Tagged: “MidAmerica Region”

Complete MUUSJA’s “Wider Circles” Matching Grant

MUUSJA , Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance, is pledged a matching grant of $7,500 to support our 2022 “Wider Circles” initiative, if we raise that same amount during 2021. The pledged match is from the UU Funding Program ($5,000) and from a Minnesota philanthropy ($2,500).

MUUSJA unleashes courageous leadership and collective power to build a more just and loving world. We organize 30 UU congregations across Minnesota, North and South Dakota in spiritual reflection, learning, connection, and action for social and environmental justice. In 2021, our work to #StopLine3, #ProtectImmigrantWorkers, & #UutheVote mobilized hundreds of volunteers, mostly UU’s, co-leading with frontline community partners, and attracted national support.

Our 2022 Wider Circles initiative will broaden the scope & impact of MUUSJA’s justice work & coalition-building.  Wider Circles will require additional staff hours to communicate, recruit, train and organize with our congregations. We aim to sustain existing programs while exploring three new areas of social justice which MUUSJA has not previously addressed:

  1. “Making the Koolaid” will be a social justice teaching/learning forum for children, youth, and parents focused on how to engage young families in social justice action.
  2. “Access for All” will be a forum for all UU’s centering people with disabilities, including elders, focused on how to make social justice work accessible.
  3. “All Ages Need Apply” will be a forum focused on strategies for engaging seniors in the work of #UUtheVote in 2022.

Throughout the year, MUUSJA also will continue our regular programming. We amplify opportunities and organize UU congregations & teams regionally to participate in events and forums for learning, reflection, connection, and action to resist oppression and exploitation, and build Beloved Community with local, regional, and national partners. This work includes:

  • March 15th, 2022, Day on the Hill with people of faith for affordable housing and anti-poverty legislation, with the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition;
  • Earth Day observance with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light;
  • Truth and reparations work related to Dakota, Lakota, and Anishinaabe genocide, with Honor the Earth and the Dakota 35+;
  • Pride parades and festival booths across our region, with OutFront Minnesota and the Welcoming Congregations committees of UU congregations;
  • Collaboration to share, apply, and amplify programming from the UUA Organizing Strategy Team (Side With Love), UUSC, UUCSJ, UU-Rise, and UU Ministry for Earth/Create Climate Justice.

The planning/partnering/debrief teams associated with particular events or forums are ongoing participants in bi-weekly Convening Circles which currently include four groups:

  1. Climate Justice and Honoring Treaties (which grew out of the StopLine3 work);
  2. Defending Democracy (regional work to implement #UUtheVote);
  3. Sanctuary and Immigration Justice (resisting detention & deportation);
  4. Racial Justice (anti-racism and Eighth Principle implementation).

BUC Lower-Level Flooding Repairs

DISASTER RELIEF: All donations processed as they are given.

classsroom with flooded floor Classrooms became indoor swimming pools. (Photos post-remediation)

Classroom with cabinets torn out Ruined cabinetry has been torn out.

Hallway after water damage Main hallway is unusable.

Elevator shaft showing water level Elevator shaft taking forever to dry.

Water pooling outside building Standing water fixes needed: never again!

Yikes: water damage! Please help Birmingham Unitarian Church in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan repair our lower level and restore community activity!

Flood damage due to historic rapid rainfall in the Detroit metro area this summer affected the entirety of BUC’s lower level: 2400 square feet of classrooms plus kitchen, furnace and electrical room, and elevator. We want to not only remediate but also to protect our facility from likely future rainstorms like this.

Returning our lower level to usable space will help us bring back (COVID-safe) Religious Education programs and congregant meetings, as well as restore rental opportunities to groups such as AA that depend on our facility as much as we do on rental income.

The BUC community has grit and a DIY spirit. For example, several congregants helped with clean-up and one person bought 25 Rubbermaid tubs, packed, and carried our choir’s many years of sheet music upstairs to a safe space. In 2019, BUC completed a capital campaign to make our facility completely accessible, so we’re experienced in raising funds. But the type of renovation needed now is beyond our current ability.

The following hard cost of $180,000 is based on obtaining several estimates from local contractors (all of whom are swamped with this type of work):

  • $62,000 (actual cost, spent) for immediate remediation: water removal, cleanup, and tear-out of damaged walls, flooring, cabinetry, and furniture
  • $93,000 for interior build-back: flood-resistant flooring, drywall, baseboards, wall-hung lower cabinets, and some replacement furniture
  • $25,000 for exterior repairs and improvements to storm drainage systems to prevent future flooding

Our resources to fund the above are the $25,000 maximum allowed from flood insurance as well as cash from church savings and our endowment funds, plus a most welcome UUA disaster fund grant. We still are $12,000 short of what we need for restoration and, therefore, our request today.

We sincerely appreciate BUC’s family and Faithify friends for considering our beloved community for your charitable donation; thank you!

Send Emily McKown to Seminary!

This is a UU Religious Professional Credentialing/Development category campaign and all gifts will be immediately processed.

Emily begins her seminary journey: September 2021! She will be attending part-time (for 4-5 years), while continuing her position as Director at Channing-Murray Foundation in Urbana as well as her active membership at UUCUC! She is pursuing an inter-religious chaplaincy program, and following her passion for youth/young-adult, social-justice, and music ministries.

A few words from Emily-

“I’m so grateful to my UU community near and far. My childhood congregation and strong circle of elders at Dakota U.U. raised me with confidence and compassion, while my UUCUC family took up the baton, and helped me discover my passion for ministry. Your financial, emotional, and spiritual support means the world to me. Your financial boost will lessen the stress of divinity school while I head heart-first into the huge question of our time- how DO WE, in fact, cultivate beloved community? I feel your love. I’ll be sure to spread it around!”

Emily’s application essay for United Theological Seminary:

Countless converging pathways in my life have brought me to apply to United; feels like divine guidance indeed. My U.U. identity, my Twin Cities roots, my passion for social justice, my calling in music therapy, and my dream jobs I’ve found in youth and young adult ministry — are all key inspirations in my search for seminary. It would be a privilege to continue my education at United.

When I was a teenager I was a part of a planning team for a U.U. youth conference (at YMCA Camp Icaghowan) for 5 years; and I loved to plan worship. One late night we danced under the stars in an open field. The darkness made us feel secure, the song was intoxicatingly jubilant, and our liberation manifested as laughter. I knew then, that moments of freedom were precious, and I know now, it is worth working my whole life to find and share them.

While the majority of my twenties were spent exploring art and activism away from the church, I found a role three years ago as youth coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, and this job has revealed a calling. I love participating in worship planning, program facilitation, and curriculum building. I especially appreciate the shared-ministry approach UUCUC upholds.

And while I love curating the youth program at UUCUC, my newest job as Executive Director of the Channing-Murray Foundation has brought my passion for ministry to a new level. I came to leadership at this U.U. campus center at a critical time. Just a couple months before pandemic hit, I was tasked with guiding the organization through uncharted waters. Very quickly we reinvented ourselves, not as an event center, but as a mutual-aid coordination hub. Since March, our ministry has come in the form of a food pantry delivery service. This volunteer-driven, intersectional program not only activates our values but is also a grounding ritual for many of our members and young adults who crave a meaningful and connective task to help ease the pain of a hurting world.

I am approaching seminary with a sense of awe and excitement. I’m hopeful it will help me grow my dreams and see beyond. I’m eager to pursue interreligious chaplaincy because of my experience volunteering in hospitals, prisons, and nursing homes and my passion for music therapy. That said, I know that United will help me to discern a calling even more specific and revolutionary! I want my education to help me connect with sacred music social movements and bolster my nonprofit leadership skills, as well as prepare me for U.U. ordination. United feels like the place where all my passions can be free to dance together.”

How to stay connected:

We are UU’s supporting other UU’s! Donate what you are able – all will get a thank-you and an opportunity to opt-in to a newsletter each semester fully of songs, essays, and pictures.

If you’d like something a little more personal- you can choose to sponsor a credit! A full credit is $655 and a half credit is $327.50. Sponsor a half credit and Emily will choose a course and dedicate to your support, and share her findings with you. Sponsor a full credit and Emily will consult with you on dedicating a particular course of interest to you, share any writings/essays, and meet with you once a month during the course to share in the journey!

Re-Imagine Religious Education

“If we are to bring the the love and grace of this faith to our families’ lives, we must intentionally support the faith formation of children and adults.”

–  Kimberly Sweeney, The Death of Sunday School

A “ReVision “team was formed in March 2020 at Second Unitarian Church in Omaha, Nebraska with the goal to reimagine religious education.

  • The traditional model of Sunday School is labor intensive and ineffective –  only 12% of our UU youth remain UUs.
  • Many churches (including Second Unitarian) are finding Sunday School unsustainable in our present culture.

It has long been recognized that parents and families play a significant role in faith development. Faith formation is a life long journey.

Photo of a 1960s style church interior with a congregation standing and singing. Many are holding flowers PreCOVID Flower Communion Worship in our sanctuary.

  •  Children (and adults!) need rituals. Rituals help us to find comfort and wisdom in the celebration of our faith and the ups and downs of life. Rituals help us to celebrate who we are as Unitarian Universalists.
  • We all need a Beloved Community where we ‘belong,’ and a community of good role models in life. We also need special time with our UU peers of similar age
  • There is a strong need for intentional ministry to young families, for their sake as well as for the future of our church. 
  • Beloved Community encompasses all ages and abilities. 

“Faith development is all we do. Unitarian Universalism is the faith we teach. The congregation is the curriculum.”

religious educator Connie Goodbread

The vision – what we expect religious education in action to look like

A screen capture of the Soul Matters website We desire to connect all ages to a cohesive faith message.

  • Supporting faith development in the home
  • The monthly Soul Matters themes will be used in worship and supplemental curricula
  • Children and adults of all abilities will be welcomed as part of the Beloved Community in worship on three out of four Sundays
  • On the last Friday of the month, September – May, we will have an evening meal and short vespers service, followed by related activity options to close out the worship theme for the month. This is intended to be for all ages, and it is especially intended to be parent friendly.
  • Children will be welcomed to participate in Social Justice causes to live their faith and be with role models that demonstrate living our faith.4 individuals socially distanced standing outside our church building with a Black Lives Banner behind them We are active in social justice causes: we want to give our children and youth more oppotunities to be involved.
  • There will be a variety of faith formation opportunities for adults.
  • The DRE will be involved in overseeing religious education for all ages, including adult programming.
  • Teen Ministry will consist of YRUU, teen/adult groups such as a “Popcorn Theology” movie discussion or book discussions, and Coming of Age programming culminating in a service where teens have an opportunity to share their Credo statements.
  •  Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality classes will be offered periodically for the different age ranges K-adult.A screen capture of the OWL page on the UUA website We want more regular OWL programming for all ages to serve our community.
  • Vacation Summer Camp could be offered with an emphasis on the history of our faith with lots of play, acting out of the stories and fun activities

Religious education happens when people in our church listen, value and encourage us toward our better selves. In order for Second Unitarian to carry out these inspirational goals, we need the guidance and support of our very gifted Director of Religious Education. We want to increase her hours to provide faith formation, Support ReVision, and coordinate childcare. To do so fairly and to adhere to suggested UUA salary guidelines, we would need to raise $4700.00.

Solidarity with UU’s Imprisoned in Illinois

UU Prison Ministry of Illinois asks your help supporting people returned from prison as well as UU’s still in prison.  One way we do this is through small grants to “solidarity circle leaders” with crisis needs such as housing, clothing, transportation, or medical care. 

For UU’s in prison we organize UU pen pals and make small additions to their commissary accounts to help buy sanitary supplies or food.  We also are piloting a program with UU’s in prison to work with their pen pals to guide our advocacy work for alternatives to incarceration and to reduce the harm caused by incarceration. 

Reaching the $3000 goal would provide emergency assistance to 2 solidarity circle leaders for a year and commissary contributions for 60 UU’s in Illinois prisons. 

Reaching the stretch goal of $6000 would do this and provide funds for supplies and staff time to run the pilot advocacy program. 

UUPMI consists of UU volunteers from Illinois who organize people in prisons and jails based on UU principles.  We connect people inside with UU pen pals in our congregations.  We organize reentry solidarity circles centering around leaders returning to the community.  We promote systemic change to end incarceration and to build justice, and carry this message to UU’s through sermons by our UU minister and workshops for UU’s.  We partner with UU Advocacy Network of Illinois and other organizations on advocacy.  We are supported financially by UU’s individually and by over a dozen UU congregations in IL with shared offerings.

From Detention to Asylum

Stretch Goal- Housing for Ana (description below)

Consistent with the Unitarian Universalist principles affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person with justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; we declare ourselves as a Sanctuary Congregation in alignment with the Iowa Sanctuary Movement.

In July, 2020 a person from Central America seeking asylum in the United States was released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and arrived in the Quad Cities. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) arranged for the asylum seeker to be released, with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities (UUCQC) as their sponsor.

It is legal to enter this country to seek asylum, but in recent years many black and brown asylum seekers have been removed from the United States while awaiting decisions on their cases. Others have been locked in detention centers where they have little or no access to legal or other help and are now in danger of contracting Covid-19.

Support during the legal process, which is expected to take a year or more, is being provided by the Sanctuary Project of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and the Quad Cities Sanctuary Coalition. This person is living with a member family of the Congregation, so current housing costs are covered. All other needs and legal fees are being provided through community fundraising. The asylum seeker is taking the opportunity to learn English and how to navigate in this new culture.

It is estimated that supporting one person for a year will cost $10,000, of which at least $5,000 is for legal fees. Due to more ICE appointments than initially anticipated, transportation costs for each 350 mile round-trip appointment have increased our funding needs by at least $2,000.

Please join us opening your heart in the support of our guest asylum seeker by making a donation today.

 

Uptown Community Podcast

The Uptown Community Podcast (UCP) raises Unitarian Universalism and its values in discussing the legacy and future of its community. UCP has recently doubled its listenership across generations. Although this podcast is called the “Uptown” community podcast, the ideas expressed have much broader appeal.

The UCP is a program of The Peoples Church and Preston Bradley Center. The building also houses a transitional housing shelter, artist studios, performance spaces, and other churches. The content of UCP is similarly active in its promotion of the arts, culture, and the inherent value of every person.

The building is named for Rev. Dr. Preston Bradley and is located in Uptown, Chicago. He led one of the first broadcast ministries in the country and also provided radio stations with short inspirational messages. His charismatic preaching helped Chicago through The Great Depression and WWII. The UCP offers contemporary commentary on his messages and Unitarian faith. The UCP reviews these short inspirational messages in-between conversations with Uptown’s own inspirational community. 

The UCP is a recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Funding program. Additional funding is needed for updated hardware, simultaneous recording, and costs for streaming and hosting digital content. Would you give generously to spread the good news of Unitarian Universalism in Uptown?

Help Families with...

Chalice Sparx Family Camp and Retreat features Unitarian Universalist style worship services and multigenerational learning opportunities for all ages. We are an intentionally welcoming space for LGBTQ+ families and particularly for families with a member or members who are Trans* or non-binary. Informal mentoring opportunities are welcome from the Trans and non-binary adults who attend the camp. We are a diverse group ethnically and racially with some of our annual families being transracially adoptees, children raised partially or completely by grandparents, and children being raised in a polyamory family or LGBTQ+ families. At this camp, children and youth are not whisked away to explore with camp counselors; at Chalice Sparx we are an intentional multigenerational environment that is friendly to the many and diverse configurations of families that are Unitarian Universalist.

UU Fellowship of Dubuque Historic Building Preservation

The UU Fellowship of Dubuque is a small, primarily lay-led congregation with a 35-year history of actively working to create a more just, equitable, compassionate world. Our church is the only one in Dubuque, Iowa in the Carpenter Gothic style, distinguished by its pointed arch windows, steep-pitched roofs, and decorative wood millwork – familiar architectural features in Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting.

Current Photo of Building

Recently, our building caught the eye of historic preservationists, including one who saw an old photo of the belfry and offered to help pay for its restoration. With the help of the wider community – we can bring this charming building back to its original spirit and beauty.

The church exterior will be restored – including replication of the belfry, which was removed about 70 years ago. The limestone block foundation and basement walls will be reinforced, exterior masonry will be cleaned, repaired and repointed.

Rendering of Restoration, Heritage Works

Entrance doors and entryway transoms will be repaired and restored. Exterior wood surfaces will be repaired and repainted. Wood shingles on the walls and the current roof will be replaced. A drop ceiling will be removed to uncover the vaulted ceiling and pointed arch windows.

In addition, we currently do not have an elevator to access the lower level of the building, and the existing staircase is narrow and uneven – so the lower level is unusable for most events. We look forward to installing a lift, which will double our usable space.

Investing in Our Community

We are not only restoring the bricks and mortar of this building, we’re renewing our commitment to serve as a resource to Dubuque – opening our doors even wider for community events and conversations. We invite speakers from area nonprofits, businesses, organizations and other religious traditions – Hope House, Temple Beth El, Path of Hope Immigration Services, Resources Unite, Tri-State Islamic Center, Dubuque Rescue Mission, Presentation Lantern Center, and Catholic Charities Jail & Prison Ministry – to present at services.

We host the Historic District Coffeehouse, giving local musicians, poets and storytellers from Dubuque and Tri-State region a platform for sharing their talents with an appreciative audience. People from the neighborhood join us as performers and audience members.

We make our parsonage available to Families First, a state-sponsored organization that provides a home-like setting for supervised visits uniting parents and children separated by the courts – helping restore family unity. Many families are from the Jackson Park neighborhood.

Project Campaign

The total estimated cost for the restoration project is $1.5 million: $465,000 to replicate the belfry; $410,000 to restore the exterior; $625,000 to renovate the interior. We have generous donors who will match $2 for every $1 we raise – and for every firm pledge we receive – through December 31. This triples the impact of donations! Our application for $300,000 in historic tax credits is under review. With over $60,000 in pledges already in-hand – we need to raise $140,000. We aim to raise $3,500 through Faithify, which with the 2:1 match will equate to $10,500!

Our goals for this project are to increase our visibility to our community, to rededicate and invigorate our membership’s commitment to neighborhood service, and to increase the functionality of our building to enable us to live our mission: to provide a welcoming community that inspires growth by encouraging individuals and families to examine their religious and spiritual beliefs, to explore new ideas, and to respect and enjoy each other’s differences.

Learn more.

Assist Iowans Recovering from the Derecho

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(Please see Update tab for more information)

Low-income apartment building destroyed by the storm Low-income apartment building destroyed by the storm

No one expected hurricane force winds of up to 140 miles per hour to blow through Iowa August 10. While many members of People’s Unitarian Universalist Church had no power for a week and damage to their homes and trees, they are most concerned with those who had lost their homes, particularly those most vulnerable.

Immigrant resident shares his story of the storm Immigrant resident shares his story of the storm

Low income families, including immigrants and refugees spent a week in tents after their housing was destroyed. Still homeless, this population faces food insecurity. In addition, some families have lost all the contents of their homes when a roof blew off their apartment building.

Our Faithify campaign promises to provide relief by directing all of the money pledged to non-profit organizations in the community hit by this storm that ravaged one third of Iowa. These organizations include the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, and the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank, as well as the food bank of the People’s UU Church. The funds will be distributed where there is the most need. We invite all to open your hearts and reach out to those in such dire need.

Unitarian Universalists lend a hand with a lunch distribution Unitarian Universalists lend a hand with a lunch distribution

How is this project connected to UU?

Our principles inspire us to reach out to others with justice, equity and dignity, to strive toward peace and liberty for everyone, and recognize that we are all a part of an interdependent web. We cannot ignore the deep injustices and indignity of those most in need made worse by an unexpected storm of unprecedented magnitude.

The People’s UU Church in Cedar Rapids started their own food pantry to address food insecurity in the community. This congregation also and has long-standing associations and support for both the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. Nearby in Coralville, the UU Society regularly sends volunteers and financial support to CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank.

Champaign County COVID-19 Relief

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN:

ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

Food insecurity has skyrocketed in Champaign County as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19. The Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Church of Urbana-Champaign has created a Faithify crowdfunding campaign to help ease the suffering and uncertainties of families in our community experiencing hardship.

We have selected three organizations whose outreach to families in our community are both reliable and effective. They are

  • CU Better Together
  • CU FAIR’s Pandemic Response Fund
  • Channing Murray’s Bucket Brigade

Funds during this campaign will be shared equally among these organizations. Our goal is to collect at least $10,000 in this initial round of fundraising. We will continue to offer this as rolling 30 day campaigns to meet the ongoing needs of these organizations.

Many of us have, or will be receiving checks from the government as part of the recent relief package passed by Congress.  Would you be willing to donate some – or potentially all – of those funds to our campaign?

Even if you aren’t receiving a stimulus check, but are looking for the best way to help those in our community who are in need, this campaign will target the funds where they are needed. In Illinois the peak of the virus impact is going to be mid-May to mid-Jun so now is a critical time to act.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Social Action Committee
Unitarian Church of Urbana-Champaign

CU-Better Together

CU-Better Together is a combined effort of several organizations to support families with school-aged children who are suffering from food insecurity during the pandemic. This project is designed to work within the food distribution structure set up by the Champaign and Urbana School Districts. It utilizes the large spaces available at the Stone Creek Church and the Vineyard Church for organizing food. Large initial donations came from United Way, the Community Foundation, the Stephens Family YMCA, and the C-U Schools Foundation. Several local churches and other organizations are supporting this project.

CU FAIR Pandemic Response Fund

Thousands of undocumented immigrants in our community do not qualify for unemployment benefits, and they are among those who need our help. Champaign Urbana Friends and Allies of Immigrants and Refugees (CU FAIR) has established a Pandemic Response Fund.  They are working with local organizations such as the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, the PTA Council of Champaign, and the Immigration Justice Task Force of the Unitarian Church of Urbana-Champaign to provide food and other support to our immigrant and refugee families.

Your funds will be used to purchase and deliver groceries and hygiene and health supplies, free of charge. Information about COVID-19 and how to access healthcare resources that has been translated into Spanish, French and English will be inserted into grocery bags, and emergency cash assistance is provided to those most in need.

Channing Murray Bucket Brigade

Channing-Murray has been preparing a #bucketbrigade of essential grocery deliveries for extremely low-income families in Urbana who are recommended by staff at the Champaign Township Office and the Cunningham Township Supervisor’s Office. These buckets have beans, rice, cereal, soup, eggs, and often some prepared meals.  Each and every item is sanitized, then delivered to the doorsteps of the families served.

Channing-Murray has been C-U’s home for social justice programming over many years, and now there is no better time to put our values into action!  Your contributions will be considered a part of a local movement, to provide aid, to be courageous, and to choose a spirit of generosity over scarcity.

Volunteers cancel, Guatemala town struggles

Named after the Brazilian environmental activist, Chico Mendes, who lost his life protecting the rainforests, the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project was started in 1998, when the loss of forests and its consequences were evident to those living in Pachaj, Guatemala. This community is located near Quetzaltenango, in the Northwest Highlands of Guatemala.  Jorge Armando Lopez Pocol, a respected forester, and his family established a nursery and organizes the village as well as international volunteers to plant seeds, grow seedlings, and protect trees. The average number of trees planted each year in the last five years is 15,000. Currently, Jorge Armando has 40,000 trees ready to be planted.

One of Jorge Armando’s main goals is to plant the pinabete tree on the mountainside near his community.  The pinabete is the one tree where the rare Quetzal, national bird of Guatemala, will nest.  Planting the pinabete thwarts mining companies from destroying the mountainsides and will ensure good water quality for the village.

See the Chico Mendes website:  https://www.chicomendesguatemala.org

Because of the pandemic, nine volunteer groups scheduled to plant trees in Guatemala for The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project have canceled. This is devastating for a community that is living on the edge.  The Project depends on volunteer groups to transfer seedlings and to plant young trees, which in turn helps support the reforesting of the mountainsides.  In addition, income for the community is generated when volunteers pay to stay with families and take Spanish language classes. Without this income, the families and Spanish teachers will lack funds to feed their families.

From the three service-learning trips, many in our congregation have ties to the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project and have been supportive in past fundraisers.  Our UU accreditation as a Green Sanctuary congregation was due in part from this partnership.  In addition, we are knowledgeable about other groups who have traveled or were planning to travel there this spring and summer.  We are also well connected to various environmental groups and will communicate the needs of this project to them.

The funds raised will go for seeds, fertilizer, tools, supplies, and staff salaries to maintain the young trees and protect the forests.  Families who provide homestays and Spanish teachers will be compensated.

Contributions and support now will ensure the continuation and survival of the Chico Mendes Reforestation project.  The welfare of these community members and the protection of fragile ecosystems in the Guatemala Highlands also depend on contributions to weather the current crisis caused by the pandemic.  In the future groups will again take trips and plant trees with the villagers of Pachaj, hosted by Jorge Armando.

Testimonials:

“When I was in Guatemala, I observed the Chico Mendes group grow healthy seedlings and plant trees where they had been cut down.  Reforestation is an important job for humanity in terms of climate change.”  -Dr. John Hartman, Plant Pathologist Emeritus, University of Kentucky

“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project not only provides clean air and water for the local people, but it also sends the message that sustainability is possible if everyone contributes.  By donating to this cause, you will be improving the local people’s quality of life and showing the world how vital sustainability is for our well being”.  -Justine Reschly, High School senior

“What most impressed me about the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project in Guatemala was the engagement and investment in youth.  They didn’t just work on reforestation, but they educated, hired, and mentored youth to participate in their work.  They understand the importance of youth education and involvement to bring change in future generations. “ -Meredith Gall, parent and participant

“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project is as much a community and social justice effort as it is an environmental justice organization. Planting trees and protecting the environment is intimately related to protecting and providing for the local community. The connection with the local community both supports Chico Mendes and also provides a community stake in both the project and their environment. Our family’s connection with the community was good for us, them and, I firmly believe, the wider world.” -Dan Gall, parent and participant