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YAQ2022 Silly

What’s Next for SEYM Youth & Young Adult Programs?

As Kody Hersh completes his tenure as our Youth and Young Adult Coordinator this August, plans are in place to continue offering Youth and Young Adult programs and events with energy and enthusiasm. Though SEYM will not be hiring one person to fill the YYAC role, three Friends have been identified to plan and facilitate some events as contract workers, with support from SEYM Youth Committee and other volunteers.

At the beginning of 2019, Southeastern Yearly Meeting launched an experiment– a new, part-time staff role to support youth, young adults, and families. The position arose out of a leading of the incoming Youth and Young Adult Coordinator, Kody Hersh, to move home to SEYM and work on the revitalization of youth and young adult programs, which the yearly meeting enthusiastically approved and funded for a three year period. Orlando Monthly Meeting provided additional support in the form of housing. The Coordinator role combined direct support of young people, work with monthly meetings and worship groups, and event planning.

Watermelon break at Youth & Families Retreat 2019

2019 was an exciting year. With support from the Youth Committee and other Friends, Kody helped SEYM run new programs, like a weekend retreat for young adults and an end-of-summer retreat for youth and their families. He traveled to several monthly meetings to lead workshops and retreats on topics related to intergenerational community building and inclusion, and began a comprehensive update of SEYM’s child safety training and abuse prevention materials.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, SEYM, like other organizations and religious communities around the world, had to suspend in-person events. We experimented with online offerings like worship sharing, workshops, game and movie nights, and open worship. While many of these events brought joy, richness, and connection to younger and older adults in a time of isolation and upheaval, they tended not to meet the needs of youth. The Youth and Young Adult Coordinator took a nine-month leave of absence, in order to avoid running out the funding for the YYAC position during a time when the ability to meet the spiritual, social, and emotional needs of youth was significantly constrained.

Young Adult Retreat June 2022

In the summer of 2021, as vaccinations became more widely available and some COVID statistics improved, the YYAC position was resumed. In July, SEYM held our first in-person event in almost two years, a family retreat day at the beach. Since then, we’ve been able to cautiously resume overnight events, including Half Yearly Meeting, Yearly Meeting Gathering, young adult and youth and family retreats, and even an SEYM youth and young adult van to the Friends General Conference YAY (Young Adult and Youth) Gathering in Virginia.

As we drew to the close of the three-year Youth and Young Adult Coordinator term, and Kody informed SEYM that he would not be able to continue in the role beyond his three year commitment, it was time to consider how to support robust programs for SEYM youth, families, and young adults into the future.

What’s Next?

At the 2022 Yearly Meeting Gathering, SEYM Friends approved a plan to continue providing events for younger generations into the future, while decreasing strain on the yearly meeting’s budget and volunteer capacity. Here’s what the current plan looks like:

• Kody, who is moving out of the SEYM area, has agreed to continue leading an annual Youth and Families Retreat, doing most of the planning work remotely and traveling back to the SEYM region for the event.

• Kody will also continue to attend SEYM Gathering and Half Yearly Meeting, consulting with planning committees on issues related to intergenerational inclusion, and supporting activities and community-building for youth and young adults on site.

• Aurelio Anderson (Tallahassee Monthly Meeting), will step into the role of Young Adult Retreat Coordinator, leading one weekend event per year.

• Kasper Ronning (Orlando Monthly Meeting) will step into the role of Young Adult Online Events Coordinator, with the goal of offering about four online workshops or other events per year specifically for adults ages 18-35.


That means we are planning for our annual calendar of events with specific programmatic support for youth, families, and young adults to look something like this:

Youth in the kitchen at Half Yearly Meeting

Fall ~ November/December

• Half Yearly Meeting (in-person): A very family-friendly event, with specific activities and support for youth and young adults.

• Young Adult Quakers event (online)


(No planned youth or young adult events in person.)

• Young Adult Quakers event (online)

Spring ~ March/April

• Yearly Meeting Gathering: Full day youth programs, at least one designated activity or workshop for young adults.

Early June

• Young Adult Retreat (unless another time is determined by the facilitator in consultation with the young adult community and Youth Committee).

• Young Adult Quakers event

Youth & families retreat 2021

Summer ~ Late July

• End of summer Youth and Families Retreat.

• Young Adult Quakers event

Like the Youth and Young Adult Coordinator position, this is also an experiment, from which we hope to learn and continuously grow to meet the changing needs of youth, families, and young adults, and build a more caring, fully inclusive intergenerational community. If you have ideas about what this might look like, now or in the future, consider contacting (or better yet, joining) the SEYM Youth Committee!



Who’s Who

Youth and Families Retreat Coordinator

SEYM Gathering Youth Worker

Half Yearly Meeting Youth and Young Adult Resource Person

Kody Gabriel Hersh (he/they) is the outgoing SEYM Youth and Young Adult Coordinator, and has almost two decades of Quaker youth work experience. They are passionate about justice, peacemaking, and liberation work, creative expression, and connection with the earth and other beings. As of August 2022, they are headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they will live with their partner, a housemate, a rude but cuddly cat, and many, many houseplants.

Young Adult Retreat Coordinator

Aurelio Anderson is a member of Tallahassee Meeting and a long-time SEYM participant. He is active in the wider Quaker world as a youth worker and political activist, including work for Friends Committee on National Legislation and Friends General Conference. Catch his stand-up comedy set at a Quaker talent show near you!





Young Adult Online Events Coordinator

Kasper Ronning is a (relatively) recently convinced Friend who enjoys learning the ins and outs of Quaker process and how to produce spiritually and emotionally nurturing communities. Outside of involvement with both his monthly meeting and SEYM, he is a proud house husband that enjoys involvement in the queer and trans communities. Currently he is rewatching The Umbrella Academy and Russian Doll.