About Us

SF CARES is a collaboration of St. Paulus Lutheran Church, SF Night Ministry, Welcome, St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church, and St. Francis Lutheran Church, to name but a few - all faithful organizations who are working together in order to increase our ability to help the undeserved in San Francisco.  We are particularly passionate about providing opportunities, resources and support for individuals who are poor, homeless, formerly homeless and experiencing mental health or brain disorder issues.  Among other things, our collaborators grow and distribute fresh produce, feed communal meals to hundreds each month in a variety of venues, advocate for those we serve, accompany and provide pastoral care for thousands of people each year, and dream together of what more we can do next.

CARES stands for Compassion, Advocacy, Resilience and Education Services.

Our History:

SF CARES was founded in 1986 under the name People Place Service Incorporated (PPSI) in order to provide shelter for transgender women.  With a Memorandum Of Understanding partnering with the City and County of San Francisco, PPSI’s shelter was in operation until 1995. The shelter closed when the building next door, St. Paulus Lutheran’s sanctuary, burned down and the space used by the shelter was needed for the congregations worship services. In 1987, PPSI created the Hospitality Hour, a four course meal for HIV+ individuals. The Hospitality Hour has continued to serve this meal every Tuesday under the name of the Friendship Banquet and continues to serve this meal on Tuesdays. 
We then introduced the Singers of the Street - a group of around 30-40 members who are either homeless, have been homeless and advocate for the poverty. They rehearse each Monday at Saint Paulus church, followed by a pot luck lunch and have performed at dozens of homeless-related concerts and festivals around the Bay Area. People are more than welcome to watch their rehearsals and witness how singing can feed the soul with pure light, joy and hope.

In 2012, PPSI changed its name to SF CARES. In November of 2013, SF CARES began the Homeless Vision Project (a collaboration with Project Homeless Connect) to provide free prescription glasses at events throughout San Francisco. To date, the project has provided over 2,100 eye exams and prescription glasses in the Polk Gultch, Mission, Castro, Western Addition and Sunset districts.  Additional events are scheduled in the Bayview, Chinatown, Tenderloin and Merced Heights.

Welcome seeks to provide a faithful response to poverty and to improve the quality of life for individuals in our community by providing: hospitality; education; food; and referrals for housing, health care and drug and alcohol treatment.  Programs:  Welcome Center, Project Faith Connect, Vanguard Revisited, Somatic Trauma Care, Saturday Community Dinners, Urban Share Community Gardening, and The Free Farm.

The San Francisco Night Ministry provides middle-of-the-night compassionate non-judgmental pastoral care, counseling, referral and crisis intervention to anyone in any kind of distress.  Through our Crisis Telephone Line staffed by trained volunteer Crisis Line Counselors; and through person-to-person encounters with ordained clergy on the streets, this ministry is available every night of the year from 10.00 pm – 4.00 am. 

St.Paulus Lutheran Church seeks to be an inclusive community of God’s diverse people, visible in the world. Following the example of Jesus, we seek to honor the poor, tell the truth to ourselves and others in love, encourage justice, and show mercy.  Worship, discussion groups and Bible study are all conducted in a way to make certain those living outside or in marginal housing situations, or with mental health or substance abuse issues can feel comfortable and welcome.  St. Paulus Lutheran Church was founded in 1894, Grace Lutheran in 1949, The Night Ministry in 1964 and Welcome in 1996. We have a long history of paving the way forward for the less fortunate, are one of San Francisco's oldest churches and the oldest Lutheran church west of the Rockies.