Each Thursday, Thrivent member Amy Gutierrez observes her neighbor, Monique Ortiz, prepare for Open Cathedral, an outdoor English-Spanish worship service in the heart of San Francisco.
The services are open to all, but are specifically designed to be a safe, friendly place for some of the city's most marginalized residents. San Francisco has one of the highest homeless populations in the U.S. The ministry aims to nourish spirit and body for that population by providing meals after each worship service.
Inspired by Ortiz's work, Gutierrez thought about how she could contribute to the effort. Her solution: Lead a Thrivent Action Team to make a meal for those attending Open Cathedral. But instead of asking other adults to join her volunteer team, she challenged her then-10-year-old daughter Kayla and her friends to team up and help make a difference.
A heartwarming experience in serving others
Gutierrez used Thrivent Action Team seed money to purchase food and paper products. Under her supervision, Kayla and her friends cleaned, chopped, diced and spiced chicken and vegetables. They simmered soup while sharing stories about their families and their different cultures. When the pint-sized sous chefs finished in the kitchen, they helped pack up the soup and headed for Open Cathedral.
"I didn't really understand the impact this would have on so many people. But as soon as that first bite of food touched their lips, I could see how it made them light up."
The Action Team volunteers helped set up, visited with those who gathered, participated in worship, served food and cleaned up. After the service Kayla and her friends jumped right in, serving more than 80 people a warm cup of soup.
"This is about far more than serving the homeless," says Gutierrez. "It's about capturing the opportunity to live generously, letting your light shine and watching as wonderful things unfold."
"When my mom asked me to be part of this project, I expected we would just make soup, drive to San Francisco and serve it," recalls Kayla. "I didn't really understand the impact this would have on so many people. But as soon as that first bite of food touched their lips, I could see how it made them light up."
They also heard stories from those in attendance, learned about their struggles, witnessed the power of faith, and saw how joy and laughter can exist during sad situations. The entire process helped Kayla and her friends experience how they can make a meaningful difference for – and learn from – those in true need.
"I learned people can be blessed in different ways," says Kayla. "Some have an unlimited supply of happiness, while others have an unlimited supply of kindness. But the most important thing I learned was that these people have so much courage and bravery."
Let your generosity shine
Find out more about the Thrivent Action Team program or learn how easy it is for Thrivent members to apply to take action now!