SF homeless advocate calls it quits

September 8, 2008 8:14:29 PM PDT
Those who live on the streets of San Francisco are losing one of their most visible and vocal advocates. Sister Bernie Galvin is a known fixture fighting City Hall, and even those who disagree with her homeless politics are praising her years of dedication.

For the past 15 years sister Bernie Galvin, a Catholic nun, has dedicated her life to San Francisco's homeless.

"There's wisdom in the homeless people that comes to me by being close to them," said Sister Bernie Galvin.

In 1993, she founded the organization Religious Witness With Homeless People. She and others in the faith community took on City Hall. The first target was then mayor Frank Jordan and his Matrix Program, which she considered a cruel crackdown on the poor.

"Do you think your marches and rallies did any good?" asked ABC7's Carolyn Tyler.

"Yes, no matter what the outcome is, always standing on the side of the poor in a public way is always good," said

Former Mayor Jordan says Sister Bernie never saw his point of view or taxpayers' frustration.

"Taxpayers who'd come pounding on my door saying we want you to do something about people who are sleeping in my doorway, obstructing or trespassing," said

Still, he respects her compassion.

"If Jesus Christ was here he had no house, they would arrest him," said one homeless man.

Now Sister Bernie says she needs spiritual renewal. Years of challenging City Hall have left her burned out. One of her last big battles was mayor Gavin Newsom's Care Not Cash program. That takes welfare money from the homeless and funnels it into services.

"I think she's done a remarkable job holding our feet to the fire and holding us accountable and challenging us," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Her presence will be missed on the city's toughest streets.

"I'm about to cry right now. It's hard to leave that which you love," said Sister Bernie Galvin.

Goodbye ceremony for Siter Bernie:
Sunday September 14th 3:00-5:00
3:00: Reception and refreshments
3:30: Program bebins
Congregation Beth Sholom
301 14th Avenue (Corner of Clement)
San Francisco, 94118


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