Tagged: “New England Region”

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!

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.

First Parish Youth Group (Portland, Maine) West Virginia Service Trip

The members of the First Parish Youth Group are 9-12th graders from the greater Portland, Maine area. This year they have been learning about how coal mining practices in rural West Virginia have devastated the lives and economic stability of the local communities.

In August we will be working in partnership with the UU College of Social Justice to travel down to West Virginia. After stopping in the state capital to learn more about West Virginia and hear an overview of many of the challenges residents face, we will travel deep into the Appalachia region of the state to have a hands-on experience working with and learning from communities struggling for a new, post-coal future.

Helps us Spread...

We have 3 youth and 3 advisors traveling to the Youth Ministry Revival in Bethesda Maryland on Mar. 1st-3rd. Youth Ministry Revivals (YMR) are weekend-long events that seek to inspire, innovate and celebrate Unitarian Universalist youth ministry and the first one our youth have a chance to attend!

This Campaign will help us get there!

We are hoping to raise at least $850 to help with airfare for everyone. If you donate and we raise $850 or more that money will be collected and go toward our travel funds, (if we do not raise $850 no money will be collected from anyone). We hope you will help us reach out our initial goal! The total cost of our travels, airfare and a minivan rental in Maryland comes to $1,317.60 so that is our stretch goal. 

This year’s Youth Ministry Revival theme is “Answering the Call of Love”.

Our youth are getting ready to:

Experience. . .

Dynamic and interactive worship

Inspiring and innovative workshops

Explore . . .

Spiritual practices for centering, healing and resiliency

What it means to live UU in the world

Build. . .

Relationships with youth and adult leaders from across the country

Deeper intercultural understanding

And Return…

With ideas and experiences to share and inspire our youth ministry and congregational work here in in Nashua.

To lead a youth led worship service about this revival on Mar. 17th

If you contribute to our campaign and we reach out goal. Our UU youth and advisers will thank you in the following fabulous ways… 

  • If you contribute $15 … you’ll get a shout out thank you in the Youth Service on Mar. 18th!
  • If you contribute $30…you’ll get a shout out and an original “I support youth ministry at UUCN Sticker!
  • If you contribute $50…you’ll get a personalized thank you note with youth group artwork on it as well as a shout an an original “I support youth ministry at UUCN Sticker!”
  • If you contribute $75 or more…you will get all of the above thank you including an invitation to a special youth-led event where we will teach you the songs and games and lessons learned at the youth ministry revival!

Thank you for supporting Youth Ministry at Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua!

Transformation: UU Youth...

In 2015, the First Religious Society (Unitarian Universalist) in Newburyport, MA for the first time sent a youth delegation to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The impact of this trip was profound. In fact, just a few weeks ago, when members of that delegation held a panel discussion for this year’s delegation, several of them said that the trip is something that they think about almost daily.

“The time we spent at Pine Ridge was shocking,” one of them has written. “It felt surreal to experience a reality in this country that is so drastically different from what we believe the “American” experience to be—we were face to face with the other side of history that doesn’t get mentioned, and it was beautiful, frightening, and intensely frustrating to see and hear from a culture that the American government did its very best to erase.”

These trips help to strengthen a growing justice ethic in our teenagers. This is some of our most important and meaningful church work; this is faith in action.

This June, eighteen of our youth will make the trip to Pine Ridge. In addition to working, they will have educational and cultural experiences with the people of the Reservation. We’re partnering with Amizade, a Pittsburgh-based fair trade learning organization with projects all over the world. This is a new partnership for us and we’ve been excited to hear the strong reviews they’ve received from other UU congregations. Amizade’s philosophy is one of solidarity; all of the work we do will be directed by the people of the Reservation.

The youth going on the trip have committed to a  year-long program of justice learning, community building, and fundraising. So that we,  can make this trip truly accessible to all, regardless of each family’s financial status, we’re seeking to raise $14,800. Other fundraisers have included creating a Haunted Church at Halloween, hosting a waffle breakfast, providing childcare for parent events, and having tables at local festivals to lead children’s activities and educate the public about Pine Ridge. Future fundraisers include an art show, yard sale, and car wash.

Thank you for your support. Every donation truly counts and gets us closer to our goal.

Accessing West Virginia,...

Hello, and welcome to the UU Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn, MA (UUAC) Senior Youth Group Faithify page! The Senior Youth Group (SYG) at UUAC is made up of high school aged young people in our congregation who want to be a part of an enjoyable and active justice-oriented program with their peers. In addition to the fun we have at our weekly meetings, we also aspire to live out our UU values in the world. This means anything from helping those in need in our community, to going to rallies to stand up for our beliefs, to going on service trips.

For one week in April, 13 youth and adults involved in SYG will be visiting West Virginia for a service learning experience sponsored by the UU College of Social Justice. Many parts of West Virginia are highly poverty-stricken due in part to the collapse of human labor in the coal industry. This poverty has deeply affected the quality of life and health for many who live in rural areas, and has caused communities to take matters into their own hands through grassroots organizing. Our first stop in West Virginia will be in Charleston where we will visit the UU Congregation of Charleston and learn about the local grassroots movements through the members of the congregation. We will then venture to a rural section of Appalachia to experience the daily lives of the citizens who face the struggles of poverty first-hand. Here, we will provide hands-on service and listen to the stories of the people who create change in rural Appalachia. Through this experience, we hope we can more deeply understand their culture and community, and how we, as visitors, can best serve them through a lens of justice.

However, it’s not only us who hope to help. Without your donations, this powerful trip would not be possible. It is essential that youth be exposed to service learning such as this so that we, as the next generation, may be better prepared to address issues of justice in our changing communities and world. Please consider donating, as you could help our group attain an affordable trip for all youth. By raising $2000, we hope to make this trip financially accessible for all who would not be able to afford this kind of experience otherwise.

Sustainable Leadership for Social Change

Our justice movements are in need of resilient, transformative, community-centered leadership. We are in politically tumultuous times as a nation and across the globe. Social justice movement leaders are in need of spaces in which they can recharge, reflect and renew their commitment while connecting to a larger network of change makers. Through Rowe Camp and Conference Center, we are able to offer the Sustainable Leadership for Social Change Program. This program gives us the opportunity to train new social change makers, support leaders currently immersed in justice work and explore sustainability practices in social change work grounded in Unitarian Universalist values. Our first cohort will begin in November and due to the remote nature of Rowe Camp and Conference Center, we’ve created this Faithify campaign is to assist participants with transportation costs to western Massachusetts. While there are some limited scholarships to assist with the other associated costs of the program, we continue to seek out ways to reduce the costs for those in need of additional financial assistance. As our congregations and communities offer refuge to the seeker of spiritual depth, may we be able to offer that refuge to those that seek and strive for the liberation of all people.

The goals for this new program are:

Serving the need: a vision for what the world needs, and so what we aim to achieve in the Sustainable Leadership for Social Change program.

1. Awareness of need for collective practice:  We need to envision new ways of engaging in the work of social change together. This includes practices that lead us towards collective decision making and collaborative action and models that are grounded in trust and sustainability, allowing us to move in and out of leadership and support roles while identifying those amongst us with a variety of skill sets, interests and energy.

2.  Community care practices for keeping ourselves and our movements going:  The vitality of our movements are connect to how we care for one another and ourselves. It is our imperative to cultivate and expand practices of resilience and persistence especially when faced with loss.  We will find creative, inspiring and nourishing ways to sustain our spirit while addressing ongoing issues and obstacles.

3.  Connection and Support:  Each of us gains through being connected with those around us.  We will delve into relationship building and explore the self-awareness needed to sustain meaningful connections.

4.  Intersectionality and Interconnectedness:  Leaders recognize we cannot afford to only focus on a single justice issue, on the contrary there are many areas of injustice that together impact how we experience the world. Justice issues are connected, so we must work collaboratively in addressing this complex web  with a holistic approach. We will broaden our focus and support of coalition building, moving beyond a narrow focus.

5.  Desire to model justice in practice: Our praxis and methods matter as much as the actions we take in creating a more justice world. What would it look like for us to embody how we want justice to look in our world?  Effective justice work practices doing the work in the same way we hope the world will do the work of justice.

6.  Collaborative decision making and consensus: Majority rule decision making process leave too many people ignored and unheard. We will experiment with decision making processes that allow us to respond with a deep respect of all voices and opinions while exercising effective and inclusive communication.

7.  Practical techniques for social change:  We will explore how political theories and history inform our current praxis. This provides us an opportunity in responding to the technical question of “how do we do this”. The diverse aspects of being involved in justice work involve strategic planning, a tactical toolkit and a focus on relationship building.  In justice work, it’s important that we are adaptive, intentional, relational, accountable and grounded in liberation of all.

8.  Moving towards spirals and cycle of justice:  Visionaries that recognize justice movements ebb and flow with experiences of great victory and loss. We will work through disenchantment and discouragement by maintaining a steadfast practice of persistence and holding the long range view in our sights.

UU congregations will benefit from having trained Social Change leaders who can work within their congregation and community to promote justice actions and activities in stragegically created programs.

This program is two years long, with participants coming for two week-long sessions and two weekend workshops each year.  The first program starts this November, 2018, with the second week in May, 2019.

The Director of the Sustainable Leadership for Social Change (SLSC) program is C. Nancy Reid-McKee.  She has been involved in social justice work for over 35 years, in a variety of roles: community organizer, protest leader, activist, legislative involvement, direct service projects, educator, agitator, and more.  She has just completed the requirements for ministry through Starr King School for the Ministry where a lot of her work focused on how to develop social justice work that is grounded in a sustaining spiritual practice, and that can enhance and be enhanced by being integral to our faith community.

Assistant Director is India Harris: India Harris is currently serving as a Youth and Young Adult Program Coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock. She is an active member of the Audre Lorde Project; The Audre Lorde Project is a community organizing center for LGBT people of color based in New York City. Her organizing work has consisted of base building, membership development, leading community organizing trainings, campaign development and supporting a national gathering on community accountability and transformative justice. Before gaining experience as an organizer she spent a year with AmeriCorps Public Allies. There, she completed 1700 community service hours as a Client Services Advocate for the Alliance of AIDS Services in Durham, NC.

This program is also receiving money from the UU Funding Program and from the Rowe Center, to provide program support and student scholarships.

Help create bail...

Should someone be in jail simply because they cannot pay bail–even if the amount is as low as $100? For most of us, the answer is a no-brainer. And yet it is happening at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, New Hampshire, and while many New Hampshire citizens have been working to change the law on bail, it’s a stubborn problem, and the jail continues to resemble a 19th century debtors’ prison. Fortunately, there’s a way to help people even under the current system. We are a coalition of Unitarian Universalists in partnership with the Manchester NAACP who hope with your help to bring change.

The people being held have been charged but not convicted of anything. Their jail time costs the general public $100 per day or more in taxes. On a typical day, more  than 60 people are held in Manchester because they can’t pay bail of $1,000 or less (New Hampshire Public Radio). On a recent visit to the jail a reporter for The New Hampshire Union Leader found a 66-year-old being held on $200 bail who is on his eighth day in custody who is charged with throwing someone’s clothes into a laundromat dumpster while intoxicated. Another woman was being held after missing court dates for a longstanding dispute stemming from a bad check she wrote to keep her heat on back in 2012.

A number of court and correction officials, including David Dionne, superintendent of Valley Street Jail, have spoken out against the use of bail in many low-level cases. Dionne told the Union Leader that people who are held on bail can have their Social Security retirement of disability benefits cut off, and some may lose Medicaid and have difficulty getting it reactivated once they’re released. “People with low bail like that–$100, $250–they shouldn’t be here,” he said. New Hampshire Public Radio quotes Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau:  “we get into trouble when we set low cash amounts because we think somebody might be able to post it, and really the people we’re seeing are poor and can’t.”  According again to NHPR, “many will spend more than a month behind bars awaiting court dates.”

Pretrial detention disproportionately affects people of color. NHPR reported in 2016 that while only 8 percent of Hillsborough County’s population is black or Hispanic, these groups make up 16 percent of county arrests and 27 percent of those who are locked up while awaiting trial.

Ideally, the whole institution of bail should be challenged, but this isn’t going to happen immediately, and meanwhile people are suffering. Our plan is to create a fund that would pay the bail of those recommended by a public defender, generally for those owing $500 or less. The good news is that eventually the court will return most of this money, so that your generous contribution will be multiplied again and again as accused people make their court dates and the money gets returned to the bail fund.  Such funds have proved successful elsewhere.

Right now–as in so many other ways–the deck is stacked against those at the bottom, who may lose jobs and have their lives torn apart while they languish in jail needlessly.

It’s time to change this!

Installation of our first settled Minister in 35 years

Our Fellowship was founded 35 years ago as a lay-led congregation, and eventually hired a string of quarter-time consulting ministers. In 2013, the congregation went through its first formal search committee process and hired Rev. Erika Hewitt as a half-time consulting minister. Both of us — congregation and minister — quickly realized that our shared ministry was a perfect match between beautifully imperfect parties. The Fellowship voted unanimously to call Erika as their first settled minister in December 2017. Now we’re pulling out all the stops to celebrate this milestone in our congregation’s life.

This ceremony will be following the time-honored Unitarian Universalist tradition of celebrating settled ministry. Our principles and values will be present in the ceremony, with visiting UU clergy invited to speak, intentional hospitality to the surrounding congregations and community and with a worship service celebration of the congregation. Acclaimed UU singer Joe Jencks will provide the music for the ceremony, as well as a mini-concert preceding the service.

The installation service will take place on August 19, 2018 at 4 pm at Second Congregational Church in Newcastle, Maine.

Thank you for your generosity! Any amount will be gratefully appreciated.

The Lane Lyceum at First Parish in Needham

When Reverend Catie Scudera, Minister at First Parish in Needham, MA, drafted the eulogy for Ed Lane’s July 2017 memorial service it was 15 pages long! There was so much to say about this extraordinary and humble man.

For many of us who knew Ed during his 21 years as a member of First Parish, we simply knew that he was the beloved husband of Helen and a retired UU minister.  Those who were fortunate enough to hear Ed lead a service or speak at the First Parish Lyceum, knew that there was much more to learn about Ed.

Ed was ordained in May of 1957 and first served as the minister in Winchendon, MA. Ed got involved immediately in denominational affairs. He began attending General Assembly annually, as well as UU Ministers Association events nationally and locally, which he kept up until his retirement.  He went on to serve churches in Cherry Hill, NJ, Westport, CT, Cambridge, MA and in Waltham, MA where he retired in 1996.

Ed’s work beyond parish ministry was extraordinary. In March 1965, Ed took part in the third and final Selma march, both in support of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a world without racism, militarism, or poverty, and in memory of his friend Rev. Jim Reeb, who was murdered by white supremacists after the second attempt of a Selma-to-Montgomery Civil Rights march. Ed was chair of the Beacon Press Board that published the classified Pentagon Papers in 1971, detailing government secrets about the Vietnam War. Thirty-some other publishing houses had turned down Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel’s request to publish, but, as chair, Ed pushed Beacon Press to do the right thing and bring the truth to light. Ed considered this among his most important lifetime contributions.

First Parish in Needham bestows the “Doctor of Durability” award to members on their 90th birthday.  Ed would have turned 90 on June 19, 2018 and the congregation thought it would be an appropriate honor to rename the First Parish Lyceum, the Lane Lyceum.  The church is raising funds to support continuing education at First Parish with the Lyceum as the focal point.

Ed loved the First Parish Lyceum and was a frequent speaker.  We reached out to our former minister, Reverend John Buehrens for the history our Lyceum and to share our plans to honor Ed. He replied with the following:

As Ed knew, such programs, though modest, were an homage to the historic role played in New England by lyceums, especially after the financial Panic of 1837, to spread the discussion of the best thinking in science, religion, philosophy, and the arts beyond the parish churches to the wider community. Our Transcendentalist forbears knew this. They spoke at Lyceums far and wide. When I left Needham, I worried that the Lyceum would either become a burden to my successors or simply die. Ed chose to help keep it alive. Naming it for him now makes great sense. Offering even expenses, much less a modest honorarium, was always a struggle. I had a large Rolodex of contacts to beg for a free Sunday morning. That is not a sustainable model.

Ed’s name will be repeated many times over when referencing The Lane Lyceum. Our hope is that by honoring Ed in this very public way, today’s newer First Parish members and future generations will want to know, “Who is Ed Lane? Why is the Lyceum named for him?” And after learning about Ed, a minister who lived his life fully committed to UU values and devoted to service to others, they will be inspired to live their own best lives.

A small group of First Parish members have donated $38,000 in seed money and we are reaching out to all members and the greater UU world to help grow the Lane Lyceum Fund with donations through this page with the hope to raise a minimum of $5,000.  We would be deeply grateful if you would consider this opportunity to honor Ed and his tremendous contributions by donating today.

The Lane Lyceum Fundraising Team: Florence and Sam Graves, Reverend Catie Scudera, Nancy Simpson-Banker and Rick Vincent