Roundtable Revival Mentoring Program for Persons Who are Reentering the Community
Persons returning to the community face significant barriers rebuilding their lives after experiencing contact with the criminal justice system (Coates, 2015). Examples include those citizens on probation or parole or those returning to the community after a period of incarceration in jail or prison. These challenges are being magnified by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Currently in Eau Claire County, we do not have a comprehensive reentry program that can serve those being released from jail or prison, so even a brief jail stay could result in the loss of housing, employment, family disruption, health care coverage, or transportation. Recent estimates suggest that each year 15-20 women return to the Eau Claire area after release from prison. In 2017, the Eau Claire County Jail released 4,916 people. Roundtable Revival has a goal of providing resources and programming to support reintegration into the community and reduce recidivism.
We will ultimately offer a variety of reentry programs, including the Mentoring Program, Reentry Peer Support, a First Stop program for people being released from jail, and an alcohol-free tavern as a place where people can gather in the evening to socialize, relax, and have fun. Roundtable Revival utilizes a foundation of Certified Peer Support Specialists. Training for the Peer Support Specialist is provided by the State of Wisconsin and their hours are billable through Medical Assistance. These specialists have the advantage of having personal experience with the criminal justice system and have been trained in understanding the available community resources. Ultimately, we hope that any added programs will contribute to the goal of empowering returning citizens and enhancing their overall physical and mental health. We want to offer them the opportunity for an equal place at our roundtable.
Objectives: For the Mentoring Program, we plan to draw upon the power of a mentoring relationship to empower persons as they seek to negotiate the challenges of obtaining housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, healthcare, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. Funds raised will be used for start-up and initial operational expenses. The outcomes will consist of a tracking success across the areas of individual need and an evaluation of the mentoring program by the mentors and mentees.
Mentoring Program Design: The program will be modeled after similar successful programs, best practices, and evidence-based models. Area churches and congregations, the Synagogue and the Mosque as well as the general community will be approached for support by providing weekly meals, Life Skills presenters, and Mentors. The program will meet weekly at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Eau Claire for three hours with each session consisting of socializing and sharing a meal, group support and life story sharing, an educational presentation on life skills, and individual mentoring. Mentors will be trained prior to each cycle and will be asked to attend group mentor meetings periodically during the cycle. The initial focus will be providing a safe space for adult females who volunteer and are accepted into the program. If there is enough interest, a second site will serve adult men. We envision conducting mentoring program cycles in the fall and spring. A graduation ceremony will be held at the conclusion of each cycle.
All mentors will be asked to complete an initial six-hour workshop training. Group meetings of Mentors will occur prior to the weekly meetings every third week of the program duration. Mentors will be given a manual with a mentor job description and training materials.
Expected outcomes: Our mission is: To cultivate inclusive, accepting, and empowering spaces WITH people who face barriers due to a conviction history: Facilitating full reintegration into our community. We plan to link individuals with community resources for housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. An overall goal of Roundtable Revival is to foster a more responsive and collaborative system for the employment, housing, mental health, healthcare, and substance use and alcohol misuse treatment needs of returning citizens. In addition, we will instill a sense of community and belonging among individuals who are returning citizens.
How the project will be sustained: The Eau Claire County Department of Human Services operates two programs that will be a source of collaboration and support, The Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) and Community Support Program (CSP). We have also established a beginning relationship with the Eau Claire County Jail, the State of Wisconsin, Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole and The Transition Center (day treatment center) in Eau Claire. Roundtable Revival is incorporated as a State of Wisconsin, certified nonprofit social service agency or 501(c)3.
The Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network
The Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network aims to build a statewide advocacy network employing the power of the collective voices of Unitarian Universalists in Wisconsin. We uphold the worth and dignity of every person while acting to further justice, equity, and compassion. Through a website and social media the Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network hopes to provide portals for Wisconsin UU congregations to share what they are doing and see what other UU congregations are doing to advance justice, equity and compassion, through the website and social media to provide in depth information about the issue critical to the citizens of Wisconsin, and to provide a forum for individuals to express their actions and need for justice, equity and compassion.
2020 MVUUF Teen Trek to UU-UNO Spring Seminar
UPDATE Mar 13, 2020: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this campaign has been closed. Any pledges made will NOT be processed. Thank you.
In light of recent developments with COVID-19, the UU-UNO has cancelled the in-person events for the Spring Seminar. Our MVUUF Teen Group will not be making the trip. Thanks to those who were willing to donate!
Original Description follows for archive purposes.
SUPPORTING A NEW GENERATION OF
CLIMATE JUSTICE ACTIVISTS
Your donation to this project will fund travel expenses for youth and sponsors to attend the 2020 UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar in New York City. Our youth and sponsors have each funded their own registration fees. Your Faithify donations will go towards transportation, meals, and other associated expenses for the trip as they travel from Dayton, OH to New York City. We have set our fundraising goal to match projected expenses, and we need $500 per traveler to cover our costs. Any extra funds raised this year will be put to use in future trips as we seek to make this a biennial event for the youth in our congregation.
The 2020 UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar theme is “All In For Climate Justice: People, Power, Planet.” The conference will take place April 16-18 in New York City. Through worship, panel discussions, skills-building workshops, and small-group collaboration, participants will learn and grow together as they explore UU centered responses to vital global climate challenges.
This year, we have six youth (Avery, Travis, Zane, Matthew, Yemaya, and Genna) and three adult sponsors (Shaun, Richard, and Lathe) registered to attend. This record attendance from our congregation is the best indication of the value of the conference to our youths’ growth in social activism. MVUUF Youth who participate in the trip will:
- Gain deeper understanding of the UU-UNO’s climate justice work with the United Nations and the world
- Develop a broader sense of UU community as they connect with UU youth from across the country and other nations who share similar values
- Practice leadership skills by engaging the MVUUF congregation in the UU-UNO mission upon their return
Some pictures from last year’s trip are included below!
Chalice Lighters &...
MidAmerica has a new way of supporting congregations with their Chalice Lighters program and Faithify.
All Souls’ Children’s...
Nowhere is the shadow of racism longer in American than when it comes to educational disparities. You can change this.
Our six-week, evidence-based program, developed by the Children’s Defense Fund, has been proven through rigorous research to improve literacy skills, build character and engage parents. During our first two summers, All Souls hosted the only CDF Freedom School in the state of Indiana. In 2017, we got 501(c)3 status, and in 2018, our parternship launched a second site. This will be our fifth summer offering this impactful program.
Thanks to our donors last year, 84% of our scholars experienced no summer-learning loss of gained literacy skills. Normally their peers would lose 2-3 months of reading ability; such summer learning loss, compounded year-after-year accounts for 50% of the achievement gap. Faithify is our single largest individual donor source, covering just over 20% of our program costs. $125 covers the cost of a scholar’s program for one week. Thank you for helping us mitigate the educational disparity gap that keeps so many of our children behind.
There have been three waves of “Freedom Schools” in American history, and Unitarian Universalists have been part of all three. Northern whites, often women, went to the South soon after emancipation to teach formally-enslaved persons to read. Then in 1964, as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the National Council of Churches and SNCC formed summer “Freedom Schools,” focused specifically on literacy, humanities, science and math. These schools, often “taught” by white, northern college students, also had a larger purpose: to show young, Southern black Americans that they were valued and to engage them in community problem-solving.
The Children’s Defense Fund has initiated the third wave with the development a modern, evidence-based summer learning and family engagement model. The model retains the historical focus on offering a culturally-appropriate program designed to empower and promote civic engagement and literacy. The model is defined by five essential components:
- High-quality academic enrichment, which includes age- and culturally-appropriate books that are part of an Integrated Reading Curriculum involving reinforcing activities, field trips and games.
- Parent and family involvement at multiple levels, from morning introductory activities to classroom assistance to supporting community projects.
- Social action and civic engagement by our children and youth so that they are prepared to be active citizens. Participants engage in solving community problems and do social justice work, including through a Children’s Defense Fund yearly National Day of Social Action.
- Intergenerational servant leadership development, by engaging college students and recent graduates to deliver the program, many of whom have had Freedom School experience themselves.
- Nutrition, health and mental health, by requiring programs to provide—at a minimum—two USDA-compliant meals and a snack each day of operation, while training staff to recognize the importance of providing therapeutic health and mental health services.
With your financial support, All Souls Unitarian Church would offer six-weeks of programming for 40 school-age children in summer 2020. Indianapolis has pervasive educational and opportunity disparities and our congregation sits in a high-need community. The church is in close proximity to two struggling public elementary schools. Robert Lee Frost is 87% African-American and over 80% free and reduced-price lunch. In 2014, only 51% of students passed both English and Math in ISTEP. Only 65% of students passed the IREAD-3. At Brook Park, 76% of students are African-American or Hispanic and over 76% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Only 52% passed ISTEP in 2014. Opportunity disparities in is high. Nearly 25% of individuals in the All Souls zip code (46226) live in poverty and nearly 40% of children live at or below the poverty level. We know from national-level research that poverty is correlated with fewer summer learning and other enrichment opportunities.
All Souls has already begun to build a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals committed to making a Freedom School a permanent fixture in Indianapolis. Our partners include, but are not limited to, the Indianapolis Freedom School Partnership (the umbrella organization we helped form), the neighborhood elementary schools near the church, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, neighborhood organizations, the League of Women Voters, the Indianapolis Public Library, and the education departments of Indiana University, Butler University, and Marion University.
“Indiana Black Expo, as the backbone support organization for the Your Life Matters Initiative, is in full support of All Souls’ endeavors with the development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis.” – Tanya Bell President & CEO Indiana Black Expo, Inc.
“The development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis is an important service and support for youth in the northeast part of our city. I applaud All Souls Unitarian Church for its vision and for making social justice visible for children who need a supportive community and gifts that participation in a Freedom School provides.” – Dr. Cindy Jackson, Positive Discipline Coordinator, IPS district, and member of the education committee of the Your Life Matters Task Force
The Ordination and Installation of John Eric Severson
An ordination 25 years in the making!
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, MI (UUFoM), is honored to ordain John Eric Severson to the Unitarian Universalist ministry at an ordination ceremony on March 29, 2020. UUFoM also will be installing Eric as its called minister at this event.
Ordination is an essential component in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, occurring after an individual has completed formal training and has been accepted into preliminary fellowship as a UU minister by the denomination. Ordination is the final step that sets aside the ordinand as clergy and allows the title of “Reverend” to be bestowed.
Eric will be joined by congregants, family, friends, UU and interfaith clergy, and by those who have played an important role in his journey to becoming a UU minister. Your support of this campaign will help make this a meaningful and memorable event to mark Eric’s formal entry into service as a Unitarian Universalist minister.
Funds for this campaign will be used for food and refreshments at the ordination/installation, compensation for guest musicians, and to support travel and lodging for clergy traveling from outside of the area. Any funds exceeding ordination needs will be split between a local food security organization and the fellowship’s endowment fund.
We are grateful for any amount you might give. Thank you!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ordination/installation has been postponed until gathering in person is safer for everyone. Thank you once again for your donations!
Immigrant Housing in Chalice House
The need for housing for immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. is critically important. In a recently released report, the National Immigrant Justice Center described immigration detention centers as a “sprawling network of wasteful prisons operated by for-profit companies, county jails, and a small number of processing centers owned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that are interchangeable from jails in structure and practice.”
Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist (Palatine, IL) currently owns a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house, and we are partnering with Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants (ICDI) to convert this home into transitional housing for immigrants seeking asylum.
It’s our goal for the home to be ready for a family by sometime in 2nd Quarter 2020.
Chalice House is a shared project whereby ICDI provides ongoing services and support to its asylum-seeking clients, while Countryside and donors like you provide housing and hospitality. Community-based housing such as Chalice House offers alternatives to detention while an immigrant’s case is pending so that families can stay together and immigrants don’t experience additional trauma in immigration detention centers.
ICDI is a non-profit, faith-based organization that provides housing and other services to immigrants released from ICE detention. An ICDI case manager connects people to educational, ESL, religious, health, and legal services. By providing a supportive and caring environment and trauma-informed care, ICDI seeks to help people heal and adjust to life in the U.S. while they wait for future court dates or work permits.
Chalice House is a way to build the beloved community right here, right now. But we can’t do it alone — this is where the support from you can come in. In addition to seeking the support (both financial and volunteer) of areas congregations and community groups, we are seeking support from individuals who support this cause.
If, for any reason, Chalice House does not come to fruition, all funds will go directly to ICDI to support other community housing for immigrants.
Help Midwife Seminarian...
Peace and civility can only be manifested through forging personal relationships by way of interfaith dialogs, across secular lines, and taking our message of peace into the public square. I consider myself an artist of that ministry.
Sunrise Lake Michigan Painting
I see myself as a religious leader, poised through my training to teach people how to forge relationships civilly and bring about real change. I am to respond to situations of growth, conflict and change pastorally and creatively. The degradation of peace is often lost in the discourse when people are afraid to sit in discomfort in order to make this world just. So often peace is equated with ease. Peace comes in examining problematic behaviors in ourselves and our communities.
Weaving together marketing, arts and public relations with ministry has been the way I’ve shaped my vision to grow peace and civility in today’s world. I enroll people in our movement for peace by making it voluptuous, gorgeous and reverent. When humans are engaged by splendor, they are in a better space to hear one another and can engage in the deep listening required to reach peace in our hearts and actions. Art and beauty invite people in. It softens the discomfort. I affirm what Toni Cade Bambarayou says: “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.” As an artist of ministry, I use all my tools to make our movement irresistible. Won’t you support me, so I can take this next step toward becoming an artist of ministry on the canvas of our movement?
I see the MFC on December 6. I travel to Boston. I have had to prepare tests, reviews, photos, and more to get to the MFC. Now I need to travel, eat, take transportation and lodging while there. Your donation of any amount will help.
All who donate $100 or more will receive a postcard set of five of my art prints suitable for framing.
I have spent decades sharing our ideologies outside of our churches in places where people are struggling. Knowing how to harness the power of media is necessary to our movement. When we dance, sing and display beauty outside the church walls, we can appeal to people and open their hearts.
Autumn Trees: Falling Forward Reaching Back
Systems of oppression need to be dismantled and that only comes from 1:1 relationship. If we cannot love our mother earth, our transgender siblings, our unhomed neighbors, our queer children and our immigrant cousins as much as we love our god, how will we claim grace?
I answer this question with the sentiments of Alfred S. Cole and John Wesley: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?”
It is in that loving, carrying beauty in one hand and our message of peace in the other across lines of faith, that we will bring about true and lasting peace.
Please come with me on this journey.
Let the Music Play!
Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship is blessed to have a vibrant music program and an energetic new music staff. With new staffing and new programming comes the need for new music. Some music can cost up to $2.50 per booklet of sheet music; with 20+ choir members, costs can add up quickly.
Staff and the music committee have been working hard going through our files to assess what music is still relevant in keeping and making room for new pieces. Your generosity will help in really lifting our new music program to new heights
Open FirstSteps Re-entry House for People Returning Home From Prison to Champaign Co, Illinois
-See Stretch Goal info below and News (with photos!) in the Update tab –
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign (UUCUC) is partnering with FirstFollowers to open FirstSteps, a re-entry house for people returning to our community after incarceration. UUCUC has already committed $5500 for this desperately needed program. Many other congregations, community organizations, and government programs are also supporting this cause. Funds raised from this Faithify campaign will be used to cover startup and operational expenses. The FirstSteps house is scheduled to open this Fall. They have already raised 85% of the funds needed to open, this Faithify campaign could get them to 100%. Please consider supporting the FirstSteps home and sharing this campaign with your network.
FirstFollowers is a local non-profit supporting people returning to the community from incarceration. Over the years of providing peer mentorship to people leaving prison, they recognized a stark need for housing.
Housing is very scarce for those with any history of criminal justice system involvement. Historically, the local Housing Authority has banned formerly incarcerated people from returning to their units, even if they have family members living there. This is slowly changing with advocacy, but the demand for public housing still far outstrips the supply. In Champaign, landlords are legally allowed to refuse to rent to people with certain felony convictions. Other obstacles, like application fees and credit checks, exclude most people returning home from prison. With nearly 400 people on state supervised release in Champaign County, there is a huge need for supportive services.
FirstFollowers is working with the Housing Authority of Champaign County to renovate a home on Ells Street in Champaign. FirstFollowers GoMAD scholars are young people with some criminal justice involvement who are being trained in construction skills. GoMAD scholars are currently working side-by-side with contractors to ready the FirstSteps home for its first residents. When the home is complete and enough funds are raised to launch the program, staff and volunteer mentors will welcome up to four residents at a time.
FirstSteps is not just a house or a bed. Individuals living in the house will have the support of FirstFollowers peer mentors. Residents will also be connected with local resources and provided with access to opportunities for employment, training, and education. In addition, peer mentors will help them establish personal plans and goals offering social/emotional support through their networks of allies in the community.
First Followers’ mission is to build strong and peaceful communities by providing support, guidance, and hope to formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones through peer mentorship.
A safe stigma free environment
Assistance with employment searches
Job readiness training
Advocacy for individuals with felony convictions
View website: https://www.firstfollowersreentry.com/
UUCUC is pleased to sponsor this Faithify campaign to help FirstFollowers acquire the necessary funds to make the FirstSteps home a reality. FirstSteps will not just benefit the residents, but the entire community. We thank you in advance for your support. We hope to have many community members present on FirstSteps opening day, to not only celebrate, but to commit to a continuing partnership. Please read the UU Connections tab to learn how UUCUC came to support FirstFollowers and the FirstSteps transitional house.
Growing Green Burial the UU Way
In November 2016, Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, created Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary LLC, a non-profit 501(c)3 with the mission of “providing a natural or ‘green’ burial option in Greater Cincinnati while preserving a part of God’s creation for future generations.” Now, nearly three years later, we are in contract to purchase and preserve 40 beautiful acres of farmland in a rapidly developing suburb just east of town — land that would otherwise almost certainly become yet another shopping center or subdivision filled with cookie-cutter suburban homes.
Green burial is a growing movement in the U.S., designed to stop our culture’s wasteful and environmentally harmful burial practices by returning to age-old human rituals and traditions: simple, dignified burial without concrete vaults, metal caskets, or toxic embalming. Heritage Acres will be only the third such burial preserve in the state of Ohio, and the only one of its kind within a 150-mile radius of Cincinnati. And without a doubt, it will be the first green burial sanctuary in the world created and owned by a Unitarian Universalist church.
Our contract requires us to close on the purchase by Nov. 1, or the property will go back on the market and, most likely, be bought up by a developer. To date we have raised a little more than $250,000 of the $300,000 purchase price. In this Faithify proposal we are seeking just one percent of the total amount needed to buy and preserve this land — $3,000. Here’s your chance be part of the one percent! (Donors, if they wish, will receive a limited-edition “Donate Your Body to Nature” green burial bumper sticker to proudly display on your Prius, refrigerator, or wherever you like…).
By now we can almost hear you asking, “What will happen after you have bought the land?” Glad you asked! With an active and engaged Board that includes one member who has previously overseen a green burial preserve elsewhere — and with rules and regulations, zoning and other infrastructure already in place — Heritage Acres is ready to go operational and expects to be open to the public by the end of the year. Then, as with other green burial sanctuaries nationwide, we will use the fees paid by families for burial to maintain and preserve the land in a natural state, in perpetuity.
Learn more about us, and our vision for spreading the good news of natural burial, by visiting our website at heritageacresmemorial.org. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/heritageacresmemorial, or follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/greenburialcincy.
Seminarian Seeks Support...
Denise Cawley is Unitarian Universalist seminarian at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. She seeks funds to offset the cost of food and lodging for General Assembly (GA) and plans to use leadership and arts of ministry tools she learns about at GA to serve our UU faith. Denise provides spiritual and emotional care chaplaincy at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and writes about the intersection of abortion and spirituality. Denise has long been a pivotal player in Milwaukee and Door counties working on diversity, inclusion, marriage equality and voting rights. Denise has written about and continues researching Florence Buck, one of our queer, anti-oppression Unitarian heroes few know enough about. Denise will use connections at GA to further her research in both abortion and UU women’s history to benefit our faith.
Denise has overcome many challenges to pursuing seminary and it has been said that there is never any doubt she will make it, the only question is how. Classmates and professors describe her as both prophetic and pastoral. The congregation she serves in Kenosha, WI have said many wonderful things about her service there including:
“Denise has the ability to turn the subject of stewardship from awkward to inspiring.”
“Denise responds to local events in a constructive manner, most recently co-authoring an article in the local newspaper addressing sexual harassment in the school district.“
“I see Denise as a thought leader in a larger congregation. She holds the big picture, has a great handle on the mission and can raise positive energy.”
Her committee on ministry reports: “She digs in, motivates us and executes. Denise has brought Bradford’s presence to the wider community through networking and media work. Denise has established boundaries that allow her to connect to us without hampering the professional relationship. Many of us have been on ministerial search committees in the past. We have been told that ministers are expected to be good administrators/fundraisers, good preachers and good counselors; and that if your minister is 2 out of 3 of these the congregation is fortunate. Denise is good at all three and as she continues in this internship and her education, she will be excellent at all 3.“
For these reasons and more, supporting Denise’s additional training and classes at GA, Ministry Days and the Ministerial Formation Network events in Spokane, we will be investing in our faith. Any additional money raised will be used for seminary expenses for her classes in Chicago this summer as well as the many books she needs for the MFC.