Social Justice Programs
FOCUS (Family Outreach Community United Services) Nancy Mooney
Created 30 years ago by 9 inner-city churches, including First Unitarian when we were located on Collingwood Blvd., FOCUS is a community-based agency called to embrace people in need, bring voice to the voiceless, and restore hope and dignity to the forgotten. FOCUS brings a nationally recognized approach to our local problem of homelessness. An individual or family referred to the organization receives immediate help with housing, followed by individualized assistance to maintain their housing, stabilize their income, and gain the skills necessary to manage their lives and to ensure that they never again face homelessness. First Unitarian supports Focus through their fund-raisers, monetary donations, the annual Holiday Gift program, collection of kitchen, household and personal care items and membership on the FOCUS Board of Trustees.
Green Sanctuary Committee – Karen Porter
The Green Sanctuary Program, created by the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association), is a way for congregations to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable living both as members and as a faith community. A congregation follows a procedure outlined by the UUA that takes around two years, completing twelve projects they have chosen, in the areas of Worship and Celebration, Religious Education,Sustainable Living, and Environmental Justice. First Unitarian became accredited in December of 2011 as a Green Sanctuary. The Green Sanctuary Committee, a sub-committee of the Social Justice Committee, hopes to continue encouraging steps in the direction of sustainable living.
MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio (MFC) – Judy and Woody Trautman
First Unitarian is a sponsor for the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio, a local non-profit which draws together the diverse faith traditions of the Greater Toledo area in fellowship,education, and community service. www.multifaithcouncil.org MFC is a member of the North American Interfaith Network. MFC sponsors annual MultiFaith Banquets,family picnics, and a men’s group. They have facilitated over 100 educational dialogs, discussions, forums, workshops, and films. MFC’s most important current outreach project is MultiFaith GROWs, a partner of Toledo GROWs, which encourages and supports community gardens sponsored by faith groups. MultiFaith GROWs is aligned with many of the values and goals of our Green Sanctuary program, as well as those of the Social Justice Committee. http://gardens.multifaithjourners.org. MFC seeks to designate Greater Toledo as an official Compassionate Community. http://compassionatetoledo.org/
The biggest accomplishment of the MultiFaith Council of NW Ohio this year is the official designation ofGreater Toledo and NW Ohio as a Compassionate Community, joining 38 global cities so designated and over 200 active campaigns. This is both an honorand a commitment to long-range goals to collaborative compassionate action in our community. First Unitarian Church has been a tremendous support both financially and with volunteers for all of the designation events. The next step in the Compassionate Community Designation will be participation in the Compassion Games http://compassiongames.org/ September 11- 21, when compassionate cities creatively coopetete to be the kindest and most compassionate.
UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee) – Carrie Baum
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) works to advance human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world, envisioning a world free from oppression in which all can realize their full human rights. UUSC is an associate member of the Unitarian Universalist Association, but receives no general financial support from the UUA. UUSC also receive no funding from federal or state governments or institutions, which ensures its independent voice.
Through a combination of advocacy, education, and partnerships with grassroots organizations, UUSC promotes economic rights and environmental justice, defends civil liberties, and safeguards the rights of people in times of humanitarian crisis. Its work is built on the conviction that all people are entitled to basic human rights, which transcend divisions of class, race, nationality,sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, and gender.
One UUSC initiative in which First Unitarian participates is “Guest at Your Table.” This is an annual tradition in which congregation members take home a small box featuring people with whom UUSC has worked. These people become our “guests,” and by putting money in the box–ideally at every meal–we share our blessings and good fortune with them. Our tradition is to have this collection in the spring, around the time of Easter.
1. FOCUS Box: for kitchen and household items (kitchen utensils and cleaning supplies, rugs, etc)
2. Feed Your Neighbor Box: for non-perishable canned or boxed foods
3. Toledo Area Ministries Box: for adult personal care items (dish, laundry and body soaps, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. )