Beyond Belief Network Teams improve selves and community

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.

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Four members of our Team of the Month for June Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) worked as Housewarmers at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in May 2014. RMH provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other area hospitals. Housewarmers work with the guests to provide a home-like environment. Their duties include greeting, assisting with family needs, answering phones, giving tours, assisting with checkin/checkout, preparing guest rooms after checkout, cleaning facility, laundry, restocking supplies and staffing the front desk. COUNT celebrates its first year anniversary volunteering with RMH.  The Columbus Coalition of Reason (CoR) is preparing for their first ever COMFEST booth this summer. Columbus CoR helps non-theists find groups for socializing, volunteering, education, activism and various kinds of group support (GLBT, divorce, and secular parenting). Columbus CoR wanted some poster boards featuring pictures from various member groups showing how fun they are to put in first ever COMFEST Booth. Five Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) members planned the layout of the booth, organized a canopy and a “Don’t believe in God? Join the club!” banner, constructed posters and had a great time doing it. The poster includes photos from Week of Action events hosted by Columbus CoR groups including COUNT. Because of all these great works, COUNT has also reached Level Two (making them eligible for service-related grants)!

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Flagstaff Freethinkers volunteer monthly at the Flagstaff Family Food Center. The 7-9 volunteers work for a three-hour shift and serve between 150 – 300 people. Among their duties, the Freethinkers helped greet customers, prepared and served the food, bused tables, cleaned dishes and staffed the reading room. Flagstaff Freethinkers also worked with the Flagstaff Family Food Center and the Flagstaff Postal Service Letter Carriers to support the 22nd annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive. They collected food from neighborhoods, unloaded postal vehicles, loaded the Family Food Center truck and served food to the letter carriers and other volunteers. Flagstaff Freethinkers reached Level Two this month with the most recent monthly shift at the Food Center, and are closing fast on Level Three (which will entitle them to additional grant monies and free FBB t-shirts)!

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One of our newest teams is continuing what has been a very strong rookie year! The Corpus Christi Women’s Shelter is holding a summer camp for the children staying with their mothers at the shelter. They sent out a community request for food and snacks for the children. Corpus Christi Atheists responded by holding a food drive that collected snacks. They also collected over $100, which was later used to buy additional food. Corpus Christi Atheists recently reached Level One (making them eligible for Team of the Month and other awards as well as free FBB t-shirts!).

Another new team, Black Nonbelievers of Detroit, as well as members of Minority Atheists of MI tabled June 7-8, 2014 at the Motor City Pride Festival in Detroit. Their intention was to put a face to Atheism via education minus contention. Members were instructed to build a rapport with guests by focusing on commonalities and work from there. By providing 12 oz. bottled water in comparison to the 4 oz. bottles offered by other vendors, they were well-received! Fifteen members donated over two hundred hours of their time to this event!

Although it’s often overlooked, education-based service events are as important as other service events. For example, Level Three team Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless kicked off their Youth Events and Activities (YEA) quarterly events with a tour of Caritas of Austin. Their mission is to provide “a service continuum for those experiencing poverty that begins with a safety net and links them to resources to achieve self-sufficiency.” In their 50th year, Caritas of Austin serve 20,000 people annually. The Executive Director led a tour for 8 ATXAHH youth volunteers and 5 chaperones. ATXAHH viewed their food pantry, kitchen, refugee intake services department and ended the tour with a Musical Mac ‘n Cheese activity. The activity illustrated the fact that 25% of children in Texas live at or below the poverty line and go hungry on a daily basis. The YEA group is the newest addition to ATXAHH. ATXAHH has a number of committed youth volunteers who take part in their collection and distribution process. As secular adult role models, it’s important to foster their compassion so it becomes an innate part of their lives as they mature. That’s where YEA comes in. At least once a quarter, YEA Coordinators will arrange activities that enlighten and educate about homelessness and humanity in both local and broader senses. Foundation Beyond Belief recently awarded a $500 Level Three grant to ATXAHH which will provide programming for YEA along with some of ATXAHH’s other initiatives.

Another Level Three team, Freethought Dayton kept up their commitments to volunteer at the Foodbank. Due to an abundance of volunteers earlier in the week, all of their usual tasks were done. Instead, they cleaned around the warehouse, prepped donation barrels, and wrote encouraging notes for kids receiving weekend food backpacks.

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.