Stewardship season is the time that members of our community share their love of the cathedral with the community, city and world by making an annual financial pledge. Stewardship is a cherished practice of the Episcopal Church that helps us connect our lives to the core mission of Grace Cathedral: to share the love of Jesus through compassion, inclusivity, creativity and learning. This year our stewardship theme is “Home is where the heart is.” The theme reflects how we strive to be a home to all San Franciscans, and make our city a kinder, better place.
Someone who puts her whole heart into our ministries every day and sees the generosity of our pledgers making life better for people in need is the Rev. Nina Pickerrell, a cathedral deacon. Nina leads Seniors with Grace, Bayview Mission and other vital outreach ministries.
“Because of the support of Grace Cathedral, our infant toddler program at Bayview Mission provides necessities for more than one hundred families: diapers, baby food, cribs and car seats,” Nina said. “What’s more, we help families obtain life-changing resources that are hard for them to access. This includes helping our brothers and sisters get medical care, bank services and even driver licenses, which can be the key to getting a job.”
Families in the at-risk Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood can’t take these things for granted, even as their neighborhood gentrifies around them. The support our congregants provide to Bayview Mission through stewardship provides not just these tangible items and services; it also builds community. Nina’s hope is that through Bayview Mission, families can make lasting ties within their neighborhood. “If our children can get along, our parents can get along. A friendly face in the neighborhood goes a long way.”
Another at-risk group that your gifts have a profound impact on are our Seniors with Grace. Nina recalls coming across a gentleman from the seniors program who was sitting in the cathedral after evening prayer. As they chatted, she sensed something was wrong and asked how he was doing. “I’m hungry,” he confessed. Even though this gentleman had retired with benefits from a career with the federal government, he was struggling to keep up with the Bay Area’s ever-rising cost of living. Because of your pledges, Nina was able to offer the man a $100 Trader Joe’s gift card, to be periodically renewed when he needed it. The man was overwhelmed: he had never been given a gift card and could hardly believe that the unused balance would carry over to his next food purchase. A poignant coda to this story is that the gentleman passed away last month, and the generous support of our community meant that his last year of life wasn’t defined by hunger and neglect.
Nina and our staff team are there for our seniors just like a family member would be, as many of these older congregants have no other family. “For our seniors, the catered Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, provided through stewardship, are the highlights of their season. Every once in a while you’ll see someone sitting there, shaking his or her head, and I’ll ask them if everything is ok. ‘Yes,’ they say, ‘I just can’t tell you the last time I shared a meal with someone.”