By Rev. Carolyn L. Boyd
The Plumfund Story: A Community Supporter In Need Of Support
On Sunday, September 20, 2015, during our 11 am worship service, I greeted Felicia with a heart to heart 'spirit-filled' embrace. It was good to see her. She was as we say in Christendom, absent from the body of Christ. As we embraced, I felt a deep sense of pain, anxiety and struggle within her. I would not let her go. Her beautiful face showed signs of worry as tears flowed freely. I remember saying, "I am here for you. If you need anything, please let me know."
I knew something was deeply troubling Felicia as I observed her throughout the worship service. This troubled me. After service, I learned she was going to be evicted from her apartment at any moment. In fact, she was literally waiting for the Sheriff to come.
Felicia, a dedicated and committed social activist has stood up for justice for decades. She and I have done a lot of good social justice work together with Black Voices For Peace, (BVFP) a non-profit organization advancing peace and justice at home, in the Middle East and around the world. We have a long and cherished bond from our days in BVFP with our Beloved Brother Damu Smith, Founder and Co-Chair of the organization. I served as Co-Chair while Felicia served as Vice-President and together, we worked in the trenches of ignorance, hate and fear. As activists, we know first-hand what it means to be on the front lines fighting injustice, racism, and hate. It often means being under-employed, without steady income or a sustainable financial base of support for your own well-being. It can be hard to keep it all together with so little money for rent, utilities, cell phone, health care, security and savings. It is difficult to maintain a healthy self-image or state of mind when you are consumed by psychological and emotional stress of being homeless and unable to take care of oneself. Felicia had been able to overcome it for so long, but now she was in need of help.
Felicia, a valued and trusted member of The Spirit of Truth Center, a spiritual community I founded and pastored years ago, was a bright light and loyal friend. I simply adore and love her spirit. It was painful to know she was going through this life challenge. I had to do something. I felt called to act.
I engaged the Chair of our Benevolence Committee, a group created for exactly this purpose, to speak with her about how the church might assist her during this difficult time. While I knew that there was no way possible for our Benevolence Committee to act as quickly as needed or to completely cover Felicia's outstanding rental obligation, I knew the Benevolence Committee would do its best to intervene on her behalf. Without much thought or hesitation, I said, "Felicia, I will organize a crowdsourcing campaign for you if you like to raise funds to keep you in your apartment." She gave me the OK and the Plumfund campaign was born.
Plumfund Giving in Action: A Promise Kept
It became very clear that our community would not let Felicia be homeless. Our community overwhelmingly stood up to fill any gap of need for Felicia. They refused to allow her to fall. For us, community is a verb, active, dynamic and committed to each other and to a just world. We believe in community. The Plumfund campaign 'Taking Care of Felicia, Our Own' exceeded our goal of $5000 which allowed Felicia to remain in her apartment and provide a small financial cushion until she secures employment.
Needless to say, Felicia was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. There was an incredible amount of joy experienced by all as we witnessed giving and support in action. With the Plumfund campaign's social media tools, we were not only able to connect with our immediate neighbors and friends, but reached a wider community of individuals that shared our beliefs and commitment to those in need. It's an overwhelming feeling to have both friend and stranger join together to make a difference in one person's life.
Many years ago, I promised Felicia I would always be there for her when and if she needed me. It is both my honor and duty to keep my promise. Sadly, Felicia is still unemployed, but continues to be a source of light for our community. I pray she receives an employment offer soon -- she is a skilled organizer, critical thinker, impressive communicator and visionary leader. Any organization would be well-served by her contribution to their mission.
About Rev. Boyd:
Rev. Carolyn L. Boyd is the Minister, Organizational and Ministry Development at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington DC. She is an author, spiritual teacher, life coach, facilitator, speaker, counselor, activist, radio talk show host and entrepreneur. She has worked and consulted in corporations, non-profit organizations, international NGO's, faith-based institutions and community led organizations. Rev. Carolyn is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She is married to Dennis Clark and resides in Alexandria, Virginia. She is the step mom to two handsome and gifted young men.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Plumfund, in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. In the series, we'll feature inspirational stories of giving and receiving from users and friends of Plumfund, the free crowdfunding site. You'll find one post every weekday in November leading up to Giving Tuesday. To learn more about this campaign or start your own, visit Plumfund.com.