|Here||Meeting Name||Here||Worship Group Name|
|x||Appleseed Meeting||x||Conejo Valley Worship Group|
|x||Berkeley Meeting||x||Friends House Worship Group|
|Big Island Meeting||Kauai Worship Group|
|x||Central Coast Meeting||x||Lake County Worship Group|
|x||Chico Meeting||Las Vegas Worship Group|
|x||Claremont Monthly Meeting|
|x||Davis Meeting||Maui Worship Group|
|regrets||Delta Meeting||Modesto Worship Group|
|Fresno Meeting||Molokai Worship Group|
|x||Grass Valley Meeting||Oakland Worship Group|
|x||Guatemala Monthly Meeting||Ojai Friends Worship Group|
|x||Honolulu Meeting||x||Friends of Soledad|
|x||Humboldt Meeting||Southern Humboldt Worship Group|
|Inland Valley Friends Meeting||Ukiah Worship Group|
|x||La Jolla Monthly Meeting||Whitleaf Worship Group|
|x||Live Oak Monthly Meeting||Livermore|
|Marloma Long Beach Monthly Meeting|
|x||Mexico City Monthly Meeting|
|x||Monterey Peninsula Meeting|
|x||Napa Sonoma Meeting|
|x||Orange County Friends Meeting|
|x||Orange Grove Monthly Meeting|
|x||Palo Alto Meeting|
|x||Redwood Forest Meeting|
|x||San Diego Monthly Meeting|
|x||San Francisco Meeting|
|San Jose Meeting|
|x||Santa Barbara Monthly Meeting|
|x||Santa Cruz Meeting|
|x||Santa Monica Monthly Meeting|
|x||Strawberry Creek Meeting|
REPRESENTATIVE COMMITTEE OF PACIFIC YEARLY MEETING
Saturday, 28 February 2015
Berkeley Friends Meeting House
Record and Minutes
Opening worship began at 8:30 am.
- Clerk’s remarks: Presiding Clerk Steve Smith welcomed attenders to RepCom. He spoke to the theme for the ’15 Annual Session: Love and Justice. These two great strands in Quakerism—the commandment to love one another, and the prophetic call to do justice—should not be separated, but woven together: love without justice is sentimentality; justice without love is strident and ineffective. He thanked our hosts at Berkeley Meeting, and reviewed the agenda for the day.
- Host’s remarks: Margaret Mossman spoke to details of the site, meals and parking
- Roll call: the PYM Meetings and Worship Groups represented are listed in the Roll Call attachment.
- Check-in from JYM: Youth and adult members of the Junior Yearly Meeting Committee introduced themselves: JYM Co-Clerks attending were Natasha Herrera (Mexico City) and Maya Price (Berkeley Friends Church). JYM M&O members attending were David Shaw (Clerk, Santa Monica), Rose Nadis (Santa Barbara), Nina Shaw (Santa Monica) and Miles Pangellina (Berkeley). The JYM Adult Committee members attending were Steve Leeds (Clerk, San Francisco), Suzanne Doss (Orange Grove), and Kate Connell (Santa Barbara). During RepCom today the JYM Committee will be planning their schedule and activities for Annual Session.
- Nominating Committee: Elaine Emily (Strawberry Creek), co-Clerk of PYM Nominating Committee, presented the report for the first reading.
- Completion of the term of Eric Moon (Berkeley), senior arrangements clerk, has been moved from 2016 to 2015. Rick Altherr (San Jose) junior arrangements clerk, is serving from now to 2017. Another arrangements clerk is needed to start after he coming ’15 Annual Session and serve to 2017.
- Joyce Pointe (Appleseed) is nominated for Unity with Nature Committee for 2016.
- Naming Committee: The Presiding Clerk reminded us that we fill positions for the Naming Committee from the floor today. The usual committee size is three, with one alternate. We entered a short period of worship to allow nominations to arise from the floor. Five names were brought forward: Convener Sarah Tyrell (Berkeley), Pat Smith (Claremont), Don Bean (Conejo Valley Worship Group), with Laura Magnani (Strawberry Creek) as Alternate. If Laura declines, Alvaro Alvarado will be asked to serve.
- Treasurer’s Report: Roy Allen (Berkeley), PYM Treasurer, called attention to the Treasurer’s Report posted on the PYM website. He reminded Friends that there are two Pacific Yearly Meeting accounts: a General Account and an Annual Session account.
- We have received designated contributions from meetings and individuals for the Fund for Concerns, the Sharing Fund, United with Nature Project Fund, and the PFOS transfer to the Bob Vogel Endowment Fund. The current general account balance (aside from the Bob Vogel Endowment Fund) has $180,000 on hand, which is healthy for a budget of our size.
- The Annual Session ended with a deficit of $3,741. Two major contributing factors were that income from fees was $10,000 less than expected and charges from Walker Creek were $10,000 over the budgeted amount. Reserves are now down to $25,000. Walker Creek Ranch does not require a large deposit in advance; other possible sites do. Typically there is a $30,000 deposit. Therefore we need to build up our reserves.
- The budgeted Income for the year consisted of monthly meeting contributions of $146,000 and $20,000 to come from the reserves. The actual income of $126,000 required no drawdown from reserves.
- The total expenses of the annual session were budgeted for $146,000 with the actual expenses of $132,000. So we added around $2,000 to reserves.
- A Friend asked what constituted the $10,000 increase in Walker Creek Ranch facility charges? The Treasurer replied that the budgeted facility fees were based on July 1 2013 rates and that the fees went up July 1, 2014. This year we have confirmation of the fee schedule on which we will be charged.
- The clerk of the Finance Committee reported that they had met and reviewed the Treasurer’s Report and accepted it.
- MINUTE RC 2015.01: The Treasurer’s Report on both the General and Annual Session accounts for the year ending September 30, 2014 was accepted.
The Treasurer urged all present to fill out the sign-up sheet reporting travel costs to RepCom. One can make this cost a donation to the Yearly Meeting on the form.
We went into a period of worship.
- Finance Committee – Budget: Stratton C. Jaquette (Palo Alto), Clerk of Finance Committee, summarized the written report. Three augmentation requests were made:
- The Unity With Nature Committee requested that line item 5286, travel for Quaker Earthcare Witness, be increased by $1,400, to a total of $3,400 because there are now two delegates from PYM to QEW, and the organization meets twice a year. Finance Committee recommended that RepCom approve a $750 augmentation to line 5286. This will fund one delegate to attend the second QEW meeting in this fiscal year. Considerable discussion ensued. The Earthcare delegates presented explanations of the request for increased funding. A suggestion was made for an increase by $1000 and not reducing the number of representatives. The possibility of fundraising to make up the difference was suggested. The Finance Committee Clerk noted that this request is augmenting the current year’s budget. From the floor comments were made pertaining to budget, one versus two delegates, clarifying the number of meetings, supplementary fundraising, redefining PYM policy, and how to make this decision.
- MINUTE RC 2015.02 The augmentation of $750 to line 5286 for travel was approved.
- An Ad Hoc Committee from UwN and Finance was asked to come back later today with a recommendation about moving funds from the UwN committee budget to line item 5286 of the budget for the Earthcare Witness travel.
- The Latin American Concerns Committee requested a $250 augmentation to their budget to cover frequent conference calls. Finance Committee recommended that RepCom approve a $250 augmentation to line item 5238.
- MINUTE RC 2015.03 The augmentation of $250 to line item 5238 to cover conference calls was approved without discussion.
- Nominating Committee appeared to need more meetings than usual this year due to seeking a new Presiding Clerk. Nominating Committee agreed, and the Finance Committee recommended that RepCom approve a $500 augmentation to the General budget line item 5229.
- MINUTE RC 2015.04 The augmentation of $500 to line item 5229 for Nominating Committee expenses was approved without discussion.
- PYM Summer Session 2015 Budget and Fee Schedule. The 2014 budgeted and actual expenses were described. The proposed budget for the ’15 Annual Session was presented. Walker Creek Ranch charges for 2015 are 4% more than last year. The proposed budget for 2015 summer sessions is designed to break even. The list of fees for annual session were read. The fees are roughly 15% above last year. If operations go forward as planned, there will be a $5K deficit. The choices made in this planning were intended to avoid even further increasing fees. Program committees are asked to keep within their budgets this summer, and be conservative in expenses. Suggestions were made for a sliding scale for some day rates, to encourage more local attendance. The Clerk of Finance Committee explained the reasons for the fees as published in the written report. The contract with Walker Creek Ranch specifies a guarantee of at least 140 campers and 140 other attenders. Eric Moon was able to get that changed to 100 campers, as there have been fewer than 140 campers each year.
- MINUTE RC 2015.05 The budget and fee schedule were approved as presented.
- Unity with Nature Committee: Committee co-clerk Catya de Neergaard (Strawberry Creek) reported that Quaker Earthcare Witness, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and the Quaker United Nations Office (New York) have issued a call Facing the Challenge of Climate Change: A Shared Statement by Quaker Groups which many Friends’ bodies have signed. She encouraged Monthly Meetings and the Yearly Meeting to consider signing.
- The committee co-clerk Muriel Strand (Sacramento) reported that the committee would like to have attenders be asked for voluntary carbon tax.
- MINUTE RC 2015.06: We approved inserting a link on the registration site to encourage a payment of a voluntary carbon tax that would go to the committee’s Unity with Nature Project Fund.
- All present were encouraged to start now to form carpools for this summer’s session.
- The Committee would like to offer one simple meal at Yearly Meeting with the savings from that meal going to a homeless shelter, if this can be arranged with Walker Creek Ranch. Several others suggested formats for presenting the lesson of a simple meal. Because of concerns about added meal costs from Walker Creek Ranch, we were unable to move forward on this concern.
- The Unity with Nature Committee is fund raising for the United with Nature Project Fund. Donations may be sent to the Treasurer with that Fund’s name in the memo line.
- The UwN Committee’s report and additional documents are posted on the PYM website.
- Youth Programs Coordinating Committee (YPCC) & Coordinator (YPC) report: Alyssa Nelson (Davis), Mary Klein (Palo Alto), Steve Leeds (San Francisco), and Jim Summers (La Jolla) presented the report.
- The operations of the committee were briefly described; they include considerable interactions with other committees. The committee provides support for Alyssa Nelson, Youth Program Coordinator, so she can be a resource for meetings and individuals, and help with rising needs. A process is being developed for a performance review for the YPC position. Questions about this process should be directed to Steve Leeds.
- Youth Programs Fund: The revenue and disbursements from the Bob Vogel Endowment were described. Grant requests have been turned around in one month. No requests were received in December. Mary and Alyssa will be available at lunch to talk with anyone about concerns and possible applications.
- Alyssa maintains a current calendar of events that are of interest to youth at http://www.pacificyearlymeeting.org/youth/. She has recently developed an online table-style view of this calendar in addition to the list-style calendar she emails out along with the occasional epistles to all Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups in PYM.
- Upcoming events pertaining to youth are:
- Spring Camp for high-schoolers at Quaker Oaks Farm with the Wukchumni Tribe, March 31- April 4. Focus is on California Indians and restorative justice. For more information, contact Melissa Lovett-Adair, Central Coast Meeting.
- Adult Allies to Youth Workshops: 1) at Orange Grove Meeting, April 18, 10AM-5PM, and 2) at Friends House in Santa Rosa, May 2, 10AM-5PM. Contact Alyssa Nelson for more information.
- Two interest groups pertaining to youth are planned for Annual Sessions. One will be about the youth programs fund and general youth activities. The Committee wants all to understand the application process, and the funding and nurturing of our youth programs. The other interest group will be a co-presentation with the Youth Programs Committee, the Wukchumni tribal representatives and the Quaker Oaks Farm representatives about restorative justice and working together in developing relationship with the land.
- Young Adult Friends: YAF Co-Clerks Elena Anderson-Williams (San Jose) and Kylin Navarro (Berkeley) presented the report, noting that the recent establishment of the Committee on Institutional Memory has been helpful. Today Young Adult Friends spent a portion of the morning with Junior Yearly Meeting. They also planned for the upcoming March Alternatives to Violence Program Basics workshop at Berkeley Friends Meeting, and for pre-Annual Session meetings with special guests, keynote speaker Lloyd Lee Wilson (North Carolina Yearly Meeting, Conservative) and Paula Palmer of Boulder Monthly Meeting (Towards a Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples). The pre-session is open to all.
- Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on OPYM Financial Allocations to Friends’ Organizations: Bronwen Hillman (Mexico City), Clerk of the Ad Hoc Committee, presented the report. She described the process they have gone through, as requested in the ‘14 Annual Session. The group adapted its recommendations from past guidelines, to clarify the present proposed guidelines. The priorities were listed which are also in the written report. A request was made to approve the guidelines.
- MINUTE RC 2015.07 The guidelines of the Ad Hoc Committee were approved.
- Considerable strongly felt discussion followed the report of the specific proposal for financial allocations. A number of suggestions were made regarding specific amounts to be donated. Questions were asked about why certain amounts were lower or higher than previously and how a new organization would get itself onto this list. This is explained in the guidelines.
- A question was asked about the amount allocated for Casa de Los Amigos and how the Casa is funded. Nick Wright (Mexico City) explained the sources of funding. The last page of the report shows a complete list of organizations with comparisons.
- Various general and specific proposals were made and discussed. It was noted that the fiscal year ends on September 30th so donations could still be made after Annual Session. Several comments were made about placing trust in a committee’s work.
- MINUTE RC 2015.08 Approval was reached to give the recommendations from the ad hoc committee on financial allocations to the Finance Committee for discernment, with the advice to allocate funds back to QUNO. Finance Committee was advised to bring back the revised list of allocation to Annual Session 2015 for approval by the larger body.
- The Presiding Clerk observed that the Ad Hoc Committee on Pacific Yearly Meeting Financial Allocations to Friends Organizations, having completed its work, is laid down.
- Peace and Social Order Committee: Clerk Anthony Manousos reported that Psalm 85 called to him from things said during these sessions: “When love and truth have met each other, when justice and peace have kissed, faithfulness springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from the heavens.” The Committee has an electronic listserve with about 70 Friends, sends out periodic notices, and holds monthly calls with 6-7 Friends. Anthony invited Friends to join the listserve. P&SO will sponsor the following Interest Groups for the annual session:
- A Quaker response to the increased migration of Latin American children and families. Jointly sponsored with Latin American Concerns. (Four monthly meetings have passed minutes around this concern.)
- Mass Incarceration and Restorative Justice, an AFSC interest group convened by Laura Magnani and her colleague, Jerry Elster, a formerly incarcerated man who has become AFSC’s healing justice coordinator.
- Stopping Lethal Drone Warfare, on action suggestions for implementing the Yearly Meeting “weaponized drone minute.” This minute draws upon the Princeton Theological Seminary lethal drone warfare conference.
- Friends Peace Teams, offered by Gay Howard.
- In addition, there may be an affinity group or Interest Group on homelessness.
- Transformative Friends will again happen. Possible presenters are encouraged to contact Anthony. One session will be on John and Alice Way.
- Latin American Concerns: Donna Higgins Smith (Redwood Forest) presented the report, including a brief history of the LAC committee formation. The committee’s purpose is to support—not replace—spirit-led projects initiated by meetings and individuals, and to disseminate information and concerns about programs in Latin America. The Director of the Guatemala Program, Miguel Costop, will be facilitating an Interest Group at Annual Session on Quakerism and Mayan spirituality.
- Last summer the formation of Child Refugee and Migration subcommittee arose out of an affinity group on refugee children. Lynnette Arnold (Santa Barbara) and Laura Kohl (La Jolla) presented the subcommittee report. They described the basis of this interest and concern. This group has produced a Leading Statement, Mission Statement and a Resources List which are on the PYM website. Also on the website are four Meeting minutes pertaining to refugee children and families and a letter to monthly meetings encouraging them to develop their own minutes. The Child Refugee subcommittee meets on alternate Thursdays. Persons with like interests are encouraged to join the subcommittee. An Annual Session interest group on Child Refugees and Migration is being requested with Peace and Social Order Committee and LACC as co-sponsors. Redwood Forest has its own child refugee subcommittee and have been active doing direct action. There have also been interfaith vigils in Santa Barbara and because of those experiences Unitarians are now reaching out to Quakers.
- Summaries of the LACC programs are contained in the full written report posted on the website. Those programs are Casa de Los Amigos, El Salvador Projects of Palo Alto Meeting, and Guatemala Friends Scholarship Program.
- Site Committee: Clerk Patricia Smith (Claremont) reported that members of the Sites committee have visited several sites, and searched many more online in both Northern and Southern California. Walker Creek is still the least expensive and one of the few where we would be the only group present during the session. The committee has made a decision that Walker Creek Ranch will continue to be the site for Annual Session for the foreseeable future. The Site Committee makes the recommendation that long-distance travelers get a discount on registration and that those in the South consider reserving buses for travel up North. The current Registrar noted that accessibility concerns have surfaced at Walker Creek; these will need to be addressed. Another Friend noted that registrations numbers tend to decline over time at a familiar site. Therefore Friends need to be more proactive in encouraging Meeting members to attend. The Presiding Clerk reported that our preferred time for Annual Session of late July/early is not available at WCR, since other groups at WCR have held those dates for longer periods.
- Ministry and Oversight: Bronwen Hillman (Mexico City), Clerk of PYM M&O, presented the report. The written report covers most of their activities. The following topics were discussed:
- The draft schedule for Annual Session was offered with the request to take them back to monthly meetings for review. Various suggestions were made, including inserting or posting locations, an hour of free time each day, possibly for intergenerational activities. A suggestion was made to tackle one problematic issue for Annual Session each year. In response to the suggestion of creating a welcoming committee for Annual Session, Bronwen reported that a buddy system is in place; it has been in operation for two years, and is continuing.
- MINUTE RC 2015.09 The draft Annual Session schedule was approved as presented.
- Racial Justice subcommittee: Co-Clerks Diego Navarro (Santa Cruz) and Sandy Kewman (Grass Valley) presented the report. They described how the committee was formed, the history of its activities, and some of its educational foci.
- In addition to developing an interest group for Annual Session, the subcommittee seeks funding to purchase Shakti Butler’s “Breaking the Codes” film, including the rights to stream it. Doing so would allow it to be used on multiple sites. The subcommittee also intends to purchase the workbook for the film and make it available for all Meetings in PYM.
- M&O raised concerns about the dwindling numbers to the Annual Session. A proposal was made to change the configuration of PYM’s Annual Session schedule, to address the needs of families and the rising costs. Three configurations were provided in the report for consideration, not ffor ‘15, but for possible use in 2016 and 2017. JYM representatives spoke to keeping a long Annual Session or making it even longer. They treasure the relationships and spiritual sustenance forged within Annual Session and want to allow the opportunity for more, not less. Reps were asked to bring this concern to monthly meetings prior to Annual Session and get feedback about preferences and obstacles to attending. M&O will take comments and rework the proposed configuration prior to Annual Session.
- The Clerk of M&O vigorously thanked RepCom for the community building dinner and meeting on Friday night before this day’s business.
- Registrars’ Report: Sarah Tyrell (Berkeley) and Joyce Samati (Strawberry Creek) noted that the report was posted on the Yearly Meeting website. A contract has been signed between Berkeley Friends Meeting and the Yearly Meeting to provide registration services. The registrars are glad to be working again this year with Brylie Oxley, PYM Webmaster, to provide on-line registration.
- Registration is scheduled to begin on April 1. May 18th is the deadline for an early registration discount; June 8th is the last day to receive a full refund, and to avoid incurring late fees. M&O will provide information about applications for attendance assistance, and asked that Reps encourage Friends in their Meeting or Worship Group to plan to attend the PYM Annual Session July 13 – 18, 2015. It is important to note the deadlines, and register early to receive the discount.
- March 25th is the deadline to submit materials that will be useful to Friends making plans and registering to attend the Annual Session. We will also accept materials to be included as part of the registration confirmation packets.
- We paused for time in worship
- Nominating and Naming Committees:
- Elaine Emily (Strawberry Creek) presented the second reading of the Nominating Committee report.
- MINUTE RC 2015.10 Representative Committee approve Rick Altherr (San Jose) as Junior Arrangements, whose term now runs through 2016; and Senior Arrangements Clerk Eric Moon (Berkeley), whose term now ends in 2015. Joyce Pointe (Apple Seed) is approved as a member of Unity with Nature Committee (term ending 2016).
- MINUTE RC 2015.11 Representative Committee approves the Naming Committee of Sarah Tyrell (Berkeley), Patricia Smith (Claremont), and Linda Rowell (Chico), with Alvaro Alvarado (Sacramento) as the alternate.
- Clerk’s comments on Annual Session Guests: The Clerk has invited more guests (three) than can be covered by the current budget for the Clerk’s Discretionary Fund. Paula Palmer is a released Friend from Boulder Meeting who reportedly presents a dynamic workshop. The Keynote Speaker will be Lloyd Lee Wilson (North Carolina Yearly Meeting, Conservative), and we will also host Jose Aguto, FCNL’s environment staff person. If you are called to make a donation for these guests’ expenses, this may done by making out checks to Pacific Yearly Meeting with “Clerk’s Discretionary Fund” in the memo line and sending it to Roy Allen, PYM Treasurer, 580 Tamarack Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903.
- JYM Check-In found JYM still on their walk.
- AD Hoc Committee on Funding for Unity with Nature Committee: Muriel Strand (Sacramento) reported that the ad hoc committee (representatives from Unity with Nature Committee and Finance Committee) met and recommended reducing by $450 (to $550) the Unity with Nature Committee expense budget (Line 5235) and increasing the QEW Representatives travel budget (Line 5286) by an additional $450, bringing it to $2,200.
- MINUTE RC 2015.12 Representative Committee approved reducing by $450 (to $550) the Unity with Nature Committee expense budget (Line 5235), and increasing the QEW Representatives travel budget (Line 5286) by an additional $450, bringing it to $2,200.
- We entered into a period of worship prior to the reading of the minutes.
- Hearing and approval of Minutes: The minutes were read, corrected, and approved.
Stephen McNeil (Strawberry Creek) and Leslie Zondervan-Droz (Humboldt), Co-Recording Clerks.
Dear Monthly Meeting Clerk,
This note is from the members of the Child Refugees and Migration Subcommittee of PYM’s Latin American Concerns Committee who have been participating in regular conference call meetings. We formed last summer during PYM’s Annual Session, being very concerned about the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children coming north from several countries including Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico in order to escape violence and extreme poverty.
We have produced a Resources List for those interested in learning more about this situation including notes about helpful organizations to whom to donate. You will find the resources document attached here.
So far four monthly meetings have produced minutes or advocacy letters on this issue, which we are also attaching here for your prayerful consideration.
Both the minutes and the resources list can be found on the PYM website, where there is also a Leading Statement which shares our spiritual motivation for this work. We hope this will provide inspiration for further conversations on this topic. This information can all be found here: http://www.pacificyearlymeeting.org/committee-newsletters-and-reports/latin-american-concerns/
We encourage all monthly meetings to learn more about this issue and either as individuals or as a meeting take your concerns to your local media, governmental representatives, or other decision-makers. The Resources List also notes organizations that can use volunteers.
Please email us if you would like to join us or, at least, stay informed about what is needed and what is being done by PYM meetings for these children. Feel free to email either email@example.com (Lynnette Arnold) or Lesliezd@reninet.com Leslie Zondervan-Droz, or reach out to any of the Friends listed below that you may happen to know.
Child Refugee Subcommittee
- Álvaro Alvarado
- Lynnette Arnold (convener)
- Holly Anderson
- Laura Kohl
- Maryanne Michaels
- Patricia Portillo
- Donna Smith
- Leslie Zondervan-Droz
LATIN AMERICAN CONCERNS COMMITTEE
REPORT TO REPRESENTATIVE COMMITTEE 2015
In 1997, PYM annual session established a standing Latin America Concerns Committee to gather and disseminate information to Pacific and other Yearly Meetings regarding Friends groups and service projects in Latin America. The intention is to support rather than replace spirit-led projects already supported by Monthly Meetings, Worship Groups and individual Friends.
LACC has met once since last annual session. LACC, along with Peace and Social Order Committee, encouraged the invitation of Paula Palmer of Boulder Meeting to present a workshop at Annual Session 2015 titled Toward Right Relationship with America’s Native Peoples. The director of the Guatemala Friends Scholarship Program, Miguel Costop, is planning to attend this coming Annual Session. The committee has requested Interest Group time for his presentation on Quakerism and Mayan Spirituality.
The Child Refugee and Migration subcommittee led by convener Lynnette Arnold has met 20 times since Annual Session and continues to meet regularly. We have a very dedicated group of 4 members who are on every call with another 4-5 who are generally on the calls. We also have an email list of about 25 who are kept in the loop of our work. A Western Friend article, Leading of the Spirit in Support of Child Refugees, was written by participants of the subcommittee. A letter and resource packet has been developed and was distributed to all meetings in PYM along with Minutes from four PYM monthly meetings (attached). Leading and Mission statements were posted to the PYM web site under LACC along with the Resource List and monthly meeting Minutes. An Annual Session Interest Group on Child Refugees and Migration is being requested along with Peace and Social Order Committee, as co-sponsor.
CASA DE LOS AMIGOS
Casa de los Amigos has had a full and productive year of diverse peace work in Mexico City, and has been held by our local and international community. The Casa’s Hospitality Program, which includes our social justice oriented guesthouse, has been active as ever, all year long. Our flourishing Migration and Economic Justice Programs are built on this fertile ground. We have strengthened our rich partnerships with many Mexican and international organizations, and continue to provide temporary emergency housing and daily Spanish classes to migrants and refugees from around the world. We installed a rainwater catchment system as part of an ongoing process of lightening the Casa’s environmental impact. This year the Casa has also expanded opportunities to share our work and witness with our community, by coordinating educational and awareness-building activities for many of our visiting groups. We offered a Quaker Social Action in Mexico Learning Tour and are planning more! Above all, the Casa’s daily life of faith, fun and good will is the Casa’s offering to the city and open to all.
EL SALVADOR PROJECTS OF PALO ALTO MEETING
The El Salvador Projects of Palo Alto Meeting currently support 13 university students from poor rural communities with student loans that can be repaid in cash, through community service, or through financial support for another student. The students’ fields of study are varied and wide-ranging, from law and medicine to art and teaching. Many students live in a house in San Salvador that we rent in partnership with other programs that also support university students.
Annually, our Field Director, Robert Broz, is the principal organizer of a university fair in Suchitoto, El Salvador, that brings prospective students together with representatives of institutions of higher learning and programs that offer financial aid.
The Projects also help to fund a few positions in rural schools that do not receive adequate support from the government. We also help to support periodic skills workshops in rural villages on such topics as how to build efficient and inexpensive stoves and alternatives to violence training. We collect unneeded reading glasses in the United States and send them to El Salvador, where they enable older people to resume work and activities that had been beyond them due to vision loss.
The Projects are overseen by a committee of Palo Alto Meeting that supports the Field Director in discernment and planning and raises funds, largely through newsletters that are sent to supporters 2-3 times per year.
GUATEMALA FRIENDS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
In 2014, 20 students graduated from the Guatemala Friends Scholarship Program (known as Progresa in Guatemala) 15 at the secondary level and5 from university. We accepted 28 new students including 4 who are in medical school. Our total number of students for 2015 is 77 with the possibility of 1 to 3 more being added.
Last summer, a group of 20 Junior Friends from North Pacific Yearly Meeting toured around Guatemala with our director Miguel Costop. During their travels, they met several Progresa students and graduates. They learned first hand about the hardships Guatemalans face and came to realize how important Progresa has been in overcoming obstacles. The sixth Teaching English Experience was held in January with 14 North Americans teaching 14 Progresa students. It is such a rewarding experience that half of the teachers were returnees. We are looking forward to our Annual Student Conference in May when our students and former students come together to learn and network.
For all the work involved, we continue to feel encouraged and blessed when we see how lives and communities are enriched by the opportunities for social justice that education provides.
Donna Smith, Clerk