"We must be concerned about the welfare of every member of the Meeting community. While Friends need to guard against prying or invasion of privacy, it is nevertheless essential that Meetings be aware of the spiritual and material needs of members of the community and express caring concern in appropriate ways." -- Faith and Practice of Baltimore Yearly Meeting, p. 16.
"All Meeting members are called to care for one another and for the meeting." -- Faith and Practice, p. 54.
Within the Friends Meeting of Washington, the Personal Aid Committee shares responsibility with other committees, such as Ministry and Worship, Membership, and Marriage and Family Relations, for meeting the needs of members and attenders. Although there is some overlap amoung the committees' missions, the Personal Aid Committee concentrates on practical assistance to members and attenders in need.
The Committee meets monthly to review new or ongoing needs of FMW community members who have sought the Committee’s help or been referred by others, plan special assistance/public awareness projects, and address concerns brought to our attention. Its deliberations are confidential, and we strive to maintain the privacy of Friends while responding to their needs.
Caring concern is primarily expressed through help designed to meet short-term needs such as shopping, meal deliveries, transportation, cleaning/moving, compassionate support, or limited financial assistance. We listen, identify expert resources, visit, make telephone calls, track down absent friends and family, coordinate clearness committees, and serve on special support groups—short and long-term. We also send cards, sometimes flowers, and struggle to find ways to meet needs of individuals suffering chronic, long-term infirmities or substantial material needs. We also provide scholarship support for Friends wishing to attend activities/conferences that will enrich the spiritual life of our own Meeting.
What to Do if You Need Help
The committee prefers to hear directly from members or attenders who need assistance, but follows up on referrals from others when appropriate and feasible. We recognize that asking for help can be difficult. Not being able to take care of ourselves and letting someone else see us in pain or need can cause great distress. However, asking for and receiving help can strengthen the bonds of community among us. If you are a member or attender who needs the assistance of the committee, please contact:
A member of the Personal Aid Committee OR
The Meeting office, 202-483-3310, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. If you contact the Meeting office, the Administrative Secretary will pass your request on to the committee.
Click here for the FMW Confidential Emergency Form: How to Assist Me and Others in Case of My Incapacitation or Death.
What to Do if Someone Else May Need Assistance
We recognize some people may not think of contacting the committee or may be reluctant to do so. If you know someone you think may need our assistance, we hope you will encourage them to contact us or contact us yourself.
A direct request from the individual in need rather than from a third party is preferable since personal contact lets the Committee know what kind of assistance is desired and acceptable. While some individuals appear to need help, they may not wish any intervention from the Meeting. Discretion, sensitivity, and respect are paramount.
Please be careful not to make any promises about what the committee will be able to do. Such promises may not be realistic and can therefore cause disappointment and resentment. When contacting the committee about a possible need, let us know whether the person in question knows or approves your initiative. We welcome all suggestions on how best to respond to the circumstances.
What You Can Do to Help
We are all potentially both receivers and givers of help to each other. The great strength of our spiritual community lies the loving care that we can offer one another. It is vital to the health of our community that we all provide support to those members and attenders in need. Please let the committee to know what kinds of assistance you might be able to provide such as:
Helping with meals
Visiting Friends in hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
Making phone calls
Participating in Meeting for Worship with Friends who cannot come to Meeting
Please let the office or a member of the Personal Aid committee know if you can help in any of these ways or if you have an area of expertise that Friends may find helpful. Call 202.483.3310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for the Volunteer Form.