No matter where you go in the Yearly Meeting region, someone is likely to know PYM’s Care and Aging Coordinator, George Schaefer, and to have felt his helping hand. A deeply knowledgeable Friend, and a trained social worker, George treads skillfully in those areas where many hesitate to go.
Having worked at Yearly meeting since early 2009, George will be taking a three-month sabbatical. He will be on leave from March 15, returning June 14th.
As Care & Aging Coordinator, George is part of the PYM Community Engagement Team. This is the core team of PYM’s program staff, led by Zachary Dutton, the PYM Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life. Zachary and the CET will be covering much of George’s pastoral care workload while George is away.
Janaki Spickard Keeler, Friends Counseling Service Coordinator will be covering George’s work in supporting friends making application to the Aging Assistance Granting Group and the PYM Greenleaf Fund.
A FAQ interview with George Schaefer and Zachary Dutton follows:
George – tell us a little about your work with care and aging concerns at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
My work with the PYM Care & Aging program has two main areas: supporting meetings with the function of pastoral care as well as helping Friends, one-on-one, who may be struggling with special situations or experiencing a personal or family crisis.
The group work I do with meetings often involves helping Friends resolve differences when they arise in the meeting community. For Friends it is important to seek support to explore resolving conflict from the perspective of our spirituality and tradition. This is an approach that is now referred to as the work of Quaker eldership.
The aging aspect of my work supports older Friends addressing the challenges they face in the “final third” of life in the meeting community as well as in their personal lives. So, this means providing resources and services to elders in our meetings and facilitating meeting retreats and learning opportunities for everyone to support aging Friends with clarity and compassion.
What issues do you handle within the PYM community and what supports do you put in place when you are called to be present in the life of a Friend?
An important part of the aging work is connecting Friends to financial resources available through PYM granting groups, the Aging Assistance Granting Group and the Greenleaf Granting Group. Of course, helping the meeting in its pastoral care response to the needs of members is important if care is to be sustained in the meeting community.
How will Janaki of Friends Counseling support your work while you on sabbatical?
In addition to her work as FCS Coordinator, Janaki will be supporting the aging part of my job, specifically helping Friends making application to the aging concerns granting groups: AAGG and Greenleaf.
Zachary, what does the transition to George being on sabbatical look like?
As George has described it, I will be the primary point of contact in the months of March, April, May and June to support meetings who’d like guidance around conflict transformation and eldership. I’ll also be available to individuals who may be struggling with special situations.
Zachary, how should Friends or clerks in need of support for Friends in their community reach out for support on issues of care and aging while George is on sabbatical?
Friends should think of what George does for our yearly meeting as part of the work of the Community Engagement Team and feel encouraged to reach out to me in addition to one of the other members: Meg, Melinda, Olivia, or T.J.
Is there anything else Friends need to know, Zachary?
We all collectively share in the work of stewarding the religious and spiritual life in our wider community, and we look forward to the work of equipping any in need with the tools they require to follow the life of the Spirit and walk cheerfully on the earth, answering that of God in everyone.