UU Service Committee (UUSC), the Social Action Side of UUA

From Carly Cronon, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, via Bill Butler, a strong advocate of UUSC: In situations of dire humanitarian crisis, UUSC looks to fulfill unmet needs and support overlooked communities, with long-term recovery a primary goal.  Often, the communities UUSC supports are overlooked because they are physically remote, or because they were marginalized within their societies even before the natural or human-made crisis struck.  Now, turning our attention to the growing famine crisis in several East African countries, UUSC is following this same model to support relief aid for women, children, and individuals in rural and hard-to-reach areas.

UUSC is fortunate to be working with two reliable partners from past projects who are well positioned to respond to the present crisis in struggling areas.  Here are details on our famine relief partners, supported by UUSC’s emergency relief aid:

1) Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), located in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, has been one of UUSC’s women’s rights and water access partners in past years.  Dar Es Salaam has not yet declared a state of emergency, a pre-requisite for the mobilization of international aid, so communities are left to deal with this issue alone.  Stepping in to fill this void, TGNP, with UUSC’s help, is responding to the famine through immediate humanitarian aid and long-term economic empowerment for at-risk communities, with a particular focus on supporting women-led households and poor families.

2) In 2008, UUSC began supporting our partner SoilFarm Multi-Culture Group’s (SFMG) project Hope in Crops, a community-led initiative that promotes food security through planting and harvesting drought-resistant crops.  With this year’s sharp increases in food insecurity, crop failure, and malnutrition – and sparse government subsidies that do not reach remote interior areas of the country – SFMG has stepped in to help others through creating five food donation centers.  In these centers, with help from UUSC, SFMG is distributing surplus crops planted through Hope in Crops that have withstood recent extreme conditions.

For more information, go here.


Help Kenya Self-Help Project Get Books for Students

Kenya Self-Help Project

Kenya Self-Help Project

KSHP led us to our partnership in education with Lilian Ochieng. We can help other Kenyan students by taking a minute to vote for KSHP and earn books for young students in their program.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Kenya Self-Help is a project I love and support.  Our BOOKS! program is in the running for a $5,000 grant from Better World Books.  I hope you will take a moment to click the link and VOTE for Kenya Self-Help Project.  We need this grant to continue our primary school literacy/text book program.

You can vote once a day through 5pm EDT Friday, June 30.  We would love your VOTE!  The grant will benefit 11,500 rural Kenya kids.



Please feel free to SHARE with like-minded friends!

Thank you very much!

Kathleen Dodge

Social Action Committee Meeting Notes: June 20, 2017

Social Action Committee Agenda and Meeting Summary

Tuesday, June 20, (snack 5:00 pm) at 5:30 pm

UUCF, Room 113

Present: Mike Morse, Di Creedon, Patricia Cronin, Gary Magnuson, Marilou Barratt, Tom Barratt, Gary Magnuson, Mary B-Kruhm, Betsy Bainbridge

Welcome & Announcements

UUCF Split-Plate Contributions, 2016-2017

  • Equal Justice Initiative (July): $445
  • Religious Coalition (August): $1084
  • Asian American Center (Sept): $861
  • UU-UNO (Oct): $932
  • SHIP (Nov): $924
  • Kenya Connection (Dec): $1354.53
  • UULM-MD (Jan): $791
  • NAMI (Feb): $924
  • AVP (Mar): $981
  • Able & Willing (Apr): $1605
  • UUSC (May): $801
  • The Frederick Center (June): $499

Discussion Items

  • Relationship with SAC & Board: Betsy pointed out that s-p amounts vary considerably. Mary mentioned that she had neither been asked for a proposed SAC budget last spring nor been told how much is in the budget for SAC during 2017-2018 and we cannot make plans for projects until we know how much we will receive. Mike spent a few minutes explaining the trends he sees on the BoT now. Betsy will ask for the amount set in the new budget for SAC.
  • UUSC: Betsy will work with BoT to encourage funding UUSC with general funds in the next budget cycle.
  • Future Activities with the Islamic Center of Frederick: Bill Cranmer sent a letter summarizing his interactions with ISF over Ramadan. Bill reported that our congregation is especially invited to attend Urbana Library, June 28, 5-7pm for information session regarding Eid (Islamic holidays) sponsored by ISF. Ben McShane, friend of UUCF and SURJ, also encourages us to attend.
  • June 14th Immigrants’ Rights at Frederick: Mike and Sea Raven and the Barratts attended. Mike commented that the PowerPoint (available online) presented was based on anecdotal information and no audit of data was conducted. Also, ACLU representative was not prepared. Mike is committed to staying involved.
  • SAC Blog (Mary): Mary will post articles she is sent but not write blog entries. She encourages anyone who wishes to write articles to send them to her.
  • News for the Unison: Betsy wants to assure articles appear in Unison and requested that people who take on projects or serve as liaisons write news for midweek announcements and Unison.
  • 2017-2018 Split-Plate Calendar: Betsy will finalize the 2017-2018 list, including SAC members who will support and help with publicity.
  • Clean-up of the SAC Cabinet: Betsy asked if Bill Butler has done any work on cleaning up SAC cabinet. No one is aware if Bill is continuing his monitoring and clean-up of cabinet.
  • Report on Arc of Frederick County and discussion on possible SAC Liaison. Marilou and Tom reported on their meeting at the Arc of Frederick County which supports people with mental disabilities. The focus of this meeting was to inform faith communities of the need for inclusion of these populations. Transportation is a major issue and also how people find a community in which they are accepted and where their needs and those of the family met. Di mentioned Belief-O-Matic, a website that can be helpful in the latter. A representative of the Arc is willing to come and speak at FF. Tom will see if this can be arranged. The Barratts also noted there is a large room with catering available if we would like to use their services for a dinner meeting (e.g., with ISF). Using the Arc would have multiple benefits, including helping this population, people with developmental disabilities, for whom inclusion into our community would be a benefit. To check it out: Charlotte’s Coffee House is open Thursdays and Fridays from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm.  555 South Market Street Frederick, Maryland 21701. Enter from Stadium Drive and park in free, private lot.  Phone: 240-405-4731. Tom proposed a group of us plan to lunch there together some time this summer and tour the facilities.
  • Proposal regarding UUSJ for Capital Region: Gary proposes that we consider becoming a member of this organization of regional UU churches which focuses on social justice at the local and national levels. Its current primary priorities are climate change, economic inequality, and immigration reform. Gary discussed quarterly meetings of UUSJ for the National Capital Region and stressed that membership has always been meaningful but their advocacy work is even more relevant now. The next meeting is September 9th. Mike and Gary are willing to be alternatives. Gary suggested that we try to arrange dues-paying amount for this year that is less than that required since dues are considerable ($4.65 per congregation member). Betsy will investigate how we might fund these dues.
  • UUCF as sanctuary; beginning the conversation: Mike reported that there are disparities in the criminal justice system are related to immigration. Our congregation is barely above ground 0 in what will be at least a year-long process in becoming a sanctuary church if we do decide to become one. The groundwork includes: Education: What sanctuary means–a physical sanctuary, rapid response to incidents, providing a bystander who watches or possibly posts bail. Legal ramifications: What congregational support is there for an individual who is sued or is arrested over his/her involvement. Criteria for situations to which response is given: How to evaluate the risk/need for working with someone. Patricia voiced her opinion, shared by many in last Sunday’s FF, that we cannot blindly become a sanctuary. We must understand the whole problem and work for immigration reform.
  • Liaison Reports. Patricia indicated that we continue to be involved in the shelter, although our partner church is currently not participating.
  • Toast to Mary: Betsy brought cranberry juice and wine to thank Mary for her service as chair/co-chair of SAC. Mary said she preferred a toast rather than a roast and was both appreciative and noted her being chair for so long was indeed a labor of love.


Jericho March for Justice in DC

At yesterday’s Social Action Committee meeting, Gary Magnuson strongly encouraged us to become more active with UUSJ. Rev. Barber was a dynamic speaker at GA last June and he will lead this march on Friday at the Supreme Court.

Note: I downloaded  Write Here! Write Now! Toolkit  mentioned and it looks like an excellent resource for contacting legislators and a letter campaign.


For those of us not attending General Assembly, join Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Faith in Public Life on Friday, June 23, to witness on Voting Rights & Sentencing Reform. Details below.

Jericho March For Voting Rights & Sentencing Reform
Organized by Faith in Public Life 

Friday, June 23, 10:00am
US Supreme Court, 1 First St NE, Washington, DC 20543
RSVP to Rosemary at rdodd@allsouls.ws

This Friday, just days before the four-year anniversary of Shelby v. Holder—the Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act—Rev. Dr. William Barber II, Rev. Jennifer Butler and other prominent faith leaders will gather at the Supreme Court to urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions to preserve voting rights for all Americans and to rescind his call for federal prosecutors to aggressively prosecute “the most serious, readily provable offense” in all trials. Read more…

Faith in Public Life says, “By choosing to attend this event, you are acknowledging the risks involved, and you are committing to participate non-violently and in accordance with the law, and to work to de-escalate confrontations with opposing persons or others. You agree (i) not to engage in any act of violence or violation of any applicable law and (ii) to obey the orders of authorized event marshals and law enforcement authorities.”

Tell UUSJ of your interest in Advocacy on Voting Rights & Sentencing Reform at info@uusj.org. We have:

  1. UUs for Democracy and Escalating Inequality listserves.
  2. A volunteer Advocacy Corps that visits the Hill on the second Tuesday of every month.
  3. Write Here! Write Now! Toolkit to help congregations voice their values with impact.

So step up and:

  1. Volunteer to develop white papers and Hill-ready letters on the issue, or do bill tracking.
  2. Consider writing to your senators and encouraging your congregation to offer a letter writing opportunity after its services.
  3. Help connect UU activists from congregations beyond the DMV to UUSJ so we can organize congregational letter delivery to the Hill.

We hope you will take part in this action to advance UU values of democracy and interdependence.

Pablo DeJesús
UUSJ Executive Director

Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, from ACLU


From Nick Steiner, Meredith Curtis Goode, and ACLU of Maryland

We have a hunch that there are a lot of Frederick residents who don’t support Sheriff Chuck Jenkins’ inhumane, biased, and draconian immigration enforcement. We need you to show up and make that clear to your local officials.
On June 14 at 6:00 pm, the ACLU and partners will hold a rally outside the Frederick County Government Building and then go in at 7:00 pm to be a presence of opposition as the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office steering committee meets about their 287(g) program. That program is governed by an agreement with federal immigration agents to allow local police to act as deputized immigration officers.
Speak out for immigrants’ rights at Frederick rally and Sheriff’s Office meeting
Wednesday, June 14, 6:00 pm
Frederick County Government Building
First Floor Hearing Room of Winchester Hall
12 East Church Street, Frederick, Maryland, 21701
Rally at 6:00 pm
Meeting at 7:00 pm
You probably already know that Sheriff Jenkins is notorious for using his office to assert his anti-immigrant agenda, and using a heavy hand to target black and brown communities.
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has had a 287(g) program since August 1, 2008, claiming it is for public safety, targeting serious criminals. But Jenkins’ implementation of the program suggests otherwise. In 2010, over 80% of arrests were for low-level offenses, and over 60% for traffic violations. Over 90% of detainers issued from 2008 to 2011 were for misdemeanor offenses. In June 2015, only 11% of the individuals with immigration detainers were charged with felonies.
In most cases, Sheriff Jenkins is pursuing immigration cases against people who pose no security risk. He is needlessly tearing families apart – families who are part of the fabric of the Frederick County community.
In solidarity,
Nick Steiner, Meredith Curtis Goode, and ACLU of Maryland

More from the UUsed Book Sale

The UUsed Book Sale earned $984.99.  Thanks to all–worker bees, book contributors and book buyers.  

Contacting Legislators!

Steve Buckingham, chairperson of the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland (UULM-MD) and a member of UUCF, gave an excellent update at today’s Friendly Forum on state legislative accomplishments during the recently-ended General Assembly.  Copies of the handout are available from Steve and in the Social Action Committee cabinet in the atrium. Steve emphasized the need to effectively contact our legislators.  A few years ago at the annual meeting a UULM-MD member told us,

“Call legislators—one rep said she was tired of hearing from UUs, which we take as a compliment! Phoning can be more efficient than letters because security issues delay mail sent via USPS.”

At today’s FF, I said I would re-post from last February 2.  This information, from a member of the Frederick Meeting Friends, is clear and direct.

Work to Pass a Bill that You Passionately Support

State & National Legislators: If you’re in West Virginia click here to track the status of a bill, here to contact Senators, and here to contact members of the WV House. In Maryland, simply click here and type your zip into the bar at the top. And click the underlined to find all US Senators and Representatives.

Then contact him or her. This advice from Friend Anne Buttenheim makes it easier than some other advice I’ve read and it makes sense in today’s world:

“Friends! As some of you know, I used to work on Capitol Hill as the person in charge of all the incoming phone calls to my Senator’s office. I have some insider tips to make calling your reps easier and quicker.

  1. Give your name, city, and zip code, and say “I don’t need a response.” That way, they can quickly confirm you are a constituent, and that they can tally you down without taking the time to input you into a response database.
  2. PLEASE ONLY CALL YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES! Your tally will not be marked down unless you can rattle off a city and zip from the state, or are calling from an in-state area code. I know you really want to give Mitch McConnell a piece of your mind, but your call will be ignored unless you can provide a zip from Kentucky. And don’t try to make this up; I could often tell who was lying before I even picked up the phone from the caller ID. Exceptions to this are things like Paul Ryan’s ACA poll.
  3. State the issue, state your position. “I am opposed to a ban on Muslims entering the US.” “I am in favor of stricter gun control legislation including background checks.” “I am in favor of the Affordable Care Act.” That’s it. That’s all we write down so we can get a tally of who is in favor, who is against. It doesn’t matter WHY you hold that opinion. The more people calling, the less detail they write down. Help them out by being simple and direct.
  4. Please be nice! The people answering the phones on Capitol Hill already have the hardest job in DC and some of the lowest pay as well, and for a month now their jobs have become absolute murder, with nonstop calls for 9 hours every day. Thank them for their hard work answering the phones, because without them our Senators could not represent us.

What does this sound like?

“Hi, my name is Mark, I’m a constituent from Seattle, zip code 98***, I don’t need a response. I am opposed to any ban on Muslims entering the United States and I encourage the Senator to please oppose implementation of any such ban. Thanks for your hard work answering the phones!”

This is how I wish every caller had phrased their message. It makes it easier for the people answering the phones and takes less time and emotion than a long script. I know that you want to say why, but keeping it short and sweet helps the office answer more calls per hour, meaning more people get heard. The bigger the tally, the more powerful our voice. Also, when you’re reading off the same script as 100 other callers that day… well…they can tell.

Pick one issue each day, use the above format, saying I am in favor of _____ or I oppose ______, and call your 2 Senators and 1 Representative on their DC and State Office lines, and you’ll be on your way to being heard.”

Steve noted that sometimes when calling state legislators, your call will be taken by someone who seems to be receptive to hearing more information.  Perhaps even the representative or senator him- or herself.  Be prepared to quickly articulate your reason(s).

More questions?  See Steve, who also is considering conducting an advocacy workshop.


Third Annual Book Sale, with Roger’s Photos!

More photos to come, but here are a few!

Update—UUsed Book Sale

Our third annual UUsed Book Sale is Saturday/Sunday, April 29-30, with set-up April 27-28. This sale gives the Social Action Committee (SAC) money to help Kenyan girls with an education, sponsor Student Peace Awards in Jefferson County, WV, and Frederick, put money up front for bus rental to marches, contribute to speakers selected by the Dismantling Racism Team plus much more.

If you can contribute two or more hours, please sign up Sunday at the table near the SAC cabinet or contact writer@marybk.com / 301-712-6828. We especially need:

  • Help sorting and putting books on appropriate tables 4/27-28, 10am-2pm.
  • Help unload donated books before Sunday services April 16 and 23.
  • Monitor Crew (4/29-30)—Keep book tables orderly.
  • Cashier Crew (4/29-30)—Handle purchase (cash only; paperback $.50, hardbacks $1) of books.
  • Clean-up Crew (4/303-4pm)—Return furniture and tables to storage, sweep.
  • Unsold Books Disposal Crew (4/30, 3-4pm)—Load Patricia Cronin’s truck and unload books at Wonder Books or other location TBD.

To have a UUsed Book Sale, we need your books! Please build a box of books to contribute. Take books to UUCF and put in coatroom. Help available for unloading before services April 16 and April 23.

As I mentioned before Rev. Carl’s Banned Questions of the Bible last evening, Phyllis Liddell and I are co-chairs and right now I am the stronger one to do the job! One look at me and you know I need all the help I can get. Please sign up!

UUsed Book Sale: We Need Your Books & We Need You!

UUCF’s Third Annual Book Sale! 

Have you been thinking about a bigger role in social action? NEW MEMBER ALERT (long-time members also welcome)! We need two (relatively) young, strong people to help Phyllis Liddell and Mary Kruhm chair the Social Action Committee’s third annual UUsed Book Sale! Benefits: First dibs on books, camaraderie, satisfaction, heavenly rewards (?).

It’s a time-limited job, with set-up April 27-28, sales Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30, and cleanup last day. This sale gives the SAC money to help Kenyan girls in Oltorotua attend school, sponsor Student Peace Awards in Jefferson County, WV, and Frederick, put money up front for bus rental to Women’s March on Washington, and contribute to speakers selected by the Dismantling Racism Team plus much more. Please contact writer@marybk.com or 301-712-6828 to talk further about co-chairing.