So I got a call today, as sometimes happens. A young person in her early 20s on the other end of the phone explained that she's having a tough time. Her family, disapproving of her atheism and of her sexuality, has withdrawn their support, leaving her in a tough spot. She wanted to know if, she being secular, we (being members of the larger secular or religiously nonaffiliated community of Boston) could be of any help.
What I've done is recommend her directly to a few resources I know of in the area: shelters, a social worker, and some city agencies. She's going to let me know how she makes out there. In turn, I'll let you know.
I've also asked We Are Atheism about their possible role in handling donations, should there be a need for financial support in this situation or some future situation. While it wouldn't do for OUR organization to facilitate the transfer of money from members to people in need yet -- there are liability and other issues at play, that really need to be sorted out before that even seems like a possibility -- it may be that WAA, with their non-profit status and track record facilitating benevolent giving, might be able to help or advise us in some way. We shall see what they say.
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This situation makes me wish we were farther along in our work of community-building and identify-formation in our secular communities. This young woman, feeling the threat of crisis, wanted to reach out to people she felt she could trust: people who share her worldview. I suppose in an ideal world, we'd feel like we could trust ANY of our neighbors, of whatever worldview, but that's not the world we live in yet and I hardly fault our friend for wanting to go to secular people first. Wherever you feel safe, is where you should go.
I'd like to ask the group a question. In the future, should we learn of similar situations, what kind of mutual aid, of support or succor, are we prepared to offer, do we want to provide? Let me know your thoughts, folks.
With a view toward this immediate situation: if you have any suggestions for social aid professionals, shelters, and other resources, in the Boston/Cambridge area, please let me know. I will pass them on to the young woman who called this afternoon, when she thought to call upon the secular community of Boston for help.
Mr. Zachary W. Bos
Co-chair, Secular Coalition for Massachusetts
Massachusetts State Director, American Atheists
Charter Board Member, Sunday Assembly Boston
Immediate Past President, Boston Atheists
Humanist Society Secular Invocator
Email: [address removed]