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Midwest volunteers reflect on AFSC service

Linda Garrison, left, and Ann Francis
Linda Garrison, left, and Ann Francis served for eight years as co-clerks of the Central, Great Lakes and finally the Midwest Region. Photo: Mama Nozipo Glenn and Jon Krieg / AFSC

We’ve called them “co-clerks” for a long time, though that term doesn’t quite do them justice.

Ann Francis of Lansing, Michigan and Linda Garrison of Eldora, Iowa recently completed service as co-clerks of AFSC’s Midwest Regional Executive Committee, the volunteer body which chooses, plans and evaluates AFSC’s program work in the new 12-state region.

Both active Friends and justice advocates, Ann and Linda played key roles in combining most of the former Central Region with the former Great Lakes Region.

“Being with so many wonderful people has enriched my life and my understanding of justice and social change,” Ann says. “It has been an amazing time of learning and connection. I leave the EC with a full heart and much gratitude.”

Ann credits AFSC staff and other committee members with inspiring her own service.

“How special it has been to serve with people who want to make a difference in the world and know that working together is where the change begins,” Ann says. “I appreciated so much how everyone came together to combine our former regions and to ensure the Midwest Region would be strong.”

While Friends tend to shy away from expressions of pride, Ann has a hard time hiding her enthusiasm for AFSC’s work for peace and justice. “The Midwest regions have led the way in AFSC over the years, and I believe Midwest will continue to inspire and lead.”

Linda says her time with AFSC has provided her with a deeper connection to a life of service and to other people in the world. She observes that some things took longer than expected, while other things moved quickly.

She recalls how difficult it was to downsize program work a few years ago, knowing how well AFSC’s programs connected with and met the needs of communities. Still, she feels AFSC came out stronger afterwards, and she’s “proud of the successful devolvement of the AFSC work in Austin,” which continues as Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera.

Linda says she’s excited as the new Midwest Region builds upon the work of the former Great Lakes and Central Regions. “I hope that there will be something singular about each Executive Committee,” she says. “As the Midwest comes together now fully formed, it will have its own personality.”

She also hopes that non-Quakers will continue to serve on the Executive Committee even as AFSC strengthens its connections with Friends, including those from pastoral meetings who are eager to find a place within AFSC.

Linda is renowned for her inimitable sense of humor, noting that someone else will now need to push for chocolate and afternoon naps.