The Social Action Council
Mission Statement: The purpose of our Social Action Council (SAC) is to help the congregation realize its overall mission to transform lives and care for the world with a special emphasis on its related vision to promote justice by working for the fair and compassionate treatment of all people and the interdependent web of creation. Thus, the Council’s mission is to guide the UUCV congregation and its resources towards the betterment of our community and, as an extension, the world by seeking both social and environmental justice
It is easy to become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the social and environmental issues we encounter daily at local, state, national and international levels. This has prompted our congregants and SAC members to discuss which of many projects that we might work on have the potential to be sustainable, and lead to lasting improvements in social and environmental justice. We attempt to select projects that meet the criterion for sustainable development that was formulated in 1987 by The World Commission on Environment and Development. Sustainable Development enables people to meet their own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This entails economic, environmental and social sustainability. For example, giving food to the working poor who depend on Project S.H.A.R.E., our local food bank, is a humane thing to do, but it is not sustainable. Contributions to S.H.A.R.E. do not help us solve a fundamental problem—many low wage workers are not earning enough feed their families in our area. Although support for Project S.H.A.R.E. is needed at this time, it must be coupled with political action to raise wages if the elimination of hunger is to become sustainable.
Although Council members organize and participate in many planned and spontaneous activities each year, currently we have focused on three “sustainable” initiatives with the intention of adding additional initiatives as time and energy permit. Our special initiatives and a number of other activities that have been undertaken by Council members are summarized below.
- UUCV’S Mozambique Girls Education Project
- The Correctional Justice Initiative
- The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Justice Initiative
- The Franklin GLBT Justice Fund
- Grants to Promote GLBT Justice
- Other Activities: Change for the World
- Discussions, Movies and Lectures
- SAM: The Social Action Matters Newsletter
- Political Activities
- Project S.H.A.R.E.
- Fair Trade Sales
Almost one out of every three sexually active adults in Mozambique is HIV positive, as are many children of HIV infected parents. Girls who stay in school are more likely to delay marriage and motherhood. This reduces the spread of AIDS and slows the rate of population growth. In addition, girls who finish upper primary school (6th and 7th grades) are also more likely to become community leaders, acquire the capability to earn extra money for their families, and see that their children attend school. Thus, helping girls stay in school has sustainable benefits.
For the past 7 years the Social Action Council (SAC) has been raising funds to provide bursaries (scholarships) that enable girls from rural villages in Zambézia in Mozambique to attend school beyond the 5th grade level. Each of the girls who have been supported with UUCV Bursary funds has been an active member of a village PEDRA club designed to educate girls ages 8-14 about AIDS and its prevention. The extensive network of village PEDRA clubs, funded by Church World Service, currently serves about 440 girls each year. Through the encouragement of CWS partner PEDRA (Portuguese for “stone”), young girls in rural villages are attending school, participating in after-school skills-building activities and postponing early marriages.
How and when did the UUCV help start a Girl’s Education project in Africa? One of our members, Priscilla Laws, visited Mozambique to learn more about the sustainable development work done by the son and daughter-in-law of two UUCV members Dan and Joan Bechtel. After her visit in 2004, overseas personnel working with the Christian Council of Mozambique – a non-profit organization in Zambézia – contacted Priscilla about the possibility of UUCV raising “bursary” funds to support PEDRA Club girls who want to attend upper primary school, high school and vocational schools. In order to attend school beyond the 5th grade girls must leave their villages and live in residence buildings at school centers in Molumbo, Namarrói, or Quelimane
The UUCV Bursary program started in 2005 when we supported 24 PEDRA club girls who had finished the top grade in their local villages. The program has expanded and since 2008 UUCV funds have enabled between 90 and 100 girls to attend school each year either by attending grades 6 through 12 or studying at a vocational school. Several years ago 12 girls chose to enroll in a three-year vocational program at the Nicodala Teachers College rather than go to high school. When they finished the program in 2008, they were hired as elementary school teachers in small villages near their family homes.
What Oversight Does the Project Have? Project oversight is facilitated by review trips taken every second or third year by UUCV representatives. Priscilla Laws has visited the project four times since 2005. Terri Smiley accompanied her in the Fall of 2009. In September 2012 Priscilla Laws as well as Theo and Becca Light completed our most recent review trip. Also, each year the Social Action Council’s Bursary coordinator, Priscilla Laws, receives semi-annual reports from the Mozambique on-site project Manager. Additional reports are sent by personnel in the Kenya Office of Church World Service who having been visiting the PEDRA Club and PEDRA Bursary girls twice each year have been sending reports. Currently Priscilla Laws reports on the project at monthly Social Action Committee meetings.
The program pays school fees, passage to school and to home at the start and end of each school term, school uniform (skirt and blouse), products for personal hygiene, and school supplies throughout the term depending on each girl’s needs in her program.
Recognition for the Bursary Project: In January 2007 the Unitarian Universalist Global AIDS Coalition (UU-GAC) named UUCV as a Red Ribbon Congregation to recognize the role SAC’s Bursary Project has played in the international efforts to curb the spread of AIDS in Africa.
The 2013 Bursary Campaign: The campaign for 2012 will begin in Dec 2012 and run through Jan 2013. Some of the girls continue to the next grade, some will finish high school this year, and a few will go from 10th grade to Teachers College with our bursary support. But up to 50 more PEDRA club girls will be ready to leaving their villages to live in Namarrói or Molumbo so we estimate that we’ll need to support about 140 girls during 2013. A bursary costs about $250. Information on how UUCV congregants can make tax-deductible contributions to the project can be found in the monthly UUCV Newsletter and Weekly editions of PreViews. Any amount will be appreciated. The basic procedure for congregants will be to make out a check to UUCV with the words “Moz Bursary Project” in the subject line and put it in the collection basket during any of the services during December or January. Alternatively, checks can be mailed to:
Mozambique Bursary Project
P.O. Box 207
Boiling Springs, PA 17007
Can I make a gift in honor of someone? If you want to designate one or more people and honor them with your gift, you can pick up a bursary project “In Your Honor Card” at the Social Action table, fill it out and give it to your honoree.
How can I provide information about giving to a friend? Many or our donors are not local or do not attend UUCV. You can pick up a bursary materials on the Social Action Bursary table including a project brochure, a bio of some of the girls, and a return envelope to mail to friends.
Questions about the Bursary Project? Anyone associated with UUCV with questions about the Project or the Social Action Council’s Bursary Campaign should talk to members of the 2012-13 UUCV Bursary Committee consisting of: Priscilla Laws, Terri Smiley, Theo Light, and Devonna Jonsson. Others who are interested in the project can send an email to the project coordinator Priscilla Laws.
One goal of CJI is to educate congregation members and the larger community about issues of justice and law in the courts and the prisons. A second goal has been to help indigent inmates at the SCI Muncy Prison. Holiday collections were held during the last two years to provide $30 for 30 Women. Many women who received the UUCV gift responded with requests for ongoing interaction with UUCV and information about Unitarian Universalism. SAC has been sending monthly packets to about 50 Muncy women that include materials for one service: the Order of Service, a copy of the sermon, and associated readings and hymns. Several families are serving as pen pals to some of the prisoners. We feel that prisoners deserve to be treated as individuals who have inherent worth and dignity and that our efforts are sustainable if the prisoners whom we reach are more likely to become functional citizens if and when they are released.
Correctional Justice Matters Newletters :
Correctional Forum Newsletters :
|2008 Issue 1||2007 Winter Issue|
In June 2005, SAC decided to mount an initiative to secure equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) citizens as one of its special initiatives. The GLBT Justice Initiative task force has mounted public lectures and participates in the Pridefest festival and parade held in Harrisburg each summer. Its latest project is to encourage the Carlisle Borough Council to adopt an ordinance that insures GLBT rights in housing and employment as part of an inclusivity resolution the Council has already passed. The passage and enforcement of such an ordinance can have a sustainable impact on enhancing social justice for local gay citizens. In addition, the GLBT Justice Initiative group is organizing a regional group to promote statewide legislation to allow civil unions and to oppose an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same sex marriages in Pennsylvania.
The congregation at UUCV has established a fund in honor of Alan Franklin, a founding member of UUCV who worked tirelessly for many years to promote Justice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people at the local, state and national level. The Fund was established at UUCV at the time of Alan’s death in August 2010.
- Alan was a World War II Veteran
- He was a scientist at the National Institute for Standards & Technology who retired to Central PA in 1995
- He worked with youth groups and young people who needed academic help in Washington DC and Cumberland County
- He helped GLBT Justice organizations such as UUPlan, the Silent Witness Peace Keepers, the Gay-Straight Alliance, Equality PA, the Human Rights Campaign, and others fight for justice.
UUCV is seeking to continue Alan’s efforts to promote justice in Central Pennsylvania by awarding grants of up to $600 each year to help one or two local GLBT organizations with their work. NOTE: Additional donations to the fund would be welcome.
Because of Alan’s interest in helping young people, special consideration will be given to applications from organizations that serve youth and young adults or have young members.
Activities could include:
- Events that raise public awareness of the inequalities faced by GLBT people
- Efforts to promote and support legislation to protect GLBT rights
- Support for the creation of documentary materials about GLBT issues
Applications to help support activities to be conducted in 2013 must be submitted by November 1, 2012. An Application Form can be downloaded. Also a copy of a flyer announcing this GLBT Justice Grant Program can be downloaded.
Awards will be announced by January 7, 2013
For more information contact:
- Cindy Good at email@example.com
- UUCV, PO Box 207, Boiling Springs, PA 17007 | Tel: (717) 249-8944
The Social Action Council manages a Change for the World project in which the coins collected every Sunday in a given month are given to a different cause—typically a local organization. Approximately $3000 is collected each year to support organizations such as the local chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Katrina Hurricane Relief, YWCA Young Wonders Day Camp, Hospice of Central Pennsylvania, Project S.H..AR.E., and the Carlisle C.A.R.E.S. Homeless Shelter Project.
CFW recipients are recommended by UUCV congregants or members of the Social Action Council following guidelines.
As interest arises, SAC organizes roundtable discussions on crucial issues such as U.S. involvement in the Iraq war. Discussions after thought-provoking lectures and films at local theaters, colleges, and universities are also popular. Sometimes a discussion group is organized around a topic of common concern. For example, recently a new foreign relations discussion group has formed with the help of SAC members.
Our Social Action Matters Newsletter is published several times each year to give UUCV congregants more detailed accounts of its current activities and important social justice issues. It is typically about 6 pages long and includes photographs. Back issues are available on our website.
|2006 Issue 1||2008 Issue 1||2008 Issue 5|
|2007 Issue 1||2008 Issue 2||2009 Issue 1|
|2007 Issue 2||2008 Issue 3||2010 Issue 1|
|2007 Issue 3||2008 Issue 4|
During the 2004 presidential election, SAC members mounted a voter registration drive. More recently, SAC members helping with the GLBT Justice Initiative circulated a petition against the Marriage Amendment pending in the Pennsylvania Legislature. SAC members delivered the petition and discussed their concerns with State Senator Pat Vance. In addition, four UUCV members attended a Value Families Rally at the State Capital to oppose the amendment.
In the past few years SAC has organized trips to various protest rallies in Washington including anti-war and pro-choice marches. These included the Unitarian Universalist Call for Justice Weekend events in Washington DC to oppose US involvement in torture.
From time to time SAC helps with the collection of food and clothing for Project S.H.A.R.E., our local food bank that is supported by area churches. Members also encourage children in UUCV’s religious education program to get involved. In addition several UUCV members serve as regular S.H.A.R.E volunteers.
For the past few years SAC has conducted Fair Trade sales at Dickinson College, at the Carlisle Amani Festival and in the UUCV Social Hall after services during the winter holidays. These sales are conducted to help artisans and food suppliers from developing countries realize a fair return for their handmade crafts and food items. Most of the items are sold on consignment from two non-profit organizations -- Greater Gift (a SERRV International Program) and the Ten Thousand Villages store in Mechanicsburg. SAC’s modest return on its sales has been contributed to the Bursary Fund to help with schooling for girls from Mozambique.
Guidelines for Change for the World
Approved by the SAC on February 13, 2007
The Social Action Council of UUCV uses the following guidelines in choosing Change for the World recipients that are recommended by congregants or members of the Council:
- Normally grants will be made to organizations or groups providing a needed service or services in the South-central region of the Commonwealth, with special consideration given to local groups.
- In some cases grants will be given to support national or international projects that have ties with UUCV members.
- Consideration will be given to the level of need of the recipient (organization, group or individual), with special consideration given to beneficiaries for whom a grant of $225-$250 might be crucial.
- In cases where grants are made to individuals, preference will be given to UUCV members and families with special needs.
UUCV members who wish to recommend a recipient of a Change for the World grant are required to submit a nomination in writing or via email to the Social Action Council c/o firstname.lastname@example.org and provide information about the recipient and the service or services it provides.