October is here, and that means it’s time for hayrides, pumpkin spice lattes, and the September Beyond Belief Network Event Roundup!
The Humanist Community of Ventura County (HCVC) helped the Ventura Hillside Conservancy with one of their bimonthly park clean-ups. HCVC volunteered at the Conejo Valley Days Poker Tournament Fundraiser. The tournament is a private fundraiser for local charity Many Mansions, which provides housing with on-site, life-enriching services for low-income residents of Conejo Valley and Ventura County. Humanist Community members assisted with set-up and manager check-in. HCVC also volunteered at a Habitat for Humanity build site in Oxnard, California. The house was occupied by an elderly woman who could no longer afford to finance renovations or external maintenance. Volunteers spent more than four hours painting, laying lawn carpeting, mulching, and removing trash.
HCVC is also our very first Beyond Belief Network Team of the Month for September, primarily because of the breadth and depth of their volunteering activities recently.
The Flagstaff Freethinkers also had a busy September. They volunteered at the Flagstaff Family Food Center, a secular food pantry. They helped with food preparation, serving, and clean-up. Julian Wallace, daughter of a Flagstaff Freethinkers member, recently devoted her birthday to fighting homelessness and hunger in her hometown. Julian loves to knit and crochet and invited the entire Flagstaff community to knit or crochet with her on her birthday. For each hour spent knitting or crocheting, money was donated to the Flagstaff Family Food Center. The Flagstaff Freethinkers collected more than $800 as well as three bags of food for the Flagstaff Family Food Center. Flagstaff Freethinkers also collected about 85 pounds of hygiene/toiletry products, as well as 30 winter coats and sweaters, 12 hats (four of which were made that day), and eight scarves (of which five were made that day). These items were collected for Flagstaff Shelter Services.
The Humanist Community at Harvard collaborated with the Cambridge Department of Public Works to clean up the Cambridge City Park. Volunteers picked up trash, pulled weeds, and cleaned tree wells. This event kicked off HCH's 2013 Values in Action (VIA) programming. The VIA program is HCH's community service and interfaith initiative with a three-fold goal: to better the conditions of life for others through service to humanity, to build alliances between religious and nonreligious individuals and communities, and to combat the misconception that the nonreligious do not contribute to society. Values in Action is being sponsored in part by Foundation Beyond Belief as a pilot program. We’ll be covering VIA in more detail in the coming months.
Montgomery Area Freethought Association (MAFA) held a food drive to benefit the Montgomery Area Food Bank. They didn’t do a small drive at a meeting; they set up at a local supermarket and were able to collect donations and interact with their community. In addition to showing their community that Freethinkers are compassionate and charitable, MAFA collected nearly 3,000 pounds of food for the poor and homeless.
Ethics in Action recently volunteered for Lydia's House. Lydia's House provides transitional housing for women who need a place to stay after leaving an abuse shelter, and it also helps them gain the skills and confidence they need to get back on their feet. Volunteers washed dishes, mopped floors, scrubbed child seats, and even dusted cobwebs off the ceiling!
Humanists of Houston packed food at the Houston Food Bank. They packed a total of 469 boxes with a balanced selection of food for CFSP. CFSP provides income-eligible seniors with a 25 lb. box of food every month. That's an estimated 11,725 meals!
In October, Beyond Belief Network is observing Domestic Violence Awareness Month by encouraging BBN teams to help local shelters. If you are a member of a secular humanist or atheist group and would like to participate, join Beyond Belief Network. We welcome all atheist groups interested in service, from groups with extensive volunteer experience to newly formed groups with no experience.