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DISASTER RELIEF: All gifts will be processed for this project (Goal $9,500) 100% Volunteer-run congregation needs further post-fire repairs & accessibility additions so we may return to full service and inclusive outreach.
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DISASTER RELIEF: All donations processed as they are given.

(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

The essence of this fundraiser is to raise $9,500 to make necessary repairs to our building and surrounding property after a fire 5 years ago, repairs that had been delayed due to lack of funding, and to make needed accessibility additions, so that we may return our full focus on outreach in Appalachia, and to create a more inclusive ministry. We are a UUA congregation and we will be happy to supply a receipt for your tax deduction purposes.

OUR CLAIM FOR UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM:

For decades, the Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington, WV, a UUA congregation, has worked to be an active member of our community. Not only do we offer a weekly Sunday Fellowship meeting that balances the UUA order of service with enlightened educational discussion, but we have also participated in and hosted dozens of community events, meetings, gatherings, and spiritual celebrations each year, including: AA/NA Meetings; PFLAG Meetings; Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Meetings; Lambda Meetings; Weekly Meditations; Monthly Drum Circles; Boardgame Nights; Participation in the annual Marshall University Earth Day Celebration; Participation in the annual Huntington Sustainability Fair; Educational Workshops and Lectures on Yoga, Climate Change, Social Justice, Art, etc.; and Holiday Celebrations on Solstices, Equinoxes, Christmas/Yule, Halloween/All Souls Day, etc. We’ve even hosted visits from local and international Buddhist Monks. Suffice to say, we are an active bunch, doing our best to live by our shared 7 Principles and to be an active positive influence on our region. All of the work to maintain and perpetuate our Fellowship is done by volunteers.

Our congregation is particularly motivated to be involved in matters of Social Justice & Environmental Activism, and to encourage each other on our paths to seek truth and personal growth. We have families, children, teenagers, single persons, married persons, elders and LGBTQ persons. One group we are less able to minister to, however, would be those with serious mobility challenges, as our Fellowship Hall does not have a wheelchair ramp. This is one of the things were are asking funding for.

Our vision involves a few things: Providing an inclusive space that is safe and welcoming where people feel comfortable to attend while they search for truth; ministering without judgment to those who need it in an area that can be very judgmental; setting an example of environmentally friendly and sustainable use and maintenance of our property; participating in matters of social justice; and perpetuating personal improvement and growth. Our members are passionate, intelligent, diverse, and have a desire to make an impact.

We are especially involved in the sustainability renaissance that has been happening in our area. To that end, we have partnered with a number of area organizations to host a number of green workshops and events in 2021, such as: Urban Orchard pruning and maintenance, hosted by WV Extension Service; Composting & Sustainable Urban Agriculture, hosted by the Marshall University Sustainability Department, Native Edible Perennials, hosted by Appalachian Forest Herbs, and a series of outdoor movie nights called “Green Movies Under The Stars”, hosted by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. All have verified their commitment through either letters or email.

OUR NEED:

On September 5, 2015, our Fellowship experienced an electrical fire that caused significant damage throughout our building. Through our Church Mutual insurance and our 2015 Faithify fundraiser, we were able to fund and make many significant and necessary repairs. However, we were unable to raise enough funds for all repairs, the largest of which is rebuilding the rear roofed stairs and decking that provided secondary access to both the first and second floors, which is a serious safety issue, and further brick mortar repair to adjacent walls.

The rear roofed stairs and deck were significantly damaged in the fire and had to be torn down. The bricking mortar was damaged as well, with sections so deteriorated that you can stick a finger into the mortar and watch it turn to dust. We have been without stairs out back ever since then, leaving the second floor without a secondary exit and thus unsafe in the case of another fire emergency, and making it impossible to move from the kitchen to the backyard, as there is more than a 4-foot drop. This has made utilizing our backyard meeting space complicated to say the least. Moving from inside the kitchen to out back requires going outside, walking around the building to the side gate (a found discarded piece of fencing our volunteers had turned into a somewhat functional gate). This inability to move directly from backyard to kitchen has also meant we cannot lock the gates from the inside, which has led to substantial vandal damage to our fencing.

Due to COVID-19, gatherings at the church greatly increased our use of your backyard. When the case counts were lower and stay-at-home orders were not in effect, we alternated online zoom services with in-person outside masked meetings every-other-week. At our Fellowship Hall, we either gathered on the small front porch when numbers were small enough to keep 6-feet or more apart, or in the backyard. We even hosted a few garden workdays and an Autumnal Equinox celebration using this space. Since new stay-at-home orders and a significant rise in cases in our county, we moved to virtual gatherings only in early October. But for the months we could gather, our backyard space was invaluable.

In plain fact, however, our backyard is not currently friendly to anyone with mobility challenges. There are some dips and holes in the yard that need leveled out, and entrance areas really need to be made more stable with leveling and concrete paving squares. Our fencing needs some repairs, too, due to age and vandal damage, and the gating needs replaced with something more stable, secure, and accessibility friendly.

Our Fellowship Hall greatly needs a wheelchair ramp, too, as it is currently only accessible via the front porch stairs and side door entrance stairs. Anyone utilizing a wheelchair or walker would have great difficulty joining in our fellowship meetings or community outreach events.

Given that things will likely continue to be complicated concerning COVID-19 and future mutations of the virus, the use of outside gathering spaces will continue to be a necessary option. As we work to improve and expand our outreach, we wish to make both our inside and outside Fellowship Hall meeting spaces more accessible. To that end, we wish to install a wheelchair ramp for easy access to our front porch and inside meeting space, and add level paving stones and light, easy to open yet secure gating to our backyard meeting area.

GOAL:

We need to raise $9,500.00 in 45 days for these delayed fire damage repairs and needed accessibility additions. Here is how we have come to this fundraising goal amount:

  • For installation of new roofed decking and stairs to both the “ground” floor and the 2nd story on the back of the building, and mortar repair to that general area, material and supply estimates have run upwards of $3,000, with approximately $4,000 for bonded, certified labor.
  • Stephen Zoeller, a volunteer with Faith In Action of the River Cities, has been building wheelchair ramps for people and organizations in the community for over 15 years. He’s promised his volunteer labor and expertise to construct our new wheelchair ramp, with some volunteer help from our UFoH members, and has provided an official estimate for materials and supplies at $1,200.
  • For installation of lightweight lockable gates (for sturdy security and ease of opening by those who use wheelchairs), and a few panels of new fencing along the back that are more vandal resistant, estimates for the vinyl gates and wood paneling materials and supplies are around $800, with labor provided by UFoH members.
  • For leveling of backyard “dips”& holes, and leveling of gated entrance areas using concrete paving squares, gravel, weed barrier fabric, and sand, estimates for materials and supplies are around $500, with labor provided by UFoH members.

Total ask would be for $9,500.

Any additional funds that are raised will go towards building more vertical and raised gardening areas and increasing the paving square zones in our yard, so as to improve accessibility and increase participation in fellowship meetings and community outreach events by anyone with mobility challenges.

CONCLUSION:

If these repairs and accessibility additions were completed, our congregation could better focus on the UFoH’s vision and outreach mission, including our “2021 green push” workshops and movie nights, foster a more inclusive ministry, and be personally involved in perpetuating the positive social changes slowly arriving in our area. We live in an area that is not always receptive to social changes. We desire to spend our energy on preserving and promoting the health of the sacred interdependent web of existence by practicing and educating the community on sustainability measures, growing food, and recycling/up-cycling. We have several ministers here that are happy to conduct same-sex marriages. Perhaps it would be of interest to you that we have an agreement which was voted upon in 2011 that if the Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington should ever experience dissolution; that the church building (which we own without debt) would be sold and the funds from the sale would be given to the UUA Ohio Meadville district. So, any investments made into this project would ultimately return to the UUA.

We understand that these are significant requests for assistance and would be glad for any help that could be sent our way. We thank you for your consideration.

In Love and Peace,

Linda R. Greer
President of the Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington
619 6th Avenue
Huntington, WV 25701

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