By Jean Smith (Worship Committee Chair)
November 3, 2003
The Vietnam War. Anti-war demonstrations. Civil rights demonstrations. Sit ins. Boycotts. They don’t call them the turbulent 60’s for nothing. During those troubled times, Arno Winard was a young family man living in southern Prince George’s County. He was actively involved in the local Fellowship for Equal Rights; the Allentown Civic Association, serving as its zoning chair; the Prince George’s County Citizen for Charter; and both the Prince George’s and National Capital Area chapters of the ACLU. In these communities he worked along side Unitarian lobbyist Bob Jones, and Davies members Bill Carr and Herb Rosenstock. Together they worked tirelessly on the desegregation of schools and other public facilities in the county. This association with people whose views and efforts he respected led him and his family to Davies.
Roz Winard provided this bio of Arno’s early years. She begins, “ He was born in Danzig in 1929. (the Free State, he would always explain, to be sure you understood it wasn’t Poland or Germany at the time.) He wanted to dissociate from both of those countries. He was the only child of an upper middle class family. His father was a successful businessman in import-export and his mother a dentist, retired after her marriage.
When Poland was invaded in 1939 his family was living in the port city of Gydnia, and Arno in a Polish (rather than Jewish) neighborhood and he was attending a secular Polish school. His father believed in assimilation. During all of his school years he was bullied (persecuted was his word) because he was Jewish.
When the war started the family had the option of leaving the country or going inland to Radom, the family home of his mother. His father deferred to his mother who wanted to be with her family during this time of stress and uncertainty. His father’s Aryan appearance, and successful assimilation into the majority community made him feel invincible. He would protect his family. The move to Radom started the chain of events that ended in the concentration camps. His mother died in Auschwitz. Arno and his father were sent to slave labor camps in Germany, and eventually to Dachau.”
Roz continues, “After the war he and his father lived in Munich where, after tutoring to catch up on lost years, he graduated from a German High School. Immediately after the war they had tried to return to Radom but found anti-semitic persecution to be unchanged. This was during the time that Jews were attacked on a train to Kielce and killed. Return to Poland was not an option. They felt more comfortable and accepted in Munich. In 1951 Arno got a scholarship to Brooklyn College in New York and started a new life in the United States.
The experience of persecution, before, during, and after the war, never left him. In fighting the battles of the underprivileged, the powerless, those discriminated against because of race, religion or any other reason, he was fighting his own battle. He was overcoming his own pain. He was taking back his own humanity, denied to him as a powerless child. The energy and passion he expressed in the cause of equality was like a charge to fight, it was a battle, there was a victory to be won, or lost. The language of war expressed the intensity of his involvement.
In his job at the Census Bureau he was in charge of Poverty Statistics; keeping a precarious balance between the detachment of information gathering, and advocacy. He led the life of an activist and Roz imagines that were he alive today he would still be at it; envisioning and working toward equality and social justice.”
Arno died June 5, 1987 from pancreatic cancer. Following is an excerpt from a poem written by Roz for his memorial service:
“Unraveling in an endless line the twine is cut
Having moved across boundaries, rivers and seas.
From language to language, faith to faith
Keeping all in its’ knotted memory.
Forgetting nothing, under the surface of purpose and activity.
He was, as we are, the expression of what he had lived, loved, and lost.
Experience, modified by time and acceptance – irrevocable.
Each pain and pleasure to live in our future, seen or unseen.
Each experience to appear in disguise in all the others that follow.
His experience of persecution to become anger, a loss of self,
And a love of civil liberties – a need for justice.
His experience of death of family, or unjustified murder,
Ever after to feel any injustice to others as a stab in the heart –
Not to be tolerated.
His experience of the loss of his mother to be an open wound
Under the surface of life – never to be closed.
Only soothed, pushed further back in memory by ongoing life;
By the love, caring, and tolerance of others,
And the actions of redress and attempts at understanding.”
Sydney Wilde-Nugent who was our minister in the late 80’s understood the dedication Arno put into his efforts to make the world more just. Before he died she initiated the Arno Winard Social Activist Award to be given at the Fellowship dinner, annually, or as often as a worthy candidate surfaced. Oddly, I can find no mention of this development in the board minutes and in fact, since the nominations are considered in secret by the board, the only mention I found in any minutes was to say that the board had made a selection and the award would be given at the dinner. I was unable to find any nomination forms and I suggest that from now on we keep a file of at least those nominees who are selected to receive the award.
Before he died, Arno himself became the first recipient “for his life long commitment to civil liberties”. Arno’s 10 1/2’s might be hard to fill but Sydney foresaw that many at Davies would be challenged to walk a similar path. Today we want to recognize the recipients of the Arno Winard award. I also invite you to consider others in the congregation or among the many “friends of Davies” for nomination for the 2003 award. Nomination forms are on the table in the lounge.
Another member of Davies who left us far too young was Arno’s friend Bill Carr. He was the second award recipient “for his enduring efforts in Civil Rights”. Bill came to the struggle from his perspective as an African American. I think a student known to me only as Brandon B’s describes that perspective very well in his poem entitled “Civil Rights”.
Pain, Anguish, Sadness
A person walking in shame
Violence, Bloodshed, Fright
Reactions when mistreated because of their color.
Courage, Change, Hope
What they needed to get freedom.
Passion, Determination, Pride
Peace protests leading them to a better life.
Liz Echols recalls being concerned for their safety when Bill Carr, Bill Echols, and Arno delivered food downtown during the riots that followed the Martin Luther King assassination.
“For his efforts to improve the lot of humankind” is what it says on the plaque next to 1991’s honoree, Herb Rosenstock. Like Arno and Bill, Herb was active in the Prince George’s County Fellowship for Equal Rights and other civic organizations including the PTA. His involvement spanned both the local and state levels as he pursued civil rights and environmental issues. Margaret Jennison tells me that one of the last things he did before his death was to join the fight to limit the Woodrow Wilson Bridge expansion.
Arno, Bill, and Herb personified the award criteria # 3, “to have provided leadership in social activism”.
In a category by herself is the 1997 recipient, Gertrude Entenmann. “She was a great lady,” says Dick Hess. Gertrude was a founding member of Davies and received the award “for an exemplary life of service”. She was unrelenting in her determination to spread the good news of what Unitarian Universalism had to offer and used her Channel 4 TV show from 1962 – 1972 to do so during the same time Unitarianism in the Washington, DC area was experiencing a growth spurt. She had an uncanny way of getting people involved. I hadn’t been at Davies a year when she suggested that I served as the church board secretary.
Gertrude worked tirelessly at all levels of the denomination, particularly in the Greater Washington Area association and the Joseph Priestly District and she was a champion of the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, going back to its early days. Liz remembers her traveling to Jamaica and Haiti on UUSC’s behalf. Son Lee Rogers adds that she also visited over 40 cities for UUSC.
To understand the UUSC philosophy is to understand Gertrude’s contribution so I turned to Jack Mendelson’s book, Being Liberal in an Illiberal Age, subtitled, Why I am a UU?. He tells us that the UUSC was “established in 1940 to rescue Jewish and other refugees from Nazi Europe. … then goes on to say that UU’s (like Gertrude) support UUSC and participate in it because it represents our profound spiritual need to mingle, as Jane Addams says, ‘on the thronged and common road where all must turn out for one another and at least see the size of one another’s burdens’, and we do not expect anyone to pat us on the head for being good and we do not expect anyone to become converted in return. We work with and not just for others. If it is possible for us to bring help, or know how, or advocacy, or whatever where it is needed, we want to try to meet the need, but only in keeping with what others express to be their desires.”
In a few weeks when you are asked to support UUSC through Guest at Your Table boxes, think of Gertrude and keep her work and spirit alive. She was the embodiment of criteria #2, that is, to “have an established pattern of social activism, displaying a commitment that informs and is a major focus of his or her life.”
That certainly describes the 1989 recipient. Gary Mummert resigned his commission as an Air Force officer to pursue what he felt would be more socially responsible work even though he didn’t know what it was at the time. That led him to a teaching position at a Catholic high school in Washington, DC, teaching shop classes. Then his peace activism led him to work with Admiral Carroll at the Center for Defense Information. Next he took his skills and tools to work for a non-profit group, Manna, whose stated purpose is “to serve low and moderate income families, assisting them to fulfill the dream of home ownership”. Around that same time, UU churches in the greater Washington area began exploring what they could do to address the problem of homelessness. Representatives came together to form the Unitarian Universalist Affordable Housing Corporation and through Gary’s guidance adopted the Manna model not to just provide housing but to educate the new home owners on how to maintain their new homes and provide sweat equity during construction. So in the beginning, Manna received low interest loans from UUAHC and local UU’s volunteered to clean and paint and tile, making the spaces ready for first-time home owners. Gary’s award was “for his continuing work on behalf of the underprivileged and his abiding concern for peace”. In addition to his work in housing, he also took an active role in the cause of women’s rights, and non-violence.
From the beginning, Davies has contributed a high percentage of the loan money and the sweat that is UUAHC. One of our energetic volunteers is the 1999 Arno recipient, Rex Neihof. Rex is very modest about his contribution to UUAHC, but I think that the people who came on board early are the ones responsible for its success today. Rex was a frequent volunteer at work parties, a financial backer, and the Davies representative to the UUAHC board. For many years he also served as the secretary to that board.
Scott Peck recognizes the value of the contributions of people like Rex and Gary in his book The Road Less Traveled and Beyond. He says, “Many significant contributions are made to society through the giving of time, money, or other resources by strongly principled individuals who regard their citizenship as a responsibility. As soon as a person stands up for something with no expectation of reward, his or her involvement in a cause is essentially voluntary. Doing volunteer work is a calling as legitimate and as complex a choice as a career decision.”
The four names remaining on the plaques, Joyce Dowling, 1992; Elin-marie Papantones, 1993; Liz Echols, 2000; and Virginia Lloyd, 2002 represent a plethora of volunteer hours. I’ve grouped them under a heading that Daphne Rose Kingma in her book Heart and Soul, calls, service in love. She says, “Service in love is temporarily setting aside your own needs, wants, and priorities and allowing the needs of another human being to become so radiant, so vivid, and so pertinent that for a moment your own are dissolved. This gracious moment is love and the more we live in the practice of service, the more we create this love.”
Elin-marie’s inscription simply says, “for caring for others”. When she was with the Mental Health Association she belonged to the community choir. This group gave disabled and able-bodied people a chance to harmonize before church and civic groups. By her own admission, they weren’t very good but that the experience itself was the reward. As a long time member of the caring committee at Davies she is often responsible for coordinating help. One beneficiary was Marian May who was ill with cancer for some time. Elin-marie arranged many meals and other support for Marian and Tom. Even today Elin-marie works in the early intervention program where she helps poor mothers get access to social and medical programs. If you’ve ever gone shopping with her you know that she purchases a lot of extras for her little clients out of her own pocket.
After Liz Echols retired she became involved with hospice. Her Arno award reads, “for her caring, kindness, and dedication with hospice, community service, and our adopted Laotian family”. For those of you who don’t know, Davies has had an adopted family for many, many years. With nurturing and their own initiative, they have been very successful in their adopted country. When the daughter in college was selected to go to Spain to study she hit a snag trying to get a passport and visa. Liz had worked for INS and was able to pull strings with them and Senator Barbara Mulkuski to get the necessary documents in a short time so that the girl could go. She also helped the son get his driver’s license.
Speaking of driving, who can you think of who is always chauffeuring folks to appointments or the store when they can get around on their own? Often the answer is Virginia Lloyd. When she’s not in the car she may be found at the piano at a local church where she fills in as needed, or coordinating care and fixing meals for people like Anne Cislak and Ethel Harrell, or on neighborhood watch in District Heights, or for forty years, involved in the education aspect of the Homemakers club. Virginia says she enjoys working on committees, and I’ll add that her selection of committees seems to be ones where she can reach out with love and care for young and old alike.
Roz also said in his bio that “Arno’s involvement in civil rights and the personal history that brought him to it, is a lens through which we can understand the why of an individual’s participation in social action. As you’ve heard, gaining power for those to whom equality was denied, and working together to promote social justice and equal rights for all, was a prime motivator in his life.” Arno Winard Social Activist Award recipient Joyce Dowling will now share some personal ideas about what motivates her to work for others.
Social Justice Work – My motivation and overcoming problems
by Joyce Dowling
I’d like to share with you about what has motivated me in my life of social justice work and how that has changed throughout my life.
I was raised a Unitarian, but I learned some of the same values as those of other religions and even those with no religion. On Labor Day, I collected money for Jerry’s kids and on Halloween, I went trick-or-treating for UNICEF. I wasn’t as exposed to other social justice issues or how to help people as our children today are here. Though issues were discussed in youth group when I was a teen, I wasn’t regularly attending any more at that point and I was trying to deal with my own issues about life so I found it hard to deal with other people’s. I also didn’t believe that anything that I could do could really make a meaningful difference.
My first real motivation came from my work as a family child care provider. People were calling me, asking me to care for their children, people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. Some were begging me to take care of their precious infants and telling me horror stories about other child care providers. I could believe these stories due to my exposure to providers when I went to mandatory workshops for providers who wanted to collect federal food program funds (at the time this was the only kind of mandatory training they had for home-based child care in Maryland). I heard providers talk about how they had to spank children because there was no other effective way to provide discipline and I heard evidence of ignorance about basic health and safety issues. I felt that my knowledge and care for children, made me responsible to do something about it.
Education seemed the natural method at first, but since education was not mandatory, only people who were already aware of many of these issues were attending classes. So then I had to pursue advocacy to change the laws to require education, but the regulations couldn’t be too stringent or providers would just work outside of the law as they always have.
Of course, I did this work with organizations, and I first had to convince the organizations that this was something that would benefit them or that I had some insights that were useful in the work they were already doing. So it did take patience and time and it wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot about people, how organizations work, what is going on in our society, and many other things.
It’s sometimes hard to tell how much good you’ve done and how to measure your success. I did need to feel that it wasn’t for nothing, so I listened to people and tried to take in all the small pieces of useful feedback that I got. Legislators told me that they weren’t used to seeing child care providers and parents go to Annapolis – just larger businesses and agencies primarily, so they did appreciate my being there. There were small comments from providers and parents about appreciating information, too, so I held onto those things as evidence of the worth of my work.
It’s easy to get discouraged, but I contemplated about what things made a difference in my life. I realized that there were people whom I never thanked or indicated to them that they may have helped me. There were people whose words of wisdom inspired me with whom I only had a brief encounter. I’m sure that there were those who had affected my life – through their work to improve conditions or provide services, whom I never met and could not know. These thoughts helped to encourage me to feel that my work was indeed worthwhile.
There were those who said that I should be spending more time with my family and doing the traditional things that wives and mothers do. My Unitarian upbringing had taught me to think critically and make decisions for myself, which helped me to believe that I could do what really needed to be done as a wife and mother and do this important work also. This helped me to empower my husband and children to help which was also educational for them, but I thank them for their support.
Looking back, I don’t know where I had the energy for all that, but it was a great experience. But the time came for me to leave child care work and the 12 hour work days. I didn’t want to totally leave my advocacy work, though, so I got involved in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s program called, “Promise the Children.”
This was much less rigorous – attending a monthly meeting, reading some materials, sharing information with the congregation, and doing things like writing letters to legislators. I could handle that!
One of my present projects is going to Beacon House Community Ministry to bring inner-city children to the library once per month at most during the school year, so it usually adds up to only about 5 or 6 visits per year for only a couple hours. I try to recruit others to go in my place when I’m busy with other things as Anita Parins did yesterday. Gathering school supplies and Christmas presents for the Beacon House children could hardly be considered work at all because I merely announce it and put up a list and the congregation is happy to give, and other people even volunteer to take them there.
If you could see how this community in northeast DC has changed in the 11 yrs. I’ve been helping out there, you might better understand how I feel that no matter how small my participation is in it, I can believe that I’m making a difference since Beacon House is making a difference. I really believe what anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I feel that being a recipient of the Arno Winard Award was a statement by trusting friends that I would make this a lifelong commitment and I am very happy to do so. For those of you who are inspired to take on that challenge as well, please don’t be afraid to share with us about your work. I think it’s better to share to help inspire others and learn about new resources and opportunities, than being humble and letting us find out about your good works during your memorial service. I look forward to hearing about what you’re doing.
At Arno’s memorial service, Sydney said, “Implanted in each person is the faith to overcome disillusionment and despair, the power to resist evil, the wisdom to use our gift nobly, and the will to transform chaos and misery into harmony and happiness. When we free the oppressed, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, bring cheer into the lives of those in distress, when we strive for justice and the coming of the beloved community, we invest our life with significance.”