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Walk will address variety of issues
BY KATIE THISDELL
For decades, Bill Schaefer has worked beside death beds, helping the dying and their families understand what’s happening.
Recently, he’s noticed the connections between the similarities in denying grief and in denying problems in society, especially within American politics.
Schaefer, who founded Sena Foundation in 1982, is about to embark on a cross-country talking tour to share his ideas about what he calls a “dysfunctional society.”
“There’s a number of fundamental issues that are so profound and so enormous that are not being addressed almost anywhere in the culture,” said Schaefer, 73. “It’s time for us to take a stand here.”
Over the past few months, he’s launched a blog and website called Quicksilver Times, a 501(c)4 foundation.
As a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization, Sena Foundation can’t get involved in politics.
Schaefer wants to address the dysfunctional social, economic, political, and spiritual systems here.
“If we think it’s bad now, we can’t even begin to believe how bad it can get,” Schaefer said.
He says that not talking about grief and death can lead to more issues.
Similarly, not talking about what’s wrong in the world can cause further problems. That’s why Schaefer thinks that a talking tour is the place to start.
Talking Tour Kicks Off
Before the fall elections, Schaefer will start a cross-country hitch-hiking trip to start talking to all types of people about the issues he believes aren’t being addressed.
“Each person that picks me up, I will ask them to allow me to interview them,” Schaefer said. He’ll broadcast these live on Google.
He is going to try to catch rides from Virginia to his home state of Wisconsin. Schaefer’s supporters will give him a sendoff on Saturday at the Howard Johnson motel at U.S. 17 and I–95.
His nearly 3,000 mile trip will then take him down to Florida, South Carolina and back to his home in Bowling Green. He has friends and relatives at each of these destinations, and expects to be on the road for seven to 14 days.
“The bottom line is I’m a 73 year old man and I’m doing this to draw attention to something,” Schaefer said.
Of course, he said that shortly before an interview, his family had expressed concerns about his safety.
The GPS on his smartphone will keep them informed of his location, and Schaefer also plans to take pictures of all the cars that stop to offer rides.
The last time the activist took to the streets was in the late 1960s and ’70s. He’d hitchhike frequently between Wisconsin and Virginia. The trip would take about 16 hours. Back then, he said it was much easier to make personal contact. Today’s technology has an isolating effect when used incorrectly, he said.
Before working with hospice, Schaefer was involved in the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. He and his first wife started an interracial commune outside Washington, D.C. The May Day House became a central spot for many demonstrations near the end of the war.
Sena Slows Down
After helping form Fredericksburg’s hospice, the 34th in the country, Shaefer formed Sena Foundation, named after his grandmother. The decades-old nonprofit, once based in Fredericksburg and now in Bowling Green, created a television series, and held numerous workshops and support groups. As new research emerged about the grief process, Sena would reinvent itself, Schaefer said.
The organization still has many volunteers who offer care when requested, but workshops have ceased.
“Our attention is really focused on what is now turning out to be political work,” Schaefer said.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975