Check out this Atlanta Journal Constitution article that was written on the large issue of Private Probation in Georgia. Through intake at the Southern Center for Human Rights, Atlanta Volunteer, Genevieve Beck-Roe, was able to bring Ms. Cheeks’ story to the table at SCHR, and they are now representing her and the case moving forward!
Megan Gianniny grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, as a part of Cambridge Friends Meeting. She graduated from Scripps College in May 2014 with a Gender and Women’s Studies major and Dance minor and her senior thesis was entitled “’Other than Dead:’ Queering Vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Interview with the Vampire, and The Gilda Stories.” While at Scripps, Megan worked in the Office of the President and Board of Trustees, as well as volunteering with the Office of Admissions, New Student Program, and Family, Scripps’ Queer-Straight Alliance. She spent her summers working at a Quaker camp in South China, Maine, which she had attended as a camper during her teens. When not working or studying, Megan enjoys reading, playing ukulele, and blogging about her love of all things nerdy. She is excited to spend a year exploring Atlanta and serving at the Phillip Rush Center.
Genevieve Beck-Roe grew up in West Rogers Park in Chicago. In May 2014 she graduated from Earlham College where she majored in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Genevieve attended Baltimore Yearly Meeting Camps as a child and was involved in BYM’s Young Friends and Young Adult Friends programs. While at Earlham, she spent two years living in Earlham’s Quaker House. Genevieve is excited for the opportunity to devote time to being intentional about exploring and expanding her Quakerism. In fall 2013 she participated in Earlham’s Border Studies Program based in Tucson, AZ, learning about the political economy of the US/Mexico border, grassroots activism in Mexico, and the humanitarian aid and sanctuary movements in the US. While in Tucson, she interned with Casa Mariposa, an ecumenical intentional community engaged in hospitality activism. In visiting immigration detention centers with Casa Mariposa, she became interested in the role community activism can play in the legal system. Genevieve will be serving at Southern Center for Human Rights.
Hannah Monroe graduated from Warren Wilson College in December of 2013 with a double major in Sociology/Anthropology and Environmental Studies. She received the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award from her college, an award that recognizes spiritual values applied to daily life and a commitment to serving others. She also received the Sociology/Anthropology Senior Award for her senior thesis, which looked at how animals in children’s picture books are gendered. In college Hannah organized many events around social justice issues, particularly focusing on feminism, LGBTQ equality, and animal advocacy. In her last semester she brought ecofeminist theorist, Carol Adams, to speak on her campus. During her summers, Hannah interned at three animal advocacy organizations and an LGBTQ youth center. After graduating she returned home to Rhode Island where she is working at Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living as an environmental educator and interning with American Friends Service Committee. After this year, she plans to go to graduate school for sociology or environmental studies, focusing on animal studies and eco-feminism. Hannah has been Quaker her whole life. She will be serving at Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.
Isaiah Day was born and raised in a small town in the mountains of Western Massachusetts, where he attended a small alternative high school which was extensively involved in the surrounding community. He graduated from Guilford College in 2014 with degrees in Sociology and Peace & Conflict Studies – it was here that Isaiah discovered a passion for social justice and peace-building in a multicultural setting. His senior thesis was titled “Oppression through Policy: A Human Rights-Based Review of the International Whaling Commission.” Isaiah worked for two summers at a sleep-away camp for children with developmental and behavioral disabilities, and furthered his joy of working with children more recently as an intern at SML Good Neighbors, a summer academic enrichment program for kids in rural VA. Isaiah’s interests include playing the cello, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and electronic music composition. Isaiah will be moving to the Atlanta QVS House and working at the Kindezi School in 2014-2015.
Charlotte Cloyd grew up in Atlanta attending St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, but quickly fell in love with Quakerism after attending Guilford College. She majored in English with a minor in Ceramics and wrote her honors thesis about the connection between Quakerism and William Wordsworth’s Romantic poetry. While at Guilford, Charlotte played on the school’s co-ed ultimate frisbee team, Biohazard, and co-captained the team during her senior year, enjoying the challenge to coach and captain while also being a team member. Charlotte had the opportunity to study abroad twice, once for a semester in Gaborone, Botswana studying Public Health and a second time during the summer in Sikkim, India working to create sustainable relationships with elementary schools in the foothills of the Himalayas. Charlotte will be serving at Atlanta Habitat for Humanity during the year.
We wrote this minute in profound gratitude for Atlanta Friends Meeting, and read it at the rise of meeting this morning:
We, the inaugural Quaker Voluntary Service house, would like to thank each of you as part of the Atlanta Friends Meeting community for your faith and presence with us this year. We are grateful to you for taking the risk to enter into relationship with QVS and with each of us as individuals. We have felt mutual respect and trust as the Atlanta Friends Meeting body walked alongside us as a vital partner. You nurtured, shared, and witnessed our journey. Your collective and individual support has allowed us to experience this year fully, with profound faith that our spiritual and tangible needs would be met. Relationships we have witnessed within the Atlanta Friends Meeting community have served as important models of the richness and possibilities of community life. We feel a deep urgency to thank you for your ministry of welcoming and weaving community.
Notes From Our Worship Sharing While Writing the Minute
Someone recently asked me how I have seen God most in this year, and without hesitation thought about my relationships at Frazer Center. Coming into the center my first week struggling to remember the 100 adult participants names, 150 children’s names depending on which class I was in not to mention my coworkers who are weary of another employee who may not make it past the first week (a hard to break pattern of new hires). I knew it would be a difficult adjustment to settle in and get to know all of these new people, but had no idea what the end point would look like, or how rewarding the journey would be.
At the beginning of the program, I had very little direction on what I should be doing day in and out, which was incredibly challenging. Wandering around amidst strangers asking where I could be helpful, trying to figure out how the program functions and runs without much knowledge on the wildly diverse behaviors, abilities, and attitudes of the developmentally disabled population we serve. Every day was a struggle trying to make friends with adult participants and co-workers alike while trying not to look overwhelmed—which I was wrestling inside. For these first few months, I gravitated toward working one-on-one with adults in different classrooms, which allowed me to begin to build trust and friendships.
One of the pivotal moments of my experience at Frazer came when I was trying to figure out how to handle one of our new and most difficult adults who presented dangerous and self-destructive behaviors. Something I have learned from years of exploration along my own spiritual journey is the importance of being understood and listened to, and how
important language is in that understanding. Our adult is mostly deaf, and communicates mainly through sign language and gestures. When looking at our staff, only one or two have had any sign language experience and didn’t really use it with this adult. I began to notice his behaviors stemming from confrontation amongst
peers and adults where he couldn’t communicate, and I saw a deep need for ability to communicate with him—so I began to learn some basic sign language.
Starting with “how are you?” and “stop” I began looking at sign language books, taking online sign classes, and learning from those with experience around me. I now teach a weekly sign language class for both hearing and deaf adults, and have also been working with staff to learn easy ways of communicating with the many adults who use sign at the center every day.
The ability to listen and understand these adults has been paramount to my settling into the program and feeling like a part of the community. Each of these adults has an amazing and unique personality that is essential to the vitality of the community. Letting their voices be heard, often through non-traditional forms of communication is the challenge that I face everyday, and it pushes me to listen in ways I’m not the most familiar with.
I can’t describe what it feels like to walk into a room and see smiles of people who are genuinely happy to see me and to be heard. It’s the sustaining quality of this work, where it seems that much of the rest is setting one up for burnout.
Watching the first QVS volunteers arrive to the house in August…
Growing faith in our abilities to cope with and thrive in new settings –
Home could be here – or anywhere.
If you ask, they will be there…
Balancing strong and gentle is an ongoing process.
Remembering to love helps.
Feeling stressed isn’t just about not having time.
It can be hard to find 10 minutes a day to pray.
Large gatherings of different people in sunny parks
And the scents of treats outside amongst the building of friendship
A penny for you and one for me,
Put it on the railroad tracks
Then in the Boo Radley Tree!
Sitting around the fire at Dean and Christina’s Atlanta reception,
Talking and watching the fire
And bonding with Dean.
Sitting on the blue denim couch,
Talk about Quaker History.
Greater clarity on the things I’m seeking –
Clarity from both presence and absence
Making the mod-podge chore wheel
There is a balance between obedience and efficiency
Lasting community, that understands the full me.
Spiritual journey sharing
And that time I was almost hit by a car
There is an oft used and important time and space to talk,
And there is a harder to find but equally important time to listen.
Two people crying on my couch
So many tears, swollen up with love
Moments and stories of people who find their passion.
The people you live with fill your house with warmth and joy.
A tolerance for ambiguity
When surprise magic happens
The future being better than we expect it will be…
At our retreat in February, the volunteers, Christina, and Erica wrote this collaborative poem.
God beneath you,
God in front of you,
God behind you,
God above you,
God within you.