Tagged: “Southern Region”

Freedom Summer Camp at the Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UUA CONNECTION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM

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

ACTION and RESEARCH PROJECT “POETRY and CIVIL RIGHTS”

  1. First week: RESEARCH and CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS

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

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

  1. Second week: Computer literacy SKILLS

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

Students will incorporate French poetry to their presentation.

  • Third Week: Performing arts SKILLS

Theatre techniques to build youth communication skills and self esteem.

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

  1. Fourth week:

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

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

UUA CONNECTION:

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

Material:

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

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

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

Budget expenses:

Teachers’ Salary (2 teachers)

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

Teaching Artist qualified and certified

  • Teaching Creative writing and performing Art                 $1,500

Teacher qualified and certified

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

TOTAL Expenses:                                                                   $ 3,500

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

UUA CONNECTION:

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

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

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

Background information on the Opelousas, LA churches’ fire:

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

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

Family/youth participation for UUA GA 2019

My name is Elshender Taylor. I am asking for your help to go to the general assembly as a youth leader in Spokane, Washington in June. My vision is to help with a summer camp that my church is beginning and to expand our congregational youth program within the coming year. The TORCH youth group at our UU Clearwater congregation is a highlight of my social life. We are interested in things that make a difference in our community and world such as race relations and actions that will impact climate change. I am a sophomore at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts studying stage design and management.

My parents live separately, near each other and both are supportive of my interests and studies. I also participate in a Sea Scouts troop and assist seniors at a nursing home where my father works as a nurse.

I intend to help with a summer camp this summer and become a leader in my youth group, especially since there is going to be many more young people join our youth group, we anticipate to our group being 140% larger when school starts.

Although my mother is not currently a Unitarian, I have convinced her to go with me to the GA along with my father, older brother, and his girlfriend. My father will serve as our congregational delegate. He had emergency surgery this month which makes our financial commitment to the GA more difficult. My goal is to get 1220 dollars to cover my portion of the expenses for attending the GA.

Goal:

$1220 in total for my goal

Which is $312 for 6 nights lodging.

The registration fee for GA is $240 and the Airfare is $518 and $150 for meals and incidentals.

Philosophy of RE...

This particular module is The Philosphy of RE. Any funds raised will be used for registration and reading materials related to the class. Any left over will be put towards my next training.

The overall goals of this module are:

Increased knowledge of foundational questions of religious education: what, when, who, where, how, and why.
Increased ability to articulate one’s own religious faith and religious education philosophy.
Increased clarity about the purposes of lifespan religious education.
Increased comfort and competence in sharing a philosophy of religious education with teachers and parents.
Increased comfort and competence applying new knowledge, worship processes, and educational awareness in the congregation.

Travel and Lodging...

I am attending GA for the first time. My goal is to arrive in time for the Liberal Religious Educators Association Professional Day. This is my first year as a Director of Children and Youth Ministry, I am serving at First Unitarian Church of Orlando, and I am thoroughly enjoying my journey! I am a member of LREDA and SELREDA. The connections and education I receive when gathering with other UUs is irreplaceable. I can’t even imagine what I will be gaining by attending GA.

Kaylyn Goes to GA

Kaylyn Elizabeth Miller-Benson is the Chair of the Member Care Committee at High Street Unitarian Universalist Church in Downtown Macon, a lay leader and social justice advocate in Macon, GA. She has made the ambitious goal of going to General Assembly this year in Spokane, Washinton to grow deeper in her faith and bring back valuable experience to her congregation. She is seeking funds to fly to Spokane and back, and Lodging while she is there. Registration and food costs have been covered. Any and all help would be appreciated.

A Food Forest...

We have been offering farm tours and foraging dinners for Mountain guests, campers, and local visitors.      

UU Asheville Coming...

This amazing group of Asheville-based teens is seeking to put their compassion and UU values into action this summer!

In support of UU Principle 4: a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the youth have been fundraising and planning for a culmination trip for their Coming of Age class.

This trip will not only expose them to historic sites of social justice and immerse them in UU culture as they meet and engage with 3 other UU congregations, but it will also allow them the unparalleled opportunity to volunteer and learn about animal rescue and grassroots organizing (including legislative work) at Farm Sanctuary in upstate NY.

Farm Sanctuary was selected in part due to this group’s interest in UU Principle 7: the interconnectedness of all life which is supported by their love of animals and nature.

Farm Sanctuary is one of the original factory-farm animal rescue operations in this country, helping downed (i.e. sick and/or injured) animals and lobbying for a change to a more compassionate (and eco-friendly) system.  While there, the kids will learn about their history and current efforts while helping with the day-to-day operations of keeping a sanctuary running.

Additionally, during their visit to the UU congregation in Ithaca, NY, they will tour Cornell University – including their world-famous ornithology lab – and experience some of the amazing natural wonders of the area’s National Parks.

Please help support them in these efforts!

Bending the Arc...

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

Climate Impact & Environmental Inequity: Toward Justice for All

This assembly will promote dialogue among Environmental Justice Leaders, and with people of faith and conscience in order to foster relationships, catalyze collaborative efforts, and increase civic engagement.

We would like to provide scholarships to community leaders, who are fighting to get their neighbors organized to protect health and safety on the frontlines of climate change in the state of Florida; where existing inequities in infrastructure investment and disaster response compound chronic environmental health challenges posed by proximity to traffic and industrial waste in low income communities of color. After last year’s Assembly, FL-iCAN! decided to return to Parramore this year, to provide tours during the Assembly, to take up climate equity, and to involve leaders from Florida Environmental Justice communities on the frontlines of Climate Change in the design of the 2019 Assembly.

UUJF and the other affiliates of FL-iCAN! value the participation of the EJ leaders in the design of the assembly. The EJ Leaders have completed a survey regarding what programming would be meaningful for them. Lawanna Gelzer, the community leader from Parramore who will be coordinating the tours, has been serving on the Steering Committee Circle this year, and participating in program design. Programming will include: story and best practice sharing, tours of the Parramore neighborhood, communication skill-building, and time for praise and celebration of what’s been accomplished. 

Here are some of the environmental justice leaders we would like to provide scholarships so they can attend:

Eric Bason is a resident of Shorecrest, Miami, which sits on some of the lowest lying land in Miami. He participated as a community leader in a UUJF Rising Together project in 2017 that addressed tidal flooding, and the public health effects of climate change in his neighborhood. He is currently providing leadership for his community in the Florida Disaster Resilience Initiative to increase resilience and hurricane preparedness, and to advocate for infrastructure upgrades.

Lawanna Gelzer is the founder of the Community Empowerment Project in Parramore, Orlando, a historically black community surrounded by highways, with two Superfund sites that have released volatile organic compounds and petroleum by products into the environment. Orlando has also created an Economic Opportunity Zone that is also a Brownfield area. This provides incentives for remediation of the toxins, and requires redevelopment after remediation. The Brownfield policy has fueled aggressive gentrification and displacement, and provides no funding for residents to test for toxins on their property. Lawanna’s non-profit, The Community Empowerment Project, educates residents about the environmental toxins, has advocated for a community health disparities study, and opened dialogue with the city about moving the dumpster storage site away from homes, where residents complain of rodents.

Crystal Johnson is the founder of Community Forum Foundation, Inc., a non-profit in Dunbar, Ft. Myers that supports programs that help children and families living in underserved areas, and empowers the community through education and collective collaborations. In addition to their work on improving communication between parents and schools; promoting dialogue among the faith community, the police and the community; and promoting wellness, the Foundation is taking on hurricane preparedness to address the inequities in disaster response experienced after Hurricane Irma.

Janice Lucas is a civic leader in Panama City in Bay County, which is still in a critical phase of recovery from Hurricane Michael.  In her position as After School Program Director of the LEAD Coalition of Bay County,  Janice has seen the effects of Hurricane Michael on her community, and especially on families with children.  She is currently working with a church to create a micro enterprise loan fund to offer startup business loans that have training or education as a requirement.

Kina Green-Phillips lives in South Bay, Florida, where she has started Her Queendom Ministry to teach girls and women about how to protect their health and the health of their families. A big part of that is learning the truth about the “black snow”: ash that falls from the sky when the sugar companies burn the fields. Kirin is providing leadership for her community in a Sierra Club effort to get Green Harvesting rather than sugar cane burning due to its effects on the health of residents and their quality of life.

Here is the portion of the Assembly Budget devoted to Scholarships for Environmental Justice Leaders:

Environmental Justice Expenses
Van for Parramore Tours
Rental 1 day $8 $130 $138
Fuel $2 $25 $27
Driver/Tour Guide 2 $100 $200
$364
Scholarships (EJ Community Guests: 8 Traveling Guests/Spokespersons + 17 Parramore residents) 25 $60 $1,500
$1,500
Guest/Spokespersons Quantity Attendees Tax & Surcharge Unit Cost Line Item Total Category Total
Transportation
Shorecrest, Miami 480 1 $0.14 $67.20
Ft. Myers 314 1 $0.14 $43.96
Belle Glade 310 1 $0.14 $43.40
Panama City 712 1 $0.14 $99.68
$254
Lodging 8 $150 $1,200.00
$1,200
Food not covered by Assembly fee 4 8 $1 $15 $480.90
$481
Total EJ Expenses $3,799

RELIEF FUND Hurricane Michael Rebuild

This is a Disaster Relief campaign. The “All-or-Nothing” goal is removed. All pledges made will be processed.

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall just east of Panama City, FL.  Michael was just two mph shy of a Category 5 according to USA Today.  The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bay County was hit hard.  The main building sustained roof damage but is otherwise ok.  The two Religious Education buildings sustained much more significant damage.  And approximately 63 trees have been broken and must be removed.  In addition to the damage to our church home, many congregation members’ homes have been damaged as well, and some have already been declared a total loss by their insurance adjusters.  This storm will take decades to recover from.

And yet, we have a lot to be grateful for.  Every person connected to this congregation survived the storm.  We have received some financial assistance for our main building, tree removal, and even to help some people in our community who were the most impacted by the storm.  What we haven’t found funding for yet, is to repair or replace our Religious Education buildings.  That’s where you come in.

As the community is working to put the pieces back together, our children need somewhere to gather.  They need a little glimmer of hope.  Maybe you can be that light?

This campaign is for $5,000 but that’s just a start to get us going.  Any help you can give would be appreciated.