• Putting our faith into action has always been very important to Unitarian Universalists.

To learn more, come to the next Faith-in-Action meeting: 

Sunday,  April 30 at 12:20 p.m. in the Martin House  (the brick building next to the sanctuary).

Faith-in-Action activities are open to everyone; you don’t need to be on the FIA committee to participate. However, attending FIA meetings allows you to be part of the decision-making and planning.  To share ideas for future FIA activities or for more information, contact FIA chair Mike Seering.

  

• Social Justice Roundtable

second Sunday of each month, March 12 & April 9,

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Martin House. 

            Discuss and learn how we can bring about social justice change in our local communities through UU-developed materials and techniques. For more information, contact FIA chair, Mike Seering.

• Spring Work Day

Sat., April 8, 8 a.m. – noon. or as long as you choose to volunteer

 Make our church home shine for our 60th anniversary! Tasks inside and out for all ages and skill levels. For more information, contact our building and grounds chair, Rita Parker.

• HARC Hike for Hunger & Hope

Sat., June 10 at the C&O Canal

          Hikes for all abilities: 4K, 10K and half marathon. More information online at http://harccoalition.org/hike/

Registration closes June 8. Register before May 21 for reduced fee and a guaranteed hike t-shirt.

 

On-Going   Faith-in-Action Projects

• Offering in Action   

All unlabeled* cash in the offering basket on March 19 and April 16 will be donated to the Humane Society of Washington County, selected by our UU Explorers religious education class.

Our Offering in Action supports social justice and other organizations reflecting our UU principles. Since the program began last July, UUCH has donated $1358.73 to organizations including the local Literacy Council, the Equal Justice Initiative, and last month $313.50 to the local chapter of the League of Women Voters.

 To avoid any confusion for the treasurer, please put any cash you’re giving as part of your pledge in an envelope with your name and “pledge” on the outside. Small envelopes are available on the cabinet at the back of the sanctuary. Similarly, be sure to write “pledge” on the memo line of any check for that purpose.

Selection of the recipient of the Offering in Action donations currently rotates among six church groups to encourage input from a wide range of UUs: the Book Group in September and October; the UU Youth in November and December; the Women’s Spirituality Group in January and February; the Elementary Religious Education Class in March and April; the UUCH board (with suggestions from  other members) in May and June; and the Men’s Discussion Group again the following July and August.  If you are not a participant in any of these groups but want to suggest an organization, talk to board trustees-at-large, Donna Catling and Jerry Harness, who are responsible for the program.

This outreach project was proposed by board members who also participate in the Men’s Discussion Group, after eading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative.Many UU churches of all sizes are now giving away all or part of their Sunday offerings and report increased donations for both the outreach and support of the church..

 

• Micah’s Backpack provides weekend food to children who may otherwise be hungry.

Each Friday afternoon these school children receive a bag or backpack of food for two days (or three days  for a long weekend) —three meals and a snack for each day— fruits, vegetables, cereal, juice, shelf-stable milk, tuna, peanut butter, crackers, soups, and other nutritious foods in individual serving-size packages.

The spring 2016 Micah’s Backpack survey by the Washington County Public Schools showed that 93% of the children share the food with their families. 78% of the teachers believe that the children are more engaged in learning. 81% of the parents feel their children are doing better in school. (See the full survey results at the end of this page*.)

Feeding one child during the school year costs approximately $350 – $400. In the 2015-16 school year, we fed 18 children each week. Some food for Micah’s Backpack is available free or at a reduced cost from the local food bank but our MB coordinator, Tracy Barlup still estimates that our out-of-pocket costs will be $4,250 – $5,100 for the school year.  Our UUCH budget includes $2000 for Micah’s Backpack but this will not be enough.

 

How you can help:   

• Donate Money:   Your contributions are essential to ensure that these children are not hungry. Give monetary donations, with “Micah’s Backpack” in the memo line of any check,  to our church treasurer, Bill Pfoutz.

• Donate Food:  Leave your food donations in the box in the foyer. A list of needed foods and sizes is posted on the FIA bulletin board in the sanctuary foyer. Please follow the list as the Micah’s Backpack guidelines are very specific about types and sizes of food.

• Help Pack Meals

Packing dates (in the Martin House basement)

March 12: Teens (during class)

March 19: Explorers (after RE class & service)

March 26: Adults (after service)    

April 16: Explorers (after RE class & service)

April 23: Teens (during class)

April 30: Adults (after service)

If you are interested in helping or for more information about the program, contact Tracy  Barlup.

 

• CASA shelter for abused women

Abused women and their children often arrive at the CASA shelter with little but the clothes they’re  wearing. They need personal care items; bath towels, wash cloths, blankets; disposable diapers; children’s clothing and toys; paper products;  laundry supplies; grocery store gift cards; and school supplies.   Most needed now are cleaning supplies (especially laundry supplies), toilet paper,m paper towels, and non-perishable food items.

See the complete list of current CASA needs on the Faith-in-Action bulletin board in the sanctuary foyer.  For more information, talk to Dodie Ruskie.

 

• Recycling at UUCH

Aluminum Cans: Put your cans in the labeled bin on the barn porch. Help the earth and our church. Remember: aluminum cans only. No foil or other metals. Cans are taken to a local recycler; the money earned goes to the church.

Batteries: Place items in the labeled bins on the barn porch. Both rechargeable and non-rechargeable dry-cell batteries of any size (AAA-D) as well as battery packs from cell phones, cameras, laptops and power tools can be recycled. Mike Seering is now taking our batteries to a recycling program where he works.

All Other Recyclables (paper, plastic): Put in the appropriate container in the sanctuary, in the Martin House kitchen or in the green recyclable can outside the Martin House. Volunteers are needed to take items to recycling collection areas.

• Hagerstown Hopes Annual Pride Festival

Our church is a sponsor each year of the Pride Festival (on a June or July Saturday.)   UUCH volunteers staff a table with information about the Standing on the Side of Love movement and UUism’s long history of LGBTQ activism in society and LGBTQ welcome within our congregations. (Our church is a UUA-recognized Welcoming Congregation.)   For more information, visit www.hagerstownhopesmd.org.

 

• SERRV  Volunteer Day

one Saturday spring and fall at the SERRV Campus in New Windsor, MD

Help unpack, quality-check, and sort new products at this fair trade non-profit which supports low-income artisans around the world. Lunch provided. Our church needs a work team of 10 people. Children over 13 with parental approval are welcome. Car-pooling available.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Bill Pike.  For more information about SERRV, visit www.serrv.org

• Free-for-All on one Saturday morning in August  in the courtyard of St. John’s Lutheran Church (141 S. Potomac Street)

Our church started this generosity event and now co-sponsors it with St. John’s Lutheran Church.

People bring garden produce, clothing, toys, books, household items, or anything else they wish to give away. School supplies and children’s clothing are always welcome.

Since part of the goal for this event is for our church to be a presence in the community, people are asked to bring their donations to the courtyard Saturday morning and stay for the conversation and community involvement. There is ample parking behind the church.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Faith-in-Action chair Mike Seering

• Books for At-Risk Children

New and gently-used books for children from infancy through age 11 will be collected in September 2017 for the Community Book Drive, when UU members and friends will leave their donations in the designated box in the sanctuary foyer.

In 2016, our UUCH children’s book collection was a huge success! We filled 32 boxes. Throughout Washington County,  the Community Book Drive collected over 13,000 books, which were distributed to at-risk children through more than 30 schools, day cares and other organizations serving children.

For more information, talk to the children’s book drive co-ordinator, Shauna Seering.

• REACH Cold-Weather Shelter

Our church has been volunteering with the Cold Weather Shelter for many years.  In 2016, we hosted two nights, Sunday, Dec. 18 and Friday, Dec. 23 at the shelter and provided dimmer on February 24, 2017.

As hosts, in addition to providing an evening meal each evening, UUs also assisted the REACH staff in other areas, including registration, laundry co-ordination, and socializing with the shelter guests.

For more information about REACH, visit  http://reachofwc.org/

 

• Fair Trade products (coffee, tea, chocolate)

Our church participates in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Coffee Project with Equal Exchange, an employee-owned fair trade company. A portion of all proceeds is returned to the UUSC to support its development projects.  Contact our church UUSC representative, Janet Bartels  for more information.

• Change in Church Work Days: Help when it suits you best.

Now everyone can help with building and grounds tasks at church. Instead of a group work session just on Saturday mornings when fewer and fewer UUs are available, building and grounds chair Rita Parker has set up a more flexible system. A list of routine chores and the needed frequency for each is on the sanctuary foyer bulletin board. UUs are asked to sign up for a task they’ll do whenever they can be at church. Additional church chores have been added to the foyer sign-up sheet so check it out again.

Everyone will be able to find one that fits their schedule and skill level. The list includes small but essential tasks needing frequent attention like stocking toilet tissue in all the rest rooms and removing the trash from the Martin House at least every two weeks. It also has more extensive jobs done fewer times a year like weeding the area in front of the sanctuary once a month (except winter) or washing down the exterior of the sanctuary in spring and fall.

Seasonal chores, like raking leaves or holiday decorating, may still require the occasional group work day but this new system should share the church tasks more broadly.

For more information, contact building and grounds chair, Rita Parker.

• Taste of the Town REACH Fundraiser 

Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.  5 pm.-7:00 p.m. at Hager Hall Conference Center, 901 Dual Highway.    Cost in 2016 was $45 per person.  Reservations required
Taste of the Town is a great opportunity to sample foods from more than 20 restaurants, bakeries and caterers while also supporting REACH, the local, faith-based organization that operates the cold-weather homeless shelter and other programs. Our church usually has one and sometimes two 10-person tables, which fill up fast.  Next September, If you’d like to join our UUCH table, give your check, payable to UUCH (memo line Taste of the Town) to our treasurer, Bill Pfoutz.  For more information, visit www.tasteofthetownwc.com or contact faith-in-action chair Mike Seering.

 

*Micah’s Backpack Survey Results

During the spring of 2016, WCPS conducted a survey with all of the Micah’s backpack recipients, their parents and teachers who are involved in the distribution of the program. The survey resulted in 113 returned student responses, 65 returned parent responses and 49 returned teacher responses.

Student Responses

Of the responses 71% of students indicated they were less hungry as a result of receiving a weekly backpack, 93% indicated that they shared with their family, and 50% said there are still times when they are hungry and have nothing to eat.   Additionally, 77% indicated that they were better able to pay attention in school, 79% stated that sometimes they come to school just to get food and 57% responded that their family still needed more food.

When asked what they didn’t like about Micah’s Backpack, nearly 60% had no complaints. Of the items they didn’t like, 9 students responded that they didn’t like the vegetables, 4 students didn’t like the stew, and 7 students responded that didn’t like the cans or that the bags were heavy.

When responding about the items students liked about the program the following quotes were received:

  • It saves mom some money when she goes to the grocery store so she doesn’t have to buy as much;
  • It’s pretty awesome how they actually give you food, because at my house you don’t get good kind of stuff;
  • I like that it helps me get healthy;
  • We get food that we don’t buy. Because we need food and we don’t get enough;
  • I am so grateful for the food it has gotten us through our very hard times, Blessings!

Lastly, in response to concerns about bullying, 90% of students indicated that they do not get picked on for receiving a backpack.

 

Parent Responses

Of the responses, 81% indicated that their child is doing better in school since receiving the backpack, but only 41% indicated their child is less sick and thus misses less school since receiving a backpack. However, 83% responded that they do feel more engaged in their child’s school since receiving a backpack. Furthermore, 75% of parents indicated that someone in the family skips meals because they cannot afford enough food and 57% stated that they had additional children that could use more food. Lastly 87% indicated that the backpack allows them to be able to pay other bills.

When responding about what they liked about the backpacks the following statements were made:

  • It stays consistent with what my child eats at school, and it’s like he opens a gift every Friday and plans his weekend meal;
  • God bless this program. It’s so helpful. And without it, we would be hungry a lot of the time. Every little bit helps out. All I can say is Thank You!;
  • It gives the kids the opportunity to help themselves and be a bit more independent;
  • That they have something to eat when I don’t have anything.

When responding about the items they do not like there we no clear concerns other than a few comments relating to the cans (weight), not liking tuna or chicken salad.   Predominantly the remarks were positive.

 

Teacher Responses

Of the teacher responses 44% indicated that the students are absent less, 55% responded that the students are better behaved, 78% believe the students are more engaged in learning and 94% believe the program has fostered a more positive relationship between the students and the teacher. Additionally, 51% indicted that the students grades have improved since receiving a backpack and 42% believe the students complain of fewer health issues.   In reference to family dynamics, only 12 have indicated more parental engagement at school, 30% stated they the students indicate fewer problems at home and 75% stated that the receiving students have indicated that other members of their family are food insecure.

When asked for additional feedback some of the comments were related to struggles in identifying students and gaining permission slips. One respondent specifically felt it was difficult to quantify the growth in health, academics and behavior due to the myriad of other challenges the students face.

Lastly, all teachers responded that they have never witnessed bullying in relation to this program.