Be the Change #21 – Be Like Joyce

When I wrote the first in this series of “Be Like…” posts, I mentioned all the good friends we have made by dancing with the Pittsburgh Ceili Club.  This fourth in my series of posts about people I know who are dedicated volunteers, is the third to feature a Ceili Club member.

Our friend Joyce Rothermel is a board member of the Thomas Merton center.  The Merton Center began in a store front office on the Southside in 1972 to protest the continuation of the war in Vietnam, and expanded their mission over the years to provide information and resources to combat poverty, racism and war, and advocate simplicity as a lifestyle.

Through the years, the Center has educated and organized against world and local hunger, exploitation of workers, militarism, and racial discrimination in Pittsburgh. Members have been arrested protesting the B-1 bomber, nuclear weapons, and apartheid in South Africa. They have organized fasts and vigils. The first Pittsburgh chapter of Amnesty International and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank were organized by Thomas Merton Center staff members.

Their many projects include advocating for public transit, promoting sustainable environmental practices, the Book ‘Em Books for Prisoners project, and the Greater Pittsburgh Interfaith Coalition.  Their Protect Our Parks campaign fights to keep our state parks fracking-free.  They even run a volunteer-staffed thrift store as both a fund-raiser and a clothing charity. And that’s just a partial list.  Where peace and justice are the goals, the Merton Center stands ready with partnership and support.

Like Theresa (see my bog post a few weeks ago), Joyce’s activism started with teaching.  She was teaching at a Catholic School in the 1970s, and began to feel compelled to put Catholic Social Justice teachings into action.  She was on the staff of the Center from 1977-87, and went on to become director of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (1987-2011), but has remained an active Merton Center volunteer.

Joyce and her husband Michael are kind and nurturing spirits at the Harp & Fiddle, quick to welcome strangers and to show a compassionate interest in others.  Joyce says of her longtime commitment to peace and justice, “It is a privilege to put my faith into action within a communal environment.  Working with kindred spirits of all ages, races, religious backgrounds in efforts to make the world more peaceful and just gives meaning and fulfillment to my life.”

Learn more about the Merton Center HERE.

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