During the fall, many congregations start their annual stewardship campaigns, asking members to pledge for the coming budget year. Many stewardship campaigns ask people to give not just in monetary terms. The phrase one might see is to give of your “time and talent.”
For Dick Patterson, giving of his time and talent is part of what makes a moral life. While some people might be satisfied with writing a check to a cause they love, Dick marries his giving with action. A retired pediatric radiologist who spent most of his career at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Dick only learned about Beacon since he and his wife Barb became members at Edina Community Lutheran Church nearly two years ago. But over this short time, he has become an active leader and an active donor. Patterson took part in the Beacon Day on the Hill in 2017 and came away impressed.He noticed that many of the legislators he talked to recognized Beacon. He also liked the chance to meet the lawmakers and advocate on housing issues. “It felt like forward motion,” Patterson said.
The creation of 66 West in Edina also made him want to get more involved. When 66 West opened in Edina in 2017, Dick was one of many who was elated that what began as a dream in a church basement had become a reality. Dick could see Beacon produced tangible results that tackled the problem of housing and homelessness. “It’s not just talk,” he said.
Since his initial encounter with Beacon, Patterson lived up to his giving of time by being involved within the Collaborative in other ways, such as participating in Beacon Academy and speaking at the February 2018 Congregation Convening. It was his activity in Beacon that pushed him toward giving of his “talents” or finances.
There are many agencies in the Twin Cities that focus on housing. Why does Patterson give to Beacon? First is that he loves that Beacon is a collaborative of faith communities focused on housing. Second, for Beacon there is a realization that shelter is a moral concern. “There is a recognition that housing is a moral issue,” Patterson said. “It’s not just because it makes sense or is a good idea…people of many different faiths can come to the same conclusion, it’s something other than a good idea - it’s a moral imperative.”
“There is a recognition that housing is a moral issue.”
The third reason Patterson gives is that Beacon targets the portion of the population with the greatest need and fewest resources. “We know that affordable housing is a problem whether you’re at 80 percent AMI (area medium income) or 50 percent AMI,” Patterson said. “But some things are being done at those levels. What about the people at 30 percent [AMI]? So I think that ties in well with the moral imperative.”
“There are needs across the board, but this organization says ‘We get that. Here are the people we are dedicated in helping.”
How does his faith encourage him to give? “It’s all about time and talent,” he says. “Giving time and talent does seem to be part of a moral life. It’s a practice, like learning to save.” He adds that he believes he has been blessed with much and should give back. “Many of us have received a lot, and we recognized there are a lot of needs…[giving back] that’s just something that you do.” The percentages of time and talent change over time, but Dick believes that there is always a time to give.
Patterson’s involvement in giving his time and talent with Beacon has pushed him to pursue further education in order to understand housing better. Starting in January, Dick will begin a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Minnesota. The link between housing and public health began when he attended a gathering of the Academy of Pediatrics in Houston where they discussed how adverse childhood experiences can impact the health of children decades later. While lack of housing wasn’t included in the adverse childhood experiences, he believes that the lack of adequate housing or the experience of homelessness can impact children for years, if not decades. “If you look at the availability of safe affordable housing, how can you do well in school if you move six times in a year?” Dick asks. “The longer I look at this,” he adds, “the more I realize that if you look at the hierarchical needs, what is the most basic human need? I used to think it was food. But I don’t think it’s food, but shelter.”
That has led him to pursue the Public Health degree. Patterson explained he spent 30 years working with children on an individual basis. Now he wanted to take the 30,000 feet view on children spaced over months and even years, rather than the short time period he had looking at images.
As he embarks on the next phase of his life, Patterson gives the following advice to potential donors: “Look at your charitable giving and your interests and make sure they match,” he says. It all goes back to time and talent. “Where are you spending your time? What do you think is important? Then, just make that the basis of your decision on how to make charitable contributions.”