I believe that the work of the American Friends Service Committee is meaningful, Spirit-led, hard work.
Among my many, many memories, I recall participating in a Management Team meeting at a time when the Criminal Justice Program was desperately working on mitigating the sentence of a man who was about to be executed. During the meeting we received the news that the authorities has proceeded with the execution. AFSC staff had done everything within their power to save his life – but it was not enough.
This work is emotional work. We couldn’t keep going – we just sat in silence. What had been a working session in that instant became a Meeting for Worship. We had been talking about work plans for the future but we got slapped in the face by reality; the reality that our work is and has always been about life and death.
It was continually like that – work with the AFSC pulled at your emotions. Staff had to be courageous.
At a management retreat led by former General Secretary Mary-Ellen, we were charged with determining ‘two big hairy audacious goals’ for the work of the Committee. The depth and passion of the discussions that followed made it clear to me that the people who worked for the Service Committee put the world’s needs before their own.
The work and experience were not always easy but AFSC offered me the opportunity to leave the world a better place than I found it by means of my faith. Ultimately, the Service Committee changed my life and made me the ‘much improved’ human being that I am today.
For the rest of my life I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the blessed souls of the American Friends Service Committee.
Thank you Madeleine, May-Ellen, my fellow Regional Directors, the staff and volunteers of SERO, colleagues in Philadelphia and everyone else who I worked with and learned from during my tenure ~ Valerie.