By Susan Lesh
Normally, during the Recognition/Installation Dinner, we announce our Anna Garlin Spencer Volunteer awardee. This is an annual American Ethical Union (AEU) award to recognize a lay member for their volunteer contributions to the success of an Ethical congregation. The award is given at the national AEU Assembly meeting. This year, however, the AEU is holding a business meeting and won’t be recognizing the Spencer volunteer awardees. We felt, however, that it was important, especially during these extraordinary times of dire news, to focus on good things that are happening in our Society. We decided to spotlight some volunteers for their efforts.
Many people volunteer a lot of their energy, creative talent, time, heart and soul to our Ethical movement and to our Society specifically. Many of them devote countless hours “behind the curtain” so we don’t realize their efforts; we only know that we have a vibrant, active community. At this time, we thank everyone who has stepped up and continues to step up to give their time and talents, without which we would not be able to perform the work of the Society.
We are spotlighting two volunteers: Anne Wallman and Janet Glass.
Anne Wallman and her family joined the Society in 2004. When I think of Anne, I think of a big, bright smile, and someone who is always ready to lend a hand. I remember that when we approached Anne about teaching in the Sunday School, she said she didn’t know anything about teaching but she was game to try. And that has been her attitude all along. She has said “yes” to many asks, including chair of the Ethical Education Committee, childcare provider extraordinaire for our Society’s evening events, such as the Skills Auction or Community Dinner, which allows our parents to attend. She has been “wrangler” of ushers (a bit of a thankless job), a set-up and clean-up person at Ethical Brew events, and now, she’s generously said yes to be the incoming Social Action chair.
I’d like to particularly thank Anne for her professional expertise as a Certified Career Development Facilitator in offering a unique and important service to people seeking to explore new career opportunities. She saw the need and originated the Job Club in December of 2014 and she has met weekly with members and non-members, helping them to start, change, advance, and transition their careers. Thank you Anne!
Janet Glass is also receiving a shout-out. She joined the Society in 1996, and since then she has also said “yes” to many asks. In the 90s, she was a member of B-RAY, Bergen Rainbow Youth, a weekly program that ran for several years serving the LGBTQ youth of high school age. In 2014 she said yes to being president of the Society. While president, in coordination with members Sarah Glisky and Richard Hibbert, she began the ongoing conversations of an exploration into the awareness of being white, white privilege, and unconscious bias. She arranged several Syrian Suppers. With a deep and abiding concern for our Earth, she became our liaison with our coalition partner Greenfaith and has attended multiple marches and rallies, even warming the governor’s hands while charmingly keeping him captive so he HAD to listen to her…and he did! She organized the local Climate Rally in Hackensack. In 2017, she said yes to being Finance Chair and oversaw a very successful Building Campaign to help cover extraordinary costs of our aging building. She came up with the name Home Fires, which was perfect, evoking a warm, homey group effort…and that I think is her m.o. Janet is warm, she invites people to join with her and create community. Earlier this year, she needed to step down from being chair, yet she continues to provide guidance—intelligent, compassionate guidance—and energy, all for the love of our community. Thank you Janet!
Susan Lesh is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.