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Brian Wallace is the captain of Flagstaff Freethinkers. As members of Beyond Belief Network, they received a grant for their incredible interfaith community day of service. Brian reports on the event in this guest blog post for us. To learn more about benefits of Beyond Belief Network membership or to join, click here.
The Flagstaff Freethinkers were excited to see such an amazing community engagement for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. For an inaugural event, the response was very encouraging. In the end, 21 organizations participated and 11 separate projects were coordinated around the city of Flagstaff. Around 200 volunteers joined in the work. Ads purchased with a Beyond Belief Network grant from Foundation Beyond Belief were credited by a large number of those that came.
The Flagstaff Family Food Center and Food Bank were the most popular projects. Ninety-seven volunteers were at the Food Bank either sorting food into boxes, inventorying material donations, or splitting and stacking firewood that is donated to members of the community that heat their homes with wood stoves.
The Northern Arizona University SSA was one of our partners in the project. They concentrated their efforts at the Family Food Center—preparing food that would be used in the free meals served there that night and throughout the week.
Some of our bilingual members offered their services at an adult education program operated at a local elementary school. Twelve tons of sand bags were removed from the property of an elderly couple effected by the fire and subsequent flooding that ravaged a neighborhood north of town over the last few years.
The biggest victory, however, was not the meals prepared and the boxes filled—it was the partnerships created. Some of our community partners didn’t know what we mean by the term “freethinkers”—some of them still don't, but all of them know a few things about us now for sure. They know we are a group of compassionate and engaged people. They know we are doers—we put action behind the issues we care about.
Possibly the most exciting of all is the enthusiasm that we have within the coalition for ongoing efforts—throughout the year, not just on MLK day. Work toward lasting social change, not just symptom management. If we can harness this momentum effectively it will be a wonderful, powerful, ongoing collaboration—and the Freethinkers will be at the heart of it.
We will be able to show community leaders and the population as a whole what humanism is and the role secular communities can play in social progress.