Musicians, kindergarten teachers, meditation and yoga practitioners, mason’s helpers, ranchers, protesters, cross-country skiers, Raging Grannies, world travelers, war tax resisters, computer programmers, social workers…These are just a few of the descriptors of past or current professions and hobbies used by Friends Peace Team’s Council members.
In a recent “getting to know each other” activity, the dozens of volunteers and staff who make up Friends Peace Teams’ governing body shared why they got involved and what sustains them. They found that the Council is a multi-talented group united by a key objective: a commitment to peace and a desire to serve.
Friends Peace Teams’ treasurer Roy Zatcoff has a beautifully simple reason for volunteering: “I wanted to offer my gifts to a few Quaker organizations, including a peacemaking organization.” Ann Dusseau shares, “Belonging to Friends Peace Teams facilitates my being directly involved with the pursuit of world justice and world peace. I am sustained by news of our programs and my relationship with many involved.” Ann serves as FPT’s finance committee clerk and is on the nominating committee and this season she is visiting Kenya and Indonesia to teach mediation with AGLI and FPT-AWP. She also facilitates weekly AVP sessions at the men’s medium-security prison and at Boise State University.
Like Ann, many Council members have a special concern for the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), which is one of the primary tools used by FPT’s initiative worldwide. Shirley Way, who represents New York Yearly Meeting, has been to Latin America several times over the past 10 years, often co-facilitating AVP workshops with Peacebuilding en las Americas. She says, “Witnessing the transformation and healing that comes from [FPT’s] work sustains me.” John Skinner is one of the Council’s newest members and is serving as Northern Yearly Meeting’s representative. He’d been looking for a way to serve when he read an announcement that they were looking for their first representative to Friends Peace Teams. “So I read up on Friends Peace Teams, learning that there were various initiatives around the world and not just in Africa. I was very impressed with the work that FPT was doing, so I volunteered as representative, and here I am!”
Friends Peace Teams is an almost entirely volunteer endeavor. We are always looking for committed Friends to get involved. Friends can join the organization through their Yearly Meeting as a nominated representative, like John did, or offer their time as individuals. Volunteers commit to monthly calls, a yearly face-to-face meeting, and often serve on one of the administrative committees, like fundraising or finance, or participate in a working group, which oversee the three Initiatives.
Tom Martin is clerk of the Friends Peace Teams Council. He synthesizes the spirit of the Council with the following quote: “I try to carry on the faithful traditions of FPT from its beginnings, that is to bring on-the-ground support to, and to build community with, those local organizations who invite us to be with them. We do our best to listen deeply and only then to offer a collaboration with those we visit and serve. We do not come to help, rather we come to be a presence to find peace together with those communities for a nonviolent way forward that empowers all. Those opportunities to learn from each other provide an enormous benefit.”
These volunteers’ commitment speaks to the importance of working together to build peace at home and globally, which is at the heart of Friends Peace Teams.
To get involved, visit here to learn more.