by Amy Gutierrez
What started in June as a project to teach my daughter and her friends how to cook soup became so much more! With God's grace and blessings, it blossomed and grew into a rich and generous opportunity for believers and non-believers to come together and demonstrate goodness and caring and serve the homeless in San Francisco. And, along the way, we were touched and grew thanks to the wisdom of those in the City. Isn't that what this journey is all about? All of us, regardless of faith or background, reaching out to help each other live a better life?
Every day, life presents opportunities to help someone in need. At first glance, the video may appear to be only about helping the homeless. After all, every night for the past 50 years, San Francisco Night Ministry has provided support ministers who walk the streets from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., offering face-to-face conversations to those who are lonely, anxious and afraid. In this video, those served included the 80 homeless people who enjoyed a warm cup of soup following the bilingual English-Spanish Open Cathedral service, highlighting a small portion of the over 10,000 meals served annually by the organization.
However, the experience of making the soup served many more than the homeless that evening. It also served my daughter and her friends, taught how to handle a knife, how to cut onions and how to clean up after touching chicken. They were also taught about heritage and family and how to make a healthy, traditional Filipino soup using a recipe my husband’s mother cooked for him when he was a young boy and felt ill. Thanks to the generous financial donation from Thrivent Lutheran Action Teams, they also learned that large companies can believe in social justice and supporting communities. Also, by listening to the homeless speak during prayer time at Open Cathedral, they were taught about the
importance of faith and that joy and laughter can exist during sad situations.
The experience also served my amazing neighbor Monique Ortiz, one of the many pastors who works with SF Night Ministry. For the past few years, she has scrambled around Thursday morning, pulling together a meal for those who gather for worship and for those who quickly assemble after, eager to gain fortification from the food provided. Her beautiful heart greets all of her parishioners each week, accepting them in their current physical and mental state, and sharing God’s love and goodness.
Creating the song served the souls of Alyssa McCoy and Ryan Filipo, gifted musicians who felt the spirit move within them as they worked together to write and perform their rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.”
The whole process of serving, from the shopping to requesting funds for the foods to teaching the girls how to cook to traveling to the city and meeting the beautiful community that meets weekly on 16th and Mission – all of it nourished my soul. As I continue to seek my calling and purpose and struggle with balance in life, I was brought to tears to hear the stories and the sincerity of those in the city. I was honored to meet them and learn more about their lives and their struggles, and to witness the power of faith.
I also recognize the power of letting my little light shine through the creative process of sharing a vision with others, seeking resources for assistance, learning how to use my Flipvideo camera and watching as God’s grace works wonders. From friends and neighbors who babysat my younger sons or shared an encouraging word, to Victoria Jones who volunteered her amazing video editing services, to Ali Samuels who helped serve food, to Veronica Sullivan who captured the final video scenes, to my sister Karen Sill and friends Heather Young and Shelley Rice who have served as cheerleaders and editors along the way.
I am clear that this experience is about far more than serving the homeless – it’s about capturing the opportunity to live generously, letting your light shine and watching as wonderful things unfold!