Tagged: “Justice”

Sanctuary Travel Fund

The Cambridge Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition (CISC) is a small group of Cambridge, Boston, and area congregations walking the journey with people facing deportation and unjust laws. 

CISC is committed to following the lead of people who are facing the greatest risks, while honoring their strength and resilience. CISC currently helps to support a woman (and her two children) who fears for her life if deported to her country of origin.

As part of our sanctuary efforts, there is an urgent, repeated, and ongoing need for funds to support the team of people who accompanies our guest to her out-of-state court hearings, and other important sanctuary journeys. This Faithify campaign will help off-set the cost of this vital travel, including food, airfare, and ground transportation. 

Supporting the travel fund helps us continue doing what we do. Thank you for being part of our sanctuary efforts.

Please don’t share this link through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) or your congregation’s website.

Scholarships for Dreamers in Arizona

Because Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation believes in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we created a scholarship for undocumented students enrolled at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. Please join us in helping DACA recipients attain their educational goals.

In Arizona, due to an Arizona Supreme Court decision on April 9th 2018, Dreamers must now pay out of state tuition even though they may have lived in Arizona since childhood. The increased intuition for these DACA recipients can be from $2,580 a year to $8,900 per year depending on the institution in which they are enrolled. As an example of this increase at Yavapai College, tuition jumped from in-state $152 per credit hour to out-of-state $451 per credit hour for a full-time nursing student.

The ‘Opportunity Scholarship’ is specifically designated for “Recipients [who] must not be eligible for any type of federal or state grants”. There are many students in our community who have been paying their own tuition and now fear they will not be able to finish their college education as a result of this ruling. Last year’s recipient was about to drop out before learning about this resource. Recipients are chosen by Yavapai College based on need and grade point average.

There is an urgent need to fill this fund. Please donate now!

Our goal is $2,000 on Faithify to provide a minimum of one scholarship, but with more money we can provide help to more students.

Help Support Body...

Izabel has grown so much, from the shy young girl feeling “othered” by schoolmates and strangers, with deep doubts in herself, into a young woman strong in her identity as a capable and creative individual. What is more, she has developed a worthy, larger vision that includes others who have faced, and will face, similar challenges without a strong role model and advocate. Her first year was paid for with financial help from the school and from me and other family and friends. This year, while the school is offering some support, I cannot. I lost my partner Dana, to Lewy Body Dementia recently, and the financial toll has made it impossible for me to help. Dana and I have given and received a great deal as Unitarian Universalists over many years, not the least of which is an appreciation for the generous spirits of UUs. As members of this movement, this faith, and our shared commitment to support programs and people who seek to make a real difference in our communities, I wanted to reach out to you now. It’s a compassion issue. It’s a justice issue. It’s an opportunity to be part of a special young woman’s unfolding. Please, be as generous as you can. Help Izabel continue in school and build a space for people with disabilities and different abilities to thrive in the world of theater. The possibilities are great…and so is the financial cost. Please. And thank you in advance!

Izabel says :

My goal is to use my education to change the face of disability representation in theater and film, and I need your help to do it. I am a daughter, a sister, a lover of dogs, music, art, makeup, acting, dancing, singing. I am also a disability advocate; I was born without my right hand and with a partial right foot.

When I was little this did nothing to stop me. I played freely without a care in the world about what I looked like or how I presented myself to other people. I was determined and creative. I existed with my disability, and I saw it as a part of me that I worked with and adapted to. I learned how to do the monkey bars, I played the violin, I skied and ran cross country. I was unstoppable. Middle school proved more difficult for me. I became extremely self-conscious about my physical difference. A lot of this was because I never saw people like me doing the things I was interested in. I loved music and acting and dancing, but I saw no representation in the music and films and plays that I idolized. At the time, I just accepted that that was how it was.

Because I was born with a limb difference, it often feels that, in my everyday life, I am confined to being one type of person: “disabled.” People who look like me are rarely featured, and if they are, their entire character arc and personality is that they are disabled even though oftentimes the actor playing the character with the disability isn’t even disabled themselves!

In tenth grade, I decided that despite this extreme doubt that I had in myself, I wanted to act. I started auditioning for–and getting cast in–shows at my local youth theater and high school. These years in high school when I began acting and theater were a revelation. I knew the first moment I stepped on stage and found confidence in my uniqueness that I could be whoever I wanted to be, and that this was what I wanted to do. When I’m acting I can forget that label of “disabled,” and explore other aspects of being human while adapting to whatever comes my way.

I knew I wanted to act seriously not just because of the euphoria that comes with performance, but because I never wanted children like me who were born with a disability or lost a limb to feel like they didn’t exist or that they couldn’t pursue what they were passionate about just because they didn’t see anyone like them doing it.

I knew when I applied and got excepted to NYU Tisch School of the Arts for Drama that I wanted to use my degree to represent body diversity in theater and film. In the future I hope this will involve much more than just acting; I would love to choreograph for disabled bodies and direct accessible and adaptive shows.

I believe that I was given this opportunity and accepted to this amazing program, in a city that is the heart of theater and film,  to make this difference. My first year at the program completely opened my eyes and further confirmed that this is what I need to pursue. I fell in love with the program and all of my classes and teachers and long studio days. I am in the Meisner studio, and I spent nine-hour days, three days a week there, learning acting and voice and speech and movement and clown and stage combat and crying and laughing.

I noticed, though, that apart from one other girl who was in a different studio, I was the only one who had a physical disability in the drama department at NYU. That’s ridiculous! That under-representation is ridiculous. I know for a fact that there are many talented and creative disabled actors out there, and the under-representation in the industry which is reflected at my school makes me sad.

One community to whom this project is important is a group I am a part of called the Helping Hands Foundation. This is a group of people and families with limb differences. I started going to their gatherings when I was two years old, and now I see the little kids in that community growing up. I want to be a role model for them and help create a world where they can see themselves reflected on screen and stage. At every winter gathering of this community, there are guest speakers (limb different athletes, models, scientists, etc). It would be amazing to stand up in front of that community as a working actor, director or choreographer!

This program at NYU is so important to me. In one year I have grown and changed so much, and I can feel that this is the right place to be in pursuit of all of these things that I’ve mentioned. However, as of right now, I cannot afford to return. After weeks and months of back-and-forth with the financial aid office, I still do not have enough money to attend next fall.

I understand that it is a privilege that I even got to go for one year and that many students cannot afford higher education. But I also understand that this is an important opportunity, and I will do everything in my power to make the most out of it because it is about so much more than me and my getting a college degree.

The total cost of attendance at NYU for next year is $72,000. Here is a breakdown of what I’ve got so far:

$37,000 covered by loans ( I am borrowing the maximum amount I can), scholarships, parent contributions, friend contributions, and summer work

$15,000–help from my great aunt

$21,000—this is what I still need

NYU is notoriously stingy with financial aid. As part of my package, they included a $51,000 parent loan (for one year). My mother is a single mom and a teacher (and I have a younger brother, too), and this loan is larger than her annual salary, so we could not accept it. I knew when I decided to go to Tisch that it would be a massive financial stretch and might not work out. Against my mother’s practical advice, I decided to try to make it work. I would not have succeded without the help of literally hundreds of people who made small contributions last year; my first year was, in part, a gift from my community. This is part of what makes me want to see this through. I don’t want to let them down!

My tuition payment is due the first week in August. If I have not raised the funds by then, I will move on to plan B. This would either be studying at a non-degree (less expensive) studio in New York or living at home with my Mom in rural Vermont, working at the local general store, and taking some community college classes.

Here is a link to my NYU program if you would like to read more about it.

https://tisch.nyu.edu/drama

Thanks so much for considering my project!

Freedom Summer Camp at the Museum

How do children and teens in Rural and Low-Income Communities spend their summer when school is over? In Opelousas, St Landry Parish, Louisiana, Summer School is provided by church congregations and a few local public schools. However, this year 2019, a large number of students won’t be able to attend Summer School after the burning of three black Baptist churches in St Landry Parish by an arsonist during a string of 10 days in April 2019.

The burning of black churches was a common intimidation tactic during the Jim Crow era.

For decades, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community.

The burning of the Saint Landry Parish black churches was classified as a hate crime.

With a predominantly agricultural community with a deep pride in a francophone heritage, Black Baptist churches in Saint Landry Parish, LA offer church-based educational programs, from after-school tutorials to summer schools, computer classes to family science activities. Black churches have an historic commitment to education, and educational agencies see black churches as their best link to children in neighborhoods beset by poverty, violence and school failure.

To accommodate our Community and help our youth in Opelousas, St Landry Parish, LA the Rural African American Museum has offered to sponsor a summer camp for the children of the congregations affected by the destruction of their churches, the suppression of their place of worship and the suppression of their churches’ activities ensuing struggles.

I offered my Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana Congregation members the opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values

The Rural African American Museum will offer a summer Camp program from 2-6pm at the Rural African American Museum, in Opelousas, with focus on providing educational services to youth of Opelousas during 4 weeks in July 2019 (July 1 – 26, 2019).

This all day program will be free, except for administrative fees.

In order to ensure the integrity of the program, the local Committee “Rural African American Museum” will monitor and visit the home of any child who may miss summer camp. The Committee “Rural African American Museum” is composed of Board members, educators and local leaders who will be following up to ensure that the children will complete the summer camp program at the African-American Museum.

At a time where there is a continued rise in racial and religious based hate crimes, Opelousas is facing a situation that requires an immediate effort on the part of Louisiana government and local organizations to support underprivileged children who are marginalized due to issues of economic class. It is imperative to support these youth by providing technical assistance and educational tools that could enable them to benefit from a good education that meets their needs.

Recognizing the critical importance of education to community empowerment and economic development in St Landry Parish, Louisiana, to help the local youth acquire the skills necessary in communication, help them believe in themselves, to empower their success and self-esteem.

The Rural African American History Museum was formed to establish, collect, hold, and preserve exhibit as a way to relate to the history of Rural African-American in St Landry and rely only on donations. Sponsoring the Summer Camp will help our local youth establish links, relate to their culture and respect their roots even in the face of adversity and hate crime.

This campaign will support the summer school to raise $ 3,500, which is needed to meet the budget expenses.

SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM

The program for the Summer camp will be offered to ten St Landry Parish school students age 12-15, with the following activities:

ACTION and RESEARCH PROJECT “POETRY and CIVIL RIGHTS”

  1. First week: RESEARCH and CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS

ENHANCING STUDENTS‘ CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS: a Social Studies research project using Chromebooks laptops, books, articles and artifacts available at the Rural African American Museum. 

As I raised educational funds in 2018 for my Community in St Landry Parish to equip my students with technology, summer school students will have the opportunity to work with chromebooks for their research and presentation.

  1. Second week: Computer literacy SKILLS

Applied Digital Skills to improve digital literacy with Google, using Google classroom. Students will use Google slides to present their research findings.

Students will incorporate French poetry to their presentation.

  • Third Week: Performing arts SKILLS

Theatre techniques to build youth communication skills and self esteem.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

  1. Fourth week:

Art skills: Organizing, framing artifacts for the Rural African American Museum display.

Students will be using their research findings to write poetry and perform a slam Poetry / Spoken words performance.

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Bridge geographic and generational borders using 21st century technologies

Material:

Technology: Three Chromebooks will be available for students to use for students’ research and presentation findings, with a projector for display. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

ARTS / Performing Arts: Colors, crayons, paper, mic. This material is the property of the teacher working for the Freedom Summer Camp at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Library: Use of books, articles, artifacts available at the Rural African American of Opelousas.

Budget expenses:

Teachers’ Salary (2 teachers)

  • Teaching artist spoken word, slam poetry                      $1,500

Teaching Artist qualified and certified

  • Teaching Creative writing and performing Art                 $1,500

Teacher qualified and certified

  • Art workshop supplies (craft, notebook, frames, colors)   $   500 

TOTAL Expenses:                                                                   $ 3,500

My claim as a UULALA Congregation Social Concerns Co-Chair and member of the Unitarian Universalism Association

UUA CONNECTION:

  • Inspire a culture of innovation that extends the reach of UU values
  • Lower the walls between existing congregations
  • Members of the Baptist Black Churches will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.
  • Members of the UULALA (Unitarian Universalist fellowship of Lafayette, Louisiana) will volunteer for the Summer Camp project.

Our Congregation voted unanimously June 4, 2019 in favour of the project at our UULALA Congregation executive meeting.

I offer my UULALA Congregation members an opportunity to participate as volunteers in the Rural African American Summer Camp project.

Background information on the Opelousas, LA churches’ fire:

As June 12, 2019, a young man from Opelousas, Louisiana, was charged by a federal grand jury for a hate crime

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/louisiana-man-charged-federal-hate-crimes-setting-fire-three-st-landry-parish-churches

Help Lift Up...

UU Retired Ministers and Partners Association (UURMaPA)

In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising (June 28, 1969), the Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association (UURMaPA) has launched a UU Rainbow History Project, focused on collecting and preserving the history and stories of LGBTQIA ministers, their partners, and allies. 

Many of us have witnessed an amazing cultural shift over the past 50 years toward ever greater acceptance, inclusion, and celebration of LGBTQIA folk in our UU faith communities. Ministers have often led the way, and sometimes paid a harsh price for being in this vanguard. The stories are rich, stirring—and important. 

But time is not an ally in this process, so we want to move quickly to document the remarkable transformation of the UUA into a welcoming and affirming faith for people of all relationship choices and gender expressions. We are reaching out to draw forth memories from folks who remember the times and have valuable perspective on this evolution. Stonewall inspires anew, here among us today, exactly 50 years later!

The UU Rainbow History Project has begun gathering memories, photographs, sermons and other memorabilia on a website (www.uurainbowhistory.net) and in social media. Soon we will be working on producing a book to document this significant turning point in UU history. And all materials will be placed in UU archives, so future generations can learn about this incredible story, hopefully from many firsthand testimonials.

We are also sponsoring two conferences during this 50th anniversary year and if the October event is anything like the one last February (see pix below), it will again be powerfully meaningful. One attendee at the first conference remarked afterward, “This was a wonderful perspective on LGBTQ history—a breathtaking journey—and very uplifting. We have come so far. And I am so proud of the pioneers who lived in the disdain of society and bore such a burden.”

All this productive activity has a price tag, though, especially the technical developments and support for attendance at our conferences. And UURMaPA (which exists entirely on donations) has limited funding. The UU Funding Program has gotten us started, but through this Faithify Campaign YOU can help ensure that what we discern and discover about this pivotal era can become part of an enduring UU Rainbow History Project. Many thanks for your support!

Campbells- Nashua

UU Nashua, NH gathered to remember and honor the Campbell family with a graveside dedication and blessing for the new marker on their previously unmarked grave.

Tijuana Homebuild with Casas de Luz

Stretch Goal Added! See details below

Casas de Luz (casasdeluz.org) is a social justice action program of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito, a sister UU congregation in San Diego county. Since its founding 15 years ago, volunteers working with Casas de Luz have built over 110 homes in 6 communities throughout Tijuana on lots already owned by each family, and this dynamic non-profit plans to build 40 additional homes in 2019.

Oct. 2018 Casas de Luz Homebuild

There is tremendous enthusiasm among our congregants for this project, and our initial efforts raised over $1500 as Chalice congregants dug deep.

San Diego’s proximity to the border makes us acutely aware of the additional hardships imposed on the Tijuana economy by the current Administration’s negative rhetoric toward Mexico. Every time we visit Mexico, we hear about the downturn in tourism resulting in part from fears promoted by our own government. Tourism is one of the most important industries in Mexico, providing construction and service jobs critical to families who are working their way out of poverty. Because of this, and despite our small congregation’s current limited funds (we just broke ground on a major campus renovation involving a new classroom and office building), we feel this is the perfect time to sponsor a Casas de Luz homebuild project.

Chalice groundbreaking Feb. 2019

We view our participation with Casas de Luz as an act of Resistance, Love, and Interconnectedness in the best traditions of Unitarian Universalism. 

Please press the blue DONATE button to help us reach our additional fundraising goal of $4700. Any donations Chalice receives in excess of this goal will be forwarded to Casas de Luz to support their ongoing projects in Tijuana. GRACIAS!

Many of us come from backgrounds of relative privilege, taking for granted our homes, jobs, and educational opportunities. Imagine trying to feed your children, support their education, and get to work on time and focused, all while struggling with substandard living conditions. Families throughout the world often buy a little plot of land before they have the funds to build a house on it, then live there in makeshift housing, using whatever resources they have – tarps or lean-tos, dirt floors, a camp stove, no plumbing – while saving money to build a permanent home. Of course life does not always deal a predictable hand. Sudden illness or a death in the family, job insecurity, medications, school supplies, or even just the rising cost of living, can all eat away at savings originally set aside by these families for a home.

Casas de Luz has met this need head-on for 15 years, encouraging adult and youth volunteers to raise either $4500 for a 320-square foot standard home, or $6200 for a 384-square foot home with bathroom, and then dedicating two days on a weekend to travel to Tijuana and build.

This covers the entire cost of building materials for each home!

Floor plan for the 16′ by 24′ home we will build.

Every volunteer builder pays $50 to cover food, water, and housing for the overnight in Tijuana. Chalice’s Social Justice and Service Team is organizing the homebuild with Casas, and we are committed to separately funding the individual builder fee for any participant for whom this might be a hardship, to encourage participation by families and our youth.

Casas de Luz is a truly impressive non-profit, with a beautiful website (casasdeluz.org), a clear vision, an all-volunteer board, and a single part-time paid employee. Several regular volunteers have been designated Master Carpenter during their years of work with Casas, and they will guide the rest of us who are less experienced builders. We are so excited to be working with Casas to organize this project! We have put the weekend of October 26-27, 2019 on our congregational calendar because we are trusting that YOU – our friends, family, and fellow UUs – will help us raise the $4700 we still need. We are busy getting our passports updated, polishing up our high school Spanish, and digging out our most sturdy work clothes! Our favorite UU affirmation reads:

“Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest for truth is our sacrament, and service is our prayer.”

Thank you for helping us carry our message of love and service to our neighbors in Tijuana!

Bending the Arc...

We have an extraordinary collection of interviews and archival material illustrating aspects of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s (and earlier) and today.

Creating A Racial...

My name is Christopher D. Sims. I am a Unitarian Universalist community minister, artist, and community organizer. This collective idea is meant to combine our efforts across Unitarian Universalism as we tackle issues in regards to the movement for black lives, social justice, and racial justice. I am working with Unitarian Universalist committees and groups who are focusing on the serious work we are doing to help us obtain, or get closer to, the Beloved Community. In having these proximate relationships and connections with these groups, Creating a Racial and Social Justice Collective will be a vehicle and a database for successes of these groups that will help empower the overall work we are doing in our faith movement across the United States, and beyond. To give voice to these successes and efforts, the Collective will have an online presence. Physically, I will represent these voices at conferences or appearances in our faith movement to inform and encourage Unitarian Universalists to pursue or strengthen their social justice efforts.

The funds raised for this campaign will go towards maintaining an online database, staff, travel expenses, and materials needed to create books and pamphlets for the documentation of this project.