February Team of the Month: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

Congratulations to Beyond Belief Network’s February Team of the Month: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry! Based in Charleston, SC, the team was chosen for this honor because of their strong commitment to their community illustrated by their regular service events that address a variety of needs. Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry ended 2015 as a…

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Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (SHL) is a non-profit, educational organization, and our website is lowcountryhumanists.org. We offer many activities throughout the month including social events, speakers, happy hours, trivia nights, family-friendly outings, volunteer opportunities, and more.

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February Team of the Month: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

BBN February Team of the Month

By Elizabeth Minutello, Beyond Belief Network intern

Congratulations to Beyond Belief Network’s February Team of the Month: Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry! Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (SHL) was chosen for this honor because of their strong service schedule in 2013, including Adopt-a-Highway litter clean-ups, volunteering at local organizations, hosting multiple fundraisers and a blood drive, and collecting donations for a featured charity in each quarter. We were most impressed by the multiple causes they’ve supported. 

One of their ongoing initiatives is Charity of the Quarter. Four times a year, SHL chooses a local charity and collects donations on their behalf. During November and December 2013, SHL raised $655 for their most recent Charity of the Quarter, Charleston Animal Society.

In January, SHL volunteers donated their time and energy at the Lowcountry Food Bank, a clearinghouse for donated food items that serves ten counties in coastal South Carolina. Working mainly in the Food Bank’s warehouse, SHL unpacked seven pallets of mixed food donations. After inspecting the donations for expiration dates and damage, the food was sorted into new boxes by category, sealed, and loaded onto pallets.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

Not even foul weather can stop SHL members from volunteering! As part of their Adopt-a-Highway litter pick-up, SHL cleaned two miles of Harborview Road on James Island. Despite mud and rain, their ten volunteers collected twelve bags of trash. With their multiple methods of volunteerism and dedication to their community, SHL is a strong example of what great works an organized Beyond Belief Network team can achieve.

Team of the Month recognition is a benefit provided by Foundation Beyond Belief to our Beyond Belief Network teams. In order to be considered, your group must be a Level One Beyond Belief Network team and you must submit at least one event report during the month. Team of the Month selection is based on the number, length, variety, and documentation (e.g., submitted pictures, blog posts, videos, etc.) of events.

Teams can only be Team of the Month once per calendar year. If your local group does great service work, but isn’t a member of BBN, you can join anytime! In addition to recognition, your team can qualify for free t-shirts and grants. If your local humanist group doesn’t volunteer, but you’d like to start, we’d love to help! For teams new to secular service, we offer tons of ideas, event guides, and advice.

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Secular Humanists of the Lowcounty keep a busy volunteering schedule

By Kelley Freeman

The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry are an active and great group based out of Charleston, South Carolina. They’ve been instrumental in helping start Camp Quest South Carolina, which had its first camp session last July—and is already full for this year’s camp session! Not only that, but they do a fantastic job of maintaining regular service activities.

So far this year, they have done two highway cleanups, volunteered at a pet shelter, collected and organized clothing at the Lowcountry Orphan Relief, and volunteered with the Palmetto House family shelter.

At the pet shelter, they cleaned cages and organized donated material, which the pet shelter most certainly appreciated.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

When they worked at the Palmetto House family shelter, they managed to serve two meals, build a pergola, and paint a flower box. The pictures from before and after are pretty amazing. Good work, y’all, and keep it up!

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BBN teams show love for their communities

By Elizabeth Minutello, Beyond Belief Network intern

Foundation Beyond Belief’s Beyond Belief Network is a network of secular humanist groups volunteering in their communities and raising money for FBB’s featured charities and programs. Any group with a public secular humanist or atheist identity is welcome to join, regardless of experience or group size. In February, BBN’s community service theme is Social Justice and Race. 

Members of Humanists Doing Good organized to cheer for athletes and teams participating in a Special Olympics basketball tournament in Grand Junction, Colorado. Although previous tournaments had sufficient volunteers, they often lacked crowd support and were previously described as feeling lonely. Members created large signs of support and cheered for underdog teams. They even cheered for athletes and teams during an awards ceremony. Humanists Doing Good considered the event to be a rewarding experience, and members were thanked by several parents and participating volunteers.

              

Humanists of Houston worked in the carousel room of the Houston Food Bank’s main warehouse. They sorted non-perishable food donations and packed them, by weight, into boxes for distribution in the Emergency Pantry. The total room production for the three-hour shift was 3,096 lbs. or approximately 2,580 meals. By BBN’s approximate calculations, Humanists of Houston have packed more than 10 tons of food in the past year! 

Our newest BBN team, Corpus Christi Atheists is already showing great promise. They unloaded glass from vehicles and sorted them for recycling. 

Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless continues to run their monthly service event. They collected basic living supplies, such as toiletries and clothing, and distributed them to approximately one hundred of Austin’s homeless population. 

Eight adults and ten kids representing Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry folded and sorted donated clothing at the Lowcountry Orphan Relief, a charity that distributes new underwear, socks, and gently used clothing to kids entering foster care. Donated clothing is inspected and sorted by size and gender. 

                     

If you are a member of a secular humanist or atheist group and would like to participate in community service projects under the national umbrella of Foundation Beyond Belief, join Beyond Belief Network. We welcome all atheist groups interested in service, from groups with extensive volunteer experience to newly formed groups new to secular service. By aggregating our efforts, we demonstrate that all we really need is charity and goodness to make the world a better place.

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Beyond Belief Network teams demonstrate communal support, big and small

By Elizabeth Minutello, Beyond Belief Network intern

Foundation Beyond Belief’s Beyond Belief Network is a network of secular humanist groups volunteering in their communities and raising money for FBB’s featured charities and programs. Any group with a public secular humanist or atheist identity is welcome to join, regardless of experience or group size. In January, BBN observed National Mentoring Month and encouraged teams to forge mentoring relationships with young adults or other secular humanist groups.

Four times a year, Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (SHL) choose a local charity as their Charity of the Quarter. After asking members for donations, SHL raised $655 for their most recent Charity of the Quarter, Charleston Animal Society. SHL also removed litter from their Adopt-a-Highway section, a two-mile stretch of Harborview Road on James Island, in mud and rain. With ten volunteers, this team collected twelve bags of trash.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

One of the newest additions to Beyond Belief Network is off to a promising start. Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation Community Service collected food for local food pantries. 

After seeing that many residents in a local senior living center were in need of food and funds, Dogma Debate LLC started a fundraiser. Through their podcast, Dogma Debate’s call for action was heard by listeners within the community. Their efforts resulted in 471 donations totaling $3,093.33, which will feed and provide toiletries for all of the seniors for over a year. Dogma Debate is ecstatic that they were able to exceed their initial goal and promote a positive image of the atheist community.

Dogma Debate

The weather was warm and welcoming for Southern Maryland Secular Humanists when they cleaned their Adopt-a-Highway section of Route 5 in Lexington Park, MD. In four hours, they collected twelve bags of trash.

Five Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) members volunteered as housewarmers in January, working a total of 40.5 hours at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House (RMH). Last year, COUNT volunteers worked a total of 141.5 hours at RMH. RMH provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as well as other area hospitals. Housewarmers work with guests to provide a home-like environment. Among their duties, housewarmers greet, assist with a family’s needs, answer phones, give tours, assist with check-in/checkout, prepare guest rooms after checkout, clean the facility, do laundry, restock supplies, and staff the front desk. COUNT members try to volunteer as housewarmers for at least one four-hour shift a month.

Ethics in Action recently volunteered at Lydia’s House, an organization that provides housing for women and children survivors of domestic abuse for up to two years. Volunteers sorted donations received over the holidays for use by the families. They also removed unwanted materials in the basement and cleaned the laundry room.

Ethics in Action

If you are a member of a secular humanist or atheist group and would like to participate in community service projects under the national umbrella of Foundation Beyond Belief, join Beyond Belief Network. We welcome all atheist groups interested in service, from groups with extensive volunteer experience to newly formed groups new to secular service. By aggregating our efforts, we demonstrate that all we really need is charity and goodness to make the world a better place.

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Beyond Belief Network teams brave the cold with January volunteering

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry By Elizabeth Dorssom

Foundation Beyond Belief’s Beyond Belief Network is a network of secular humanist groups volunteering in their communities and raising money for FBB’s featured charities and programs. Any group with a public secular humanist or atheist identity is welcome to join, regardless of experience or group size. In January, BBN is observing National Mentoring Month and encouraging teams to forge mentoring relationships with young adults or other secular humanist groups.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry volunteered at the Lowcountry Food Bank, a clearinghouse for donated food items that serves 10 counties in coastal South Carolina. During the three hours they volunteered, team members unpacked seven pallets of mixed food donations and inspected for expiration dates and potential damage to food containers. They also sorted the food into new boxes by category, sealed the boxes, and loaded them onto pallets.

Secular Hub volunteers went door to door with Groundwork Denver on MLK day, changing porch light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. Volunteers also handed out coupons for free trees and free recycling services. Flagstaff FreethinkersThey also passed out educational materials about energy usage, making this an event that covered three categories: education, poverty, and the environment! Beyond Belief Network staff are currently exploring ways to expand this program to the rest of our teams.

Flagstaff Freethinkers also celebrated MLK day by putting together a community-wide day of service, which was covered on the FBB blog earlier this week.

Ethics in Action recently held a blood drive for the Red Cross. The Red Cross of America is always in need of blood donations, and 27 people were willing to give. Donors were invited to schedule a time when they could come in during this event, with information given about other ways to help if they were unable to donate at the time. All in all, there were 22 successful donations!

If you are a member of a secular humanist or atheist group and would like to participate in community service projects under the national umbrella of Foundation Beyond Belief, join Beyond Belief Network. We welcome all atheist groups interested in service, from groups with extensive volunteer experience to newly formed groups new to secular service. By aggregating our efforts, we show the world that all we really need is charity and goodness to make the world a better place.

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BBN teams celebrate Christmas by giving gifts and food to the needy

By Elizabeth Dorssom, BBN intern

Foundation Beyond Belief’s Beyond Belief Network is a network of secular humanist groups volunteering in their communities and raising money for FBB’s featured charities and programs. Any group with a public secular humanist or atheist identity is welcome to join, regardless of experience or group size. In January, BBN is observing National Mentoring Month and encouraging teams to forge mentoring relationships with young adults or other secular humanist groups.

December’s Team of the Month, FreeOK, reported on their Holiday Humanist Gifting Project:

“Throughout the months of November and December, FreeOK registered 102 needy children in Oklahoma to be recipients of gifts from volunteers through the Humanist Gifting Project. We had 47 direct adoptions (volunteers gift-adopting specific children from our list) with the rest coming in purchases from the Amazon wish list we set up for national support. The bulk of the gifts, being taken to local recovery shelter Jordan’s Crossing, was picked up Friday, with the rest being delivered as far as Tulsa by volunteer drivers from OKC on Christmas Eve.”

We loved this event, and we’ve been encouraging beneficiaries and BBN teams to use Amazon wish lists as a fundraising tool.

The Humanist Community at Harvard recently opened the Humanist Hub, a nonreligious community center in Harvard Square. At their grand opening event, they had a great lineup of speakers and showcased their humanist values by organizing a food drive for the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Humanist Community at Harvard

Lehigh Valley Humanists (LVH) hosted a free Christmas dinner to homeless people and retirees in their community. One of the LVH members owns a pizza restaurant and decided to offer a free dinner to area homeless and retirement community shut-ins. A few hundred meals were either served at the restaurant or delivered door to door to the retirement communities. Restaurant staff cooked the meals: ham, turkey, and all the sides/trimmings of a traditional holiday meal. LVH worked with other volunteers to greet guests, serve food, deliver food, and bus tables. This event was featured in a segment on a local news station, WFMZ-TV, and in The Morning Call, a local paper.

Lehigh Valley Humanists

Illini Secular Student Alliance teamed up with the University of Illinois Red Cross Club to host a blood drive with the Red Cross. In the University YMCA, ISSA encouraged group members and friends to donate blood. In total, 43 units of blood were collected, which was higher than their quota! In November, ISSA also organized a charity benefit concert, Rock the Night, featuring seven local bands. They raised more than $600 and donated the proceeds to ISSA’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk team and the Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children.

Illini Secular Student Alliance

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry helped the Charleston Parks Conservancy trim back existing plants and plant new bulbs in a city park. They recently reached Level Three of Beyond Belief Network by having at least twelve service events in a single calendar year!

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

If you are a member of a secular humanist or atheist group and would like to participate in community service projects under the national umbrella of Foundation Beyond Belief, join Beyond Belief Network. We welcome all atheist groups interested in service, from groups with extensive volunteer experience to newly formed groups new to secular service. By aggregating our efforts, we show the world that all we really need is charity and goodness to make the world a better place.

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A spook-tacular October for BBN teams

Beyond Belief Network

By Elizabeth Dorssom

Foundation Beyond Belief’s Beyond Belief Network is a network of secular humanist groups interested in volunteering (Volunteers Beyond Belief) and raising money for FBB and our beneficiaries (Foundation Partners Program).

November is upon us, and our Beyond Belief Network teams are already busy expressing their thanks this season by volunteering in their communities!

Flagstaff Freethinkers, Beyond Belief Network’s October Team of the Month, hosted a Family Dance Party fundraiser in collaboration with the Flagstaff Latin Dance Collective to benefit One New Education. One New Education is a group that provides educational opportunities for women in developing countries. Flagstaff Freethinkers raised $960 and brought a lot of the greater Flagstaff community together around a great cause, with the freethinkers at the heart of it.

Flagstaff Freethinkers

Ethics in Action organized the library at the St. Louis LGBT Center. The LGBT Center of St Louis is run entirely by volunteers. This important service to the local community wouldn’t be able to open its doors without volunteers like Ethics in Action. One of the resources provided by the center is its library, an impressive collection of books on LGBT history, law, theory, self-improvement, and fiction. Ethics in Action members sorted all the books in the fiction section into an orderly alphabetical arrangement on the shelves—sounds simple, but it was quite a task! Next up: Nonfiction. The volunteers are pictured in their brand-new Humanism at Work shirts that they received for reaching Level One of Beyond Belief Network!

Ethics in Action

North Florida Atheists recently volunteered with Dignity U Wear. Dignity U Wear distributes dignity in the form of brand new clothing. Their goal is to distribute clothing in a way that maximizes the impact that clothing has on lives. They collaborate with other great social service agencies on projects and programs so that the clothing is given to people at the right time—the first day of school, in coordination with medical care, or before a job interview, for example.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry has been collecting money for a different local charity every quarter since 2007. Their first Charity of the Quarter for 2012 was “Begin with Books,” which distributes new free books to kids in need every month. SHL raised $1,092 and were honored as the sponsor of the month in August 2013, which means that their group name was on the book plate placed into each book distributed. They challenged their members to donate blood at two local Red Cross donor centers during the week of October 14-19 in their group’s name. SHL also picked up litter along two miles of road in Charleston, SC, through the South Carolina Department of Transportation Adopt a Highway program and have a road sign indicating they have adopted that highway portion.

Siouxland Freethinkers volunteered at the Kirby Science Center’s “Spooky Science” event. Spooky Science is a non-scary Halloween event. There are stations set up throughout the science center where kids can perform science experiments, learn about science, and make crafts. Siouxland Freethinkers members ran different experiment stations, such as one that taught kids about Newton’s laws of motion, one that experimented with static electricity, one that taught about buoyancy, and one where the kids learned about holograms. Siouxland Freethinkers also recently hosted a blood drive and participated in “Tree the Town,” during which volunteers planted trees at the homes of the elderly and the disabled in order to help replace trees that were lost during an ice storm earlier this year.

Siouxland Freethinkers

Southern Maryland Secular Humanists also got in the Halloween spirit by running a booth at the 14th-annual Halloween event for the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center. Nearly 6,000 kids and parents enjoyed the gorgeous weather. Eighty company booths handed out candy along with SMSH. This perfectly spook-tacular event raised money for the Holiday Food Basket Program, Annmarie Scholarship Fund, and a St. Mary’s County Charity to be named by the Ann’s Circle Board of Directors.

Southern Maryland Secular Humanists

Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) worked as housewarmers at the Columbus, Ohio, Ronald McDonald 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 RMH guests to provide a home-like environment by greeting, assisting with family needs, answering phones, giving tours, assisting with checking in and out, preparing guest rooms after checkout, cleaning the facility, laundry, restocking supplies, and staffing the front desk.

In November, Beyond Belief Network will observe Hunger Awareness Month by encouraging BBN teams to help local food banks and soup kitchens. If you are a member of a secular humanist or atheist group and would like to participate in community service projects under the national umbrella of Foundation Beyond Belief, join Beyond Belief Network. We welcome all atheist groups interested in service, from groups with extensive volunteer experience to newly formed groups new to secular service. By aggregating our efforts, we show the world that all we really need is charity and goodness to make the world a better place.

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Announcing the 2012 Heart of Humanism Award winners

Heart of Humanism Awards 2012Foundation Beyond Belief is thrilled to announce the winners of our first-annual Heart of Humanism Awards. This year’s awards recognize the outstanding community service of local groups who participated in our Volunteers Beyond Belief (VBB) program in 2012, as well as individuals who made extraordinary contributions to compassionate humanism. Earlier this year, VBB became part of Beyond Belief Network, along with our Foundation Partners Program and Light The Night international team. In addition to recognition, winners receive grants they can direct to any 501(c)(3) organization they choose.

Volunteers Beyond Belief launched in 2011 with seven teams: Triangle Freethought Society, Fellowship of Freethought, Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, Harvard Humanists, Valley Skeptics in the Park, Humanity on Call, and Humanist Community of Central Ohio. As of this year, BBN has grown to more than 70 teams across the United States, with more than 4,000 volunteers and nearly 27,000 hours of community service to date. We are amazed by all the exciting service opportunities the BBN teams have planned so far in 2013, and we can’t wait to see who the 2013 award winners are!

2012 team winners are:

1.    Humanism at Work Award for Most Volunteer Hours (total hours volunteered divided by the number of people in group) and $250 grant: Triangle Freethought Society
2.    Eat. Sleep. Volunteer. Repeat. Award for Most Volunteer Events and $100 grant: Fellowship of Freethought Dallas
3.    Rookie of the Year for Best Team Added in 2012 and $50 grant: Humanists of Rhode Island
4.    Campus All-Star Award for Outstanding Student Team and $100 grant: SSA U Michigan
5.    Humanist Communication Award for Best Event Reporting and $50 grant: Minnesota Atheists
6.    Feed the Need for Outstanding Food-Related Volunteering and $50 grant: Fellowship of Freethought Dallas
7.    Best Service Article or Video and $50 grant: Valley Skeptics in the Park
8.    Best Photograph of Humanism at Work and $50 grant: Valley Skeptics in the Park

Light the Night Team Awards:

1.    Shining Star Award for Outstanding Light The Night Team: Triangle Freethought Society

Special thanks to all of the 2012 VBB LTN teams: Harvard Humanists, HCCO, FoF Dallas, Valley Skeptics, Triangle Freethought Society, Cleveland Freethinkers, SSA U of Chicago, Minnesota Atheists, SSA U Michigan, Humanists of Rhode Island, New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, CSRA Non-Theists

2.    Additional awards were provided by Stiefel Freethought Foundation. VBB team Harvard Humanists won the first place student team and home office award and received $2,000 in grants.

Josh NankivelIndividual Award winners:

Our 2012 Most Valuable Volunteer and recipient of a $100 grant is Josh Nankivel of Siouxland Freethinkers. Josh has donated blood, school supplies, and toys, and helped with highway cleanup and kids’ science events. He raised $12,000 for Autism Speaks and was the top individual fundraiser in South Dakota in 2012!

The Humanist Visionary Award goes to Greg Epstein for his groundbreaking contributions to the development of humanist community nationwide through his writing, speaking, and work with the Humanist Community Project at Harvard University.

The Humanist Innovator Award goes to Carmen Zepp for the creation of Human Beans Together, a program that grew out of the simple desire to share food with those who are hungry in the Raleigh area. Since January 2012, Human Beans has operated a weekly open-air “soup kitchen” in the center of the city, feeding hundreds of people each week. Carmen is a member of the Triangle Freethought Society.

Finally, the Heart of Humanism Award goes to Todd Stiefel, founding executive director of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation and Team Captain of FBB’s Light The Night Team. He and his family matched Light The Night donations dollar for dollar, contributing more than $200,000 in 2012. SFF also provided thousands of dollars for Light The Night incentives to top fundraising teams.

But as game-changing as Todd’s financial support has been, his time and leadership have made at least as great an impact. He works tirelessly to support the humanist movement, from volunteering for Camp Quest, to speaking at conferences, to organizing humanist programs and leading our LTN International Team.

Please join us in congratulating all of our 2012 Heart of Humanism award winners on Facebook! Go to our page and leave them some love.

If your group would like to make charity a larger part of your identity, consider joining Beyond Belief Network. We welcome any groups with a public secular humanist or atheist identity, with all levels of experience. We provide our teams with how-to guides, tips, and assistance planning and promoting events. Additionally, we award our top teams with recognition, t-shirts, and the opportunity to apply for grants for service projects. To be eligible for the 2013 awards, you must report at least eight events prior to December 31, 2013. Teams may submit backdated reports for all of their 2013 events.

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