Warsan Shire (British-Somali poet)

contributed by Chuck Dunn

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark.

you only run for the border
when you see the whole city
running as well.

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Things Are Looking Up

Carl Zawatski
Third Order of Friars Minor

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Prayer of Francis

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
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St. Francis Shelter Stages Weekend Reunion Project

One individual stands uniquely apart from all the people who have come to Carl Zawatski’s aid as he continues his battle with cancer.  When help was desperately needed an unlikely angel appeared in the form of Jay Cunanan, a young Philippine man who found his way to Tucson after arriving in the United States one year ago in 2017.  His culinary skills perfectly match the needs of the St. Francis Shelter kitchen.  When one works in the homeless environment, he learns that angels are everywhere!

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Highway from Heaven

Two months ago, I was eating a hot dog – probably one of the softest meats (if it really is meat) known to humankind.  The hot dog is the staple of many a homeless person.  I could not finish it.  I was still hungry, but I could not finish the hot dog.  I couldn’t swallow the damn thing.  Thinking it was heartburn or some other trivial condition that would pass, I blew it off, but several days later, I continued to have difficulty swallowing, and it wasn’t just food.  I struggled to swallow my own saliva.

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A Journey of Faith

As we reported last week, St. Francis Shelter Director Carl Zawatski is undergoing cancer treatment. Despite the challenge he faces, he offered an update for the website. In his email, he writes, “I was extremely sick from the initial treatment and got the flu on top of the chemo. God, I felt like shit. Anyway, I got a little reprieve here for the last four or five days. I have another treatment after Wednesday. According to the Doc, soon the radiation is going to build up on me and that will make me very ill, also. So, I’ll have no more breaks and won’t feel normal until March or April. That’s why I wanted to get this out now.” Carl’s message follows…

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A Word About Carl’s Challenge…

Director Carl Zawatski

This is a short post to alert you to the fact that St. Francis Homeless Shelter Director Carl Zawatski is engaged in a physical challenge and currently under-going cancer treatment. Under the circumstances, he may not be as readily available as he normally has been.

It seems as if St. Francis himself has dispatched an army of helpers, Friends of St. Francis, to make sure the shelter and thrift store continue to operate smoothly through these cold winter months. It is operating exactly as Carl would expect it to operate.

Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated by Carl and the hundreds of homeless men and women in Tucson who he serves.

Please use this contact form to request additional information.


Comments or questions are welcome. Use this form to email us.

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A New Way to Give

As our numbers continue to grow, subscribers and Friends of St. Francis ask if there is a way they can set up recurring donations to the St. Francis Shelter. As of today, there is. We now include the option to establish recurring, monthly payments through PayPal in amounts of $25, $50 and $100. The one-time donation button is still active, but if you find it in your heart to donate to the St. Francis Shelter on a regular basis, please select an option from the dropdown menu and click on the image of the cup. Thank you for considering a monthly, recurring donation.

Recurring Donations

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Respite Mission

St. Francis Shelter“And again, he entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house. Immediately, many gathered together so that there was no longer room to receive the, not even near the door. And he preached the word to them. Then they came to him bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was, so when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.”

Mark 2:1-4

We Do Not Heal Alone

We need each other. No one heals alone. Not mentally, physically or spiritually.

The Samaritan

At some time in our lives, each one of us is the paralytic in Mark’s Gospel story. At some point in our lives, our weariness has sapped our strength and we need to be carried. Some of us are too proud to lie on that bed and allow others to carry us. Too often, our egos tell us that we can do this by ourselves. That is the false-self talking. It is sad that we listen. Maybe for a short time, we can carry ourselves, but inevitably we fail and fall again on the rocky road.

Being alone is not part of the healing process. Jesus most often spoke about communities. In his very first sermon, he is quoted by Luke,

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim release to the captives,
recovering of sight to the blind,
to deliver those who are crushed,
and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Community from the Bottom Up

He was talking about community from the bottom up, not the top down, and that is surely what we address at the St. Francis Shelter: community from the bottom up.

We are always alert to help the homeless men and women in our community, and we began our mission with a winter shelter during the cold months in the desert and a cooling shelter in the summer months when the mercury in thermometers rise to the point of bursting. In recent weeks, we have seen the need for a respite program. Here’s why …

Friends in Need

When an individual goes to the hospital for treatment, his length of stay and recovery often depends on her health insurance, or sadly, his lack of health insurance. When the allotted recovery time expires based on her insurance, hospital administers discharge the patient with the advice to “go home and get some bed rest.” All well and good, but if you don’t have a home, you don’t have a bed. Where, then, does a homeless man or women go to ‘get some bed rest?’

Respite Ministry

The St. Francis Shelter, in cooperation with other Tucson shelters is trying to alleviate this humanitarian dilemma. Currently, we can accommodate four respite guests. We provide them with a bed to rest upon and three healthy meals. We are not trained professionals, and that limits our capacity to care, which means we can only serve respite cases who can be self-sufficient.

As an example, we offered respite service to a homeless woman who was eight months pregnant. She remained with us until she had the baby – not here, thank God – at a nearby hospital. During her stay at the St. Francis Shelter, another agency helped her to contact her family and reconnect with her father. This enabled her through the child protective services to keep the child. As I write, the family remains together and mother and child are healthy and doing well.

St. Francis ShelterOne gentleman who was a guest at our cooling shelter explained to us that he was scheduled for bladder surgery and had no place to stay. We invited him and cared for him as a respite guest for two weeks.

We have welcomed other guests from the crisis center, which helps them deal with emotional breakdowns due to lack of proper medication or overuse of illicit ‘medications,’ if you know what I mean. To them, we are a haven, a place that offers peace and quiet, a place where they can take advantage of the AA and NA meetings we offer regularly on site. We do our best to help them refocus to get back on the right track, to live life in a positive and productive way.

We assign each respite guest to a case worker from an outside agency who works closely with them to find a place to stay before they leave our care.

We nurture a strong sense of community at the St. Francis Shelter. Our respite guests find a place of compassion where they can recover from their physical and psychological wounds, and our staff find themselves immersed in a level of caring that goes beyond what we normally do during the winter and summer cooling seasons. This leads to my current dilemma …

The Dilemma

Prior to our respite mission, we operated through two seasons.
We open as a cooling center from May to September from 11:30AM until 5:30PM. During the cooling season, we distribute over 250 bottles of water each day along with 100 sack lunches and 70 to 100 full meals daily.

In December, we become an overnight shelter from 8:00PM until 6:00AM to give our homeless guests a place to stay during the cold winter nights in the desert. We serve 50 to 80 full meals each night and serve coffee and a light breakfast in the morning. Each guest leaves with a sack lunch.

In between seasons, we perform landscaping, painting, maintenance and whatever other services we can accomplish for Sacred Heart Parish. During our ‘downtime’ when we close the shelter, we minimize our use of the church property and utilities. With the respite mission, however, we return to using the facilities at full capacity.

As we commit our services to the respite mission, we no longer have ‘downtime,’ and our expenses increase approximately $500/month, something we did not plan for in our budget. My plea is simple:  We need 10 new ‘Friends of St. Francis’ to contribute $50/month. The funds will go directly to the rent we pay to the Sacred Heart Parish. 

This must happen for us to continue our respite ministry. If you can help, please use the donate button. Thank you for your continuing support and for your thoughtful consideration of this important request.

Carl Zawatski
Director, St. Francis Shelter

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Houston Rising

The St. Francis Shelter is one of five locations Tucsonans can donate gifts to help relieve the suffering of our Texas neighbors in Houston.

Chuck Dunn, Andrea Rodriguez and Carl Zawatski

Yesterday, with the help of the St Francis Shelter staff and our new best friend, Andrea Rodriguez, our “Houston Rising” relief effort collected a truck load (7,000 lbs.) of supplies for our Texas neighbors!

Many thanks to all of our supporters, we appreciate you all!


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