Volunteers cancel, Guatemala town struggles
Named after the Brazilian environmental activist, Chico Mendes, who lost his life protecting the rainforests, the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project was started in 1998, when the loss of forests and its consequences were evident to those living in Pachaj, Guatemala. This community is located near Quetzaltenango, in the Northwest Highlands of Guatemala. Jorge Armando Lopez Pocol, a respected forester, and his family established a nursery and organizes the village as well as international volunteers to plant seeds, grow seedlings, and protect trees. The average number of trees planted each year in the last five years is 15,000. Currently, Jorge Armando has 40,000 trees ready to be planted.
One of Jorge Armando’s main goals is to plant the pinabete tree on the mountainside near his community. The pinabete is the one tree where the rare Quetzal, national bird of Guatemala, will nest. Planting the pinabete thwarts mining companies from destroying the mountainsides and will ensure good water quality for the village.
See the Chico Mendes website: https://www.chicomendesguatemala.org
Because of the pandemic, nine volunteer groups scheduled to plant trees in Guatemala for The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project have canceled. This is devastating for a community that is living on the edge. The Project depends on volunteer groups to transfer seedlings and to plant young trees, which in turn helps support the reforesting of the mountainsides. In addition, income for the community is generated when volunteers pay to stay with families and take Spanish language classes. Without this income, the families and Spanish teachers will lack funds to feed their families.
From the three service-learning trips, many in our congregation have ties to the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project and have been supportive in past fundraisers. Our UU accreditation as a Green Sanctuary congregation was due in part from this partnership. In addition, we are knowledgeable about other groups who have traveled or were planning to travel there this spring and summer. We are also well connected to various environmental groups and will communicate the needs of this project to them.
The funds raised will go for seeds, fertilizer, tools, supplies, and staff salaries to maintain the young trees and protect the forests. Families who provide homestays and Spanish teachers will be compensated.
Contributions and support now will ensure the continuation and survival of the Chico Mendes Reforestation project. The welfare of these community members and the protection of fragile ecosystems in the Guatemala Highlands also depend on contributions to weather the current crisis caused by the pandemic. In the future groups will again take trips and plant trees with the villagers of Pachaj, hosted by Jorge Armando.
“When I was in Guatemala, I observed the Chico Mendes group grow healthy seedlings and plant trees where they had been cut down. Reforestation is an important job for humanity in terms of climate change.” -Dr. John Hartman, Plant Pathologist Emeritus, University of Kentucky
“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project not only provides clean air and water for the local people, but it also sends the message that sustainability is possible if everyone contributes. By donating to this cause, you will be improving the local people’s quality of life and showing the world how vital sustainability is for our well being”. -Justine Reschly, High School senior
“What most impressed me about the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project in Guatemala was the engagement and investment in youth. They didn’t just work on reforestation, but they educated, hired, and mentored youth to participate in their work. They understand the importance of youth education and involvement to bring change in future generations. “ -Meredith Gall, parent and participant
“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project is as much a community and social justice effort as it is an environmental justice organization. Planting trees and protecting the environment is intimately related to protecting and providing for the local community. The connection with the local community both supports Chico Mendes and also provides a community stake in both the project and their environment. Our family’s connection with the community was good for us, them and, I firmly believe, the wider world.” -Dan Gall, parent and participant
Faithify Campaigns and COVID-19
In March, we created new policies to help our Faithify community weather the uncertainties of fundraising when everything is changing so quickly.
Roundtable Revival Mentoring Program for Persons Who are Reentering the Community
Persons returning to the community face significant barriers rebuilding their lives after experiencing contact with the criminal justice system (Coates, 2015). Examples include those citizens on probation or parole or those returning to the community after a period of incarceration in jail or prison. These challenges are being magnified by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Currently in Eau Claire County, WI, we do not have a comprehensive reentry program that can serve those being released from jail or prison, so even a brief jail stay could result in the loss of housing, employment, family disruption, health care coverage, or transportation. Recent estimates suggest that each year 15-20 women return to the Eau Claire area after release from prison. In 2017, the Eau Claire County Jail released 4,916 people. Roundtable Revival has a goal of providing resources and programming to support reintegration into the community and reduce recidivism.
We will ultimately offer a variety of reentry programs, including the Mentoring Program, Reentry Peer Support, a First Stop program for people being released from jail, and an alcohol-free tavern as a place where people can gather in the evening to socialize, relax, and have fun. Roundtable Revival utilizes a foundation of Certified Peer Support Specialists. Training for the Peer Support Specialist is provided by the State of Wisconsin and their hours are billable through Medical Assistance. These specialists have the advantage of having personal experience with the criminal justice system and have been trained in understanding the available community resources. Ultimately, we hope that any added programs will contribute to the goal of empowering returning citizens and enhancing their overall physical and mental health. We want to offer them the opportunity for an equal place at our roundtable.
Objectives: For the Mentoring Program, we plan to draw upon the power of a mentoring relationship to empower persons as they seek to negotiate the challenges of obtaining housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, healthcare, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. Funds raised will be used for start-up and initial operational expenses. The outcomes will consist of a tracking success across the areas of individual need and an evaluation of the mentoring program by the mentors and mentees.
Mentoring Program Design: The program will be modeled after similar successful programs, best practices, and evidence-based models. Area churches and congregations, the Synagogue and the Mosque as well as the general community will be approached for support by providing weekly meals, Life Skills presenters, and Mentors. The program will meet weekly at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Eau Claire for three hours with each session consisting of socializing and sharing a meal, group support and life story sharing, an educational presentation on life skills, and individual mentoring. Mentors will be trained prior to each cycle and will be asked to attend group mentor meetings periodically during the cycle. The initial focus will be providing a safe space for adult females who volunteer and are accepted into the program. If there is enough interest, a second site will serve adult men. We envision conducting mentoring program cycles in the fall and spring. A graduation ceremony will be held at the conclusion of each cycle.
All mentors will be asked to complete an initial six-hour workshop training. Group meetings of Mentors will occur prior to the weekly meetings every third week of the program duration. Mentors will be given a manual with a mentor job description and training materials.
Expected outcomes: Our mission is: To cultivate inclusive, accepting, and empowering spaces WITH people who face barriers due to a conviction history: Facilitating full reintegration into our community. We plan to link individuals with community resources for housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. An overall goal of Roundtable Revival is to foster a more responsive and collaborative system for the employment, housing, mental health, healthcare, and substance use and alcohol misuse treatment needs of returning citizens. In addition, we will instill a sense of community and belonging among individuals who are returning citizens.
How the project will be sustained: The Eau Claire County Department of Human Services operates two programs that will be a source of collaboration and support, The Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) and Community Support Program (CSP). We have also established a beginning relationship with the Eau Claire County Jail, the State of Wisconsin, Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole and The Transition Center (day treatment center) in Eau Claire. Roundtable Revival is incorporated as a State of Wisconsin, certified nonprofit social service agency or 501(c)3.
Unitarian Universalist Songleaders Convergence 2020
UPDATE May 1 : DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, THIS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN CLOSED. ANY PLEDGES MADE WILL NOT BE PROCESSED. THANK YOU.
UPDATE 4/29: It is with heavy hearts that we must share with you that the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries Annual Conference in Ann Arbor has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time in 38 years that we will not gather together to share our riches of talent and friendship. Read the full statement here.
We’re excited to bring the Songleaders Convergence back to the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries Conference to share skills, best practices, wisdom, and of course, songs! The Convergence offers days of learning and networking to nurture a deeper culture of community singing in our congregations and wider community.
We’re asking our wider UU community to help us with a match grant. A match grant means that if we meet our $6,000 goal, the UU Funding program will match it with ANOTHER $6,000! This means if you give $20, you’re actually contributing $40!
We’re inviting songleaders from across our Faith and all those who love community singing to converge for what promises to be a transformative gathering of resonance, harmony, and rhythm. The Convergence scholarship opportunities are aimed at making it possible for new leaders and participants of color who may not otherwise have the chance to participate to be with us in a community of growth and welcome.
Money raised will provide scholarships for leaders and participants of color and for first time attendees to the AUUMM Conference.
What can attendees expect?
- Confident & invitational songleading
- Songleading for worship and in the streets
- Deepening cultural context, story, worship, and preaching through songleading
- Harmony singing, vocal technique, circle songs, and more!
- Ministers and seminarians
- Religious Educators
- Choir members and singers
- Musicians both professional and recreational
- Anyone leading or wanting to lead songs in worship, around the dinner table, at the board meeting, or in the streets
The Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network
The Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network aims to build a statewide advocacy network employing the power of the collective voices of Unitarian Universalists in Wisconsin. We uphold the worth and dignity of every person while acting to further justice, equity, and compassion. Through a website and social media the Wisconsin Unitarian Universalist State Action Network hopes to provide portals for Wisconsin UU congregations to share what they are doing and see what other UU congregations are doing to advance justice, equity and compassion, through the website and social media to provide in depth information about the issue critical to the citizens of Wisconsin, and to provide a forum for individuals to express their actions and need for justice, equity and compassion.
2020 MVUUF Teen Trek to UU-UNO Spring Seminar
UPDATE Mar 13, 2020: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this campaign has been closed. Any pledges made will NOT be processed. Thank you.
In light of recent developments with COVID-19, the UU-UNO has cancelled the in-person events for the Spring Seminar. Our MVUUF Teen Group will not be making the trip. Thanks to those who were willing to donate!
Original Description follows for archive purposes.
SUPPORTING A NEW GENERATION OF
CLIMATE JUSTICE ACTIVISTS
Your donation to this project will fund travel expenses for youth and sponsors to attend the 2020 UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar in New York City. Our youth and sponsors have each funded their own registration fees. Your Faithify donations will go towards transportation, meals, and other associated expenses for the trip as they travel from Dayton, OH to New York City. We have set our fundraising goal to match projected expenses, and we need $500 per traveler to cover our costs. Any extra funds raised this year will be put to use in future trips as we seek to make this a biennial event for the youth in our congregation.
The 2020 UU-UNO Intergenerational Spring Seminar theme is “All In For Climate Justice: People, Power, Planet.” The conference will take place April 16-18 in New York City. Through worship, panel discussions, skills-building workshops, and small-group collaboration, participants will learn and grow together as they explore UU centered responses to vital global climate challenges.
This year, we have six youth (Avery, Travis, Zane, Matthew, Yemaya, and Genna) and three adult sponsors (Shaun, Richard, and Lathe) registered to attend. This record attendance from our congregation is the best indication of the value of the conference to our youths’ growth in social activism. MVUUF Youth who participate in the trip will:
- Gain deeper understanding of the UU-UNO’s climate justice work with the United Nations and the world
- Develop a broader sense of UU community as they connect with UU youth from across the country and other nations who share similar values
- Practice leadership skills by engaging the MVUUF congregation in the UU-UNO mission upon their return
Some pictures from last year’s trip are included below!
Project Update: FirstSteps Opens
Their first resident came to live at FirstSteps House just before Christmas.
Chalice Lighters &...
MidAmerica has a new way of supporting congregations with their Chalice Lighters program and Faithify.
Charleston, WV UU Heavy Rain Damage Disaster Relief
DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately
(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)
Thanks to a Disaster Relief Fund Grant from the UUA, the goal for this campaign has been reduced to $5,000
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston is a small congregation in West Virginia with a big heart. We have served Charleston, WV and the surrounding areas for many years. We are the only congregation in West Virginia with a full-time minister. We own a rental home next door to our main building. This house brings in monthly rental income for us. Since we are a small congregation, this monthly income is essential for meeting our budgetary needs.
Our rental property is almost 100 years old. We have recently been getting frequent heavy rains and this has caused the basement to flood with several feet of water in recent weeks. We discovered after several basement floods that the old terracotta pipe that connects the sewer line to the main house was crushed in one section. Plumbers came out to look at the problem and told our tenant not to pour any water down the drains. The tenants were unable to use sinks, shower, toilet for several days. The city determined that it was the responsibility of UUC to repair since the break was on our property. The problem is also not covered by insurance, and we have no money in our budget for this repair.
This repair is going to be expensive at over $10,000. The pipe is over 8 feet underground and under the sidewalk in the front of the home. We ask our fellow UU congregations to help us with the unexpected cost of this repair. Catastrophic events like this can be especially devastating to small congregations like ours. We appreciate any assistance you can give us to help offset the financial burden of repairs.
Support Military Ministry
In World War II, the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) was founded to reach out to those who were serving our country both at home and abroad. Today, our Military Ministry program is one of the CLF’s leading outreach programs. There are over 25 Unitarian Universalist chaplains serving in all branches of the Military, located all over the United States and in Germany. The CLF supports UU military chaplaincy and active and returning military members.
Every dollar you donate will be tripled!
Can you give $50 to support the CLF Military Ministry today?
By contributing to the success of this Faithify Campaign,
you will be helping hundreds of service members across the globe.
Unitarian Universalists have served, and do serve, in the military (sometimes this feels like the best-kept secret in our denomination). In recognition of this, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has made strides towards welcoming military personnel and veterans into our congregations. In 2010, the UUA issued a Statement of Conscience entitled “Creating Peace” in which they declare:
“We bear witness to the right of individuals and nations to defend themselves, and acknowledge our responsibility to be in solidarity with others in countering aggression…We affirm a range of individual choices, including military service and conscientious objection…as fully compatible with Unitarian Universalism. For those among us who make a formal commitment to military service, we will honor their commitment, welcome them home, and offer pastoral support.”
Unitarian Universalist military members may have difficulty finding religious support that reflects their progressive values. These challenges often continue when UUs come home. Veterans may feel isolated and wonder how they will be welcomed back to their congregations.
That’s where the CLF Military Ministry comes in. We aim to provide spiritual support to service members and their families during active duty and when they come home. While educating and empowering the next generation of military chaplains to continue this crucial work.
“Marines would fall asleep in two minutes if I read a sermon to them. They expect 100% authenticity and 100% excellence, and if it’s not there, they don’t trust you. Preaching at the Church of the Larger Fellowship strengthened my instincts for creating sermons without writing a word. This has been an essential part of my success in chaplaincy.
—Susan Maginn, U.S. Navy Chaplain
Rev. Jake Morrill, former military chaplain, and current CLF Board Member, writes:
Whether in combat or not, a Service member’s duty involves ongoing decision-making, with high moral stakes. Promoting and supporting the capacity for ethical decision-making leads to an even more ethical, morally-grounded military culture. Military ministry is important because people in uniform, mostly young adults, are often encountering stressors different from stressors in civilian life…
In the military Unitarian Universalist ministry, in particular, plays an important role. As the military population, like the rest of the country, becomes steadily more secular and “un-churched,” a Unitarian Universalist military ministry can support meaning-making in the Humanist tradition. Unitarian Universalist ministry in the military celebrates GBLTQ Service members and their Families, and can provide vital programming, with an ethic of inclusion. When a Service member is Pagan or practices some other minority-status faith tradition or expression of spirituality, Unitarian Universalist ministry in the military doesn’t balk, but instead supports the free expression of that person’s faith, as upheld by the First Amendment.
When you donate $50, we receive $150.
Every single gift is being tripled.
The Church of the Larger Fellowship is crucial to the formation and support of military chaplains (MCs) around the world. We have built a sustainable pipeline to create and support the next generation of MCs. How do we do this?
- We serve as the MCs home congregation
- We provide pastoral support to MCs
- We host monthly meetings for MCs
- We assess aspirant MCs
- We provide MCs a congregation to which they can officially affiliate as community ministers and receive support
In short, we give military chaplains (who move around frequently) a place to call their own.
Your donation will help us provide resources to service members around the globe.
With your funding we can provide our military personnel and their family with:
Online Community Gathering Space
Written Resources and Materials
Read more about our Military Ministry program at www.clfuu.org/military.
*Due to generosity from the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock and a coalition of 12 individual donors, every dollar will be tripled.
Bounty for Babies Forever
Bounty for Babies Forever
A justice project of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth (UUCE)
In December 2019, after learning that families who needed food and supplies for babies were having to be turned away from the Loaves & Fishes food pantry due to inability to stock these products, UUCE launched a very successful Reverse Advent justice project in which the congregation was asked to donate specific foods and supplies for babies daily during Advent. The items were donated to Loaves & Fishes food pantry, and distributed as needed to the families served by the pantry. This project was a big success, and generated over $2000 in cash and goods. Our church has committed to continuing the project into perpetuity by asking congregants for weekly donations as baby items get used from the Loaves & Fishes stock. Our goal is to ensure that no family goes without obtaining the needed food, diapers and health care supplies for their babies. This project is run under the auspices of our Peace and Social Action committee and is managed by the Bounty for Babies Task Force.
Although the project has only been in existence for two months, we have already made a huge difference in the lives of families in our community. Since its inception, no one has had to be denied items they need for their babies. The program serves over 30 families each month and, at the request of the families served, has been expanded to include food and supplies for toddlers. Additionally, we provide Birthday Bags, which contain a small toy and the supplies needed to bake a birthday cake, to parents of children of any age.
To date, this project has been fully funded by UUCE. A very generous anonymous donor has now come forward with a proposal to match up to $5000 in donated funds to support the Bounty for Babies project, and to form the basis through which it can be sustained.
Please support us as we strive to raise the matching funds so that we can carry this project far into the future. In honor of this donation, and with the hope and expectation that we will reach our goal to match the funds, we are renaming the project Bounty for Babies Forever.
Help our MidMaine YoUUth service project team get to Safe Passage/Camino Seguro in Guatemala City this July!
UPDATE April 9, 2020: DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, THIS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN CLOSED. ANY PLEDGES MADE WILL NOT BE PROCESSED. THANK YOU.
Safe Passage let us know they are canceling all visitors for 2020, so it’s off. Our general plan is to reschedule to next year. Thanks to those who were willing to donate!
Original Description follows for archive purposes.
Safe Passage/Camino Seguro is a top-rated charity working in Guatemala City since 1999 to bring hope, education, and opportunity to the children and families trying to make a living around the city’s garbage dump—one of the largest landfills in Central America. Their mission: “We help children in the Guatemala City garbage dump community break the cycle of poverty through education, emphasizing life skills and perseverance in order to thrive in work and contribute to their community.”
Our group of UU youth and adult leaders will serve as Support Teams at Safe Passage for a week, engaging with “affiliates of all ages – from the littlest learners in the Jardín to the women in Creamos.” We will learn about Safe Passage and their programs while we provide valuable assistance: in English classes, as classroom assistants, planning and leading activities in our Escuilita English classes, meeting and working with the women-artisans of Creamos (buying their fabulous jewelry), and supporting the operations team with much-needed tasks, etc. It is a hand-on opportunity to see how an organization clear in its mission can make a difference, and give us the opportunity to do so as well by showing up and helping out.
Our MidMaine YoUUth group has been preparing and fundraising for this trip for the last 18 mos. Last year, we studied about and engaged with our Wabanaki neighbors, learning about our shared, painful history. This year, as we prepare to go to Guatemala, the lessons from Maine are helping us understand more about the conditions for indigenous people in Guatemala, including discrimination, poverty, and lack of education. and opportunity. Our time with Safe Passage will change our lives.
The participants each make a personal contribution of $600, collected over two years to ensure it is affordable for any of the youth in our congregations who want to participate. These personal dues cover about 25% of the total cost. The rest we raise through an ask to our individual friends and family, as well as the members of our four congregations. This Faithify campaign is a way of extending the reach of our ask throughout our UU denomination, while spreading the word about Safe Passage/Camino Seguro (https://www.safepassage.org/) and our collaborative youth program. We are proud of what we have and will accomplish together!