Outreach - Overview
The Unitarian Universalist Meeting of South Berkshire has a deep commitment to programs supporting the many needs of our community and around the world. We provide opportunities for members and friends of our congregation to serve to the local and world community. We have an active social justice program in addition to our community outreach activities.
Our Social Justice programs and outreach include the following:
(also please see our ⇒ printable 2013 Winter/Spring Social Justice Calendar)
- People's Pantry – We collect food donations from our congregation and provide them to the People's Pantry on a weekly basis. Every seventh week we staff the food pantry operation helping to provide this service to the community.
- Breaking Bread Kitchen – We volunteer at the kitchen regularly with the Interfaith Committee of South Berkshire.
- Hands in Outreach – We sponsor the education of a Nepalese girl and send her letters and gifts.
- Habitat for Humanity – We volunteer on building projects in the fall and spring with the Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity in Pittsfield (http://www.berkshirehabitat.org/). We have sent teams of members and friends from the community to build houses for people in need. We also donate tools and provide substantial financial assistance fro purchase of construction materials. In this effort we traveled to El Salvador in 2001, Guatemala in 2002, Nicaragua in 2003, and Honduras in 2004. In 2006 we sent a team from our congregation and the community to help rebuild the Katrina devastation in New Orleans.
- Share the Plate – Once a month we have "share the plate" Sunday when all the monies collected during our service (that are not part of an annual pledge) are donated to a local charity. As part of this program we have supported Multicultural BRIDGE, Breaking Bread Kitchen, the People's Pantry, Construct, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Literacy Network, Community Health Program, Fairview Hospital, Gould Farm, New World Endowment Fund, and Community Services among many others.
- Construct – We have provided volunteers to help with the construction of new and rehabbing old structures to provide housing for those in need and help out with the Construct Walk every fall.
- Unitarian Universalist Service Committee – We provide financial support through our "Guest at Your Table" collection and Association Sundays.
- Holiday Gifts – We provide holiday gifts for many children in need through Community Services.
- Interfaith – We support the Great Barrington Interfaith Committee and participate in may interfaith events throughout the year.
Our Social Justice Committee was formally organized in May 2003. The objectives of the Committee are:
- Create awareness within our Congregation of the current social/political issues that are pivotal in our nation’s life and in the world,
- Research facts and perspectives relevant to these issues providing sources of information to our congregation and community,
- Provide a basis for making informed decisions,
- Take action as a committee on social justice issues and/or make proposals on which the Congregation can act,
- Write an annual report each year and give a copy to the President of the Board of Trustees.
Our projects have included:
Civil Liberties and the USA Patriot Act
We studied the issues involved in the USA Patriot Act, educated our congregation, prepared a resolution opposing those sections that we believe violate the United States Constitution, obtained unanimous approval by our congregation and communicated our views to our local , state and federal elected officials.
A Voter Registration/Get Out The Vote Campaign
During our campaign we registered 294 new voters far exceeding our expectations. We applied for and received a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Association to support our efforts. We created and gave wide distribution to our "Why Vote" brochure. We did extensive advertising in the local newspapers to provide voting information to the public and to generally raise awareness of the coming election.