Today we have an update from the Ven. Nina Pickerrell and Bayview Mission about how ministry there has changed since the pandemic began. Bayview Mission is a Special Mission of the Diocese of California with strong support from Grace Cathedral. It provides much needed services, food and supplies to residents of the Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhoods.
How has your community been impacted? What are you noticing?
In the neighborhood, we’ve seen families having to move in with other family members — a house that used to have one family living there will now have three families in it. In the Bayview, food is very tight and everyone is hungry. So our food pantry is one way we’re able to help.
The situation has caused our community to come closer together, in ways that were unforeseen. For example, I put food out every day on this little table out in front — apples, oranges, bananas, onions — for people who are walking in the neighborhood, and we have a Little Free Library with books for their kids. The neighborhood is more in tune with where there are resources, and attentive to security for themselves and for one another.
The shelter-in-place has forced us to trust one another and continue to assist one another. I’m focused on being available for food and for calls from neighbors. We’re very tuned in. We’re keeping track of the sick and the elderly. One day, a water main broke, and a crowd gathered. We handed out masks for neighbors, police and firemen. One fireman said, afterward, “I’ve never seen a neighborhood so well connected.”
What has changed for you? For Bayview Mission?
Overall, at our food pantry, there are fewer volunteers, but more families in need. As soon as the shelter-in-place went into effect, we immediately had to cut back volunteers and tell them not to come. We have extended our Monday programs to every Monday instead of two times a month. Twice a month we deliver 24-25 bags of groceries to disabled seniors, and we’ve also extended our 2nd Monday program for undocumented families with children. We’re also getting referrals through the foster care system.
I and a volunteer go to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank every Monday morning at 8 a.m. Then a small group of volunteers come at 9 a.m. to bag groceries for seniors, families and the transitionally housed. We all wear masks, gloves, and remain socially distant. When we pack the bags for families, we’re adding arts-and-crafts materials for the kids, because not everyone can afford to order those things online. For those struggling with housing or living in RVs and cars, we include socks, t-shirts, wipes, toiletries, fresh fruit and vegetables, and canned goods.
There is enough food in the city! Food is not the problem — but it’s hard to get it to the people most in need. We’re grateful for the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, who are letting us shop every week, and who still have important staples like eggs and fresh vegetables.
Tell us about your mask-making project.
I’m sewing masks for neighbors and the community. We’re handing them out to our neighbors — my granddaughter poked one through the fence to her friend a few days ago. We’re able to hand them out to groups as well; people have contacted me asking for masks, and I make and deliver them. I’m hoping the diocese can become a hub for mask distribution.
How can we help?
We rely on donations. Due to the donations we’ve received, we’re lucky to have diapers and wipes, sock and t-shirts and so on. People just drive up and drop off wipes! It’s so needed. We currently need adult socks, toiletries (all sizes), baby wipes, size 5 diapers, and dental supplies. You can drop items off at Bayview Mission on Mondays from 9-11 or have items shipped directly there.