On March 7th, 2021, the Philadelphia QVS Local Support Committee hosted a special QVS Alumni Panel, which featured four young adults who currently live and work in the Philadelphia area. Panelists shared about the transformational experience of QVS, and how they are engaged in spiritually-grounded service and community today. The event drew over 70 Friends from the Philadelphia area and across the country.
Did you miss the event? Check out the event recording below. We’ve included a few special highlights from each of the panelists, as well as sentiments that Friends shared during the event.
Alumni Panelists (click on a picture below to read panelists' full bios)
Andrew Huff (he/him) is the Senior Case Manager at Bethesda Project's Church Shelter Program for chronically homeless men. QVS was his first experience with the Religious Society of Friends. Since his QVS fellowship year, he has developed a daily meditation practice grounded in Christianity. Andrew served in Boston in 2015-2016.
Máire Moriarty (she/her) lives in Wilmington, DE with her partner and cat. Máire, whose name rhymes with starry, always had an interest in Quakerism through her connection to the faith via her maternal grandparents. She became a member of Germantown Monthly Meeting after her year in Quaker Voluntary Service in 2014. She currently serves as the Board Treasurer for Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT).
Olivia Chalkley (she/her) started attending Quaker meeting in Baltimore, MD when she was in high school and has been involved in the Religious Society of Friends ever since. She has worked with youth programs in several different yearly meetings, and currently serves as the Young Friends Program Facilitator for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. She enjoys making bread and reading novels. Olivia is an alum of the 2017-2018 Atlanta program.
Paloma Collazo-Vargas (she/her) is a graduate of Earlham College and participated in the most recent Philadelphia QVS house, working at Nationalities Service Center. Following QVS, she was offered a position as a Case Manager and joined the Philly QVS Local Support Committee (LSC). You can catch her watching the same anime for the nth time while she sews to her heart's content.
0:00 Opening & Welcome from Steve Elkinton
02:02 Centering Moment of Worship
02:59 Introduction from Claire Hannapel, the panel moderator
03:41 What is Quaker Voluntary Service?
04:46 Introductions from Alumni Panelists
09:15 Tell us a story about a transformational moment or experience at your service site, and how that has impacted you today.
18:37 How did you and your housemates explore spirituality and interact with Quakerism during your year?
30:28 What surprised you about your year?
35:00 In your ongoing work in the world, what are the two most useful things you gained from your QVS experience?
43:54 What is it like to be a young adult in the world today? How did the QVS experience meet your needs as a young adult?
52:12 Participants head to breakout rooms before open Q&A
54:16 In this polarized time right now, how did polarization show up in your work and community?
1:01:22 Does QVS expose participants to things like clerking, discernment, seeking unity, deep listening, etc.?
1:03:25 How do we improve the way QVS Fellows get to know their local support meetings — and how can meetings can get to know Fellows better?
1:07:18 Can you share an inward “nudge” or “leading” you are experiencing now, and how you are feeling about it?
1:11:06 Closing from Bruce Birchard & Christina Repoley
“It was really special to get the lessons [from QVS] in a secular context, but have the spiritual context to understand that ‘oh, what we’re doing in social services really is unconditional love… this is how deep it goes, this is how important it is.'”
“I appreciat[e] the fact that we [the Religious Society of Friends] are a work in progress. I myself am a work in progress. I didn’t have racism figured out. I still don’t have it figured out. But I sure learned a lot of skills when I was part of the Ministry on Racism.”
“[I was surprised by] just how involved our Local Support Committee and folks at the meeting were, and how deep my relationship with my spiritual nurturer was. Those [relationships] were wildly important and so special, and provided me with a lot of incredible role models. I don’t think I’d ever had intergenerational community in quite that way before.”
“I’m Mexican and so [Dia de los Muertos] is an important holiday for me and I wanted to celebrate with all of my housemates. I didn’t realize how spiritual that could be: printing out pictures of our deceased loved ones and creating an altar for them that we all participated in putting up, and for us to look at for a very long time, and then take down… The effort we put into celebrating holidays, religious celebrations, or even just birthdays — we became each other’s support systems.”
“What really surprised me was where we found communal spirituality… [despite the] varying groundings and definitions of spirituality and Christianity… [No one] had to abandon their approach… everyone was able to bring their full selves. I was surprised to see so much unity, on something that often has so much conflict.”
“I didn’t have much experience with worship [coming into QVS]. But I spent several Sundays — instead of going to Meeting for Worship — [at] a homeless street ministry that was meeting at the same time on the Boston Commons. I thought what a great way to explore the spiritual dimensions of my work by gathering for worship with the people who are living on the streets and the ministers who are out with them… I really cherished the opportunity to extend my work experience into a more spiritual space, and worship alongside the people who were also my clients. Then to bring that home and talk about that and explore Quaker principles in a space that wasn’t necessarily Quaker at all… I grew as much from doing that as I grew from the experiences in the Meetinghouse itself.”
In summer 2020, Quaker Voluntary Service reached a significant milestone after over 200 young adults completed the program. In anticipation of this major achievement, we surveyed our growing Alumni community, and released an Alumni Impact Report to showcase the impact of Quaker Voluntary Service on young adults.
Do you have questions about QVS’ work to engage with our Alumni? Reach out to Carol Anne Ferlauto, our Alumni Engagement Coordinator.
Consider Investing in QVS
When you give to QVS you are: empowering young adults to explore their spirituality and vocation; increasing capacity of social change and service organizations; fostering intergenerational connections in Friends meetings and churches; and building new leadership for the Religious Society of Friends and the world.
Consider giving a one-time or recurring gift online today to help sustain our mission, or be in touch with us about non-financial or deferred giving options. Reach out to Claire Hannapel, our Development Director, with any questions.