LIAISON FOR THE FUND FOR SUFFERINGS (2021)
Minute 74 of the 1971 Yearly Meeting sessions marked the initiation of the Fund for Sufferings under the Peace and Social Action Program. The Fund, raised through voluntary contributions, is meant to provide assistance to those who are suffering hardship because of fidelity to Friends’ testimonies. In the sessions of 1975, a Committee on Sufferings was established to administer the Fund, and a budget appropriation was placed in the goals of the Sharing Fund to continue until the Fund reached $10,000.
The Fund for Sufferings was transferred in 2003 to the Trustees of New York Yearly Meeting from the separate investment account maintained by the Committee on Sufferings. When the Yearly Meeting consolidated its accounts into those maintained by the Yearly Meeting treasurer and those maintained by the Trustees, $10,000 was placed in the care of the Yearly Meeting treasurer and the remainder invested with the Trustees.
By approval of the Yearly Meeting at Fall Sessions 2018, the accumulated income from the invested trust fund was directed to the income of the NYYM operating budget for unrestricted use. The Fund for Sufferings remains as a Designated Use Fund with no endowment, but could be replenished, if needed, through direct designated contributions to the fund.
Purpose of the Fund
The Fund for Sufferings is available to provide support for Friends who suffer financially as a result of their faithful witness, their acts of conscience, or their fidelity to Friends’ testimonies. It is intended to respond to urgent needs in a timely manner.
How to Apply for Funds
Applications will be accepted from New York Yearly Meeting members, wherever that member resides, and from any who are faithful participants in witness actions in local meetings. The application is posted on the NYYM website, and completed applications are submitted to the Liaison for the Fund for Sufferings for consideration.
Before submitting an application to the Yearly Meeting, the applicant should approach their local meeting, care committee, or a Yearly Meeting committee requesting financial assistance. Once that meeting or committee has reached discernment about assisting the applicant, they can forward the request to the Liaison for the Fund for Sufferings. Normally it is expected that the Fund will supplement a meeting’s financial contributions to an individual. For requests requiring immediate attention, discernment by the individual’s meeting or care committee and the Liaison and Witness Coordinating Committee may occur in parallel. A Yearly Meeting committee may also endorse and forward an application to the Liaison. In the case of urgent requests, an electronic transfer is possible. There is also the possibility that costs covered by a meeting or group may be reimbursed after discernment.
Support should not be presumed, and is not guaranteed. Examples of time-sensitive expenses that might receive support from the Fund for Sufferings include but are not necessarily limited to: legal expenses resulting from nonviolent direct action and holy obedience/civil disobedience, including bail and expenses related to arrest, property damage/loss and incarceration; legal proceedings or financial penalties related to conscientious objection to military service or war tax refusal; and medical expenses resulting from injuries sustained or illness contracted in the course of public witness.
Functions & Activities of the Liaison
The Liaison administers the Fund for Sufferings by:
accepting applications for assistance,
researching the request and following up with the local meeting or other committees connected with the request
reviewing the request and preparing a recommendation
presenting the request to the clerk of the Witness Coordinating Committee
meeting with the Coordinating Committee clerk and additional people from that committee in discernment
contacting the Treasurer of the Yearly meeting with the pertinent information if the outcome is positive, so that funds may be sent to the applicant.
In the event of a conflict of interest between the Liaison and the applicant, the Liaison will forward the application to the clerk of the Witness Coordinating Committee.
The Yearly Meeting appoints the Liaison on Sufferings upon the recommendation of the Nominating Committee. The Liaison on Sufferings serves a term of three years, with the option of serving a second three year term. The Liaison shares reports of requests and gifts.
Finances and Reporting
The fund is held by the Yearly Meeting as a Designated Use Fund. The Yearly Meeting Treasurer monitors compliance with the fund’s designation. Witness Coordinating Committee will receive regular reports on use of the funds, and the remaining balance in the Fund for Sufferings.