10 in 10 Challenge

FBB is turning 10! Let's celebrate. For 10 months in 2019, FBB is challenging 10 humanists to become monthly givers. Help make the world a better place and help FBB grow for 10 more years!

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  • Highlights 4 carefully vetted charities per quarter in the areas of Poverty and Health, Education, Human Rights, and Natural World.

  • Sign up here to be considered for our next volunteer deployment.

  • Service Corps volunteers save lives and fight for gender equality by supporting local human rights organizations in Ghana’s Northern Region.

  • Our Beyond Belief Network is a collective of organizations putting compassionate humanism into action through community volunteering and charitable fundraising. 

  • The hosts of our official podcast travel the country telling stories of life-changing events, expanding our horizons and our compassion.

We are Humanism at Work

Foundation Beyond Belief is a humanist charity that promotes secular volunteering and responsible charitable giving. Guided by the principles of secular humanism, our mission is to:

  • Unite the humanist community in volunteering and charitable efforts.

  • Advocate for compassionate action throughout the world.

We forward our mission through our programs: Grants, Disaster Recovery, Service Corps, and Volunteer Network.

Inside FBB: Latest News

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When I arrived in Quito I was jet lagged and exhausted from two days of flights filled with lengthy and agonizing layovers. I was also suffering from altitude sickness coming from Ghana where the altitude is around 880 meters (compared to Quito’s 2,850 meters). However, I was excited to be in Ecuador and really looking forward to meeting and working with three non-profit groups, which we identified as working in program fields similar to the Humanist Service Corp in Ghana.

The purpose of my trip was to learn and exchange knowledge with these groups. I was hoping to exchange stories and methods about projects and partnerships that I could take back to Ghana and the HSC.

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The first organization I met— Idea Dignidadis a non profit whose mission is to promote human rights, eradicate inequalities and promote a life of dignity free from violence for all. Idea’s biggest focus point and longest running project is protecting women who have suffered physical abuse by creating support groups and providing advice, legal help, and psycho-social help. They have helped hundreds of women grow hope and strength, legally discipline and gain freedom from and their abusers, and rebuild an abuse-free life for themselves and their children. Idea is planning to start a livelihood training and support project for these women so they can become financially independent and provide their children's' basic needs.

Idea’s Protection project holds some similarities to our work in the alleged witch camps in Northern Ghana; both projects help and empower women who have suffered gross human rights abuses to rebuild a self-sustaining life of dignity free from abuse.

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I was privileged not only to learn about Idea’s methods for helping the women beneficiaries of their protection project, but also to witness how they build and sustain partnerships with other organizations. One such partnership happens through their education program. Like HSC’s partnerships with local nonprofits in Ghana, Idea Dignidad provides advice and training for organizations to help improve and increase their performance. It was enlightening to see the process and the level of collaboration between the two organizations, which was based on mutual respect and a genuine commitment to help the marginalized and needy in Ecuador.

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It was an honor to witness the dedication and drive of Idea Dignidad’s staff and volunteers; to witness the vision and leadership of Idea’s founding CO and President Myriam Perez; the dedication and hard work of lawyer Mirella Tonato and volunteer Marisol; and all the lawyers who volunteer their time and skills. I am certain that this is only the start of a long and fruitful relationship between HSC and Idea Dignidad.

Learn more about this organization at https://www.ideadignidad.org.

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Next: learning from Tandana, providing Healthcare and scholarships for students in the Indigenous community.

By Yvonne Selase Nyahe, Coordinator of the Humanist Service Corps program in Ghana

Written while King was jailed for an unpermitted march against segregation laws, his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” was composed on newspaper scraps and toilet paper, in a moment when the civil rights movement seemed to verge on collapse.

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Written to refute white moderate criticism of his methods, today the letter is celebrated as King’s famous treatise on the "necessary tension" of nonviolent protest. Today we commemorate its 56th anniversary.

For those unfamiliar, the full text can be found here and audio here. (The letter is a passionate denouncement of complacency, so it might be most appropriate to read or listen to it in its entirety.)

As with much of King's legacy, public consciousness of the letter often fixates on its most optimistic notes. The letter touches on familiar issues of importance to our own humanist and activist communities. Most famously, it calls on us to live up to our responsibility as compassionate citizens of a vast community:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." 

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FBB activists may find it interesting how King outlines his community-level strategy. His involvement in Birmingham began at the request of an affiliate organization to his Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and employed a four-step approach: fact analysis, negotiation, self-purification, and finally— only once deemed necessary— direct action.

From this point in the letter, King illustrates the importance of employing direct action, not to create social tension, but to expose it where it already exists in the community:

“I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. [...] The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.”

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King's letter also decries the complacency of members of his own faith— and by extension, all compassionate people at large:

“If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”

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So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo.

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“Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world.“

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From a secular humanist standpoint, these passages can read at first glance as familiar critiques of organized religion. They are more. King’s writing calls on people of all philosophies to question the usefulness of their affiliations. As humanists, these writings might prompt questions like:

  • Do I practice a "social club" variety of humanism?
  • Where am I complacent with the status-quo when it is unjust?
  • Do I indulge only in non-controversial work, and by doing so do I sanction injustice by not confronting it?

Many of us feel uneasy with the thought of being labeled an “extremist.” Dr. King admitted to feeling this discomfort at first, only to eventually gain satisfaction from the label. Invoking other past "extremists"— Lincoln, Martin Luther, Christ, and Paul the Apostle— King recognized that people of conscience need not fear being branded as radicals.

"So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?"

When faced with injustice, what kind of extremists will we as humanists be?


 

By FBB Staff

April Fool’s Day, April showers, and… Tax Day. Maybe not everything about April is sunshine and rainbows, but Foundation Beyond Belief can help you bring a little more light into the world with this month’s Top 10 list. Below are 10 things that are more fun than filing taxes—after all, what’s more fun than doing good?

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By FBB

The winter weather may have been cold, but our hearts are warmed when we hear about the awesome work our Beyond Belief Network teams have been doing!

February saw a new team joining the Beyond Belief Network - the Family & Friends Humanist Crew in Mundelein, Illinois! They held their first event, making handmade blankets for the Linus Project charity which were collected in February through JoAnn's craft store. They are given to children who are ill or traumatized so they have something to hold on to through hard times. The team is a smaller group right now, but had a wonderful time with this first event and made four blankets! We’re looking forward to more great work from them!

The Tri-State Freethinkers volunteered with the Freestore Foodbank in January and February, helping pack power pack lunches to be distributed to needy children in the tri-state area. They volunteered with Crayons to Computers, which provides assistance to schools and teachers with supplies, sorting through book donations.  They also helped the Cincinnati Zoo with taking down the lights from the zoo's Festival of Lights event. The zoo uses over 200 million lights in their event!

Members of Center for Inquiry-Michigan spent a morning at Kids' Food Basket in early January, helping create sack suppers for some of the 8000 children served daily in west Michigan. Their roles included putting meat and sunflower seeds into baggies. Many people also took time to decorate paper sacks the dinners will go into for delivery to each school and student served. A little extra touch to make someone smile! 

At events in December, January, and February, Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) volunteers returned to working as Housewarmers at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald Charity House (RMH). RMH provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other area hospitals. Housewarmers work with guests to provide a home-like environment by greeting, assisting with family needs, answering phones, giving tours, assisting with checkin/checkout, preparing guest rooms after checkout, cleaning facility, doing laundry, restocking supplies, and staffing the front desk. 

COUNT also kept busy this winter in continuing their work with The Adaptive Sports Connection (ASC), a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, which helps Ohio veterans, children, and adults who need adaptive equipment or instruction to participate in various sports including skiing, kayaking and cycling. “If I can do this, I can do anything!” is the Disabled Sports USA motto.

The Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) partnered with COUNT to volunteer at the Community Shelter Board (CSB) facility on Van Buren Drive in Columbus, Ohio each month this winter. CSB provides housing and meals to homeless families and individual men and women in central Ohio. Some volunteers serve dinners while others wash dishes, mop floors, and clean tables. Once the dishes were done, the volunteers adjourned to the Omnipresent Atheists (also part of Columbus CoR) meetup in progress for dinner, drinks and conversation.

COUNT and HCCO paired up again in January for a Bleed-N-Feed event where volunteers spent a total of nine hours donating nine units at the Carriage Place Red Cross Donor Center in Columbus, Ohio. Donors then become diners as they head to a nearby restaurant afterward to replenish. More events are planned for coming months. 

Turning away from Ohio and looking at Florida, the Brevard Area Atheists had two Road Cleanup events this winter, one in December and one in February. In December, six volunteers picked up ten bags and 65 pounds of trash, getting a lot of happily honking cars driving by. And in February, eight people picked up 28 bags and 185 pounds of trash. Wow! That’s 250 pounds over the winter!

Also in Florida, BE Orlando held a STEM Holiday Toy Drive in December, bringing STEM-themed toys and books to at-risk youth in their community during the holidays. The drive is supported by other local non-faith groups as well as a local STEM charter school. They collected 371 toys this year! 

And in January, BE Orlando continued their partnership with the Orlando Distaff Day. The fiber artist community contributed handmade warm items they've been working on all year as well as food for the pantry at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Attendees also filled out Positive Postcards for residents at the shelter.

Texas BBN Teams did a lot this winter too! Austin Humanists at Work held a donation drive and were able to collect 3,430 basic living items for the December Giveaway. The Gettin’ Knotty crafting group joined together for two social events to knit and crochet washcloths, hats and shower octopi for the giveaway as well, and on the morning of December 16, 50 ATXHAW volunteers gathered under a bridge in downtown Austin and set up a giveaway line. They had a lot of basic living items to give out to those in need, and were able to serve 196 fellow humans. 

That same weekend, the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas (FACT) volunteered at Haven for Hope. They served over 400 meals to the residents, packed up over a thousand sandwiches, and began to prep the dinner trays for that night. Becky, the San Antonio Food Bank volunteer coordinator, always loves having them since they're experienced in the kitchen arena. 

Each Sunday in January, South Texas Atheists for Reason held humanist services at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio. The humanist services reached over 1200 trainees and 40 of their family members each week (one week there were 77 family members attending!) Topics discussed included death from a humanistic point of view, fallacies (hearing great examples from trainees of fallacies they’ve heard in their every day life as well as in basic training), and morals, and whether or not morals can change over time. There were lots of great answers from the trainees when asked where they get their morals! 

Colorado saw some great work by two groups this winter! Pikes Peak Atheists & Pikes Peak Atheist Families held a donation drive for the TESSA Holiday Shoppe for victims of domestic violence, and participated in a volunteer day as well, helping TESSA guardian shop and wrap presents for their kids. They had more people wanting to volunteer than the event had slots for! They also came together in a call to action for a single mom and her five kids, gathering household necessities, furniture and clothes, and a family present for under the tree.

The Atheist Community of Colorado Springs put their crafting skills to good use in multiple events, getting together to knit and crochet hats and scarves to donate to local schools to be distributed to students in need, as well as saving plastic bags over the year and turning them into sleeping mats for homeless people, donated through a local charity along with other items, helping the environment as well as their local community. 

In Minnesota, the Rochester Area FreeThinkers sponsors the "Young Skeptics" awards each year at the Rochester MN Regional Science Fair in February. The judging criteria includes the use of skeptical inquiry, critical thinking, and appropriate data analysis. Members of the group attend the judging session and chose the winners.

All the way across the globe, the Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) held several events. Since in the Philippines it’s quite hot during the day in December, HAPI members braved the heat to bring cool sweet treats to the students of Consolacion SPED Center. HAPI also coordinated with various local schools to gather pupils who are considered less fortunate, asking the teachers to have the kids personally write their wishes, then each volunteer for the project tapped into their circle of friends and colleagues who were willing to fulfill those simple and precious wishes. This event was part of an ongoing project of Random Acts of Kindness, the goals of which are to promote and cultivate the “Bacolod-style-of-kindness” in the community. And in January, they held their fourth installment of their monthly feeding event for persons with disabilities in Consolacion Cebu SPED Center. (Featured photo at top.) HAPI PWD Feeding is committed to show what goodness is without the concept of god.

All in all, our BBN teams have done great work this winter, and we’ll see even more from them as the weather warms up!

By FBB

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