Neighborliness: A Commitment to Being Present

When you hear the word ‘neighbor’, who/what comes to mind? The folks across the street who you know mostly by their car? Or maybe the family that mirrors yours in many ways – who you would trust to keep an eye on your kids when your schedule implodes. My mind goes immediately to Snowmageddon 2010 when neighbors helped me dig out and I trudged through knee-high snow to check on older neighbors who had watched me grow up from a couple doors away.

I’ve been reflecting on neighbors because of the Beckner Fund Committee’s approach to its grantmaking this  year. We started 2022-23 with a more limited budget for new grants, due to stock market performance and pre-existing commitments from the previous year. In the 2021-22 church year, Beckner had the opportunity to act on a common suggestion from external community groups we’ve funded: ‘make multi-year commitments so that we know we can count on the grant dollars beyond 12 months and build a relationship with you.’  The committee selected two groups – Fair Budget Coalition and Many Languages One Voice – for 2-year awards of $10,000 per year. So, as we came into this church year part of the grant portfolio was predetermined. 

As committee members considered how to award new grants this year, they were moved by what they were hearing from our neighbors. The groups located around, and/or working around, All Souls Church continue to face pandemic-era pressures. As has been true for three years, whatever their stated missions, they are also being called on to meet the basic human needs of their constituencies. And so, committee members looked around the neighborhood, and decided to  share what we had with our neighbors. They invited four groups to share their plans for this year, and awarded each a $10,000 grant. 

All Souls’ neighbors are getting food they need and support to move their families toward self-defined growth. They’re also building community and engaging in democracy in ways that will accrue to their financial benefit because this year’s grant recipients – Beloved Community Incubator, Food Justice DMV, Platform of Hope and The Potter’s House – are in partnership with them. The Beckner checks have been written, but neighborliness need not stop there. I’m thinking about how else we can be present for the groups Beckner funds, and not just exist in adjacent space. If you have ideas to share, I hope you will let me know! You can reach me at

Ruth Goins, Program Officer

Beckner Advancement Fund