At our 101st Assembly in St. Louis, we appreciated passionate volunteers from around the Ethical Culture Movement. The 2016 Anna Garlin Spencer Volunteer Awardees are:
Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County — Tracey Kelley
I would like to thank the Bergen Society for putting my name forward for this amazing honor and thank the AEU for honoring me with this award. It has been more than a pleasure to serve the Bergen Society. Both the Society and I have grown together. I am humbled by this award.
I would encourage all members to consider volunteering at their Society by joining a committee to help ensure the health of your Society and the Ethical Movement. It is rewarding, fulfilling, educational, and fun. My Society is my extended family.
Philadelphia Ethical Society — Jeffrey Dubb
I want to thank the members of the Philadelphia Ethical Society. We have 83 members now and when I looked at their individual status, more than half are active in the Society: serving on committees, attending platforms on a regular basis, contributing substantially of their time and money, and always ready to take on an assignment. The members of the Philadelphia Society are a very committed and active group, many of whom have done more than I have, so I feel it’s a real honor to be singled out for this award.
Ethical Society of St. Louis — Matthew Hile
The Anna Garlin Spencer Volunteer Award is not something that I set out to win when Allison and I joined the Society 34 years ago. In fact, I was bowled over when the call came about my nomination. Surely there were others who were much more deserving. Nonetheless, I was touched and moved by this nomination and honored to accept. The award is really the result of a single word, “sure.”
Would you join the Ethical Education Committee? – “Sure.”
Would you chair the Program Council and be on the board? – “Sure.”
Would you teach at the AEU Lay Leadership Summer School? – “Sure” (five times).
I “sure” would like to post our platforms as podcasts on the web (now in its 11th year).
Would you help rewrite the AEU by-laws? – “Sure.”
Would you lead the search for our new Leader? – “Sure.”
Would you lead the restructuring of our Society’s governance? – “Sure.”
I have never thought of myself as an overachieving volunteer but the people in Ethical Culture have helped bring out the best in me, one “sure” at a time. I am proud to be a member of this movement. To have been able to give back just a little from the riches I have gotten from my participation. Thank you all.
Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle NC — Ralph Balzac & Eva Harrington
Eva & I would like to thank you very much for awarding us the Anna Garlin Spencer Volunteer Award. We have derived much pleasure, enjoyment, and satisfaction from our twenty plus years participating in the Ethical Culture Movement. It is “icing on the cake” to receive this recognition of our efforts on behalf of the Movement.
Washington Ethical Society — Lynne & Todd Waymon
From Lynne: When people ask me where I’m from, I’m never tempted to say, “Kansas.” Where I’m from is not about geography, it’s clear to me that I got my grounding at the Ethical Society.
I joined the Washington Ethical Society in 1967 and even though I was 25, it was at WES that I really grew up. It was there that I found my place in the world and began to feel a sense of spirit, community, and purpose.
Volunteering is usually billed as a way to help others. But for me it turned out to be a vehicle for becoming part of the community and making lifelong friends. Volunteering was how I explored my own spiritual path. Working with others on projects turned out to be the best laboratory, as Felix Adler liked to remind us, for finding out how ethics works. Being on the Board, working in the Sunday school, and creating the LifeWorks Adult Education Program all offered more than enough ethical dilemmas for a naïve girl from Kansas.
Ethical Society Leader Joseph Blau said that, “Spirituality is the creative interactions between the actual self and the ideal self.” Wow! I thought to myself when I first read that, “I want to have more of those conversations!” You know what I mean–where you say to yourself, “What’s the right thing to do here?” Where you notice, “I’d like to do one thing, but I know that’s wrong. So what do I do?” Where you ask yourself, “What’s my responsibility here?” “How can I see this in a new way that brings out the best in others?”
The joy at having learned how to listen to that conversation between my actual self and my ideal self is what 45 years of volunteering gave me. So this Award really goes to Ethical Culture. I got so much more than I gave!
From Todd:I feel a bit embarrassed accepting this award for volunteering; I mean the Ethical Society made it so easy to volunteer!
“Do you want to take this course in Relationship Building?” Which I definitely needed, and it was a good way to meet people; and so I said Yes!
“Do you want to be on the Building Committee?” I was an engineer by training and pretty handy; and so I said Yes!
“How about the Board?” The Board didn’t scare me, I’d done it before; and so I said Yes!
“How about Vice President?” Yes. Easy.
“How about President?” Yes, because you made it easy for me.
“How about Chairman of our High School Board?” That was harder, but ultimately easy–because the Head of School was so great to work with.
“How about the AEU’s New Society Development Team?” A challenge; and so I said Yes!
“The Coming Of Age Program Board?” Yes, for personal reasons. And so on…in every case, the Society–and ultimately all of you–made it easy for me. It has been a joy to be a part of such a loving community and to take part in so many ways over the years. Thank you all. I am honored. Really.
Ethical Culture Society of Westchester — Beverly & Oliver Swift
We feel honored and humbled to be in the company of so many deserving recipients. To us, the real reward is in the many people we have come to know and the many things we have shared in our years of involvement in Ethical Culture. It has enriched our lives in so many ways and opened us to experiences we would not otherwise have had. We hope we have had some small part in helping make those ethical ideals real.
At the AGS Volunteer award luncheon, we also honored Martha Gallahue and Emily Newman (pictured with Kay Dundorf on the left) for their work with the National Ethical Service, our affiliate at the United Nations.