Service and Social Justice through the Unitarian Society of New Haven

We believe that in order for our religious faith to be of importance, it must be made manifest in the way we live our lives. At the Unitarian Society we encourage our members to be alert to the ways we are all called to service and to the work of social justice.  The Task Forces and interest groups described here are coordinated through our Social Justice Council, which helps to balance and coordinate our efforts.

We warmly encourage you to explore the social justice volunteer opportunities available through our community. As you feel your own yearning to put your skills and faith to work in lessening the suffering of the world, are these initiatives a good match for you? If you have a strong pull in a direction not yet represented by our existing efforts, please begin by contacting our Social Action Council.

Social Justice Council contact person:  Anne Sommer (anne.sommer@earthlink.net).

Abraham’s Tent

This joint project of Columbus House and over twenty area congregations provides meals and overnight quarters for 12-15 homeless men during the   winter. It also provides education regarding solutions to homelessness and support to those advocating for a home for everyone. Contacts: Fred Morrison, Paul Trotta fredmorrison@comcast.net

Columbus House 4th Friday Dinners

For many years 15-30 USNH volunteers have prepared, donated and/or served a monthly meal to 100 residents of Columbus House, significantly reducing its food and staffing costs.  Columbus House also provides shelter, case management, and health services to those who are homeless and transitioning. USNH takes responsibility for dinner on the fourth Friday of each month and for the fifth Friday when there is one.   Contact: Lesley Hart Lesley.hart@yale.edu

Health Care Reform Advocates

HCRA’s mission is to educate and organize in support of healthcare reform in CT that will promote justice, equity and compassion by establishing a health care system that enhances health and well-being, includes everyone, is continuous and portable, affordable, and sustainable.  Contact: Steve Jennings stevejandgj@aol.com

USNH/Waverly Partnership

Waverly Townhouses is a 54 unit public housing development in New Haven where approximately 90 children live.  For over fifteen years, members of our congregation have partnered with adult residents of Waverly to provide safe and interesting activities for children and teens. Over the years this program has expanded and evolved to include several different dimensions; throughout, the strength of the partnership arises from the leadership provided by Waverly residents while USNH provides support.

Waverly Little Learners: This program is held in one of the housing units at Waverly that has been set up as a learning center. Twelve children ages 5 – 10 meet each Wednesday in 8-week sessions for activities such as computer games, craft projects, and creating/performing plays.  Contacts: Carole Arnold/Linda Brayplantsala@snet.net

Waverly Youth Leadership Program: This program meets Wednesday nights at USNH. 12 to 18 Waverly teenagers gather for discussions of current events affecting their lives, community service, crafts, “moments of math and science,” and peaceful times together in a safe environment.  Volunteers participate as drivers, advisors and cooks. Contact: Sharon McBlain sharon@mcblainbooks.com

Peace Information Reflection/Action Group

Our convening mission is to raise awareness of 6 peaceful, nonviolent active groups who are working to end the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Acting as individuals, we hope to raise awareness of these inspiring groups and their efforts for peace with the media.  If you share a belief in peaceful non-violent resistance, we welcome your help.  Contacts:  Caroline Bridgeman-Rees bridgmanrees@sbcglobal.net Ellen McCarthy Herbalist9@aol.com

Immigration Rights Task Force

This group focuses on immigration as a moral, social, economic, political and human rights issue. It advocates for the rights of immigrants and supports immigrants through a volunteer partnership with JUNTA for Progressive Action, the New Haven immigrant advocacy organization. Contact: Gil Belaval Gilberto.belaval@snet.net

The Anti-Racism Team

With assistance from our denomination, our Anti-Racism Team was founded over ten years ago. The current goal of this team is to assist USNH in the development of its identity as an anti-racist congregation by creating a deeper understanding of racism, and the role our congregation can play in actively striving to address racism at all levels and to embrace multiculturalism. Contacts: Patricia Duff patriciaduff@mac.com

Green Sanctuary Committee

This committee organizes USNH’s response to our 7th principle:  “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are part.”  The Green Sanctuary Committee’s work encompasses worship, religious education, social justice, sustainable buildings and grounds.  We advocate for an ever “greener” congregation. Contact: Jim Sirch james.sirch@yale.edu

Mental Health Awareness Action Group (MHAAG)

The goals of the Mental Health Awareness Action Group (MHAAG) are to foster a welcoming, inclusive and supportive environment for those with mental disorders and their families within the USNH faith community.  The MHAAG will provide educational programs, literature and information sessions to friends and families of people with mental disorders within the USNH faith community.  The MHAAG will also advocate on behalf of people with mental disorders and their families on the local and state levels.  Click here for more details/flyer.  Contact: r.weingarten@comcast.net.

USNH Partner Organizations

Interfaith Cooperative Ministry (ICM) The Interfaith Cooperative Ministry is the principle interfaith organization in the greater New Haven area. It includes over twenty religious congregations representing 5 different faiths, as well as five community programs.  ICM is committed to honoring the dignity of every person, acting to make greater New Haven  a good and just place to live and work. It is particularly concerned to respond to bias or threat to minority religious groups. Currently our Senior Minister serves on the ICM Board of Trustees. Contact: June Schafer jschafer313@comcast.net

UU – United Nations Organization The UU-UNO works inside the United Nations to bring Unitarian Universalist values to UN proceedings.  The national Unitarian Universalist Association, through the UU-UNO, has a non-governmental organization seat in the UN.  The UU-UNO has a web site: www.uu-uno.org Contact: Robert Garskof garskof@gmail.com

UU Service Committee UUSC works with the UUA, individuals and partner organizations to defend the rights of marginalized groups to receive relief assistance; to support workers’ right to organize; to protect individuals from abuse by government power, and for clean water as a universal human right.  Contact: Peggy Myers peggyat118@sbcglobal.