Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral’s Stitching Ministry spins yarn from the heart, spreading love and warmth throughout San Francisco and beyond. From beginners taking their first fledging steps to adept knitters and crocheters, Stitching Ministry welcomes all levels of fiber artists under their stitching wings.  

Barbara Ludlum and Fran Rounds, co-leaders of Stitching Ministry, recently shared their 2022 Year in Review. Having led their flock in quite the year of production, Barbara and Fran thanked the cathedral staff. They celebrated the volunteers’ many contributions to making the world a warmer, more loving place. 

Hello to Cathedral Staff and our group of stitchers, 

We are very happy to share the amazing results from our 2022 Stitching Ministry at Grace Cathedral. We have provided over 600 handmade items to various agencies and people in need. 

We are so grateful to each of our stitchers, those who join us in person, and the unseen angels that send their goods our way. You make us ‘look good!’ We do not thank you enough for the contributions you so generously provide. We are so pleased you are a part of our ministry here at Grace. 

We are also grateful for the support of the variety of staff at Grace who encourages us, provide services for our meetings, continuing to make us welcome as part of the greater Grace community. 

Thanks to all for such a remarkable year. And as of January 31, we have already received 107 items! Look out 2023. 

With gratitude, 

Barbara Ludlum 
Fran Rounds 

In total, Stitching Ministry created 654 “Items of Love” in 2022. This included: 80 pairs of mittens; 81 lap robes; 99 scarves; 113 hats for adults; 157 hats for infants and toddlers; 15 infant sweaters; 2 adult-sized sweaters and shawls, and 107 miscellaneous items. 

In collaboration with a multitude of local agencies, Stitching Ministry donated “Gifts of Love and Caring” to Laguna Honda Elder Care Unit; SF Night Ministry; Seaman’s Church Institute; GLIDE Memorial Church, Women’s Center; Bayview Mission; SF Homeless Prenatal Program; and directly to individuals when called upon. In addition, funds raised from items sold at Grace’s annual Advent Sale this last Christmas season contributed toward benefitting the programs of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries and Grace. 

New volunteers are welcome to join and meet up with the other stitchers around the table or to craft independently at home. Folks can also stop by to see what it’s all about without having to create anything. Please visit to learn more about this creatively powerful ministry and how to get involved. 

Dinner with Grace builds community, engenders empathy, and combats loneliness through the power of volunteering. We cook healthy meals for individuals who have moved out of homelessness and into supportive housing. We then share this meal in fellowship with our community, the residents of the Mentone and Crosby hotels nearby in the Tenderloin of San Francisco.  

As our ministry joyfully looks forward to our volunteer cooking-and-serving relaunch this coming January, we wish to reflect on our experience over the past two-plus years. We also wish to thank Grace Cathedral for its continued support. Grace provided hope during an unprecedented, challenging time for our ministry and world. 

When in-person group volunteering opportunities came to a halt due to the utter disruption of the pandemic, we pivoted in order to remain connected to our community. Through dedicated coordination and creative problem-solving, Dinner with Grace continued in service to the Crosby and Mentone. 

While Covid restrictions prevented volunteers from gathering to cook in the cathedral’s kitchen or serve and visit as a group at the Mentone and Crosby, we provided residents with tangible reminders of our concern and support. Dinner with Grace coordinated with local companies and small businesses, when possible, to prepare and deliver individually plated, warm meals to each SRO on a modified schedule.

This included providing tasty meals through local La Cocina, whose mission includes empowering women and low-income entrepreneurs by providing resources and mentorship to help grow their businesses. We were honored to support their purpose of business equity in place of volunteer-prepared meals. When possible, one or (at most) two vaccinated, masked volunteers assisted with the catered meal delivery and distribution or delivery of dessert. Nicole Stahl, DwG volunteer ministry leader, personally delivered cookies on several occasions.

We provided catered meals for the holidays during Covid-restrictions and will do so again this Christmas as we ramp up for our January relaunch. Nicole and dedicated DwG volunteer, Angel Rivera, will deliver custom-designed Christmas cards in addition to goody bags of holiday cookies packaged lovingly in festive, eco-friendly treat bags. 

Meanwhile, a small group of DwG volunteers gathered on Zoom for catch-up chats, and this year’s Congregation Sunday provided a welcome opportunity to connect in person again. Dean Malcolm Young stopped at our table and met some of our core volunteers.  

As we set our sights on January’s horizon, Dinner with Grace feels extraordinary gratitude for Grace Cathedral, our congregants, volunteers, and the Mentone and Crosby. We welcome you to join us in hope and vibrant service in 2023! Learn more about how you can get involved at

Thank you!

The Fill-A-Need team wishes to thank all our volunteers, including St Veronica’s Guild out of Bayview Mission, who joined us in our mask-making initiative when the pandemic hit. Several in our community dusted off their sewing machines and started making cotton face masks to donate when the stay-at-home order was in place. As the pandemic continued, along with the need for fabric face masks, our volunteers could provide masks at no cost to those requesting one, whether individuals or larger groups.

Recipients included individuals in our community, including but not limited to: congregants and neighbors; those we serve in our ministries, including Seniors with Grace and SRO (single residence occupancy) residents served by Dinner with Grace; and other philanthropic/civic groups in need and not in a financial position to purchase masks.

We also wish to thank the several ministries and organizations our stitchers supported by coordinating with us to supply fabric masks and all those who donated elastic fabric and their time and service to this cause.

Fill-A-Need at Grace Cathedral

Our connections to our community and our world are strong and vibrant. When we can support a greater cause, we assist by filling any needs.

Summer is peeking its hopeful head around the corner as we head into Grace Cathedral’s upcoming Seniors with Grace community event offerings. On behalf of Grace Cathedral’s Senior Ministry, the Rev. Mary Carter Greene, the Rev. Margaret Deeths, and I, Program Coordinator, wish to express our utmost gratitude for our senior community.  

For the first time since March of 2022, Seniors with Grace met in person instead of virtually in the Chapter House Dining Room to enjoy Senior Community Day: Brunch, Program, and Eucharist (In-Person). We reunited with many dear friends and welcomed new ones first on May 18 and again this last Wednesday, June 15.  

As our cathedral continues to safely reopen, Senior Ministry remains focused on community health, both physically and socially. Therefore, we are offering a hybrid Senior Community Day series in which we will continue to embrace both online and in-person gatherings moving forward. For the health and safety of our senior community, we continue to require vaccination to attend our in-person events in addition to requiring wearing masks during the noon Eucharist service. Masks are allowed to be removed when eating. 

Since not all our senior friends can attend our in-person Senior Community Day, we will also continue to meet online as we all learned how to do over these last two years. Whether it be due to distance (virtual meetups allow us to embrace friends geographically both near and far), a vaccine sensitivity or health issue, or just a preferred comfort level of meeting online, we are grateful for the connectivity experience of Zoom.  

Seniors with Grace will gather in-person on the 3rd Wednesday of each month (pre-registration required so that we know how much food to prepare) while also continuing our virtual gatherings on Zoom (online and accessible by phone) on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. 

Understandably, it can get confusing remembering which event is which in this new world of face-to-face and online meetups! Therefore, to help distinguish between in-person and online Senior Community Day events, we have given each a distinct title. 

Senior Community Day: Brunch, Program, and Eucharist: (In-Person) meets on the 3rd Wednesday of each month in the Chapter House Dining Room at Grace Cathedral starting at 10 am and concluding by 1 pm. 

Senior Tuesday Zoom: Online meets virtually on the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 11:30 am to 1 pm. This online community gathering is accessible to those in our community at all levels of technology: internet access; cell phone; and land line (toll free). 

We look forward to embracing our seniors at whichever of our community days suits their needs. Each person brings their unique self and contributes to our community’s mission to connect with one another in this journey of life. We feel excited to continue experiencing community, faith, and one another moving in new ways both in-person and online during The Year of Connection. We hope to see you soon! 

Learn more at

“Peg was the storyteller, not me,” Bill claims. True, his late wife Peg was quite the storyteller. However, I believe our seniors would agree with me that, actually, Bill himself is a riveting storyteller and now carries her torch.

Our seniors connected with guest presenter Bill Van Loo and his project titled “Difference” this last Senior Community Day in June. We shared a moving 45-minute journey that ran the gamut of emotions. We laughed with Bill at times, dropped our jaws in wonder at others, and dabbed at misty eyes.

“Difference” is the title of a series of images Bill crafted for a “Stations of the Cross” exhibit displayed inside the cathedral this past Lent. Originally dubious when asked to present his project to our Seniors with Grace in June, he reconsidered when I suggested the content remained relevant past the holy time.

Bill mused, “My first reaction was that after April the ‘Stations’ would be stale. But then I recalled my goal when creating the ‘Stations’ series: I wanted to tell two stories. One story relates the photo chosen for this Station to the Station carving, which is pictured below the print. The second story unfolds in the series of pictures themselves: [stories] of ‘Difference in the Family’ and [stories] of ‘Difference in Society.’ Those stories are still worth sharing – [including] discussion on the question of how age (like in ‘Seniors’) is too often treated as ‘Different’ in our youth-oriented society.”

Bill detailed how he and Peg “raised a family many would identify as ‘Different’ – both birth and adopted children, black and white, able bodied and disabled.” He invited us to “explore how we perceive the infinite range of differences that characterize—and often separate—us as children of God.” Stories included: his conservative parents’ skeptical reaction learning he and Peg would be adopting a biracial child; their biological son’s sibling relationship with their adopted son; adopting a Vietnamese daughter, with polio, saved through Operation Babylift at the end of the Vietnam War and then, decades after and through pure chance, meeting the man who originally organized it; and Peg’s devastating diagnosis of multiple sclerosis decades ago, accompanied by the mesmerizing portrait he took of her thereafter.

Bill’s images transitioned from his unique family experience to portraits of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. Bill asked our group to consider the protesters’ expressions and look deep in their eyes to witness their pain. How do our seniors “see” them? How may our seniors be different and how may they be similar? Bill concluded by encouraging our seniors to share how they felt different or left out in our society. After some silence, hands went up, stories were shared, and thoughtful questions were raised.

Ultimately, “Difference” led our seniors toward connection with Bill, with each other, and with the greater human condition.

Earlier in the day, we welcomed the Rev. Heather Erickson, our new Director of Senior Ministries and Outreach, to the fold! Heather dove right in and scrambled fresh eggs for our seniors. Our beloved dynamic chef duo, Gail and Arleen, prepared a fresh chicken salad, complete with accoutrements, for lunch. The lovely Rev. Margaret Deeths made sure our seniors each had a full plate, Rob Stuart buttered oven-warmed bread, and Jim Murray made sure the coffee never ran dry. Our day concluded with the distribution of “Senior Care Bags” and hugs to hold us over until we meet again next month.

“Treasure the stories,” Bill advised when I later thanked him for his presentation. Wise words, however different and/or similar we may all seem and feel.

To learn more about Seniors with Grace, please visit

To see more photos from our day together, please click on our Flickr link at June Senior Community Day.

How do you say farewell to our Ven. Canon Nina Pickerrell on her final Senior Community Day before she embarks on the next chapter of her pastoral journey? First, you make sure she is a guest presenter. That way, she has to come! Second, you get Jumon Bell, Cathedral Receptionist, to also be a guest presenter. Power in numbers! Third, you take a silly group photo to give as a gift because, let’s be honest, Nina is just as uncomfortable with big emotional goodbyes as much as you are. What do you get after all that? A memorable “Bon Voyage!” from Seniors with Grace.

At 11:00 a.m. Thursday, May 30th, Nina and Jumon took center stage as our guest presenters. Each shared historical photos and stories about their family histories. Nina detailed her grandfather’s role in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Jumon took us through his father’s career as a San Francisco Cable Car operator. Nina brought in original photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge being built. Other photos revealed Nina’s grandfather’s fabrication shop, featuring workmen cutting and welding rebar. The delicate handwriting of Nina’s grandmother offered details on the back of each photo. Nina offered glimpses into her personal life as well, including memories of her time as a young woman in the military. Yes, Nina joined up so she could “see the world.” Hand on hip, she recounted, “And guess what? They stationed me…in the Presidio! Just a few miles away from my home.” Go figure. Eventually, she was stationed in Belgium where her dreams to see more of the world came to fruition.

Jumon’s photographs of his father spanned several decades (and versions of the SF Muni uniform). He showed pictures of his diverse family and told stories about their roots in San Francisco and Mississippi. Our seniors fell silent when Jumon shared a picture of his father’s high school graduation photo. “Look at his expression,” he pointed out. “Think of what it must have been like for a young black man in Mississippi back then. I see the heaviness in his eyes.” Jumon’s dad decided to take and chance and make the leap to California, banking that he could make a better life out here. He worked his way up the SF Muni ranks, eventually training other cable car operators. He also started a family, and thus we have Jumon!

With Nina serving for over 23 years with Grace Cathedral, and Jumon with us for 10 years and counting, many of us learned more about them in their guest presentations than we may have collectively learned in years. As for Nina, our seniors showered her in hugs and gifts. Among them, a polka dot scarf symbolizing one of Nina’s signature phrases when telling stories: “And, you know, dot dot dot.”

We did our best but, yes, some salty tears were held back while others escaped. Before our group departed in the afternoon, Nina advised, “It’s all about connections. Go deeper. Ask questions. Get to know one another.” And with that, we cut the cake (carrot, her favorite) and wished her all the best and more as she moves forward to become Archdeacon for the Diocese of California.

We welcome our seniors to return every 4th Thursday of the month to share in community with one another and all who join us for the day.

Learn more about Seniors with Grace.

When it comes to cell phones, do you love them, hate them, or find yourself somewhere in between? “How many of our seniors here today own a mobile phone?” Special guest (and regular volunteer fresh from Australia!) Steph McNally presented us with “Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Cell Phone but Were Afraid to Ask.”

Steph opened her presentation with PowerPoint slides detailing her own telephone background beginning with a land-line (with the clack-clack-clack rotary dialing system that I found myself feeling nostalgic over), to a bulky walkie-talkie looking mobile phone, leading ultimately to her current smartphone, specifically an iPhone. “I remember if a friend had lots of 8’s or 9’s in their phone number, that was a drag,” she recalled from her early life when using a rotary phone. “And ‘smartphone’…I don’t know if I like that term. As if a flip phone is somehow dumb? A regular cell phone is still an amazing piece of technology. Let’s discuss the differences between both.” Steph reminded our group that the birth of the iPhone took place in none other than San Francisco on January 9, 2007 at the Moscone Center. I think it is fair to say that cell phones (“smart” or otherwise) can intimidate anyone new to them, and that includes our seniors. Imagine the leaps in technology in their lifetimes! For me, it still feels like the Star Trek of my childhood come to life.

Steph also invited seniors in our group to speak from their own experience. Colorful and spirited Brenda accepted the microphone and explained how her senior-tailored cellphone plan from Jitterbug fit her needs very nicely. Big plusses for her included “human customer service” in which a “patient and understanding” representative helps with questions and “you can change your plan based on your needs month to month.”

Another one of our seniors, Kent (who has fabulous long hair I might add), explained how he uses the calendar on his Smartphone to stay socially and politically involved. “I just put the event into my calendar and I get a reminder when it is coming up. That way, I don’t miss anything. If I choose to not go, I simply remove it from my calendar.” True story, Kent motivated me to use my own cell calendar more often. Sometimes, I embrace my personal dinosaur ways, but Kent made a heck of a point that it “only takes 60 seconds to make an entry” so why not just do it?

After concluding our adventures with cell phones, our seniors made their way to the 12:10 Holy Eucharist and then gathered round in the dining room for lunch. Our trusty chefs Arleen and Gail fulfilled a special request from Reverend Canon Nina Pickerrell for a “picnic lunch” of hot dogs and potato salad. We also had another guest volunteer, Julie, helping serve (who had previously volunteered to help with our Bishop’s 50+ Anniversary Evensong back in February), along with Reverend Margaret Deeths dishing out guacamole.

Our day concluded just shy of 2 pm after sharing senior care bags containing groceries and supplies. We welcome our seniors to return every 4th Thursday of the month to share in community with one another and all who join us for the day.

Learn more about Seniors with Grace.

See more photos from our day together.

Seniors with Grace welcomed special guest Judith Dold, Professional Organizer Owner of Twilight Organizing, for Senior Community Day on Thursday, June 28. With bright aqua blue hair, warm energy and a winning smile, Judith helped our seniors (and Grace staff who dropped in) demystify the decluttering process. I know I leaned forward in my seat.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics makes a case (in my own layman’s terms) that the universe, well, prefers entropy. I interpret clutter as an everyday reminder of said entropy. Therefore, it seems fair to say that most of us could benefit from accepting that clutter happens and we all struggle with it to varying degrees. Judith explained, “Decluttering can sometimes feel like an emotionally charged word. It not only describes an action that many of us feel impelled to take for important reasons, but also one that sparks confusion and procrastination.” Her goals for our seniors included “demystifying the organizing process” and making “decluttering less overwhelming.” Judith talked with us about “how to clear energy-zapping clutter [in order to] gain a fresh perspective on possessions so that individuals can create a more relaxing, safe and comfortable home life.”

The Rev. Canon Nina Pickerrell also enlisted massage therapist Sundhi M. from our Senior Health Fair for the morning. Sundhi offered ten-minute chair massage to our seniors, Seniors with Grace staff and volunteers.

After a question-and-answer session, followed by a round of applause for Judith’s compassionate and human presentation, our seniors headed to the cathedral for the 12:10 pm Holy Eucharist. Some stayed behind to rest and lightly socialize or read. After mass came the seriously tasty, freshly prepared taco salad served up by our beloved chef duo, Arleen and Gail. Rob stood at the ready, butter knife in hand for the cranberry walnut bread.

As is our custom, our seniors departed, each with a full belly, a senior care bag stocked with goodies and groceries and an open invitation to return next month, and every 4th Thursday of the month, to share in community.

Learn more about Seniors with Grace.

See more photos from our day together.

For the partner still living, sometimes the silence in the months following a beloved spouse’s death is a uniquely challenging time. The funeral is done. The friends who surrounded us with love and hugs and words of support have gone back to their lives. Life returns to “normal” as it were, at least for everyone else, so it may seem. We aren’t any less loved in the absence of all the activity. It might feel like it, but such is the cycle of birth and death in this thing we call life: Joy interwoven with pain, the price exacted for the breaths and years we are gifted.

And so it passes that I write this in memoriam and in honor of Peg Van Loo in June, though she passed earlier this year in February. We have warm sun in lieu of our infamous fog today. Light shines through my windows. My plants look as if they are leaning toward the warmth. I am at my keyboard, looking at Peg’s memorial picture pinned up in my cubicle here at Grace. In it, a silver crown adorns her head, her slightly waved, bobbed hair peeking out from underneath. She’s raising a red- and gold-topped scepter in the air with her right hand, her left hand curled into a fist — the only sign in this photo of the Multiple Sclerosis so rudely taking hold of her body. A bright red sash boldly contrasts with her lavender sweater and grey knit scarf. Her smile is wide open and wonderfully alive, just like my memory of Peg. “Yes dear. Yes to life. Yes to laughter. Yes to love.”

As I sit here contemplating the life and wonder of our congregant and friend, I return to a special experience from Senior Community Day back in October of 2017. Our Outreach team intended to save this memory to share later as “gift” blog post following our Bishop’s 50+ Anniversary Evensong last February in celebration of Bill and Peg reaching 50 years of marriage together. But life sometimes has other plans in mind for us. Peg fell ill, and, on a Saturday morning, the Rev. Canon Nina Pickerrell gently informed me, “We lost our dear Peg this morning.” My knee-jerk reaction was, “I never got the chance to share the blog with her.”

And then the flurry of activity that happens when a loved community member passes began: wanting to say the “right” thing, to give comforting words to Bill. Anything but, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Not because that is not a helpful thing to say, but because those words somehow do not express my fierce desire to hold onto the light and acknowledge that, really, there is maybe no “right” thing to say during such a time. Instead, I gave Bill a “ninja hug,” sneaking in from the side. I offered homage to Peg’s spirit and offered up a story about my newly adopted rescue dog and my hopes that he might befriend, instead of perhaps eat, the kitten I hoped to get next. I thought, “Peg would maybe appreciate me being ridiculous and helping him to laugh.”

Therefore, this blog post has shifted in intention, content and timing. I see the yellow Post-It note marking the page of my blue, spiral-bound notebook. My writing reads, “Gift to Bill + Peg” in a simple scrawl. The text looks casual. It speaks a tone of, “I’ll return to this soon.”

What I remember most is how Peg’s energy filled the room. I found her positivity both striking and inspiring. Peg always had a smile for me — every time. She would come to Senior Community Day and greet our preschool visitors with joy when a small troupe would visit for breakfast. I remember, years ago, when our assistant director of music at the time was shifting careers from cathedral music to the aviation industry, Peg took the time to create a “picture” of Lawrence flying away in an airplane for his going away celebration. If I recall correctly, she styled the image to make it resemble a stained-glass window, à la church and Grace Cathedral.

That was Peg. Thoughtful, creative, full of ideas and generous in spirit. The Rev. Jude Harmon and I remarked, talking one day in our staff kitchen and still in a daze of new grief, that she remained more positive than many people who have full use of their bodies every day. Yes, that includes me. I say that with the caveat that we are all human. It is okay if we aren’t as bright as Peg always was in public. We have our ups and downs. Here at Grace Cathedral, though, Peg shined in the face of MS. She inspired us. She inspired me.

And now I have come full circle to conclude with offering a glimpse into Peg’s experience at Senior Community Day back on October 26, 2017. That Thursday at 11 am, Ben Bachmann, Canon Director of Music, presented our senior group with a special organ recital inside the cathedral. During one piece, I observed tears well up in Peg’s eyes. Between pieces, I asked if she was alright. “I was taken back 50 years,” she whispered. The music started again. I let her be and instead asked for backstory later when we gathered for a senior community lunch of baked salmon with roast potatoes. By coincidence, Ben had included a piece in his performance that Peg and Bill had used just shy of 50 years before as their wedding march! She explained how “back then” when she and Bill married, their musical selection broke with tradition at the time and caused “quite a stir.” She continued, “Now, no one even uses those [traditional] songs.”

“Well, Peg, you were simply ahead of the curve,” I mused. I like to imagine that, wherever her spirit is, she remains as such: joyful, warm in spirit and ahead of the curve.

“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” – Edwin Way Teale

All things seem possible this May over at Bayview Mission! Our volunteers gathered on May 15, as we do every second Monday of each month, to serve our local families with infants and toddlers in addition to our neighborhood seniors.

First, a special shout-out and thank you to the donors of St Luke’s Episcopal Church and St Matthew’s Episcopal Day School for their assistance. We hosted forty-eight families with their infants and toddlers. (Six grandparents came with their grandchildren.) Our senior neighbors also came by to take part in the activities.

On special duty was Sundi from Healing Circles Massage offering chair massages to those most in need as a special treat. One of the recipients dedicates herself to caretaking for her senior mom. She stopped by for supplies but wanted to hurry back and attend to her mom’s needs. The Rev. Canon Nina Pickerrell insisted she take a small break to make sure she was also taking care of herself that day. After some gentle persuasion, she agreed to a chair massage and, for that small space of time, Sundi was able to caretake the caretaker.

Another story that day, related by the Rev. Canon Nina, articulates a sad story about a family in need. “I was called over by Luz, a volunteer, to speak with a woman with three children. Long story – short version – the mother is being deported on June 5. Her husband and three children can stay, although she has to leave. The family made the decision to have the three children go with their mother. This is heartbreaking. We loaded two suitcases with infant/toddler clothing, along with shoes, sandals, blankets, and wipes. The family will come by next Monday and we will pack a suitcase with diapers.”

At Bayview Mission, we witness and experience the highs and the lows of those in our community whom we care for and about. We strive, amidst both pain and joy, to offer our service and support, lifting each other up in the best of times, and holding each other close in the harder times.

By the Rev. Canon Nina Pickerrell & Tracee Zyla

To learn more about Bayview Mission and how to get involved, please visit

At 3:24 pm in the afternoon on Saturday, April 21, Grace Cathedral’s inaugural Senior Health Fair, in collaboration with the San Francisco Interfaith Council, concluded. The last table was put away, the final table cloth folded, and the coffee pots returned to the shelves. Our volunteers waved goodbye to our participants and senior guests.

In total, twenty-two agencies and vendors from all around San Francisco joined us to celebrate our seniors. Our fair started with keynote speakers, followed by breakout groups and workshops, and at noon we gathered together for a fresh lunch of healthy soup, salad, and bread served out on the plaza in the beautiful weather. 

We gave out goodie bags filled with health and wellness information as well as dental and other supplies to 162 senior guests. We served a free lunch to 145 folks of all ages and SF Marin Food Bank handed out 81 bags of food! 

We wish to offer a special thanks to: Cynthia S. Zamboukos, SFIC Program/Administrative Associate, for her administrative and moral support, and our keynote speakers: The Rev. Dr. Ellen Clark-King, our Executive Pastor and Canon for Social Justice; Michael Pappas, SF Interfaith Council Executive Director and Rita Semel, founding member of SF Interfaith Council. 

We bow in humble gratitude to our stellar volunteers, with an extra round of applause to Steph and Rob for steering our team! We appreciate each and every senior (and all ages therein) who joined us. And we offer thanks to our participants and vendors who shared their time with us on Saturday all for the cause of helping our seniors live with grace:

Grace Cathedral and the San Francisco Interfaith Council
Sara C. Stephens, RN, Sally Griesbach RN, Marguerite Verhille, RN, & Alicia Sakai, PharmD
SF-Marin Food Bank
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS)
Community Living Campaign
Covia (formerly Episcopal Senior Communities)
Carol James, Grace Cathedral Program Manager offering meditations
Compassionate Community Care
Department of Aging and Adult Services, City and County of San Francisco
Dignity Health
Family Caregiver Alliance
The Healthier Living Project (HL)
Homestreet Home Mortgage
Jay Greene Law Firm
MED-Project Medication Education & Disposal
NEMS North East Medical Services
Physicians Organizing Committee
RTSF Rebuilding San Francisco Together
SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline
San Francisco CASA
San Francisco Department of Elections
Twilight Organizing

On the morning of Saturday, May 12, Grace Cathedral teamed up again with Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger relief organization that distributes food and aid to the world’s most vulnerable. Volunteers came from near and far:  from a mother and her teenage son who drove up from San Jose, to others hailing from the East Bay, up north and around San Francisco, to some walking to the cathedral from their homes across the street. You have to see it to believe it: our group of about thirty volunteers packaged 10,000 dehydrated meals in just two hours.

Clifford, our energetic leader from Rise Against Hunger, set us up into teams of six people. He demonstrated how each of us on a team would assemble the meals at tables set up with supplies: one volunteer places a nutrition packet inside a clear labeled bag and then holds the unsealed opening under a funnel; the next volunteer pours in one cup of dry soy protein; the next adds one scoop of dehydrated veggies; the next pour in one cup of rice; the next weigh the bag for accuracy and the last volunteer seals the bag. Voila! Each complete, sealed meal feeds multiple people around the world where food is most needed. For example, Rise Against hunger distributes food to schools worldwide so that children are able to power their bellies and their brains, thus empowering their education.

Clifford kept our spirits lifted and played upbeat tunes on a large speaker while we worked together. To inspire morale, he’d select a volunteer to ring a shiny gong every time we completed one thousand sealed bags. (It’s the little things sometimes that really bind a group together.) The gong set the tone to keep us going. And, of course, the hats. Nothing speaks “fabulous” like wearing a bright red food safety cap. It’s simply the height of fashion. Wearing our mighty hats and chatting between gong ringings, our group reached our goal of 10,000 packaged meals just as Grace Cathedral’s carillon signalled noon. Success! Church bells rang as folks shared hugs and then departed, energized, to go forth into Saturday.

We look forward to hosting another meal packaging event in the future. To learn more about how to get involved, please visit our volunteer page.