2022 Pledge Testimonial – Sydney Haddad

Hey, I’m Sydney! I was asked to think about connections, which is a daunting task. The list is overwhelming. Attending RE, Choir, Ferry Beach, and Mother-child book club are some of the ways I started to connect with others. I saw book club members at the memorial yesterday, and it proved we are bonded and eager to support each other no matter how infrequently we see one another.  

When I was 12, my mom and I went to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly. I had the unique opportunity to meet other UU kids from different states and experience New Orleans. Thanks to technology, I even reached out to a friend when I was in Seattle many years later. Additionally, I was warmly welcomed by delegates from First Parish despite being the only person under 40. I feel that same warmth throughout this community, especially those involved in Grubs place, an original musical written by a member about an inclusive bug colony. 

Even many years later, in the face of COVID and uncertainty, I’ve been able to connect. A couple of weeks ago, when I was in the building making pizza with friends at youth group, Dawn handed me the mask I made for Coming Of Age. It was half-finished. I planned to complete it at our next meeting, but we didn’t have a next meeting. Not one in person at least. Before the pandemic, I went to City Reach wearing my Taylor Swift shirt in honor of her birthday. And got to sing Shake It Off with the handful of people who saw my shirt and burst into song. I got to speak to a patient man, Pedro, in my broken Spanish. I got to see the kind woman who had offered me a seat out of the sun last year at Common Cathedral. With the support of my mentor, I was able to finish out COA on zoom feeling content despite sharing my credo and singing a song from my house. I also enjoyed singing for the zoom service led by youth group. When the world collapsed, youth group was a constant that allowed me to create strong connections. Connections that have lasted despite people graduating. 

A member of this congregation even remembered these performances and brought it up when I introduced myself, just as people have remembered my name from a pastoral care card. I bet it was memorable because of all of the spelling errors, but it’s an amazing feeling nonetheless. I’m helping out with RE this year and heard a kid asked after me during the second week. I had connected with him, but more importantly, as a first-grader, he already felt seen in this community just as I have time and time again. 

I have become more involved in the issues of immigration, and the climate through connections made within the walls of this congregation. I’ve received warm greetings on zoom because someone has known me since I was in first grade. This congregation is special. My incredible experience has been because of all of you and your generosity. I have had so many awesome opportunities and I hope those can continue for the kids I have the pleasure of seeing at RE and many more to come. So, thank you for your generosity. 

If anyone wants to talk to me, I will be at coffee hour, but not until after gospel ensemble, yet another way I stay connected to myself and this congregation.