Tagged: “Disaster Relief”

Help Create a Brighter Future for Vulnerable Transylvanian Girls

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR-NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

Background. At the height of nationwide lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 1.6 billion children were affected by school closures, causing the largest mass disruption of education in modern history (Source: UNICEF). Many schools around the world, including in Romania, remain closed or experience intermittent closures, making remote learning essential to children’s education. Although Romanian authorities promised to ensure that all children have the necessary devices to join the online educational system, the distribution of devices has often not reached children from vulnerable groups.

What will the funds be used for? In times of crisis, access to digital technologies is critical. The International Women’s Convocation has teamed up with the Unitarian Providence Charity Organization to provide electronic devices (laptops) for girls who are disadvantaged or living with disabilities – from both rural and urban areas – so they will be able to attend school remotely.

Vulnerable girls cannot afford interruption in their education. Disruption to learning only exacerbates existing inequalities, leaving girls even more vulnerable to abuse, early pregnancy, and poverty. With your help, we can provide access to education for girls who may not otherwise have the chance in a COVID-19 world — and ensure that they have the choice to write their own futures. Thank you for your support!

Project Partner: Unitarian Providence Charity Organization, whose mission is to fulfill the vocation of the Hungarian Unitarian Church by serving people and communities in need without discrimination. The project benefits economically disadvantaged girls and girls with disabilities in Transylvania. Through this project, we are living our U*U values, bringing positive change in the world by connection, care, compassion, social justice, and service.


Project Endorsements

Rev. Attila Vagyas (on the right), Providence Organization (Gondviselés Segélyszervezet): Even though Romania is part of the European Union and thus beneficiary of EU’s social development programs, many are left behind. Our organization reaches many isolated rural communities, where we have gotten to know vulnerable girls full of potential. In these troubled times, when remote learning is the new normal, access to a digital device has become a matter of access to basic education – and an opportunity to make the most of one’s life. With your help, we can give some of these girls a hope for the future.


Some of the Beneficiaries

Klaudia Sebesi, Székelykeresztúr / Cristuru Secuiesc

Twin girls Erzsébet Emő Veres and Ilona Emilia Veres, Barót / Baraolt

Fire and Accessibility: Rebuilding and Outreach in Appalachia

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

Support COVID-Relief for Unitarians in North East India

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

Background. India currently has the largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Asia, the 2nd highest in the world. The state of Meghalaya, home of some 10,000 Unitarians, has been experiencing record daily spikes since mid-August. Lack of medicines, improper treatment, and insufficient testing laboratories – on top of a poor public health system – are exacerbating the health crisis.

To make matters worse, many homes of Unitarian families were damaged by the monsoon rains. Seng Kynthei, the Women’s Wing of the Unitarian Union of North East India has taken up social projects to help in the fight against COVID-19, such as distribution of masks in rural areas (see project image), as well as provided limited financial aid for the rebuilding of damaged houses and emergency food supplies. However, more funds are needed to strengthen Seng Kynthei’s initiative to confront the COVID-crisis and help prevent further community spread. The project also intends to address teenage pregnancy and child marriage, which the prolonged government-imposed lockdown has aggravated all over India.

What are the goals of this project?  The project will provide COVID-19 awareness programs and care packages for families, stimulate behavioral change toward stigma and discrimination of infected individuals, and address mental health impacts of the pandemic. Awareness programs will also include community education and mobilization to prevent teenage pregnancies and early marriages during the health crisis.


Project Endorsements

Rev. Nangroi Suting, General Secretary, UUNEI
The Unitarian Union of North East India (UUNEI) is happy to learn of this project of Seng Kynthei, in collaboration with the International Women’s Convocation (IWC). Having witnessed the commitment and resourcefulness of the members, I have a strong conviction that Seng Kynthei will take up the challenge responsibly.

Elgiva Dora Shullai, Seng Kynthei Global Sisters Coordinator and IWC board member

Covid-19 throws a challenge to human sustenance. Seng Kynthei has been trying to reach out to the less privileged in the form of relief efforts and awareness programs, especially for rural women and young adults. I am positive that this project will benefit young women and girls in these difficult times.


This is a project of the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women, dba International Women’s Convocation (IWC), in partnership with Seng Kynthei, the Women’s Wing of the Unitarian Union of North East India. The project benefits Unitarian communities in North East India, contributing to the overall well-being and health of individuals and the entire Khasi society. Through this project, we are living our U*U values, bringing positive change in the world by connection, care, compassion, social justice, and service. IWC and Seng Kynthei have a strong ongoing collaboration – please see more here. Thank you for your support!

Charleston, WV UU Heavy Rain Damage Disaster Relief

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

Thanks to a Disaster Relief Fund Grant from the UUA, the goal for this campaign has been reduced to $5,000

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston is a small congregation in West Virginia with a big heart. We have served Charleston, WV and the surrounding areas for many years. We are the only congregation in West Virginia with a full-time minister. We own a rental home next door to our main building. This house brings in monthly rental income for us.  Since we are a small congregation, this monthly income is essential for meeting our budgetary needs.

Our rental property is almost 100 years old. We have recently been getting frequent heavy rains and this has caused the basement to flood with several feet of water in recent weeks. We discovered after several basement floods that the old terracotta pipe that connects the sewer line to the main house was crushed in one section. Plumbers came out to look at the problem and told our tenant not to pour any water down the drains.  The tenants were unable to use sinks, shower, toilet for several days. The city determined that it was the responsibility of UUC to repair since the break was on our property.  The problem is also not covered by insurance, and we have no money in our budget for this repair.

This repair is going to be expensive at over $10,000. The pipe is over 8 feet underground and under the sidewalk in the front of the home.  We ask our fellow UU congregations to help us with the unexpected cost of this repair.  Catastrophic events like this can be especially devastating to small congregations like ours. We appreciate any assistance you can give us to help offset the financial burden of repairs.

Help us REOPEN Downtown Church in Greenfield MA after asbestos found

-Click the “Updates” tab to read earlier updates on this project.-

Good News!

The asbestos remediation is complete and we are having our first Sunday service in the Sanctuary on October 20th!
Stone Soup is moving back in and will feed over 100 in the Parish Hall on Saturday, as usual.
We had postponed a tag sale while the building was closed and that will be held on Oct 19th also.  Back to business!
We are grateful for all donations and continue to figure out how we will balance our annual budget with the larger ($32,000) cost of remediation. Your support for our little congregation is greatly appreciated!

What’s wrong?  Greenfield All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church is totally closed, sealed by the Greenfield Health Department due to a  public health contaminant discovered during a demolition and rehabilitation attempt.  Church members and volunteers gutted a former mold and water damaged classroom in preparation for productive use of the space.  Just as the demolition was almost complete it was discovered that many of the materials contained asbestos.  Now Department of Environmental Protection is mandating remediation which will cost us over $17,000.

We are a “Little-Engine-that-Could” congregation of about 70 members who are desperately seeking funding to re-open the church as soon as possible.   Our current operating budget is so slim that we are currently lay led.  Recently a group approached us about using our spaces during the week and we jumped into action to make those spaces habitable and ready.  That’s when our disaster struck us and closed down our beautiful home and vibrant community gathering place.  There are no funds available to rectify this emergency without your help!

All Souls Church is a Unitarian Universalist Congregation located in the historical downtown section of Greenfield, Massachusetts.  We are a very active social justice oriented church with a small membership.  We’re a downtown church, in one of Massachusetts’ lowest income communities, Greenfield.  In addition to our Sunday services; we host the Stone Soup Café, Wednesday evening AA groups, recitals and concerts, community forums, our annual Anti-racism Film Festival, we host a myriad of economic and green justice initiatives.  The Stone Soup Café (thestonesoupcafe.org) provides a weekly Saturday meal, feeding lunch to 90 – 150 guests on a pay-as-you-can basis. Stone Soup also serves 700 – 1,000 people at an annual Free Harvest Supper and supports many other community non-profits with food donations as well as catering from our kitchen.

We have been a major force for community-building and social justice in action in Greenfield; the inability to access our church creates difficulties not only for the congregation, but for the hundreds and hundreds of others we serve through our ongoing ministries.

Your help is really needed!

  • Until we are able to complete the asbestos abatement and pass all the tests, no one is allowed to enter the church.
  • The $17,000.00 clean up bill poses a serious threat to our ability to stay open.
  • We are faced with at least tripling the cost for the renovation of this classroom space and will need as much help as possible.
  • Your assistance will be greatly appreciated by the congregation and all those that we serve.

Flash Flood Relief- Help...

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

ESUUC Pittsburgh

East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church (ESUUC) is small in size and large in goals. We have served the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh for 53 years as fair share congregation of the UUA. We have an active CUUPs chapter and our RE program has grown to two classes last year.

Unfortunately the church was flooded on July 21st and when the congregation removed carpet and padding we found out that there is crumbling asbestos tile that needs to be removed by abatement, a costly fix, before new flooring can be installed.

We call upon our sister and brothers UU’s to help us get back into the RE and Community Rooms in the building. We estimate the cost of abatement and flooring to be between $15 and $20K. We have $10K in reserves we are putting toward flooring.

Please help us get back up and running!

Disaster Relief! Help...

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(no All-or Nothing goal for this campaign)

On Monday, July 8, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (UUCA) suffered extensive flooding and water damage when Arlington County, Virginia experienced severe weather when a month’s worth of rain fell in approximately just one hour. We are graciously asking for your generosity to help us repair and rebuild our community’s home.

The 100 year storm caused widespread flooding and significant damage in the Washington, DC area to public facilities, roads, businesses, and homes.

In terms of our church, the storm’s heavy rain resulted in almost 70 percent of our church’s lower level being covered in one to two inches of standing water – causing significant water damage to the affected areas.

The initial work to address the water damage will cost nearly $45,000. Repairing, rebuilding, and refurbishing affected areas will cost significantly more. Other items are still being assessed, so repair costs may continue to increase.

Until repairs are completed, we are unable to hold Religious Education classes or provide space to outside groups and community partners.

Because we are not in a flood zone or near any bodies of water, we only carried $10,000 in flood insurance. And, the storm has not been declared a federal disaster, so FEMA assistance is not available.

Updates on progress of repairs are on the congregation’s facebook page: UnitarianUniversalistChurchArlingtonVirginia