Tagged: “Pacific Western Region”

Help Undocumented Students Stay in College

It’s a long road to a college education for most undocumented students. About 98,000 graduate from high school in the U.S. each year, but only 5-10 percent go to college. Once there, they walk a financial tightrope to graduation.

Tuition and living costs add up quickly; tuition alone is more than $44,000 at UC Davis for those who don’t qualify for protected status or in-state tuition. Often the first in their family to go to college, students may juggle two or three jobs to make ends meet. Those who can’t work legally have an even tougher burden, but more than 730 undocumented students have beaten the odds to attend UC Davis this year.

This campaign, supported by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, aims to raise $5,000 for emergency grants to lighten their load. We have developed a relationship with SPEAK, a student-run organization at UC Davis that supports the undocumented students who are the beneficiaries of this campaign.

UUCD raised money via Faithify for the same purpose in 2017 but student need continues to outstrip resources. Last year, only a quarter of the 73 students who applied for emergency grants got them. The need is even more urgent this year.

“Especially now, with COVID-19, there’s more need for financial support,” said Ana Sandoval Contreras, co-coordinator of SPEAK. “Students have used emergency grants for paying rent, buying groceries and providing support for their families. At $200 to $300 each, it is not a lot, but money that is needed. I have received one in the past. It was very helpful. I used it to buy groceries and books.”

We see this campaign as a simple matter of social justice and access to education. It also follows UU traditions of reaching out to under-represented and vulnerable groups and collaboration across age, ethnic and economic divisions. We have received an urgent request from SPEAK leaders for help.

We hope you will support this effort to help undocumented students at a particularly scary time for immigrants in this country.

Ana’s story

Ana Sandoval Contreras, co-coordinator at SPEAK, rallying on behalf of undocumented students in front of the State Capitol.

Ana Sandoval, 21, is a fourth-year student who expects to take five years to graduate. She has relied on a variety of grants, scholarships and food vouchers to stay afloat and healthy during her college days. She currently works at the AB540 and Undocumented Center at UC Davis as a community advocate.

Born in Puebla, Mexico, she came to the United States in 2009 with her mother and sister. She was nine years old. Her father already lived here. Sandoval was told to pack one backpack with a couple of sets of clothes for a visit to her father.

“My aunt knew we were never coming back but for me, it didn’t click that this was the last time I’d see grandparents and everybody I knew back there,” she said. “It’s hit me now: the whole trauma of leaving my childhood for a whole new identity. I can’t go visit.”

Reunited with her father, Sandoval grew up in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles. Her mother cleans houses. Her father is a plumber and construction worker. A variety of cousins, uncles and aunts now live nearby. A few relatives have visited from Mexico.

Sandoval started fourth grade in a year-round school that sent her back to second and third grade in off quarters so she could catch up. She learned English, made new friends but never shared her story.

When others began working on college applications, Ana didn’t think she could go. Then she attended a conference put on by the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project, a nonprofit that emphasizes the importance of culture, community, college and careers.

“I didn’t know I was undocumented,” she said. “It was not until I attended the conference, became really comfortable with others — and another person told their story — that I wanted to learn more about college. It was a milestone for my aspirations, my understanding about being undocumented and wanting to give back to my community.”

Now a senior at UC Davis, Sandoval is majoring in sociology and Chicano studies with a minor in education. She’s looking at graduate school and careers that range from student affairs to higher education to help students learn how to get involved and go to college.

She applied for a long list of emergency grants and scholarships to be able to afford college.

“It does feel like I’m on edge,” she said. “You can apply to 10 programs and hear from only one or two. Very few people get them. Thankfully, I’ve gotten some state support as well as grants.” Immigrant students with DACA protection have work permits, but the future of the program remains unclear. Sandoval missed qualification for DACA by a few months.

With your help, SPEAK hopes to provide emergency grants once again.

Endorsements

Laura Monica Bohorquez Garcia, Director of the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center

Laura Monica Bohorquez Garcia outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, 11/12/19

11/12/2020 marked the one year anniversary of the SCOTUS DACA Supreme Court decision. It is a day that I will always remember not only because of the decision but because of the power, strategy, and joy that I witnessed outside of the Supreme Court on 11/12/19. I carry this memory and I get to relive it everyday as I work alongside the AB540 and Undocumented Student community at UC Davis. I witness this power and joy every day when I talk to my family as someone who is part of a mixed- immigration status family and when I meet with students as the Director of the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center. Everyday I am reminded that we as an immigrant community are powerful as I see how UC Davis students own and navigate their power and use their courage to ask for help, to provide help, and to be helped. I invite you to join UC Davis students in their strength and give what your capacity allows you to.

Don Saylor, Yolo County Supervisor

Yolo County seal
DON SAYLOR
Supervisor, Second District
County of Yolo
625 Court Street, Room 204, Woodland, CA 95695-1268 (530) 666-8622
District Office: 600 A Street, Suite B Davis, CA 95616 (530) 757-5557

October 23, 2020

To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing to you in my capacity as a Yolo County Supervisor representing District 2 to convey my strong endorsement and support of the Scholars Promoting Education, Awareness and Knowledge (SPEAK) program.

As a County Supervisor, I am committed to serving and supporting all members of our community, regardless of their immigration status. In my district in Yolo County, which includes the City of Davis, City of Winters and the University of California, Davis, (UC Davis), many of the young people who attend UC Davis are first generation college students, DACA youth, or are undocumented. UC Davis is ranked as one of the top public universities in the nation, and these young people contribute greatly to its success.

SPEAK provides small emergency grants to undocumented UC Davis students to help with critical expenses when money gets tight. They are among the hardest working people I have met, but have little access to the basic resources other students take for granted. I know of cases where students chose not to eat or buy textbooks to make ends meet. During these challenging COVID-19 times with less work opportunities available, these students need our support now more than ever.

I invite you to join me in supporting the SPEAK program to offer critical support and community to these students.

In shared service,
Don Saylor, Yolo County Supervisor, District 2
Member, Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis

Bring the Biking Back to Crystal

Rev. Crystal Zerfoss has been faithfully serving the UU congregations in Pasco, WA and Juneau, AK since being ordained in March 2019. Due to the freak-accident causing a traumatic brain injury, she’s had to resign her ministry positions to exclusively focus on healing. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s been slow going and riddled with migraines. The pandemic has added to the isolation and complications.

As part of her therapy, her medical team recently okayed the use of a stationery bike. Her friends and family gave a whoop of excitement, because this is not just about exercise, but about giving Crystal an important piece of her identity back.

These are pictures of Crystal before the accident:

This is our vision of Crystal on the bike we’d like to have delivered to her:

For those of you who would like to follow along with her healing process, you can sign up for her CaringBridge.

One New Mexico Gospel Choir/Challenge Grant

Stretch Goal Added!  See details below.

Kelontae Gavin joins our final rehearsal!

In collaboration with New Mexico Black History Organizing Committee, First Unitarian applied for and received a grant from the UU Fund for Social Responsibility, to support this year’s production of the One New Mexico Gospel Choir concert featuring guest artist Kelontae Gavin. The concert draws singers from over a dozen churches in Albuquerque, including several predominantly Black churches. All leaders in the project are African American musicians with deep grounding in historical and contemporary gospel music. The goal is to come together as a community and forge ongoing relationships, through the power of Black gospel music. For white musicians who participate, it is an opportunity to learn about and honor the history of Black gospel music. The project culminates in a free concert that attracts an audience from all over the city, part of Albuquerque’s Black History Month Festival.

Our grant and matching grant money will cover concert expenses, for example: hall rental, band musicians, fee and travel expenses for our guest artist.

Ordination and Installation of AJ van Tine

Headshot of AJ smiling AJ preaching next to a Water Communion altar

Sierra Foothills UU (SFUU) and the UU Congregation of Fairfax (UUCF) are honored to co-ordain AJ van Tine to the Unitarian Universalist ministry at an ordination ceremony on March 28, 2020. SFUU will also be installing AJ as their 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. Ordination is the final step that sets aside the ordinand as clergy and allows the title of “Reverend” to be bestowed.

AJ 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 AJ’s entry into service as 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 our ordination needs will be added to our offering collection for the Living Tradition Fund.

Thank you for your generous donation to this important event.

AJ with SFUU board members The outside of the SFUU church building on a sunny day

Scholarships for Dreamers in Arizona

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

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

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

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

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

Help a Small Congregation offer OWL

Free Church Unitarian is a congregation of 50 members in Blaine, Washington. The congregation will be offering Our Whole Lives programming for youth for fourth, fifth and sixth grade youth. Our Whole Lives is comprehensive fact-based sexuality education. The class helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality. OWL empowers youth to make informed responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. Your contribution will support UU youth and a thriving small congregation. 

The OWL class is supported by the minister Reverend Amy Moses-Lagos, the Religious Education Coordinator Lisa Moeller, and the Board of Trustees of Free Church Unitarian. Two members of the congregation plan to take the OWL training in Bellevue, Washington in September. The class for youth will begin in October. Of the money raised, $590 will cover the registration fee and travel costs for two adults to participate in the teacher training. $120 will cover the cost to purchase the curricula. $300 will cover the cost for a hotel room for 2 nights.

Youth Group Immigration Justice Immersion Learning Trip to Tucson, AZ

We have 9 youth from the Mount Diablo UU Church in Walnut Creek, CA youth group and 3 adult advisors traveling to Tucson, Arizona on July 28th to Aug 1st to participate in a learning immersion experience on immigration justice. This is with UUCSJ’s Youth Activate program (uucsj.org/activatetucson/)!

In Tucson they will engage in a program of interactive immigration justice education in order to have a better understanding of immigration justice issues and develop skills for continued advocacy in our Contra Costa communities.

This Campaign will help us get there!

In preparing for this journey we have been fundraising within our congregation all year. Through congregational lunches, the Holiday Craft Faire, donut & bagel sales, grant money through UUCSJ, family contributions, and a car wash, we are well on our way to meeting our fundraising needs. This campaign is our last piece of the puzzle. We are within $3000 of our goal to fund this trip. This Faithify campaign is one of our last efforts to cover the added costs of sending such an abundance of people.

We are hoping to raise at least $1500 to help close the funding gap and ensure the program is accessible for all participants. If you donate and we raise $1500, or more, that money will be collected and go toward our travel funds (if we do not raise $1500 no money will be collected from anyone).

Any donations made that exceed our Faithify goal of $1500 will help us further meet the funding need of $3000!

 

Thank you from the youth group of MDUUC!

Why do we go to Tucson, AZ?

MDUUC has made a commitment to better understanding and working towards immigration justice through multiple methods, such as accompaniment efforts with immigrants and becoming a physical sanctuary church. This program is an opportunity for our teens to gain greater experience with the pressing issue of immigration justice and be able to connect with and support the work their congregation is prioritizing. By collaborating with local organizers who are welcoming and affirming across age, sexuality, gender, race, economics, and physical abilities, and participating on reflections of race and class our youth group participants will learn how to apply our faith’s values into the wider world.

Our participants will be sharing about their experience and what they learned at MDUUC’s August 11th worship service.

For your generous contributions to our campaign, and if we reach our goal, our youth and advisers will thank you in the following fabulous ways:

  • For a $15 contribution … you’ll receive a thank you in the worship service’s order of service on August 11th!
  • For a $30 contribution…you’ll receive the same thank you and an original “I support youth ministry at MDUUC Button!”
  • For a $50 contribution, or higher! …you’ll receive a personalized thank you note with youth group artwork on it as well as a all of the above!

Reverend James Reeb...

Many Unitarian Universalists know the story of Reverend James Reeb, the UU minister who was murdered in 1965 in Selma, Alabama after answering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nationwide call for religious leaders to come south to march in support of voting rights.

What UUs may not know is that James Reeb grew up in Casper, Wyoming, and served there as a Presbyterian minister before his faith journey led him to Unitarian Universalism and to civil rights activism. He eventually moved with his family to Washington D.C., where he served as the Assistant Minister to All Souls Unitarian Church. His next call to ministry and activism took the Reeb family to the Roxbury area of Boston where he worked for fair housing and advocated for people living in poverty.

Marie Reeb, Reverend Reeb’s widow, still resides in Casper along with many of his extended family, and yet much of the Wyoming community is unaware of his legacy and this important Wyoming connection to America’s Civil Rights Movement.

Partnering with The Table, a downtown Casper dinner church, the Unitarian Universalist Community of Casper is raising $10,000 for a James Reeb Memorial Mural here in his hometown of Casper. Understanding that UUs and others involved in social activism across the country feel deep respect and reverence for Reverend Reeb, the UU Community of Casper is extending an invitation to be a part of this unique opportunity to promote James Reeb’s legacy, social justice, community partnerships, and interfaith engagement.

The James Reeb Memorial Mural project will also include a website, a short film, and several public events to heighten access and engagement with Reverend Reeb’s story. Public art is a beautiful way to introduce this amazing story to a larger audience. The mural will be ideally located across the street from David Street Station, downtown Casper’s new and popular public square, which hosts concerts, farmers markets, and countless other public events. The mural’s public unveiling will be held August 24, 2019. Reverend Reeb’s story will also be shared at an August 28th story telling event at The Table and at the UU Community of Casper’s August 25th Sunday service. In addition, Reverend Reeb will be honored at Casper’s International Day of Peace Celebration on September 21, 2019.

The UU Community of Casper’s fundraising goal for this project is $10,000 of the $30,000 estimated total cost of the mural, film, website and public events. The remaining two thirds will come from grants and public donations. Any amounts raised by the UU Community of Casper in excess of our $10,000 goal will be contributed to the James J. Reeb Memorial Scholarship Fund at Casper College, the local community college Reverend Reeb once attended.

Our interfaith partner, The Table, is a downtown Casper dinner church led by Pastor Libby Tedder Hugus. The Table has long been involved in the Casper Mural Project to beautify and revitalize downtown Casper’s public spaces through mural art. The Table follows the teachings of Jesus, and its members and friends value and seek to honor the truth found in wisdom traditions beyond Christianity. Many UU Community of Casper members and friends enjoy participating in The Table gatherings, and Pastor Libby has been a guest speaker at our UU church.

The James Reeb Memorial Mural committee consists of individuals associated with many other Casper groups and businesses. An integral member of this committee is Reverend Reeb’s granddaughter Leah Reeb, who has traveled nationwide to share her grandfather’s legacy with UUs and others. Local mural artist Tony Elmore is working closely with the Reeb family and is seeking their guidance during his creative process.

The timing of the project is fortuitous: National Public Radio recently launched the serial podcast “White Lies,” which tells the story of Reverend Reeb, his murder in Selma and the aftermath of failed justice. His story was also included in the 2015 Academy Award nominated film “Selma.”

Please consider accepting our invitation to be a part of the James Reeb Memorial Mural Project.

Allison & Carol’s Excellent GA Adventure!

African Americans make up about 3% of Hawaii’s population.  On many Sundays Carol and Allison are one of the very few, if not the only, African-Americans at First Unitarian Church of Honolulu – the only Unitarian Universalist church on the island of Oahu!

Allison is a 2nd generation UU whose parents were among the founding members of the Unitarian Society of New Haven, CT. Carol is a relatively new UU for whom FUCH is the last church on the block after a long search for a spiritual home and she brings many gifts from her faith journey to her faith home here with UUs.

We need GA so we can replenish our depleted spiritual and ancestral reserves!  We need to get refreshed and renewed so we can continue to use our gifts and talents at First Unitarian Church of Honolulu (FUCH)! We are requesting help from the wider Unitarian Universalist community to ensure that we are able to attend the UUA GA in Spokane.  In order for there to be racial equity in UUism, it is crucial that people of color participate in the process on an ongoing basis. Although Hawaii is a multicultural state, FUCH is still working on being a multicultural congregation. We are asking you to support us in attending GA because, as leaders in our church and two of the very few people of color in FUCH, it is important that we get renewed by being able to tap into the greater Black UU and  Indigenous, Black, People of Color  (IBPOC) community on the continent for ideas and resources. Our participation in GA will be mutually beneficial for the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu (FUCH) and ourselves.

Resources and Expenses:
Our church raised approximately $1,000 and another $500 was received from the UUA for four church members to attend GA in Spokane this year. We each received ¼ of the church and UUA funds which amounts to $375 apiece. We have each included this $375  in this Faithify campaign.We are each volunteering 18 hours at GA in exchange for receiving the GA registration fee.

Airfare is the only transportation option for us to get from Honolulu, HI to Spokane, WA. Please help us bridge the geographic challenges that affect us on the island of Oahu.  We are seeking funds for round trip airfare to Spokane, round trip ground transportation from the airport to GA, and room/board.   We estimate that this trip to GA will cost as follows:

Round Trip Airfare from Honolulu to Spokane $ 750.00 x 2 $1,500
Round Trip Ground Transportation from airport to GA $   80.00 x 2 $160.00
Hotel $120 x 6 days each $ 720.00 x 2 $1,440.00
Per diem for food ($50 x 6) $300.00 x 2 $600.00
TOTAL $3700.00

Please read about each of our backgrounds, the work we do in our church community, and how we intend to use our GA experience.

UU Marin Multi-community OWL Outreach Project

Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a curriculum for human sexuality, identity, gender, and relationships with self, family, friends, and significant others. The program focuses on Respect, Relationship, and Responsibility.

Unique in our OWL program this year is the participation of three UU congregations (UU Marin, UU Petaluma, and Berkeley Fellowship UU) and the Marin Waldorf School. A successful outreach campaign meant we had more students in a wider age-range register than one class could hold so we created two cohorts, thus needing a second teaching team.

We are ecstatic about having created space for more families to engage in OWL. We have active participation from thirteen families in this 10-session course. Most of the parents also attended a six-week OWL parent class deepening their own skills to communicate on these subjects with their children.

As can happen in growing programs, we did not have enough locally available certified teachers to meet the need. Hiring two teachers to commute in was necessary. This was not in our meager budget which usually has volunteer teachers. We need financial assistance to fill the gap in our budget. $25, $50, or $100 would help tremendously. It is OK if we “over fundraise” too.

We are just about to finish this two-cohort spring program for grades 4-7. This has been a tremendous opportunity for the Waldorf Community and the UU communities to come together and means that thirty-five more emissaries are being sent into the world, ready to share the good news of self-acceptance and respectful relationships.

Please make a contribution to support this outreach model.

This multi-community OWL program brought in 12 non-UU Marin families on 11 different Sundays. In addition to our Sunday morning programing, this increased our impact in the community by 28% with children and youth and by 42% when including parents as adult learners.

We are proud of the success in sharing the OWL resources outside of our UU circles. We intend to have deeper conversations with the Waldorf community about cooperation.

Two of the Marin Waldorf teachers are now signed up to be trained as OWL teachers.

The circle widens.

Thank you for your support in opening the circle.

Tijuana Homebuild with Casas de Luz

Stretch Goal Added! See details below

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

Oct. 2018 Casas de Luz Homebuild

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

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

Chalice groundbreaking Feb. 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mothers of a...

My commitment is to help my home congregation live our 6th Principle by bearing witness to the experiences of the Palestinian people and reporting back to them and the UUJAZ network and other faith and justice groups in Arizona so that we can build capacity to answer the call to justice in that region.  Although this will be (literally) new ground for us, Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation has always shown readiness and willingness to “answer the call of love.”    http://www.vuu.org/opportunities/social-action/

For more information about the Tree of Life foundation and the tour, see

Tree of Life Journey – March 2019