Each month we identify a special project or community partner and we give away 25% of our weekly Sunday offerings to this effort.
November 2018: Wilderness Youth Project
Wilderness Youth Project envisions teaching the next generation of children to be peaceful, respectful and confident stewards of our world. We are grateful for the support of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara: we have always felt strong alignment with Unitarian Universalist principles, and we believe that the work we do to connect children with nature creates respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
We believe that all children need nature: not just the ones with parents who appreciate nature, and not just those from a certain socioeconomic class, culture, or set of abilities. That’s why we rely on the support of our generous community to provide scholarships to most of our participants.
Wilderness Youth Project provides the essential (and, sadly, often missing) ingredient of nature in childhood. Equally importantly, our nature exploration takes place in small groups of 12 students with three adults. We also teach principles of peacemaking and celebrate the inherent worth and dignity of every single member of our community, and adhere to a commitment to justice, equity and compassion in our relations to one another and to the plants and animals that surround us.
Wilderness Youth Project is building a Bridge to Nature for the children in Santa Barbara who are least likely to access time outdoors. Various estimates suggest that kids today spend something like five to seven minutes of unstructured time outdoors each day. We know that’s not enough, so we have created partnerships with schools and other community groups to go find the children who need us most and get them outdoors and in touch with the nature world… and with themselves.
Jose, one of our fourth graders, made the drawing above after his first expedition to Lizard’s Mouth with Wilderness Youth Project. Together, we will inspire more young people to this feeling!
OCTOBER 2018: 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 2018: Showers of Blessing
Showers of Blessing is on a mission and it’s not what you might think. Sure, one could say that our mission is to provide showers to people who are experiencing homelessness, and that would certainly be adequate. But we see our mission as much bigger than that. In fact, we see it as nothing less than unleashing a radical hospitality revolution in our fair city.
Our charge is to transform how our community sees and serves people experiencing homelessness. We do this by enlisting the time and talents of community volunteers in providing stellar customer service to the downtrodden, the forgotten, the dispossessed.
We offer a safe respite, kind words, a new pair of high quality cotton socks, and a new pair of custom made cotton underwear. We provide each guest with a soft fluffy towel and wash cloth, and offer a hand up as they enter their own private bathroom. Ten minutes later, the instant the door latch clicks open, we help our guest descend from the bathroom and we ask, “How do you feel?” and “Is there any way we could make this better?”
At the heart of everything we do is our guests…the people we serve.
We want to invite you to join our Radical Hospitality Revolution. Volunteer with us. We need helpers at all seven of our weekly sites. There are many ways to serve: driving our truck and trailer; or laundering towels; or welcoming our guests at the sign-in table; or sanitizing the bathroom after each use; or handing out socks and underwear. Contact our volunteer coordinator,
Jean Michel, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 455-1917.
We gladly accept financial contributions at showersofblessingiv.org.
Join the revolution!
August 2018: 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:
• Immigrant Justice
• Living Wage
• Climate Justice
• Right to Water
• Equity Ministry
UUJMA has been on the front lines of the immigration policy crisis playing out at the US-Mexico Border. Thousands of children have been separated from their families, and the situation is still critical for the well-being of the young children being detained. As Unitarian Universalists we are called to uphold the worth and dignity of all. There is nothing that stands against those values more clearly than forcibly separating children from their parents. UUJMCA advocates direct action for awareness-raising, for witness, and for solidarity. One of the many actions we can take is advocating for the Keep Families Together Act. On July 2 of this year, as part of UUJMOM’s coalition work, UUs from across the country came to San Diego to take part in a powerful day of action organized by Latinx organization Mijente. UUJMCA collaborated with the UUA, UU Service Committee, the Side with Love Campaign, Black Lives of UU, UURISE and others to coordinate the Unitarian Universalist response…and it was strong! Please support social justice in California with your generous offerings in August. For more information, visit www.uujmca.org.
July 2018: The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)
As we all know, recent changes in US immigration policy have resulted in refugee children being separated from their parents at the US-Mexican border. The human suffering caused by the splintering of families and isolation of children as young as two years of age has deeply concerned many Americans, and we as Unitarians believe the practice must be stopped. A recent National Public Radio report said, “Pediatricians and immigrant advocates are warning that separating migrant children from their families can cause ‘toxic stress’ that disrupts a child’s brain development and harms longterm health.”
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is at the front lines of this issue along the international border in Texas. What better cause to support with our Outreach Offering for July? RAICES Legal Representation, Education, and Advocacy Fund (LEAF) In a 13-day period this May, 658 children were separated from their parents at the border. As hundreds of children are being taken away from their parents at the border, RAICES received word in mid-June that federal funding to represent unaccompanied children in court is ending. Representation is often the last line of safety for vulnerable children.
RAICES has also started a Family Reunification Bond Fund—helping get parents out of jail so they can be reunited with their children. Raising funds for bonds is one of the best ways to increase someone’s chances in immigration court. Their case is much more likely to be successful if they are not in jail—and in this instance, it means they can be reunited with their family. Please give as generously as you can to Outreach Offerings in July to support the RAICES. Our collective contribution may help reunite families and provide comfort to people seeking safety and justice in the United States. For more information, go to www.raicestexas.org.
June 2018: 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 three years.
1. Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF)
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!
2. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
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.
3. Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN)
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 2018: 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 empowers people to speak and act for our waterways. Channelkeeper was on the scene in the aftermath of the recent fire and flood devastation in our community. They fielded calls from local citizens and reporters about water quality, the nature of the mud deposited on beaches and the safety of entering the water in the Channel. They initiated daily sampling of fecal bacteria levels at Rincon and Campus Point beaches and tested the mud deposited on Goleta and Carpinteria beaches for harmful chemicals and toxic effects to wildlife. Throughout the crisis, Channelkeeper provided regular updates to news outlets, generated helpful fact sheets, and used social media to keep the public informed. 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.
To learn more about Santa Barbara Channelkeeper visit www.sbck.org.
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.