Through soul searching and seeking out neighborliness, Sean found Ritter Center.
People are drawn to support Ritter Center for a wide variety of reasons. Some come from a personal experience in their own life. Others come from traumas they witnessed of loved ones. Many feel compelled to serve a higher power whether a general spiritual calling, or one directly affiliated with a particular religious identity. There is also a broad base of support founded on interfaith dialogue and mutual understanding aimed at addressing challenges in the larger community. Board member Sean McConnell was drawn to Ritter Center’s work through his particular religious tradition which is the Episcopalian church. We took a moment to talk with him about his calling and how Ritter Center has played a role in his search for community and a way to respect the dignity of every human being.
“I am drawn to the work that Ritter does through the religious tradition that I participate in as part of the Episcopal church. It is the first thing that informs my calling. In fact, many years ago, I went to seminary in Berkeley, but I am not ordained. I wanted to be a lay professional in the church,” shared Ritter Center Board Member Sean McConnell. “I am drawn to serving on the board of Ritter Center because of this promise: we will seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourself. We pledge that we will strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. This is a big expectation within my religious community, and I am committed to it. One of the ways I am able to respond to that calling is by actively working with an organization like Ritter Center.”
“This religious principle has at its core the sense that every human being is valuable. It is not that some are more worthy of health care, good nutrition or housing than others. The idea is that all of humanity has the same value and the same sacredness,” said Sean.
“I moved to Marin from the city of Richmond, California, and one of the things I miss most about that time in my life is deep neighborly love. We all knew each other by name and watched out for one another. When I first moved to Marin, I sorely missed that sense of connection. So I sought it out. It was through that act of soul searching and passionate seeking out of neighborliness and community that I found Ritter Center,” recalled Sean.
Sean first saw the words Ritter Center when he read a negative letter to the editor in the Marin Independent Journal. He mentioned it to his long-time friend Margaret Trezevant who is a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. She was already on the board of Ritter Center. Margaret and Sean talked about Ritter Center and the connection to the need to serve those that are most vulnerable.
“Ritter Center was exactly what I needed in order to find that sense of belonging in Marin. I’m very involved with the teaching of Asset-Based Community Development, and the faith-based teaching of that modality in particular. One of the driving principles is that no community changes because outsiders come in to make those changes. Communities only change for the better when they utilize the assets and capacities to do it on their own,” explained Sean.
“Every human has the potential to contribute to the betterment of the community. There are no limitations to that. Every individual, if recognized for their capacity to contribute, can do so. This includes people experiencing homelessness and addiction issues because those issues are external to who they are as a person and how they experience humanity and how they exist in community. They can give their own gifts to participate, too. This modality is counter to the mainstream culture of consumerism. We must push forward with the idea that every person has the capacity to contribute to the full life of the community, and that each of us brings our own gifts to each other if we allow one another to participate that way. When we each contribute to our community’s social determinants of health, we will increase the overall health of the community.”
At Ritter Center, Sean is inspired by how each board member brings their own sense of values to the board.
“I am grateful to work with the other truly amazing individuals who are on the board,” said Sean. “What an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the community. The opportunity to serve on the board is a great privilege. It enables me to live in a way where my values are central to my life because of the way it operates within our community.”
Thank you for your commitment to our community and our mission, Sean. We are grateful you are part of Ritter Center!