By Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, Beyond Belief Network Coordinator
2013 marked the beginning of the Beyond Belief Network, which merged the existing Volunteers Beyond Belief, Foundation Partners, and Light The Night programs. Since our official launch in May, we’ve grown to 90 teams! Our teams recorded 150 events, and we’re nearing an exciting milestone of 30,000 hours donated to date. We’ve been able to provide teams with free logo t-shirts, grants, and assistance finding service activities and promoting events. Additionally, in September, we announced the winners of our first annual Heart of Humanism Awards (for Volunteers Beyond Belief teams active in 2012).
We also started recognizing the most active teams with Team of the Month awards. In September, we recognized the Humanist Community of Ventura County for their large number and variety of service events (and great pictures). October’s winning team was Flagstaff Freethinkers, who have both a recurring monthly commitment at a food center and incredible fundraisers, including Seráh Blain’s Blistering at the Margins project, a birthday Crochet-a-thon, and a Family Dance Party. Fellowship of Freethought Dallas was November’s Team of the Month. They’ve been consistently one of our top teams, in Volunteers Beyond Belief, Foundation Partners Programs, and Light The Night. They especially shine with food-related service and fundraisers. December’s team is FreeOK, who joined following the Oklahoma Tornadoes and were very active in cleanup and recovering efforts. They’ve been successful with blood drives, food drives, and the Holiday Humanist Gifting project, a wonderful toy drive that collected nominations and wish lists from more than 100 children, all of whom were adopted by members of their community.
In 2014, thanks to support from members and the community at large (and it’s not too late to give to our Year-End Fund Drive!), we will be able to support more teams with event planning assistance and guides, award more grants and t-shirts, and recognize even more teams with the Team of the Month and Heart of Humanism awards. If you know a local or online atheist or humanist group who would be a good candidate to join Beyond Belief Network, please send them to our website. Teams that join by the end of the day today may submit backdated reports for any service activities from 2013 and will be eligible for Heart of Humanism awards, t-shirts and grants, and a drawing to win a signed book from Dale McGowan or Chris Stedman (one entry per event report received by January 15, 2014).