COVID-19 has left many Americans in dire situations. With millions of people filing for unemployment, this pandemic has had a devastating effect on American workers struggling to survive.
Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package to help the American economy. It is hoped that stimulus checks recently distributed will help those struggling with sudden painful poverty most; however, for some people this is ‘found’ money – something they do not actually need.
Members of the PYM Quaker community are taking steps to provide support in their communities. For example, a group of members and attenders of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (CPMM) have come together to donate $13,ooo of their stimulus checks to organizations supporting people and communities that are suffering the most from the pandemic and its catastrophic financial impacts.
In his essay, A Plea for the Poor, John Woolman wrote; “To labor too hard or cause others to do so, that we may live conformable to customs which Christ our Redeemer contradicted by his example in the days of his flesh [that is, Jesus lived a simple life], and which are contrary to divine order, is to manure a soil for propagating an evil seed in the earth.”
A number of the CPMM members and attenders came under the weight of this concern and met virtually to consider the query, “What does our faith require of us to do with the $1,200 in the face of the Corona Pandemic?” The result of the meeting was that 12 members and attenders of CPMM felt led to make a corporate witness, pledging a total of $13,ooo from their stimulus checks to people suffering job and other losses.
Arlene Kelly, a member of CPMM, told us the primary reason CPMM wanted to facilitate this witness was a wish to pay their stimulus money forward. “Our discussion so far has been guided by a sense of feeling called to ‘give back’ to the community any part of the Stimulus Check that is beyond the personal needs created by the pandemic. We’re excited to think about how such a corporate witness might strike a chord with others – within our meeting and in our wider community – prompting them to join in this witness.”
Another member of CPMM, Barbara Benton, reflected, “I was doing fine and retirement funds were supposed to outlast me. So, I’m able to think of this money as common funds I’ve been entrusted to decide what to do with, rather than ‘my’ money.”
This pandemic has impacted people and has led many to devote thought to our society at large. There is no better time to be reminded of how people inspire us to care for others.
For more information on how CPMM started this dialogue and resources, contact Terry Roberts at TerryRoberts1998@Gmail.com.
We are running regular stories on the Community’s response to Covid-19. If your monthly meeting or community is trying to make a difference, please reach out to us at PYM and let us know the stories you have to share.