Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Commentary: Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Celebration of Service

Nicole Cobb Moore, MA
Greater Philadelphia Program Director
Albert Schweitzer Fellowship

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) – Greater Philadelphia Program held its fifth annual Celebration of Service on May 18th at Thomas Jefferson University. The cocktail reception that started the event was warm and buzzing as newly selected Fellows mingled with graduating Fellows, Schweitzer Fellows for Life and a host of academic and community site mentors, local advisory board members, family, friends, and funders.

The ceremony was attended by many distinguished guests and highlighted by keynote speakers, Dr. David B. Nash, Greater Philadelphia Schweitzer Program Chair and Dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health, Sally Harris, Vice Chair of the Schweitzer National Board of Directors, and Sylvia Stevens-Edouard, Executive Director of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.

The history of the Greater Philadelphia Program was shared by Dr. Nash, while Sally Harris gave a personal perspective on Albert Schweitzer and the U.S. based Schweitzer Fellowship. Unfazed by major travel challenges to attend this event, Sylvia Steven-Edouard disclosed how she sometimes looks at pictures or reflections of Fellows to rejuvenate her inspiration for the important work that we are doing. Each speaker shared the impact Schweitzer Fellows have on the individuals and communities they serve.

Fellows prepared posters that were presented during the celebration, highlighting their year-long Schweitzer Community Service Projects. Fellows also shared a few words about their Fellowship experience. I would like to share one particular concept that exemplifies the challenges and rewards of the Schweitzer program. When conducting a Schweitzer Project, challenges will inevitably arise, and we label these obstacles “boulders.” Learning to overcome boulders over the course of the Fellowship is one of the most important accomplishments of Schweitzer Fellows. This Schweitzer quote will help explain the symbolism of boulders:

“Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it. A strength which becomes clearer and stronger through its experience of such obstacles is the only strength that can conquer them.” -Albert Schweitzer

Throughout the initial Fellowship year, Fellows are reminded of this quote as they conduct their Schweitzer Community service projects, attend graduate level classes and continue to live extraordinary and exceptional lives as our country’s future Leaders in Service.

The celebration this year was enhanced by the first presentation of the Schweitzer-Spirited Award to Neil I. Goldfarb for his humanitarian efforts in the region and for serving as the first program director for the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the ASF.

For more information about the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship – Greater Philadelphia Program, click here.

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