Each month we identify a special project or community partner and we give away 25% of our weekly Sunday offerings to this effort.
October 2017: Transition House
Transition House is an emergency shelter and anti-poverty program for families with children in Santa Barbara, providing services to address the cycle of poverty-based family homelessness. Each year, Transition House helps 150 homeless families with children, and 50 families that are at risk for homelessness acquire the tools necessary for self-sufficiency. With the support of case managers, parents are empowered to find work that pays a living wage, save money, develop life skills, and secure permanent housing for their families. Transition House is the only homelessness organization in Santa Barbara that exclusively serves families with children.
Transition House was founded by a consortium of faith communities in 1984. For the first two years of its existence, homeless families and individuals were housed in local church basements and fellowship halls — moving from one congregation to the next every 30 days. Currently, Transition House operates an emergency shelter at 434 E. Ortega Street, a second-stage transitional housing unit called the “Firehouse,” and 35 units of permanent, affordable, supportive housing.
Approximately 70 percent of homeless families who enter Transition House’s emergency shelter program succeed in transitioning into permanent housing. That is a truly significant indication of the program’s success. For more information, visit transitionhouse.com.
September 2017: Showers of Blessing
The Showers of Blessing project provides houseless people in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Isla Vista with the simple gift of a shower – giving them hope, dignity, and a tool to better their lives.
The need for showers for homeless people was first identified in 2010 by HEAL (Health, Empowerment and Love). Operations began with the acquisition of a two-shower trailer by Christ Lutheran Church of Goleta and a donated truck to pull it. Now, the shower trailer arrives in Isla Vista on Mondays and Goleta and Santa Barbara on Thursdays. At all three locations, a meal is also served.
You might not think a simple shower would make a big difference in someone’s life, but since the project started, guests have expressed how a warm shower feels good to them both physically and mentally.
“I feel like a human again.”
“It’s amazing how much better a single shower can make you feel.”
“Really, I can look for ways to make my life better now.”
In September, our outreach offering will have a big impact, as an anonymous donor has pledged to match every dollar donated by anyone to Showers of Blessing between now and September 30, 2017. Please give generously to support this important project in our backyard.
August 2017: UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST JUSTICE MINISTRY OF CALIFORNIA (UUJMCA)
The Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California (UUJMCA) aims to make the world more just by empowering the network of Unitarian Universalists in California. This ministry cultivates and connects leaders and communities and seeks to strengthen the public voice of those who share UU values and principles in our state. UUJMCA list of priority issues includes:
- Living Wage
- Climate Justice
- Right to Water
- Equity Ministry
- Immigrant Justice
The Justice Ministry also offers training and education in social justice issues existing in California. In July of this year, UUJMCA hosted an experiential learning trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to see first-hand the consequences of U.S. immigration policy. This month, UUJMCA will host the sixth annual Walking the Walk Justice Leadership Summit at Camp de Benneville in the San Bernardino mountains. Attendees of all ages will receive education on the social-justice issues at hand, along with skill-building, networking and even rejuvenation. Please give generously each Sunday in August to this crucially important regional effort. For more information, visit www.uujmca.org.
JULY 2017: UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST SERVICE COMMITTEE
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) advances human rights through grassroots collaboration. In more than a dozen countries throughout the world, UUSC fosters social justice and works toward a world free from oppression. UUSC’s innovative approaches and measurable impact — in promoting economic justice, bolstering environmental justice, and protecting rights at risk — are grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power, dignity, and rights. UUSC envisions a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights.
Here are a few recent updates on the work being done by our denomination’s justice and human rights organization:
We at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara have the chance to provide extra support to UUSC through our Outreach Offering gifts. Their work is needed now more than ever. Please give generously to plate offerings in July to support UUSC.
June 2017: Our Local LGBTQ Partners
The Outreach Offering for June goes to our local LGBTQ partners, including Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN). These organizations provide services and advocacy for the gay and transgender community and have facilitated the “Love. Period” interfaith services at the Sunken Gardens for the past two years.
The Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara has had a longstanding relationship with the Pacific Pride Foundation. We turn to PPF for resources and education as we seek to grow in our understanding of the current needs of the LGBTQ community. Our own spiritual journey is enriched by our work with Pacific Pride, and we have stood with PPF in the public square to advocate for justice and celebrate our progress!
PFLAG describes itself as “the extended family of the LGBTQ community.” Its membership consists of LGBTQ individuals and their family members, friends and allies. They provide peer-to-peer support, publications, tool kits, and other resources to support LGBTQ family members. This allows families to then further support, affirm, and advocate on behalf of their LGBTQ loved ones.
SBTAN educates individuals and organizations on best practices for transgender and gender expansive clients, patients, students, congregants and families. It creates spaces, actions, and policies that advance the welfare of transgender people and their allies in Central Coast communities. SBTAN has provided training to workplaces, schools, medical providers and social service agencies, including Cottage Health Emergency, UCSB Faculty and staff, and Santa Barbara public and private high schools.
May 2017: Clergy and Laity United for Justice (CLUE-SB)
CLUE-SB is a network of inter-faith community leaders and members organized to address the root causes of local economic injustices to those marginalized in Santa Barbara County. Our current justice work includes:
- Those with mental illness
- Those without homes
- Those harmed by damage to the environment
- Low wage workers and their families
How does CLUE do this work? We:
- Bear witness to injustice, listen to the stories of those marginalized, & empower them to have a voice in public policy
- Organize faith communities to address the root causes of economic injustices of those marginalized in our communities
- Develop leadership for social justice in our faith communities
- Build diverse collaborations among faith communities and other organizations to achieve major policy changes
- Initiate research and educate communities on how policy issues impact economic justice
- Model compassionate communication in interactions with the public and elected officials
- Advocate within individual faith communities and the community at large to create systemic changes for economic justice
Rev. Julia Hamilton recently rejoined the CLUE Board (USSB member Wayne Mellinger is also a member of the Board). Among other projects, this organization spearheads the local interfaith sanctuary work to support the immigrant and migrant community here in Santa Barbara. For more information, visit www.cluesb.org.
April 2017: Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
Founded in 1999, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds. Through science-based advocacy, education, monitoring, and enforcement, Channelkeeper defends our community’s right to clean water and informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak and act for our waterways.
Channelkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, a global network of more than 300 Waterkeepers on six continents collectively patrolling and protecting 2.3 million square miles of watersheds. This small but mighty watchdog group uses a unique and strategic set of tools to keep watch for clean water on the South Coast, including:
- Advocating for policies to protect and conserve our water resources
- Compelling polluters to clean up their act
- Monitoring water quality and aquatic habitats in streams and on the Santa Barbara Channel (aboard their boat, the R/V Channelkeeper!)
- Engaging volunteers in beach and creek clean-ups, stream sampling, and monitoring Marine Protected Areas
- Educating kids and the wider community about the threats facing our waterways and solutions to address them.
March 2017: Hunt for Justice
Fill an Easter Egg with love and justice! Each year, our children and youth participate in a special egg hunt on Easter morning (this year on Sunday, April 16) – a “Hunt for Justice” that happens right here at USSB. The money raised by the congregation through this month’s collection is divided up into small amounts written on slips of paper and hidden inside plastic eggs. Several local nonprofit agencies are identified. On Easter morning, the kids get to “vote” with the eggs that they find, placing the dollar amounts in baskets associated with each organization. The money is then given away based on the kids’ choices. This is a fun way to engage our children in giving back to the community and to demonstrate our values of generosity and compassion across the generations.
February 2017: Alliance for Living and Dying Well
Alliance for Living and Dying Well is a unique collaboration of local Santa Barbara entities involved in end-of-life issues and preparedness, including Cottage Health, Sansum Clinic, hospice agencies, retirement homes, physicians, faith leaders, and local foundations.
Alliance was formed with three purposes in mind:
- Develop and provide opportunities to foster conversation about living and dying well that are safe and supportive,
- Cultivate a dialogue that reduces the stress of loved ones when difficult end-of-life decisions must be made, and
- Enhance the quality and coordination of end-of-life care services in Santa Barbara County.
The Alliance accomplishes their purposes through community-wide awareness and education events and free public workshops where people receive materials and help to prepare their own Advance Healthcare Directives. Recent examples of community events include:
- “Living Fully through the End of Life,” with Dr. Ira Byock, author and physician on the front lines of hospital-based palliative care.
- “Get it Done Today!” a day-long, all-out effort to help people complete their Advance Healthcare Directives in one sitting. The Alliance provides materials, facilitators, copy machines, and even a notary public – all free of charge and all in the interest of serving as many Santa Barbara County residents as possible in one day.
- “The Film Series,” featuring films that provide information or inspiration on aspects of death and dying.
Each month, the Alliance for Living and Dying Well provides free Advance Care Directive workshops at five locations throughout the city. The Alliance trains volunteers to provide expert facilitation, and supplies all documents and explanatory materials free of charge. The Alliance for Living and Dying Well is helping to ensure that people in our county have the end-of-life care they desire and families have greater peace of mind.
Learn more at www.allianceforlivinganddyingwell.org.
January 2017: YRUU Fund for College Exam Fees
YRUU invites you to join us in supporting local students seeking higher education.
YRUU is putting all the proceeds from this month’s offering toward starting an anonymous fund that seeks to help low income students in Santa Barbara pay for college exams.
During our service work in New Orleans we were struck by the disparate access to fair and equitable education in the city. We were invited to a community meeting at the historic St. James AME Church, where parents, educators, and city officials had an impassioned debate on the status of access to equitable education. Students had to leave for classes at 5:00 a.m., charter schools frequently shut down with no notice, and many schools might have three or four instructors rotate through one class in a year.
As we reflected upon how this disparity might exist within our community, it was brought to our attention that 50% of college bound students in Santa Barbara are on public meal assistance. This means their family income is so low that many of the students risk missing at least one meal a day without support. To extend what this means, if SATs cost $90 per an exam, Advanced Placement exams cost $123, and others even more – the cost of even applying to university becomes prohibitive for many students, and students who have the ability but not the funds to apply to the elite schools of our country are thus denied a chance to achieve the “American Dream.”
We felt it our duty as UU’s to seek justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. This includes our fellow students in the Santa Barbara area. Please support us in affirming our UU principles to create a better and more equitable tomorrow for all our youth of the Central Coast as YRUU establishes the first fund in the district dedicated to helping all students rise up to their vision of tomorrow.
December 2016: Sarah House
Sarah House was chosen by vote of the congregation to receive our Outreach Offering for December. Sarah House provides a restful home and end-of-life care for people of low income, and men and women with HIV/AIDS, offering compassionate care to residents and help and comfort to family and friends, with “extraordinary kindness.”
Twenty-five years ago, during the AIDS crisis, Sarah House (then called Heath House) opened its doors to people in need. In those early days, there were few places where people suffering from the effects of HIV/AIDS could go to find safety, friendship and loving care. Today, Sarah House continues the mission. Many residents at Sarah House are without a home, and all are unable to care for themselves. At Sarah House, they find care, comfort and compassion. Far from being a “facility,” it is clearly a home — a comfortable, lovely home in which people may live out their final days. When the weather is right, residents can feel the ocean breeze coming up from Hendry’s Beach.
Local hospice organizations come by daily for medical needs. But the heart of Sarah House is the certainty that death is so much more than a medical event. Sarah House staff are on duty and dedicated to serve, to help, and to accompany. They awaken folks in the morning and say goodnight in the evening. They cook and they clean. They drive and they sit beside. They hold hands and they listen. And through it all, they love.
“I have learned that the meaning of extraordinary kindness at Sarah House is something that we should all incorporate into our lives, in all our interactions with others. I saw the unconditional love and acceptance open the heart of my brother in his last days and touch the hearts and minds of all his friends who witnessed the many acts of love he received. Thank you for giving my brother so much, as he had so little.”
– Resident Family Member
To learn more, visit www.sarahhousesb.org.
November 2016: Wilderness Youth Project
This month’s recipient chosen by the congregation to receive 25% of the offering plate (and 100% of checks written specifically to the giftee via USSB) is Wilderness Youth Project (WYP). This local 501(c)(3) nonprofit that began in 1999 immerses children and youth in nature with the goal of developing their ability to “connect with others, themselves, and the natural world.” WYP “envisions teaching the next generation to be peaceful, respectful and confident stewards of our world.” A growing body of research has confirmed that spending time in nature makes all of us happier, smarter, and healthier. Time in nature “stimulates powers of observation and creativity” as well as dramatically lowers stress, the propensity toward violence, and problems with attention. In addition, WYP models inclusiveness, as participants learn the joy of being part of a caring group and practice cultivating gratitude and awareness. Sixty-percent of the participants receive scholarships and all are mentored four-to-one, youth-to-counselor. In 2015, 675 youth in Santa Barbara’s south coast were served. The congregant who suggested WYP be a recipient of one of our outreach offerings sees the organization’s mission and activities as meshing with an unusually high number of USSB Ends or Goals. and in particular cited “care for our earth and its rich web of life” and “welcoming and connecting with people across differences…” Your support will enable more young people in the Santa Barbara area to connect with the healing powers of nature, learn confidence-building skills, and discover life-transformative and sustaining practices. More information is at www.wyp.org