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Social Action and You Opportunities to Serve Our Community and Our World A Presentation of the Social Justice Council of The Unitarian Church in Westport.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Action and You Opportunities to Serve Our Community and Our World A Presentation of the Social Justice Council of The Unitarian Church in Westport."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Action and You Opportunities to Serve Our Community and Our World A Presentation of the Social Justice Council of The Unitarian Church in Westport

2 Social Justice Council  Supports the congregation's efforts to advocate, educate, organize, serve, and witness for social justice.  Strives to establish our church as a beacon of social justice in our community.  Focuses on programs in Bridgeport, particularly those aimed at improving the well-being of children.

3 Social Action Committees  Westbridge Coalition  Beardsley School  Global Justice  Amnesty International  Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)  Connecticut Food Bank  Green Sanctuary  Environmental Action Group  Anti-Racism  Heathcare Task Force  Youth Group

4 Social Justice Council  The SJC provides a variety of opportunities for you to be involved in Social Justice initiatives that interest you, and fit your available time and level of interest.  We offer advocacy options about governmental administrative policy and/or legislation on social justice needs.  We provide information for members and visitors of the Church about the social justice work we are doing.  Learn about our different Committees:  What We Do, And …..  What You Can Do!

5 Westbridge Coalition What we do:  Fifteen year history of providing volunteers.  Built our first house in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, three other Westport congregations, and Gicela Gutierez with her four children in 2003.  Expanded our Westbridge Coalition, to include 5 churches and 3 synagogues. Completed our second Habitat house in partnership with Bernadette Brown and her four children in 2005.  WB has joined with Rebuilding Together to renovate homes of people in need: elderly, physically and financially - making homes safer, warmer, and more energy efficient while saving families money.

6 Westbridge Coalition What You Can Do:  Join a UCW- Westbridge Coalition Committee: construction, family selection, telephone tree, email announcements, photography, lunches, fundraising, or to coordinate youth participation.  Attend big workday last Saturday in April.  Join other workdays throughout spring-summer ‘08.  Buy a window, door, insulation, programmable thermostat, grab rails, paint, CFL light bulbs, lumber, plumber’s or electrician’s services, etc. for Spring ’08 Fundraiser.  We have many opportunities for you to participate in ways that work for YOU. Contact Sherry Jagerson,

7 Beardsley School What We Do:  In 2000, the congregation of the Unitarian Church of Westport voted to adopt Beardsley Elementary School, a struggling inner- city public school in Bridgeport, as a Social Action Priority Program.  Since then, our congregation has provided a wide variety of assistance to this school, which serves children in Grades K through 6.  We’ve had a meaningful and tangible impact on the lives of children in this neighboring community, and have developed a very focused, deep, and caring connection with this adopted school and its community.

8 Beardsley School What You Can Do - VOLUNTEER:  Be a Mentor, Tutor, Reader or Book Buddy.  Run a Book Club or a Unitarian Read Aloud Day.  Give an after-school seminar on personal finance or job coaching for parents.  Host or organize social activities that bring school staff and volunteers together.  Organize a special after-school activity for a subject, activity or sport for which you have a passion.  Be a Principal For-A-Day, help build a new playground, or make a child’s Christmas complete. The time commitment varies but we can help you find one that works for you! Contact Mary Beth Mollica, or 557

9 Beardsley School What You Can Do - GIVE:  School supplies and necessities at our Angel Tree.  Backpacks, winter coats, umbrellas, a picnic bench, a garden bench, scholarships for summer school, computers and writing achievement awards.  Scholarships for after-school programs & summer basketball camp.  Funding for anti-violence training for teachers, staff and students.  Donations to meet student, teacher and family needs.  Emergency aid to families and staff in need.  Santa letter responses at Christmas.  Class trips to professional theaters. Contact Mary Beth Mollica, or 557

10 The Global Justice Committee  UU – United Nations Office  Microfinance  Drumbeat for Darfur (a UUSC program)  Every Child is our Child

11 UU-UNO Unitarian Universalist - United Nations Office What We Do:  Promote the goal of a world community with peace, liberty and justice for all, as reflected in the UN Charter.  Encourage congregational participation in projects to support the programs of the UN and the Millennium Development Goals.  Have a voice in global affairs and UN activities, and provide education about how the UN operates.

12 UU-UNO What You Can Do:  Become a member of the UU-UNO and:  Receive the newsletter about our activities.  Attend presentations to NGOs (non-governmental organizations such as the UU-UNO) at the UN.  Support the furthering of our views and values at the UN.  Attend the Intergenerational Seminar each April.  Some from our Youth Group attended the 2007 focusing on Modern Day Slavery.  The 2008 seminar is on “Building a Culture of Peace.”  Support Every Child is Our Child Contact David Vita, or 227-7205

13 Microfinance How it works:  Small loans to extremely poor working women, to help them:  Build small businesses  Break the cycle of poverty  Educate their children  Reinforce their personal dignity.  UU Westport has raised $16,000 and established 4 village banks in Tajikistan. Our donations provide loans to poor working women.

14 Microfinance What you can do:  Learn and share the microfinance message with our youth and community.  Join with other Unitarian congregations in making long-term investments in microfinance. Contact Rosemary Ratcliff, or Dan McGovern,

15 Drumbeat for Darfur What’s Happening:  The Sudan Government supports armed militias – the “Janjaweed” – that have murdered up to 400,000 people and who terrorize villages in rural Sudan.  More than 500,000 people have fled to neighboring countries and over 6 million have been internally displaced.  Refugees suffer severe hardship & physical risks.  China and other governments have impeded UN action against the Sudan regime.

16 Drumbeat for Darfur What You Can Do:  Participate in demonstrations, rallies, and “teach-in’s” on Darfur. Join the “Save Darfur” coalition.  Contact U.S. and state legislators to demand action: * mandatory UN peace-keeping forces in Darfur, * divest state funds from companies who work with the Sudanese regime.  Raise funds for “Solar Cookers” to provide safe food preparation in the refugee camps. only $15.00 for one cooker. Contact Denise McConnell,

17 Every Child is Our Child What We Do:  Provide education for children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS in Eastern Ghana through a UU-UNO partnership with a local, traditional, community organization - the Queen Mothers Association.  $80 pays for a year’s education, and $800 provides a complete 10 year basic education for a child. Students and their foster families receive free health care as part of the program. What You Can Do:  In Jan 2008 in partnership with our own children, we will begin fundraising and initiate a relationship between our kids and the the Queen Mothers School. Join Us! Contact Stephen Axthelm, or 917

18 Amnesty International What We Do:  We are world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, uncovering human rights abuses, freeing prisoners of conscience - those imprisoned for their beliefs, color, ethnic origin, gender, religion or language - provided they have not used or advocated violence, working to abolish torture, secure fair and prompt trials for political prisoners and abolish the death penalty.  AI’s “Urgent Action” program, sends telegrams, e-mails and faxes within hours after the International Secretariat in London issues a call to help those threatened with torture, execution or other human rights abuse.  AI’s Death Penalty Network works to bring about a moratorium on executions in the US and abroad.

19 Amnesty International  What You Can Do:  Write letters each month to government officials on behalf of prisoners of conscience and to protest human rights violations.  Participate in Human Rights Day each year - sending holiday “cards of hope” to prisoners of conscience.  Participate in campaigns that deal with immigrant children held indefinitely in detention centers, racial profiling, and to halt violence against women world-wide.  Attend meeting on the fourth Monday of every month at the Saugatuck Congregational Church in Westport. Contact Dorothy Rich,, call 803-0438 or go to

20 UUSC The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Founded to help rescue victims of Nazi oppression in Germany, the UUSC has been a powerful voice for human rights since 1939. What We Do:  Work for human rights and social justice through partnerships with grassroots organizations in the US and abroad.  Work to protect civil liberties and democratic processes.  Defend the rights of vulnerable people affected by disasters.  Protect the right to safe, affordable water.  Work to defend and advance worker’s rights, including the right to a living wage.

21 UUSC The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee What You Can Do:  Support the activities of UUSC through participation in the annual “Guest at Your Table” fundraiser coinciding with the Thanksgiving and Christmas/Chanukah holiday season each year.  Get more information on UUSC, the programs it supports, and actions you can take to support human rights.  Take a trip to New Orleans with the Youth group this spring will be to participate in a UUSC "JustWorks" camp.  Join the UUSC Contact Dorothy Rich,, call 803-0438 or visit:

22 Connecticut Food Bank What We Do:  We are a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to alleviate hunger. In Connecticut 8.6% of households are hungry or food insecure. 75% of households that receive emergency food assistance here live below the poverty line. The CFB works with corporations and community organizations including our church to solicit, transport, warehouse and distribute donated food. What You Can Do:  On the second Sunday of each month bring food, toiletries, etc. Contact David Vita, or 227-7205

23 Green Sanctuary Committee What we do:  Work to bring the church’s worship and operational practices in line with our commitment to the earth.  Oversee efforts to gain accreditation as a Certified Green Sanctuary Congregation. What you can do:  Attend monthly meetings to decide on steps toward accreditation.  Work on projects to make our buildings and grounds self- sustainable.  Assist in promoting energy-saving initiatives, from light bulb sales, recycling, to clean energy options. Contact Monique Bosch, or call 221-1829

24 Environmental Action Group What we do:  Operate in the larger community with a focus on education, regional environmental policy and cooperative ventures with other organizations. What you can do:  Act as a liaison with other environmental organizations in the community.  Plan and execute environmental education programs for children and adults.  Attend monthly meetings to determine how to best affect change in our community. Contact Monique Bosch, or call 221-1829

25 Anti-Racism What We Do:  The Anti-Racism Committee reads, talks, and plans steps on our path to becoming an anti-racist congregation.  We help plan and take part in Martin Luther King Sunday.  We attend workshops on Anti-Racism and plan to bring one here.  Individually and collectively we raise awareness. What You Can Do:  Come to our meetings – we’re open and friendly.  Help coordinate our efforts against racism with other groups. Contact Catherine Onyemelukwe, or

26 Healthcare Task Force What We Do:  Educate people in our community about the current state of health care in Connecticut, and in the US.  Examine the possibilities available to us as a voting public.  Stand for the rights of individuals to have access to affordable, quality health care.  Our GOAL is Universal Health Care in Connecticut: Health Care for all. What You Can Do:  Attend monthly meetings (4rd Monday of month) to discuss current health care issues, plan educational community events (e.g. films, etc.), invite speakers & legislators, voice our opinions to legislators, and build a voting bloc. Contact Andy Wittenstein,,

27 Our Youth and the SJC What We Do:  The Religious Education program at The Unitarian Church in Westport has a tradition of supporting social justices initiatives in our community and beyond including:  Habitat for Humanity: work on site and in the warehouse  Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition: selling New Year’s luminaries  Beardsley School: Yearly gently used book collection, grounds clean up  Green Sanctuary: car survey, canvas bag project  UUSC: Guest at your Table  Micro finance: raising funds for sponsoring 2 village banks in Tajikastan  UU-UNO Intergenerational Conference in April  Peace marches and rallies/pro choice marches  Meals for local shelter  Beach clean up  Raising funds for ‘Paws’ animal shelter

28 Our Youth and the SJC What You Can Do: Get Your Kids Involved! 2007/2008 Youth Outreach Initiatives  Beardsley Grounds Clean-Up  Youth Services Opportunities Project (November and January)  Gathering signatures for Bill Sinkford’s petition to Congress  Guatemala Fair Trade Sale  Canvas Bag Project  Intergeneration Trip to New Orleans  Toiletry Kits to Shelters  ‘Rebuild Together’- working together with Westbridge Coalition to assist homeowners  UU-UNO Intergenerational Conference (April 2008) Contact Jamie Forbes, Director of Youth Outreach,

29 Social Action and You  Numerous and varied Social Justice Initiatives.  Opportunities that can fit your availability and level of interest.  Now you know… What We Do, And … What You Can Do!  Speak to any of us about it - no pressure. Thanks for your Time and Interest!

30 Committee Chairs & Contact Information  Social Justice Director: David Vita,, 227-7205  Social Justice Council:,  Habitat for Humanity: Sherry Jagerson,,  Beardsley School: Mary Beth Mollica,,  Global Justice & the UU-UNO: David Vita,, 227-7205  Micro-finance: Dan McGovern,  Drumbeat for Darfur: Denise Donato McConnell,  Every Child is Our Child: Stephen Axthelm,, 917  Amnesty International: Dorothy Rich,  Unitarian Universalist Service (UUSC): Dorothy Rich,  CT Food Bank:Shari Brennan,  Green Sanctuary: Monique Bosch,  Environmental Action Group: Monique Bosch,  Anti-Racism: Catherine Onyemelukwe,,  Healtcare Task Force: Andy Wittenstein,  Youth: Jamie Forbes,,

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