Social Justice Work at Safe Passage in Guatemala
In July, youth from the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady will travel to Guatemala City, where we will spend time working with youth of Camino Seguro (Safe Passage), a top-rated charity organization begun in 1999 by Hanley Denning and members of the Guajero (dump picker) community. Camino Seguro has grown from an educational reinforcement program serving 46 children, to current day, providing more than 550 children and 100 parents with education, social services, and the chance to move beyond the poverty their families have faced for generations. According to their website, “Safe Passage is a refuge for children facing difficult situations marked by extreme poverty, neglect, and abuse. Safe Passage is a gateway out of poverty. Safe Passage is hope.”
Our congregation has been working with Safe Passage for 14 years. We have developed deep, meaningful, and lasting relationships with the children, youth, and adults at Safe Passage. Each time we go, we collaborate with Safe Passage to determine which project we will work to fund. We work for an entire year to raise the funds we need for Safe Passage. We pay for own travel and housing expenses. We create lesson plans for the children in addition to the project we fund. This year, our project is to fund the Quinceañera (a favorite, both for our group and the youth in Guatemala). A Quinceañera is an important Coming-of-Age ritual for the Guatemalan girls who are turning 15 and their families. The funding we raise helps defray the costs of the Quinceañera educational program, which includes classes on self-esteem, higher education, and healthy sexuality. It also includes a celebration for the girls and their families and friends. Without our work, it would not be possible for Safe Passage to host the classes or the celebration. As Fredy Maldonando, one of the founding members of Safe Passage, said to us during our last visit, “The most important thing is that you are giving the girls something special, something unforgettable, something that is about dignity. They will never forget it. This is so important to the girls and their families, the dump.”
Funds raised will go toward the Quinceañerea and program fees for Safe Passage.
Help Barbara attend...
In the last five years my church involvement has evolved from being a Worship Associate to creating new programs and promoting our current programs to a wider audience. My mission involves looking at how we view economic justice to allow more people of all means the benefit of Being a UU. By creating, this Faithify account and asking the wider UU community for your financial support to attend this year’s GA, I hope to bring increased awareness of the importance of supporting those with the time and energy to attend but without the resources to do so.
“As West Shore’s newest Commissioned Lay Minister, Barbara brings both creativity and insight to the projects she takes on in the church. Her infectious enthusiasm has helped transform the idea of a mid-week worship/fellowship experience into a regular, sustainable program. Thanks to Barbara and her growing team, Thursdays @ West Shore is thriving!”
Rev. Patricia Hart, Interim Senior Minister
West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church
I am asking for your contributions to help fund my airfare ($500) and lodging ($600). Please feel free to share widely with other UU friends and colleagues.
UU Church of...
Your donation ensures that all youth at UU Church of Silver Spring can attend the Boston trip. Donations cover transport, housing and food.
New Music for a Progressive Faith: “Open Doors”
STRETCH GOAL ADDED: $5,000 see details below
“Open Doors” is a full-length album of original songs that will share Unitarian Universalism with music-lovers, social activists and progressive faith congregations.
Emily Joy spent a year meditating on our Principles (7 of them, going on 8!) and creating a song exploring each one as it lives in the world. The music has been shared at several UU churches, and house concerts on the East Coast.
The songs are engaging and inspiring both inside and outside the UU context. The album can be interpreted as music for social and environmental justice and/ or as music celebrating and illuminating the UU Faith, due to the unique focus of our Principles. Through sharing this new music, we will also be sharing Unitarian Universalism, creating a new avenue to connect with our congregations.
Emily has been a versatile professional musician for over two decades- this recording will be her second full-length album. Her first, “Front Porch” is available on iTunes, Amazon and Youtube. Your donation will go to paying for mixing “Open Doors” and fairly compensating the professional musicians involved for their work.
Music is the glue that holds us together, inside and out. It builds community. It makes us stronger.
Thanks for making this happen!
Humanist Collaboratory Travel Scholarships
The Humanist Collaboratory will meet for the 2nd time in March 2019, bringing together clergy in UU, Ethical Culture, and humanistic Jewish traditions–and this year, extending special outreach to organizers of humanist communities outside of those institutions. We seek to center the voices of people of color, queer folx, and women who have often been left out of institutional humanist leadership, as well as emerging leaders in humanism. Because many of those leaders don’t have the institutional support of congregations, travel to the conference (hosted by the Washington Ethical Society in Washington, DC, which will also provide home hospitality) may be prohibitive. Please help us to make it possible for these folks to join us at the Humanist Collaboratory, so that their voices can be centered in our work together and in our shared exploration of what humanism is today! YOUR GIFT WILL BE MATCHED by a generous grant from the UU Funding Panel!
2019 Building Beloved Community Beyond the Binary
Help us put love into action.
As a congregation it is our hope that this one-day conference will be both a place where trans and gender non-conforming folk can gather, connect and learn and where cisgender folk can learn about being better allies. We are also hoping that by hosting this conference we will make a BOLD statement to our larger community that we are a safe and welcoming community because we really do want to build beloved community beyond the binary.
By doing this fundraising, we are able to offer a nationally known keynote speaker and excellent workshops at a sliding scale ticket price that is accessible to all. Your contribution will also allow us to provide FREE tickets to youth and FREE childcare to those who need it.
Exciting and NEW THIS YEAR, we are working on creating a “toolbox” that will be available to other UU congregations so that they too can host a successful Building Beloved Community Beyond the Binary conference of their own. Your support will help to spread our UU welcome throughout our Association.
Our keynote speaker is J Mase III, who is a Black/trans/queer poet & educator based in Seattle by way of Philly. As an educator, Mase has worked with community members in the US, UK, and Canada on LGBTQIA+ rights and racial justice in spaces such as K-12 schools, universities, faith communities and restricted care facilities. He is founder of awQward, the first trans and queer people of color talent agency.
His work has been featured on MSNBC, Essence Live, Everyday Feminism, Black Girl Dangerous, the New York Times, Buzzfeed, the Root, theGrio, Teen Vogue and more.
His current projects include being the head writer of the theatrical production, Black Bois and being co-editor of the #BlackTransPrayerBook.
Find him on Instagram (@jmaseiii) and www.jmaseiii.com!
J Mase will also be offering two workshops, in addition to the keynote – On Faith and the Criminalization of the Black Trans Body, Write Me Where It Hurts
While workshops are being finalized, here are some topics we are planning to offer:
De-escalation and micro-aggressions
Parenting trans kids
How to make your classroom trans friendly and inclusive
On Faith and the Criminalization of the Black Trans Body
Write Me Where It Hurts
Preemptive Radical Hospitality
How to be a trans ally activist
Health issues and transitioning
This year we have a grant from the UU Funding Program – Yay! Reaching our Faithify goal will allow to also access a challenge grant of 1500.00. Please donate.
If you would like to register for the event click here
Justice Associates Curriculum
Training Leaders and Doers:
We are seeking to develop a curriculum for training and nurturing congregational and community leaders who are interested in becoming Justice Associates – centering the needs of our next generation of leaders. This training will incorporate practical skills with a focus on faith formation. Spiritually grounded, the curriculum seeks to combine 21st-century innovative solutions and a multiplicity of perspectives to better equip leaders to engage in the spectrum of support needed in justice work from a religious grounding. The Justice Leaders Initiative is built on the understanding that our leaders should feel spiritually fed by the work to build the Beloved Community, in addition to being better practical and administrative leaders.
Supporting Spiritual Grounding:
Our tradition has models for training Pastoral Care Associates and Worship Associates, but there is no equivalent for supporting the swell of leaders in our congregations and beyond who are focused on Justice as one of their main spiritual practices. At the UU Fellowship of Huntington, we wanted to come up with a way to support our leaders in their work for justice, while deepening their spiritual grounding and supporting their overall development as leaders. In discussions with many parish ministers and UUA program consultants, there is overwhelming desire to develop such a program. While some congregations and individuals have tried to achieve such a program through various means, our hope is to develop a unified program with widespread support and implementations.
The Justice Leaders Initiative seeks to address this gap – supporting individuals, strengthening ties between lay leaders within congregations, but also across our congregations. Some locations may use it internally, while others might use it in congregational clusters.
Collaborating for the Future:
While the genesis of this project grew out of one congregation, it is our hope that it will be a resource for the whole denomination and beyond. That’s why the curriculum will be developed through the synergetic, exploratory process of the “curriculum incubator” at the Fahs Collaborative.
Fahs has created several other curricula through this incubator model with varying formats. One such curriculum is the UUCSJ Study Guide for Cross-Cultural Engagement. Another project from Fahs you may know is the Beloved Coversastions Curriculum.
Working with the Fahs Collaborative ensures the project will be built on the cutting edge of faith formation and supported by a team that is passionate about faith formation for all ages. In their words, “Fahs Curriculum Incubators gather experienced educators to grow a seed of an idea into a full and useful learning encounter, or create new curricular strategies for solving stubborn faith formation challenges. Members of the incubator teams are invited to join projects that match their skill-set, disposition and experience of breaking social molds.” The values inherent in the Fahs approach to development will be instilled in the project.
Crafted for Congregation & Community:
As soon as funding is secured, the Fahs Collaborative will gather development participants to draft the curriculum – hopefully in the early months of 2019. The final project will likely be a curriculum of 12-15 hours of content in the form of six to seven 2-hour lesson sessions, or one 6-hour retreat plus six to nine additional learning session hours. A group of three to four writers will meet in one location for several days to develop the curriculum plan based on our goals, then work virtually to produce the learning materials. Then, the program will then be piloted in the Spring at the UU Fellowship of Huntington, NY. After a final assessment and revisions based on feedback from the pilot, the Justice Leaders Initiative will be available to congregations and faith communities via the Fahs Collaborative catalog of curricula.
Your support makes it possible!
We have already secured funding from three other sources: the Fahs Collaborative, the UUA office of Youth and Young Adults, and the UU Fellowship of Huntington.
But, we need your help to close the gap. And that seems so fitting – in the work for justice and our Unitarian Universalist faith, we are supported and uplifted by the gifts and effort of the individual for the whole. So please, donate what you can to help make this project a success, not just for the UU Fellowship of Huntington, but for all those working for justice in the name of Unitarian Universalism.
Help Launch UU At Home
Parents are the primary religious educators of their children. We know this because of research, because of the amount of time that parents spend with their kids compared to the amount of time that families are present physically in our congregations, and because even parents themselves acknowledge this in surveys. But what a daunting prospect! Our families are busy and overwhelmed, and adding the job of teaching kids about Unitarian Universalism, especially for parents who are relatively new UUs themselves can feel like just one step too much. So, we want to help!
Our congregation is launching a weekly email column from our minister for our families called UU At Home. Aimed at parents, this column will include ideas about family rituals, ways to approach major holidays with a UU perspective, ways for families to reflect on the UU Principles in their home, the story of the month from our Religious Education program to help families engage it in a deeper way, and other resources for parents to use at home. The column will be short enough to not overwhelm, full of practical ideas, and grounded in the lived experience of UU children and parents.
The money we raise from this campaign will help to pay for the staff time to develop the column, as well as any materials we want to purchase for distribution through the column. Thank you so much for your support!
Create Justice, Not...
Buffalo, NY and the surrounding Western New York region is one of the most segregated areas in the country. There are sharp divides here that separate people by race and class. The work that UU Class Conversations is doing to educate Unitarian Universalists on race and class divisions and how to make changes toward becoming more inclusive will be a vital and important collaboration that will help Unitarian Universalists in Western New York work more effectively toward dismantling systems of racism and class oppression.
Our goal is to raise money to off-set the cost of bringing UU Class Conversations’ “Create Justice, Not Walls” workshop to Buffalo on November 10, 2018. We want to be able to provide this programming to anyone who wants to attend, regardless of income status. With a successful campaign, we will be able to off-set the cost of the workshop and provide this essential programming to a wider audience.
Destination Dignity! Partnering with Refugees in Greece to Build a Vocational School and Worker’s Cooperative.
This a wonderful opportunity for UUs to partner with refugee communities in Greece as they seek to re-establish lives of worth and dignity. Over 65,000 refugees have been trapped in Greece for more than 2 years. Many are beginning to lose hope and to despair of ever being acknowledged as anything other than a “refugee.” This Worker’s Cooperative in Athens will be the first of its kind in Greece: designed, managed, and staffed by refugees….and supported by UUs!
Our purpose: to prepare people with vocational skills suitable for employment while also producing products and services for sale in Europe and the United States. Our on-site partners have skills in engineering, computer software, construction management, and numerous indigenous crafts. The engineer who will manage the workshop has two years of experience making furniture for refugee camps and cafes from recycled wood and metal scavenged from the streets of Athens.
Our goal is to provide enough financial stability to support at least one year of operation. Your Faithify contribution in support of our $10,000 goal will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous private foundation! Twenty thousand dollars will be sufficient to rent a workshop and to support vocational classes for 12 months.
Once established, we will seek sustainable support from individual donors, governmental agencies and foundations. With skill, determination and some luck, the cooperative will generate supplemental revenue to support its workers and its vocational programs. Our local partners currently plan to offer training in welding, jewelry making, woodworking, embroidery, and computer software. The board of the cooperative will make the final decision as to what skills offer their clientele the greatest possibility of employment and design their programs to accommodate those needs. The board will then select skilled trainers who are best qualified to deliver its vocational training programs.
Shared Humanity plans to establish an on-going supportive relationship with individual UUs and UU congregations and invite donors to come to Greece to work in our cooperative community. We UUs are called upon to be supportive of people who have lost their livelihoods, their homes, their communities, and most tragically, their loved ones. Our actions, and in-actions, will have a lasting impact on ourselves and those we hope to serve. Now is the time to move towards rather than away from the refugee crisis. Join us in supporting people who have as their ultimate destination……. Dignity.
For more information about Shared Humanity USA watch our in-depth video, Delivering Hope and Dignity in Greece
“As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to live out our values of social justice in the world. Shared Humanity USA, founded by UU couple, Latifa and Colin Woodhouse, is an example of putting our faith into action. This program will give refugees the tools and skills that will affirm their inherent worth and dignity. They will work collaboratively with each other to create a sustainable way forward for displaced people. I hope you will support this Faithify campaign in the way you are able.” Aisha Hauser, Director of Lifelong Learning at East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, WA.
“Tragically, our world is experiencing the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. Martha and Waitstill Sharp, my grandparents and founders of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, risked their lives to save innocent people violently uprooted by war- and in doing so- left us a legacy that we Unitarian Universalists honor by our steadfast commitment to justice, equity and compassion. I am proud to be an enthusiastic supporter of Shared Humanity and invite you to join me in supporting this wonderfully innovative project that will be the first workers cooperative established in Greece by and for refugees.” Artemis Joukowsky III, PBS Producer and Co-director with Ken Burns of Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War
“We support the Worker’s Cooperative in Athens as a way to give refugees a chance for a purposeful life. This is a very innovative and well thought out approach to giving refugees the skills they will need to rebuild their lives. The facts that this operation is fully staffed by refugees and the raw materials used are recycled show that not only do we care for people was also care for our mother earth.” Susan Goekler, Chair, Commission on Social Witness and Mac Goekler, Chair UU Peace Ministry Network