Concern for Quaker Living Working Group
Report from the New York Quarterly Meeting
New York Quarterly Meeting contains all the meetings in New York City.
The Concern for Quaker Living Working Group (CQL), under the care of the Ministry and Counsel of the New York Quarterly Meeting (NYQM), recognizes and appreciates that our entire community is enhanced and dependent on our oldest Friends. We seek to enable older Friends who want to remain in NYC to do so, rather than having to locate elsewhere.
Exploring how NYQM Quakers might help provide for the care, housing, dignity, and well-being of our oldest members, we came to appreciate that people of other age groups and diverse backgrounds share many of the same issues, thereby enriching our purpose. Furthermore, we seek to enable our meetings to broaden Quaker life to encompass a caring community that extends spirituality to explore all our life experiences, including death. Broadening our views and sharpening our vision, we continue to support our older Friends, and the uniqueness of each person, within the context of a pluralistic community.
Over the more than four years we have been meeting as an open group of NYQM, we have visited a variety of properties and organizations offering housing services that include older persons (Kendal-on-Hudson, Isabella Geriatric, Fellowship Community, Friends in the City), we have sponsored workshops (Housing, Being Mortal), and researched and engaged a variety of community services (University Settlement, Friends Life Care). During our NYQM Jubilee, we hosted some social opportunities including a GroupMuse (informal chamber music) and Meetings for Eating. We helped to organize a Meeting for Grieving one Memorial Day in our cemetery. And during the pandemic we began to meet weekly for simply checking in. We have been considering how housing changes disrupt community, and that when made to accommodate changing healthcare needs, they are made when we most need community.
Currently, we are actively exploring three questions:
What expertise do we need? Given the wide range of existing geriatric social services and providers, would NYQM benefit from having a resource person on call as many churches do? With some support from CQL, 15th Street Meeting has recently signed a contract with University Settlement for a geriatric social worker to be available on an hourly basis at $35/hour. 15th Street has some immediate needs. We are eager to see how this kind of arrangement works.
What needs do we, as a quarter, have? With support from NYQM M&C and a donation earmarked for CQL, we have engaged Dan DeBrucker, our social work intern from Columbia School of Social Work, to deliver a quarter-wide needs assessment. His survey and follow-on focus groups are under way. With supervision from Callie Janoff, we hope to prioritize and perhaps simplify the dizzying array of issues.
How can we age in place? When a beloved person/family moves in order to have more or different care or support, they lose a vital web of support and we experience profound loss. The conviction that we Quakers can do better was the formative concern for CQL and continues to be the most important strategic concern of the committee. How can we stay together as we age? To create a cluster of Quaker housing, we have considered a variety of options: buying several units in existing apartment buildings, joining with groups (Greek Orthodox congregation, St. Vincent’s Services) to build housing. One option has combined a commitment to social justice (low income, senior housing), community involvement, and Quaker housing. A suggested prototype developed for 112 Schermerhorn would reposition it as a mixed-use property with community space for the Board of Education or other similar use, low-income senior housing, and perhaps 20 units for Quaker housing. Fully aware of the income value of this property, any proposal would guarantee/replace any income lost during construction. We plan to have a request for a feasibility study to take to the NYQM Trustees soon.
Questions and suggestions are welcome! Contact Elizabeth Gilmore.