New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

FCNL Advocacy Corps: A Reflection

Jun 4, 2018
Steven Whinfield, New Haven (CT) Friends Meeting

An Intergenerational Connection

While sifting through many emails, I came across a request from Kate Sundberg, a student at Wesleyan University, to attend an FCNL Advocacy Corps meeting. (The Advocacy Corps is a 9-month-long program for young adults between the ages of 19 and 30, who are paid to organize their local community around federal legislation.) My career in communication and advertising includes a lot of pressure, but this day I was honored to support Kate. As important as the issues FCNL address are, even more important is the relationship building. I’ve meet Kate Sundberg only a few times, but have found her very impressive and deeply caring. She is fearless when action is needed. I have at least as much to learn from Kate as she does from me.

The issue of moment was to ask Connecticut Senator Murphy to co-sign the Senate Bill 2448, addressing the need for a phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s), which pose a risk to human health and the environment. I moved my schedule around so I could drive to Wesleyan in Middletown, Conn., for a 3 o’clock meeting, having decided to be there to support Kate and to take notes.

Kate Sundberge is a sophomore at Wesleyan studying chemistry and environmental studies at the College of the Environment. She is involved in environmental and food justice groups on campus. In high school, Kate served as teen clerk for the Southeastern Yearly Meeting (SEYM) Youth Program where she was also involved in food justice and environmental activism. She worked as an ally to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, mobilizing the Quaker community in Florida and organizing actions in support of the Fair Food Campaign.

Kate got involved with Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) and coordinated the Florida branch of their successful campaign to get PNC Bank to stop financing mountaintop-removal coal mining. At Wesleyan, Kate is involved with Veg Out, an environmental justice student group that works to raise awareness about the adverse effect of the animal agriculture industry; and Real Food Challenge, which works with the food service provider to switch dining hall purchases to more sustainable, fair, local, and humane options.

How could I not be impressed by that background? I was sitting across the table from a young adult who has done far more than me on justice issues, and I saw the Light.

I want young adults to see the opportunity that FCNL can bring to help focus them in the world. I ask that parents guide their children to explore what FCNL can offer. This 64-year-old has found an opportunity to interact with some of the best people I’ve ever met and be eldered by youthful exuberance. It has changed my life; it can change yours and those of your children. There is so much light within FCNL you will be amazed when you witness it.

I am grateful for this opportunity almost every day.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

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