Each month we identify a special project or community partner and we give away 25% of our weekly Sunday offerings to this effort.
April 2018: Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU)
Our Outreach Offering this month is in support of BLUU (Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism Organizing Collective). BLUU was formed in 2015 to provide resources and support for Black Unitarian Universalists and works to expand the role & visibility of Black UUs within our faith.
Following General Assembly in New Orleans in June 2017, the UUA launched “The Promise and the Practice of our Faith.” What is this groundbreaking vision?
“Imagine what our faith would look like if we upheld and centered the history, the perspectives, the voices, and the leadership of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalists…
The Promise and the Practice of Our Faith Campaign is our opportunity to take the lead as a faith denomination in addressing our history of upholding white supremacy. Together, we can collectively work to dismantle it and amend a long broken promise to the Black Lives within our Association.
Join our Association of Congregations as we do something different in this extraordinary moment to connect our finances with our theological values as we enter a new chapter within our faith.
Congregations are asked to join in the Promise and the Practice of Our Faith by engaging in the following opportunities:
- Schedule at least one Sunday this year to engage around the theme The Promise and the Practice of Our Faith. (*On Sunday, April 15 we will be participating here at USSB!)
- Make a financial commitment in our support to BLUU that is transformational and inspirational which helps fulfill our $1 million match opportunity (double the impact of your contribution by meeting the threshold of $10 per certified member, or however you count the souls you serve).
- Make a long-term commitment to dismantling white supremacy, racism, and oppression from within our denomination and beyond, and uplifting the Black Lives, Voices, and Leadership of Unitarian Universalism.
This is our time to be Bold, Radical, and Transformational as we commit to nurture a radically inclusive, justice centered, multiracial and multigenerational religious faith!”
Here at the Unitarian Society, we have a lead gift of $1,000 already promised to start us on the road to fulfilling our goal of $10/per member, or about $4,200. You can find out more information about this campaign here.
MARCH 2018: 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 1) – 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 2018: Alliance for Living and Dying Well
The 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.
The 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 educational events and free public workshops where people receive materials and help to prepare their own Advance Healthcare Directives.
For the past five years, the Alliance has presented “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.
In 2018, the Alliance for Living and Dying Well will begin working on a new effort to expand its membership. In addition to the existing collaborative governing board, the Alliance will be working to broaden our membership to include more local hospice agencies, retirement communities, social service agencies, and faith communities. This new, more diverse and larger group of stakeholders will meet regularly to discuss end-of-life issues, create new initiatives and establish a strong local coalition of entities concerned with easing the way at the end of life.
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 that families have greater peace of mind.
Learn more at www.allianceforlivinganddyingwell.org.
January 2018: Hopi Service Trip
During the last week in March, a small group from our congregation will travel to the Hopi reservation in Arizona to visit with elders and provide much needed support. The money raised in January’s outreach offering will go toward the supplies and fresh food that we will bring with us.
These trips, which we have been taking about every other year since 2011, have become an important touchstone in our congregation’s life. Although the work we do on the reservation is simple – fixing some of the elders’ houses, delivering baskets of fresh food and supplies, learning more about the cultures and customs of our hosts – the deeper work is about tending the interdependent web. Because of what we have learned in Arizona, we have grown in our understanding of the history of indigenous peoples in the United States, including here in Santa Barbara. We go not on a mission to convert, but as people willing to put our hands and hearts into service, and with the knowledge that we will walk away with more than we brought.
Please contact Rev. Julia if you have any questions or are interested in participating in this trip, which will be from March 24-31. Space is limited! Youth accompanied by an adult family member are welcome to participate.
DECEMBER 2017: SARAH HOUSE
Sarah House provides a restful home and end-of-life care for low-income people 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.
The heart of Sarah House is the certainty that death is so much more than a medical event. Sarah House staff is dedicated to serve, help and accompany. They awaken folks in the morning and say goodnight in the evening. They cook, clean, drive, hold hands and sit beside. And through it all, they love.
During December only, you can make your donation go further by donating to Sarah House through the new Santa Barbara Gives! initiative. To learn more and donate, click here.
Or make your Sunday offering checks payable to FUND FOR SANTA BARBARA, with “Sarah House” in the memo line.
To learn more, visit www.sarahhousesb.org.
November 2017: Wilderness Youth Project
This month’s Outreach Offering recipient is Wilderness Youth Project (WYP). Since 1999, this local nonprofit has sought to immerse children and youth in nature, with the goal of developing their connections with others, themselves, and the natural world.
WYP believes that time in nature stimulates powers of observation and creativity, lowers stress and diminishes the propensity toward violence.
An important new WYN initiative is “Bridge to Nature,” a program that works with Santa Barbara public elementary schools to bring Wilderness Youth Project programs into the school day, and at-risk students into nature. Amy Alzina, principal at Adams Elementary School, writes: “Wilderness Youth Project has sparked new hope and an excitement for learning in our students. These at-risk students are experiencing “success” for the first time in their lives. Their self-confidence and motivation to learn is what we as educators strive to achieve in all of our children.”
Sixty-percent of the all WYP participants receive scholarships and all are mentored four-to-one, youth-to-counselor. 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
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.