In 1986, the St. Francis Center began providing food, clothing, and other essential services for “working poor” families out of a small house in the Fair Oaks neighborhood. The center focused on providing these essential services so that families had everything they needed to live with dignity. Over the past twenty years, the neighborhood has found itself at the epicenter of the thriving technology sector in Silicon Valley. As the cost of living rises and affordable housing becomes a thing of the past, the St. Francis Center has evolved to meet the needs of the families who live and work in Redwood City.

In addition to the essential services that we still provide, the organization now includes the new 10,000 sq. foot St. Francis Center, Siena Youth Center, Holy Family School, and eight apartment buildings for low-income families.

What hasn’t changed is our commitment to providing services with compassion, not judgment. The St. Francis Center is now a thriving community-based organization in the heart of the Fair Oaks Neighborhood that partners with clients to build strong families in a strong neighborhood.


To provide the opportunity for families living in North Fair Oaks and surrounding communities to live with dignity while accessing essential services and becoming self-sufficient members of the community.

We strive to:

  • alleviate suffering by providing direct social services to the economically disadvantaged and disenfranchised

  • increase the marketability of our clients by providing skill-building courses

  • reduce and help break the cycle of poverty by providing a solid value-based education to economically impoverished client family cohorts

  • address the desperate need for affordable housing by owning and operating 135 apartment units specifically designated to serve families with very low incomes

  • beautify the neighborhood and give client families the numerous therapeutic and practical benefits afforded by two large community gardens

  • offer our neighborhood youth an alternative to gang membership and encourage healthy physical engagement

  • foster nurturing relationships, encourage self-determination, and advocate for change in systems that oppress

  • address areas of concern not directly addressed at our center by referring clients to agencies with whom we network


Holy Family School, Siena Youth Center, GED Program, ESL Program, Computer Classes


Food Pantry, Clothing Closet, Shower & Laundry Facility, Immigration Counseling


135 Affordable Housing Units, Rental Assistance, Social Advocacy & Awareness

All Services


Who runs the St. Francis Center?2018-10-26T15:31:10-07:00

The St. Francis Center is governed by our Board of Directors (who meets quarterly) and managed by our Executive Director, Sr. Christina Heltsley, and her staff. Fiscal and strategic issues are handled by the Board and programs are developed and implemented by the Director and her staff.

As a donor, where do my dollars go?2018-10-26T03:06:09-07:00

While we prefer that all gifts are unrestricted, we understand that some donors have specific interests, so you can decide. There are four primary buckets: general operating expenses, basic needs/service, education programs, and housing programs.

What are your overhead costs?2018-11-14T01:07:53-08:00

Overhead costs are low and managed by the Executive Director. The Center runs on a small paid staff and volunteers.

Who funds the Center?2018-10-26T03:08:13-07:00

The Center and all of its programs are funded through private donations and foundation grants.

Is the St. Francis Center a ministry of the Archdiocese of San Francisco?2018-10-26T03:08:47-07:00

No, the St. Francis Center is a private, not-for-profit corporation that is governed by a board of directors.

How and when can I drop off a donation of clothing at the St. Francis Center?2021-05-10T10:22:54-07:00

The St. Francis Center accepts donations of new and gently used clothing at our main office (151 Buckingham Avenue, Redwood City, CA 94063), Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Please do not drop off items outside of these days and hours, as the items will likely not be received.

Do I have to live in the North Fair Oaks Neighborhood to receive services?2018-11-14T01:08:47-08:00

Clients must live or work in Redwood City or East Menlo Park.

How can I enroll my child in Holy Family School?2018-10-31T18:01:04-07:00

For Admission Information, please contact Sister Christina Heltsley, O.P. via email at: schristina@stfrancisrwc.org.

Do I have to live in North Fair Oaks Neighborhood to have my children participate in the programs at Siena Youth Center?2018-10-26T15:32:46-07:00

Participants of Siena Youth Center need to be in 5th – 8th grade and enrolled in school in Redwood City. Students are expected to attend daily from 2:30 – 6:30 unless they have other commitments such as sports practices, school, or church activities. The program costs $190.00 for 10 months. We offer additional programs in the summer and information can be found here.


Get in touch today and start making a difference.

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