The word “grace” was in the title of his talk, but he never mentioned grace while sharing several points with the audience. He wrapped up his talk saying, “grace is love demonstrated.”
It’s demonstrated by how we respond to the homeless in our community…the children in our schools…those struggling with mental difficulties … those in pain as they face vocational transition…respond to racism and injustice, he said. “All require we be people of grace.”
Jackson, the president of William Jessup University in Rocklin, said that perseverance is a great trait of leaders in this season. He cited Winston’s Churchill’s famous speech “never, never, never, never, never give up.” He frankly admitted that if he had the power, he’d shutdown social media that has fractured the country. He related that his parents, both Republicans and protestants, regularly had dinner with their best friends, liberal Hollywood Jews. They would loudly debate politics and leave as friends—that was during the turbulent late 1960s.
We’ve largely lost that ability in our society today.
Jackson’s keynote address was followed by CityServe’s quick update. Executive Director Christine Beitsch-Bahmani said she’s never signed as many checks as she did during the Covid 19 crisis when CityServe was the point agency for dealing with homeless and those who could not pay their rent. The organization put $1,339,260 into the community, serving 2,093 individuals. Early on in the lockdown they were able to place 40 people into hotels and about half of them now have permanent housing.
Beitsch-Bahmani invited two people to share their experiences with CityServe. Ingrid Romero described how her 20-year-old daughter connected with a homeless young man who did not have a job. They helped him with a hotel and raised money until those funds ran out. Cornerstone Fellowship connected them with Margaretann Fortner on the CityServe team who worked with the young man to develop a plan and hold him accountable. Romero shared that in the end it didn’t work out because the guy was happy to take the handouts, but did not want to do the work himself.
A happy client, Rachel Cox, who has been homeless since 2011, said she hit bottom in 2019 with her addiction. She and her partner checked themselves in for treatment—he had to leave once the organization learned they were a couple. She spent 13 months there and told the crowd she’d reconnected with her partner and they were living in a bush by an overpass when CityServe staffers found her. Now she has a place to live with a door that locks while her partner is in his third month of treatment. She could not say enough about the CityServe team.
The organization, originally started by a consortium of churches, now brings together the community, businesses, churches and government. It’s goal is to “mobilize mercy” in the Tri-Valley. The organization has just launched a new website that is designed to facilitate connections. www.cityservecares.org
As has been typical, the city of Dublin bought a table and Mayor Melissa Hernandez attended along with City Manager Linda Smith and others. Notably missing were elected officials or senior city staff from Livermore and Dublin. Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert also attended—he seemingly shows up everywhere.