Tagged: “UU”

Wellness Yoga for Petree Elementary School Students

 The UU Fellowship of Winston Salem, NC, is raising $4,000 to enable Petree Elementary School to continue and expand its highly-effective yoga program.

Our Fellowship has a longstanding relationship with this Title I majority-minority school in our community. In 2015, with the help of a grant from the Mayor ‘s office and instruction from a non-profit called “Breathing Access,” the school implemented a yoga program for third-grade students to help them cope with the stress of crucial end-of-grade testing.

Yoga teaches a life-long practice of stress reduction and physical health. Yoga instruction improves behavior and focus, reduces anxiety and aggressive behavior, and supports children dealing with trauma. At Petree Elementary yoga has been used as an alternative to detention and other punishments with great success.

Although the program showed positive results and great potential, funding for this year is insufficient to continue and expand the program.

Our Goal:

Funds we raise will reinstate the vital third-grade program and expand the program to fourth and fifth-grade students for a weekly elective class. This money will also give staff training in how to assist children exhibiting behavioral issues and to assist children dealing with trauma.

BUILDING LIFELONG SKILLS FOR PHYSICAL STRENGTH AND MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING


Yoga empowered the students at Petree to feel in control of their bodies, and it gave them tools to calm their minds. As the children work together, they see each other as partners and develop compassion and empathy for each other. This program is extremely important for all students, especially those who have experienced trauma. Yoga helps them build resilience and teaches them a skill which can benefit them throughout their lives.

Christine Bloomfeld, yoga instructor at Petree


Dr. Essie McKoy, the principal of Petree Elementary who initiated the yoga program, observed an improvement in the behavior of the third-grade students participating in yoga. According to Dr. McKoy, those benefits included:

  • Fewer disciplinary issues and fewer out-of-school suspensions;
  • Less reactive behavior and an increased ability to reflect and devise alternative responses to conflict and stress inside the school, in the home, and in the community;
  • Creation of relationships with other students outside of their normal interactions due to the different team techniques incorporated during yoga;
  • Cohesion and trust within the small group exercising together;
  • Increased creativity and increased enjoyment in being involved;
  • Increased self-confidence.

In addition, some parents reported that their children lost unwanted weight during the program.

Dr. McKoy’s aim was to address the needs of the whole child. As the program unfolded, Dr. McKoy noticed that the children’s vocabularies increased as they were exposed to new postures and techniques. Yoga practice increased the students’ mental capacities and gave them a new sense of belonging to something special. More importantly, the children became excited about the program and specifically asked for the “yoga lady.”

This program, along with Dr. McKoy’s emphasis on the “whole child” improved academic scores. Petree began with a -3.32 EVAAS (Education Value-Added Assessment System) growth index, and in a short amount of time, achieved a +2.24 EVAAS growth index, exceeding expected growth. As a result Petree became a “Piedmont Signature School.”


BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN 

Dr. Marlynn Wei wrote in the Harvard Medical School Health Blog:

Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children (ages 6 to 12). Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. Yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.

Emerging research studies also suggest that yoga can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by improving the core symptoms of ADHD, including inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It can also boost school performance in children with ADHD. A growing number of schools now integrate yoga and mindfulness into physical education programs or classroom curriculums, and many yoga studios offer classes for school-age children. Yoga can be playful and interactive for parents and children at home, as well.

Marlynn Wei, MD, JD, Contributing Editor, “More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children,” posted January 29, 2016. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/more-than-just-a-game-yoga-for-school-age-children-201601299055

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“Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children ages 6 to 12.” ~ Harvard Medical School Health Blog

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Most children in under-served schools in our county do not have the opportunity for the enrichment that this yoga program provides. Nevertheless, these students are the most in need of practices to help them with in-school and out-of-school stress and trauma. Yoga enables them to self-calm and to be less reactive in stressful situations.

 Your generous contribution will ensure that this program is renewed. Please help us create a focus that is positive and restorative.

“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

Help Launch UU At Home

Parents are the primary religious educators of their children. We know this because of research, because of the amount of time that parents spend with their kids compared to the amount of time that families are present physically in our congregations, and because even parents themselves acknowledge this in surveys. But what a daunting prospect! Our families are busy and overwhelmed, and adding the job of teaching kids about Unitarian Universalism, especially for parents who are relatively new UUs themselves can feel like just one step too much. So, we want to help!

Our congregation is launching a weekly email column from our minister for our families called UU At Home. Aimed at parents, this column will include ideas about family rituals, ways to approach major holidays with a UU perspective, ways for families to reflect on the UU Principles in their home, the story of the month from our Religious Education program to help families engage it in a deeper way, and other resources for parents to use at home. The column will be short enough to not overwhelm, full of practical ideas, and grounded in the lived experience of UU children and parents.

The money we raise from this campaign will help to pay for the staff time to develop the column, as well as any materials we want to purchase for distribution through the column. Thank you so much for your support!

Create Justice, Not...

Buffalo, NY and the surrounding Western New York region is one of the most segregated areas in the country. There are sharp divides here that separate people by race and class. The work that UU Class Conversations is doing to educate Unitarian Universalists on race and class divisions and how to make changes toward becoming more inclusive will be a vital and important collaboration that will help Unitarian Universalists in Western New York work more effectively toward dismantling systems of racism and class oppression.

Our goal is to raise money to off-set the cost of bringing UU Class Conversations’ “Create Justice, Not Walls” workshop to Buffalo on November 10, 2018. We want to be able to provide this programming to anyone who wants to attend, regardless of income status. With a successful campaign, we will be able to off-set the cost of the workshop and provide this essential programming to a wider audience.

DRUUMM 2018 Fall Gathering

School sessions have begun. Churches, fellowships, and communities hold gatherings to welcome folks back into communion and a regularly scheduled worship program year. Seminarians and college students have started classes, are paying their tuitions. Intern ministers have just settled into new homes, in new towns, in new states to serve new congregations part-time. Many newly ordained ministers have also moved, maybe they are planning to go before the MFC, maybe they are in search and haven’t settled yet. All of these new beginnings are necessary expenses on our paths to answer our calls. For lay leaders and congregants in our faith, life is just as full of expenses, often unexpected and costly. These costs should not keep anyone from gathering in intentional community to rest, refresh, and renew their souls so they can stay in the fight to dismantle white supremacy.

The DRUUMM Fall Gathering is not the usual Gathering – it’s not a conference, training, or working retreat. It’s a Homecoming; a time to embrace old friends and greet new ones. It’s a time to gather and feed our collective souls with community building and reinforcing. This year, we will gather at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio to reflect on the past, to envision the future, and to create meaningful worship centering ourselves and our experiences. We need to come together so we can go back out and do our best to help heal this world.

DRUUMM strives towards personal and social transformation of our members by providing sacred healing spaces, where we can heal from internalized racism and other oppression’s. We honor our suffering, grieving, and letting go through intentional emotional release and catharsis. Our Fall Gathering is a moment when, as a community, we come together to provide care, in supportive and sacred shared space, as we continue to work towards collective liberation and healing.

Student Debt Reduction...

We have all heard about rising education costs and student debt; this trend absolutely extends to those who pursue a seminary degree. National data from the The Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary indicates both the number of students entering seminary with debt and the amounts they have to pay back upon entering the workforce are increasing substantially. It is not unusual for new ministers to be carrying $70,000-$80,000 or more into their fledgling careers.

As Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship installs Rev. Laura Thompson as their next settled minister, we take a moment to pause and reflect on the financial costs and sacrifices that enabled her to be called. In recognition of those costs and in celebration of her ministry and her future with MVUUF, we invite you to contribute toward a gift of reducing her student debt. Thank you for your generosity!

Ordination of Pastor Jenny Peek

Pocatello Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is honored to ordain Jennifer “Jenny” Peek on September 30, 2018. Pastor Jenny, soon to be Reverend Jenny, came to serve our small congregation in the Rocky Mountains slightly less than a year ago, having entered preliminary fellowship after completing her M.Div. at Meadville Lombard. She has brought to us her warm spirit and appreciation and knowledge of UUA principles and sources. With her leadership we are making new connections–to other UUA congregations and to other faith traditions in our region. For the joyful occasion of ordaining Jenny, we will bring to our remote location in the Rocky Mountains, UUA clergy from across the nation. This is an unparalleled event in our history and a significant stretch for our budget. We welcome help from all UUs!

Supporting a liberal place for religious exploration in our conservative state and community is a worthy mission. The Pocatello Unitarian Universalist Church is unique in our local community.  We do a lot to engage our community with a minimal resource. Having a new minister with us is a great honor and supporting this ministry empowers our strong UU voice in this diverse religious community.

The Pocatello Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has been without a minister for most of its history. As our minister, Pastor Jenny will continue to promote the goals of PUUF and our liberal faith, and its good works, in Pocatello and Southeast Idaho.

PUUF is an active and full participant with other faith traditions in our area who are united in charitable and social justice activities through the Portneuf Valley Interfaith Fellowship (PVIF).  PVIF consists of over 25 different local faith traditions including many Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Bahai, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Buddhist and others.  In addition, PUUF is active with the LGBTQ organization “All Under One Roof”, Too Great 4 Hate, Family Services Alliance, Citizens Climate Lobby, National Public Radio, and many others.  Our religious exploration committee meets biweekly to explore many topics within religion, spirituality and social justice.

The money we collect with through this campaign will be used to pay the expenses of bringing guest participants to Pocatello for the ordination. Our estimated expenses will be nearly $10,000. We have already raised about $2,500 in local donations, another $2,000 pledged by members, and many of our members are providing B&B accommodations in their homes to help reduce the expenses. We need to raise at least $4,000 through this Faithify project to make up the difference.  Any funds collected beyond what is needed for the ordination will be added to our Fellowship Mission & Ministry fund. This fund will be used to help with our minister compensation while the membership in the congregation grows.

We have invited other nearby congregations to join us. Those who have already enthusiastically embraced this event include the UU Church in Idaho Falls, the UU Church of Ogden, and the Magic Valley UU Fellowship in Twin Falls.

You can learn more about our Pocatello UU Fellowship by visiting www.PocatelloUU.org

What some of our members have said:

“Being able to create a contract with Pastor Jenny Peek a year ago has returned us to professional leadership.  She has actively participated in many community groups and endeavors, per her contract.  Our UU presence and visibility in this community have increased substantially.” – Becky H.

“We do a lot with a little. Having a new minister with us is a great honor and supporting this ministry supports our continued UU voice in our diverse religious community.” – Ann S.

“Survival of PUUF depends on continued growth of its members and financial help when special events as the ordination of our pastor occurs.  Your support helps provide a presence and to sustain a liberal religious community in a very conservative state like Idaho.” – Bob G.

“She has the enthusiastic support of the Pocatello Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship’s members. In the past year, we have come to know Pastor Jenny, and she embodies the principles of the Unitarian-Universalist faith.” – Jeff S.

Fund Hope: Sponsor an Incarcerated UU

CLF incarcerated membership is rapidly growing, and this means that the cost to serve nearly 890 prison members has also increased. It costs the CLF at least $150 per prison member to provide UU programing, and we need the continued support of friends, members, and the community.  Many individuals across the United States living in prison are hearing about Unitarian Universalism for the first time. Some learn about the UU message of acceptance and inclusivity through CLF outreach or from a friend, family, or a cell mate.


Can you give $25 or more today?
Every dollar you donate will be doubled! *

So by contributing to the success of this Faithify Campaign,
you will be helping over 130 UUs living in prison.


Map of the United States with dots on all cities where CLF members are experiencing incarceration.
Click to enlarge and interact with this map of incarcerated UUs.

Your financial support of the CLF Prison Ministry provides vital programming and services to over 800 incarcerated Unitarian Universalists:

~UU World
~Quest Monthly
~Worthy Now Prison Ministry Newsletters
~Reading Materials from Skinner House and Beacon Press
~New UU Classes
~Pen Pals
~Tapestry of Faith RE Correspondence Classes

Your generous contributions also help the CLF Prison Ministry run its letter writing ministry, otherwise known as our pen pal program. This ministry provides one-on-one contact between UUs in the free-world (that is, you and me) and one of our members living in prison. There are about 300 of these letter writing partnerships, and we have free-world letter writers living all over the world. Every year thousands of letters are forwarded through the CLF office in Boston to our members living in prison. This program is the heart of our ministry—it is the lifeline to many of our members.

Because of your past support, membership has included something exciting and new this year:

We asked all of our members who are incarcerated what their number one justice issue is while living in prison. The response was heart-breaking: The cost of medical care for people who barely make a wage came up over and over again in the letters. From this information, the CLF team of delegates, volunteers, and staff organized to propose an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) at the 2018 General Assembly. We are so excited to share that our AIW, Dismantle Predatory Medical Care Practices in Prisons and End Prisons for Profit, was one of the three AIWs that were chosen by the body of UU delegates.

Most importantly, this wouldn’t have happened without the response of our members living in prison. They gave us the information we needed to share with the delegates. It was their passion that led the call of our campaign and made it such a successful and rewarding way to live our UU values.


“Sharing this news with our members living in prison is the absolute highlight of my work at the CLF. What a blessing for all of us!”

—Mandy Goheen, Director of CLF Prison Ministry and Worthy Now Network


But that is not where the story ends. There are other justice issues our members share with us that are equally important. For example, they have described significant problems with living conditions, food, solitary confinement, guards, and so many other examples it’s hard to keep track of them all.

Mandy came across one that she thought all UUs would want to know about. In a religion that values learning so highly, it is important to know that access to information such as books and newspapers and religious materials and publications are all limited by the rules of each particular prison.


Our so-called Library here at Lumberton Correctional Institution, is a broom closet about 10 x 10 ft, there’s no table to do book research and no seating. And proper research books especially legal books are non-existent.

Jackie Morehead, CLF Member whose facility only allows 5 books per person (including religious books)


One of the benefits of CLF membership is our reading packet program. In an amazing partnership with Beacon Press and Skinner House Books, we are able to send reading materials to our members in prison. Because of the many rules and regulations surrounding books in prisons, we can only do this by the generous sharing of text from Beacon Press and Skinner House Books of UU identified books. The CLF has permission to print a chapter at a time and share them in letter form. This way people like Jackie Moorehead have access to more books—more than what’s in a small broom closet.


But we need your help!
There is significant paper, printing and postage costs that go into this program.

By funding all or part of the $150 membership program cost,
you are amplifying our important message that people living in prison
are Worthy Now of Love and Justice.

Last year we sent over 641 reading packets to our members!


Wouldn’t it be cheaper to send books? Possibly, but prison regulations across the country are diverse and the rules around books are so complex that this is the best way for us to share Unitarian Universalism with our CLF members living in prison. Books such as Testimony; UU Humanist Voices in Unitarian Universalism; Amethyst Beach: Meditations; Our Seven Principles in Story and Verse; and Everyday Spiritual Practice ~ Simple Pathways for Enriching Your Life are bringing Unitarian Universalism to CLF members experiencing incarceration.

Can you give $25 or more to sponsor a UU experiencing incarceration?


Thanks to the generous challenge grants supported by the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock and Unity Church-Unitarian in St Paul Minnesota, every dollar given to this Faithify campaign will be matched.

Destination Dignity! Partnering with Refugees in Greece to Build a Vocational School and Worker’s Cooperative.

This a wonderful opportunity for UUs to partner with refugee communities in Greece as they seek to re-establish lives of worth and dignity. Over 65,000 refugees have been trapped in Greece for more than 2 years.  Many are beginning to lose hope and to despair of ever being acknowledged as anything other than a “refugee.”  This Worker’s Cooperative in Athens will be the first of its kind in Greece: designed, managed, and staffed by refugees….and supported by UUs!  

Our purpose:  to prepare people with vocational skills suitable for employment while also producing products and services for sale in Europe and the United States. Our on-site partners have skills in engineering, computer software, construction management, and numerous indigenous crafts.  The engineer who will manage the workshop has two years of experience making furniture for refugee camps and cafes from recycled wood and metal scavenged from the streets of Athens.

Our goal is to provide enough financial stability to support at least one year of operation. Your Faithify contribution in support of our $10,000 goal will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous private foundationTwenty thousand dollars will be sufficient to rent a workshop and to support vocational classes for 12 months.

Once established, we will seek sustainable support from individual donors, governmental agencies and foundations.  With skill, determination and some luck, the cooperative will generate supplemental revenue to support its workers and its vocational programs. Our local partners currently plan to offer training in welding, jewelry making, woodworking, embroidery, and computer software.  The board of the cooperative will make the final decision as to what skills offer their clientele the greatest possibility of employment and design their programs to accommodate those needs.  The board will then select skilled trainers who are best qualified to deliver its vocational training programs.

Shared Humanity plans to establish an on-going supportive relationship with individual UUs and UU congregations and invite donors to come to Greece to work in our cooperative community. We UUs are called upon to be supportive of people who have lost their livelihoods, their homes, their communities, and most tragically, their loved ones.  Our actions, and in-actions, will have a lasting impact on ourselves and those we hope to serve.  Now is the time to move towards rather than away from the refugee crisis.  Join us in supporting people who have as their ultimate destination……. Dignity.

Thank you!

For more information about Shared Humanity USA watch our in-depth video, Delivering Hope and Dignity in Greece

Endorsements:

“As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to live out our values of social justice in the world. Shared Humanity USA,  founded by  UU couple, Latifa and Colin Woodhouse, is an example of putting our faith into action. This program will give refugees the tools and skills that will affirm their inherent worth and dignity. They will work  collaboratively with each other to create a sustainable way forward for displaced people. I hope you will support this Faithify campaign in the way you are able.” Aisha Hauser, Director of Lifelong Learning at East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, WA.

“Tragically, our world is experiencing the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.  Martha and Waitstill Sharp, my grandparents and founders of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, risked their lives to save innocent people violently uprooted by war- and in doing so- left us a legacy that we Unitarian Universalists  honor by our steadfast commitment to justice, equity and compassion.  I am proud to be an enthusiastic supporter of Shared Humanity and invite you to join me in supporting this wonderfully innovative project that will be the first workers cooperative established in Greece by and for refugees.” Artemis Joukowsky III, PBS Producer and Co-director with Ken Burns of Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War

“We support the Worker’s Cooperative in Athens as a way to give refugees a chance for a purposeful life.  This is a very innovative and well thought out approach to giving refugees the skills they will need to rebuild their lives.  The facts that this operation is fully staffed by refugees and the raw materials used are recycled show that not only do we care for people was also care for our mother earth.” Susan Goekler, Chair, Commission on Social Witness and Mac Goekler, Chair UU Peace Ministry Network

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.