholic Worker Hospitality House of San Bruno - Providing meals and shelter in San Bruno, California.


by Ella Chatfield-Stiehler

The vast majority of the donations we receive come from the faithful support of individual donors and church groups on our mailing list.  This support enables us to keep our dining room, homeless shelter, and supportive housing projects going month after month and year after year.  We simply couldn’t continue our daily work without this support.  In order to ensure the steady and ongoing operation of our core service projects, we have to be judicious with how we spend these donations.  We often receive requests for assistance from our guests that we normally just can’t help with. We hate saying “no” to folks, but we would hate even more to not keep the dining room and shelter operating. What to do?

This spring we have received two very generous grants from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation to assist individuals in economic crisis caused by the COVID crisis.  These grants have enabled us to assist those we serve in a variety of ways: medical bills, car repairs, new glasses, household goods for former shelter guests moving into their own apartments, and rental assistance.  These grants enabled us to respond to the needs of those we serve in ways that would otherwise have been beyond our means.  Due to job loss caused by the COVID shelter in place orders, there were two individuals and three families that would have become homeless without the rental assistance we were able to provide because of the grants we received from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation.  It’s hard to underestimate the importance of this aid for those we serve.

For the twenty-four years Catholic Worker Hospitality House has been in operation, whenever we wanted to start a new project or do something big Philanthropic Ventures Foundation has been there to make our dreams a reality.  Some of the projects they supported have had a lasting effect on our work – such as helping us purchase or rehab buildings used for supportive housing.  Others have had short-lived or marginal success such as our idea for a day–labor program or funding a lawyer to assist our guest with their legal issues.  The Foundation was started by Bill Somerville to operate with the same mindset as a venture capitalist – supporting new and emerging endeavors.  As with all “investments” some fail while others are wildly successful.  You can’t have the success without risking failure.

So we say thank you Philanthropic Ventures Foundation for all your very generous support over the years.  Thank you for believing in us and taking risks to support our ideas for new ways to serve those in need in our community.  Your support has had a powerful and lasting impact in the community we serve.