A snapshot of the Community Engagement Team’s work by Zachary Dutton, Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life
When the pandemic hit the region during the first week of March, the first thing PYM Staff did was to get on the phone.
Each member of the Community Engagement Team works closely with many community members. One of our primary roles is to serve as relationship bridges. We called, consulted, consoled, and mostly listened deeply to people in worship groups, monthly meetings, quarterly meetings, yearly meeting committees, young adults, young people, parents, families, aging Friends, and Friends in financial distress.
After it became clear that all PYM staff would need to work remotely for the foreseeable future, we also faced personal vicissitudes. We each have some combination of chosen family, close friends, extended family, parents, children, and dog/cat dependents to worry about. Stuck at home and adjusting to life under siege, each of us was connected near and far to people suffering directly from illness, financial hardship, routines thrown asunder, an increasing sense of isolation and loneliness, or some combination therein.
We are facing the same spiritual and emotional challenges those in the wider Quaker community face.
Another primary role we have as the Community Engagement Team is to practice the Quaker intention of grounding our service in spiritual renewal. Our team is not made of all Quakers, which enriches our experience of the divine. We are vulnerable, open, and willing to “be real” with each other in ways that characterize the basic idea behind Quaker spiritual transformation. Indeed, over time we have grown close, and losing our ability to be in each other’s physical presence was felt palpably.
We generated a long list of brainstormed ideas for alternative programs to support people through the COVID-19 pandemic. We also knew not to invent new programming merely for the sake of having programs. We wanted to make sure that what we developed next would meet the needs of people in local Quaker communities across the PYM geography.
We hosted video conferences with leaders of monthly and quarterly meetings, and we supported the governance of our yearly meeting through the discernment process that led to hosting 2020 Spring Continuing Sessions and Annual Sessions in online formats.
As the state of our economy and society’s public health remains in flux, we seek to embody a sense of spiritual wholeness. We honor those who are suffering, and offer the following additional resources for support during this time.
We look forward to being with everyone in a virtual community at our 2020 on-line Annual Sessions (target dates July 29-Aug 2).
Contact information for members of the Community Engagement Team is found at pym.org/contacts.
- George Schaefer, Care & Aging Coordinator
- Meg Rose, Young Adult Engagement Coordinator
- Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Religious Life Coordinator
- Olivia Brangan, Community Engagement Coordinator
- T.J. Jourian, Events & Resources Coordinator
- Zachary T. Dutton, Associate Secretary for Program and Religious Life
Emergency Grants: Meetings can reach out to George Schaefer, Care & Aging Coordinator, a member of the Community Engagement Team, about emergency grants to members of meetings.
For LGBTQI+ BIPOC Resources:
Mutual Aid Resources:
By regions and states: https://itsgoingdown.org/c19-mutual-aid/
Philly Mutual Aid Fund: Philly Mutual Aid Fund is matching donors with those in need (this is run by Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) which is a Black, Brown, & Native-led group of community members & organizers)
Local Food Banks:
Coalitions Against Hunger: http://www.hungercoalition.org/give
Philly Food Finder: https://phillyfoodfinder.org/get-involved/
New Jersey: https://cfbnj.org
Safety Fund for Survivors of Domestic Violence
CodePink a list of resources, actions people can take: https://www.codepink.org/codepink_covid_19_resources
Philadelphia just launched a COVID-19 Community Response Captain program to train folks to keep neighbors informed and they’re looking for folks to do this in English, Spanish, French, and/or Chinese:
Quaker Religious Education Collaborative: Valiant Together group on Facebook. Spiritual Formation support and resources for home and meetings.
Online counseling for teens http://creativehealingphilly.com/online-counseling
Image courtesy: Miyo Moriuchi