Mawrters Step Up
Across the country and the world, Mawrters are stepping up to help others during the pandemic. The Bulletin wants to hear about your acts of kindness. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share stories. We’ll be updating this page on a regular basis so check to hear how your fellow Mawrters are helping.
Lucille Edwards Wayne ’08: I am a psychotherapist and art therapist, and my work provides a front seat to intimate effects of the pandemic. Fortunately, most of my clientele were relatively unscathed. But I wanted to find a way to reach those who seriously needed psychological support. The problem was, with job and career uncertainty, this was the exact moment many could least afford therapy. But I didn’t let this stop me. Back in 2008, Bryn Mawr College awarded a classmate and me a grant to provide art therapy workshops to homeless men. This experience seared in my soul an understanding of how critical and transformative therapy can be during difficult times. Remembering this grant, I was struck by inspiration. How about mini-sessions! I set up a program for individuals in need. They pay what they can (even zero dollars) and receive a set number of half-hour online therapy sessions with me. It’s worked beautifully. It’s truly astounding what a difference being deeply listened to, even for just 30 minutes, can make. The short duration helps me assist many more people in need than if I had stuck with the traditional model of an hour of therapy, continuing indefinitely for each client. I work with adults who think and feel deeply. If anyone knows someone in need of such support, they can find me here.
Gradiva Couzin ’91: In mid-March, at the start of California's shelter-in-place order, a small group of volunteers started Berkeley Mutual Aid to rapidly respond to the urgent need for helpers to run errands and buy groceries for elders and immunocompromised folks nearby. Since then, our size and scope has expanded to get resources to where the need is greatest--sometimes this looks like a simple grocery run, other times a phone call during a tough week, and often it takes other forms. I'm now one of the lead organizers of this extraordinary, scrappy organization. Led by our guiding principle of Solidarity not Charity, we have deployed approximately 500 volunteers to help people in need, including matching volunteer "buddies" to serve 400 higher-risk households in an ongoing manner throughout the COVID crisis, collecting and distributing PPE for hospital workers and higher-risk individuals, collecting food for our local Meals on Wheels, and advocating our local and state elected officials for equitable disaster response funding.
Being a part of this movement has been a joyous gift for me: I'm inspired by the people I work with every day, and deeply grateful for my small role helping to build the better world I want to live in. I've learned that the COVID crisis brought to light truths that were always here: nobody is safe until we are all safe; we have always needed each other; and we are all interconnected. Mutual Aid networks exist all over the country! I encourage Mawrters to get involved in this multigenerational, anticapitalist movement and enjoy a glimpse of a better future.
The Rev. Paige (Boyle) Evers ’94: The way I’ve offered a helping hand during the coronavirus pandemic is by quickly adapting my congregation's in-person worship services to an online worship experience. My husband and I are the pastors of Reformation Lutheran Church in Milford, Delaware. On March 15, we held our last in-person worship service before Delaware started a shelter-in-place order. Between that Sunday and the following Sunday, we set up a YouTube channel, borrowed a tripod from a local photographer, asked our music director to record a hymn at home, and video recorded a 30-minute worship service in an empty sanctuary using an iPhone. On March 22, we were able to offer worship online via our church’s new YouTube channel, our church Facebook page, and our website.
We also started creating weekly devotional booklets with Bible readings, reflections, and prayer suggestions for every day, and a written worship guide for Sundays. We’ve been mailing those to our elderly members who don’t have easy access to technology and to our online worship services. Beyond those videos and resources geared toward continuing our regular Sunday offerings, my husband and I have been creating videos for children and adults focused on growing in faith in these anxious times, both related to the pandemic itself and to unrest due to racism and injustice.
Behind the scenes, we have kept a spreadsheet of all of the phone calls, e-mails, and texts we’ve sent to our congregation’s members throughout the pandemic. By systematically going through our church directory and reaching out, we are making sure our congregation stays connected with us and with one another. If anyone wishes to see our videos or worship services online, they can visit: rlcmilford.com/connect.
Rita Hunt Smith ’88: I have been recording myself reading and sharing stories five days a week since March 23. In true Mawrter fashion, I jumped in with passion, with my husband filming me holding my cell phone in our bedroom. As I went, I learned about better lighting, bought a tripod, and finally streamlined the whole process by recording and editing on my ancient MacBook. I still manage to get excited over the stories that I share and am amazed when I look at my collection of over 40 videos. They are available as unlisted videos through Hershey Public Library's Facebook page or on my YouTube page.
Consuelo López-Morillas ’65: In March, I launched a petition on MoveOn.org that has (as of May 2020) gathered 535,000 signatures. The petition calls for Congress to include student loan forgiveness for doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. Among other things, the petition has led to the introduction of a bill in Congress by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) that addresses the issue. I am collaborating with representatives of other activist groups like StudentDebtCrisis.org and SumOfUs.org to move this proposal forward.
Janet Ohle Ghigo ’67: I am not doing anything dramatically different during the pandemic. What I'm proud of is that I continue to respond as a volunteer paramedic (the oldest active medic in WV). We have had training in self-protection as well as in different ways to treat patients, especially to avoid aerosolizing the virus. Ironically, when city medics are running themselves ragged, our business has dropped way off. To date we have no coronavirus in Pocahontas County, WV (that we know of), but we have to treat every patient as infectious until proven otherwise. This is my 30th year as a volunteer EMT then paramedic. Our department did hire a medic for weekdays, but I'm the medical crew all nights and week-ends.
Marylyn Jones Calabrese ’57: My career has been devoted to public education and the teaching of writing. I have taught in public schools and in private universities. My most satisfying work, however, has been in helping thousands of students as they prepare essays for their college applications. As a writing coach, I have taught classes and worked with countless individuals on this important topic. This year, for the first time, I am providing this service at no charge!
Bhakthi Sahgal '13: Nuzhat Kimi Arif '13—share your volunteer efforts procuring medical supplies in Bangladesh!
Elizabeth Tinker ’97: Mentoring a couple of younger Mawrters with their careers as they try to navigate this new landscape. I'm having trouble focusing on my actual work so it's nice to feel like I am putting some good out in the world!
Becky Briggs ’04: I had a BMC extern this winter who is a graduating senior. When I heard she might not have a formal graduation ceremony, I sent her this cosmic trinket. It’s a special necklace containing a glow-in-the-dark or be of the moon in its shape on her birthday. It’s to remind her that she can conquer all phases of life and will always be protected by the moon on the horizon.
Alison Velez Lane ’84: 1) I am using technology including Facebook, Zoom, e-mail, and Free Conference Call to create connections for my neighbors to receive information, complete Census questions, and participate in a Special Election for our Congressional District. 2) Also, I have advocated for food distribution and computer and internet access for school-age children. 3) I have supplied food to one of my childhood friends who is homeless. 4) I created Easter bags for two elementary students who live two doors from my family home.
Gemma Lee ’93: Been sending boxes of masks and gloves to hospitals and contributing to purchase raw materials for those who can sew masks.
Emily Cotlier ’93: I was a volunteer grant writer with an NZ organization, Hui E, connecting small community groups with grant writers. We help the groups apply for NZ government funding so they can continue their work and support of New Zealanders.
Cara Petonic ’07: We bought gift cards and cookies (from a BMC alum-owned business: Bang Cookies!) to give to our mail carrier and sanitation workers. There are so many who are working hard to keep us safe, and we wanted to share even just a small amount of appreciation. (Whitney Graham ’08: I’m stealing this idea—thanks Cara!)
Brittany Peterson ’08: Continuing to volunteer with my local food pantry/warehouse (now with masks and social distance)!
Sarah Miller ’09: My lovely friend Martine Roesel ’06 made masks for staff at the psychiatric hospital where I am a physician and mailed them to me from across the country.
Amy Rothkopf ’07: Donating blood! You can find a local drive at https://www.redcrossblood.org.
Laura Sockol ’07: I’m sending my students well-being exercises 3x/week along with information about the science behind them. You can try some of them here. (Laura is an assistant professor of psychology at Davidson College.)
Magda Pecsenye '94 organizes a virtual Step Sing, with nearly 1,000 alumnae. In the video of the event, Mari Hadden '91 leads the group in "Bread and Roses" as performed by The Night Owls.