It is with a joyful sort of sadness that I announce the coming departure of Matt Sanderson from PYM staff, effective April 6, 2016. He started as Middle School Friends Assistant in 2009, and since 2012 he has served as Middle School Friends Coordinator.
Yet, actually, Matt has served our community in other ways for many years. Beginning with a time when he and I were both participants in the Young Friends Program, he has brought our community a needed vision of youth empowerment. Matt expertly draws out the gifts of our youth, as they traverse spiritual journeys of their own disposition and inspiration. Matt moves Middle Schoolers to explore deep questions about their values and the sorts of community one needs to live them out in everyday life. He has helped build a program for Middle School Friends that celebrates with each participant when they come closer to discovering who they are and how they want to bring their gifts to bare upon an ailing world.
In writing this announcement, I celebrate with him! I celebrate what Matt has helped us to do. So my sadness over Matt’s departure is also joyful. I know he will continue to serve in other roles, bringing the same needed vision to future communities of young people.
At the coming Continuing Sessions on March 19 at Arch Street Meeting House, Middle Schoolers, Young Friends, their families, and those who have volunteered with Matt are invited to attend a special celebration during lunch at the church across the street in honor of Matt’s nearly seven years of service on PYM staff.
To fill Matt’s shoes for approximately one year, while our community works together to set a renewed vision for youth programs, we have recently brought on board Tara Rubinstein.
Tara’s first full day in the office will be Tuesday, April 5, but you might see her before then around the weekend of Continuing Sessions. She will be shadowing Matt during the Middle School Friends Gathering that runs concurrently.
For the past seven years, Tara has served The Attic Youth Center as the Program Coordinator. There, she saw to the expansion of programs for the LGBTQ youth population in Philly aimed at building community, reducing isolation, combating homophobia, promoting knowledge and life skills, and developing future leaders. Tara has extensive experience in youth development within diverse contexts, including those wherein spirituality is the focus. She cultivates an active spiritual life of her own, and I am excited to see how she models it with our Middle School Friends, encouraging in them their own spiritual exploration.
Tara’s approach to youth development closely matches that which Matt and others been developing over the past few years, wherein our young people are invited to embark on journeys of discovery, uncovering and living into their fullest selves.
While the above transitions will require adjusting, they will also put us in a strong position for addressing the challenges and enhancing the successes of our yearly meeting’s youth programs for years to come!
Zachary T. Dutton
Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life