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Latest Beyond Belief Network News

Our Beyond Belief Network (BBN) teams were busy as usual in March. We’re also happy to announce the addition of a new group to our BBN family, the Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless.

At the end of February, our newest BBN friends held a Giveaway for the Homeless. Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless (AAHH) had 18 volunteers who helped to distribute items to over 150 people over the course of the giveaway. They disbursed four large bags of clothes on their "clothing isle," and this included some donated professional clothing and shoes. They also received donations from several members of the Atheist Community of Austin at their Freethought Library, including toothbrushes and hotel disposables. In addition, a couple of Secular Student Alliance members from UT Austin came out to help!! (Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless Pictured in featured photo above.)

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By FBB

 Earlier this month at a mayoral forum, the current mayor of San Antonio, TX, Ivy Taylor, was asked by a representative of SA Christian Hope Resource Center what she saw as the deepest systemic causes of generational poverty. Her answer was disappointing. “Since you’re with the Christian Coalition, I’ll go ahead and put it out there that to me, it’s broken people, you know, people not being in a good relationship with their Creator and therefore, not being in a good relationship with their families and their communities and, you know, not being productive members of society, so, I mean, I think that’s the ultimate answer though that's not something I work on from my position as mayor of the community though, I try to be an example."

You can read Foundation Beyond Belief's response here and below is the response from our Beyond Belief Network Team South Texas Atheists for Reason. 

4/25/2017

Dear Mayor Taylor:

After hearing your recent comments connecting systemic poverty to “people not being in a relationship with their creator,” the South Texas Atheists for Reason (STAR) would like to share some of the work atheists are doing in San Antonio to build strong relationships in our families and our communities. Far from being “broken people” who are not “productive members of society,” STAR is a thriving group dedicated to learning, service, and community!

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By South Texas Atheists for Reason

Earlier this month at a mayoral forum, the current mayor of San Antonio, TX, Ivy Taylor, was asked by a representative of SA Christian Hope Resource Center what she saw as the deepest systemic causes of generational poverty. Her answer was disappointing. “Since you’re with the Christian Coalition, I’ll go ahead and put it out there that to me, it’s broken people, you know, people not being in a good relationship with their Creator and therefore, not being in a good relationship with their families and their communities and, you know, not being productive members of society, so, I mean, I think that’s the ultimate answer though that's not something I work on from my position as mayor of the community though, I try to be an example."

Despite the fact that she followed up with other more reasonable causes such as inequality in education and teen pregnancy, the fact that her initial response was to call people who believe differently than her “broken” is troubling, to say the least, and despite her insistence that it doesn’t play a role in her work, the fact that she announced it at a public forum says otherwise.

Atheists, humanists, and non-believers are not “broken people.” We simply believe something different, no more, no less, and we are every bit as capable of doing good things as anyone else.

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By FBB

The Beyond Belief Network Team of the Month for March was Fellowship of Freethought Dallas (FOF). The group picked up trash along their two mile stretch of adopted highway in Dallas and provided a meal for the residents at one of the AIDS Services of Dallas facilities, as they do every month. In addition to those two recurring events, the group also held a "Party for a Purpose" to raise funds to help children attend Camp Quest Texas this June. Camp Quest Texas encourages campers to explore the natural world scientifically, to develop humanistic values and engage in ethical discussions, and to sharpen their critical thinking skills. FOF charged an entry fee of $15 to attend their fundraiser party and sold $1 raffle tickets for some great donated prizes. There was also a silent auction for five art pieces. All in all, the event raised more than $1,800, which is enough to send two kids to camp on full scholarship!  Excellent work, Fellowship of Freethought Dallas!

Feeling motivated by the FOF Dallas fundraiser? Remember that BBN teams get double credit for events that raise funds for Foundation Beyond Belief and its beneficiaries. Your group could support any of the amazing Q2 beneficiaries we just announced, or help make it possible for FBB to send the next group of Humanist Service Corps (HSC) volunteers to Ghana in June. We need to raise another $10,000 in order for HSC to continue saving lives and fighting for women's rights! To make a gift to HSC, click here.

Click here for more information about BBN events.

By FBB

The Beyond Belief Network Picture of the Month for March was captured by the Springfield Skeptics. Executive Director Eric Wells has mastered the art of the group selfie, and the Springfield Skeptics always look like they're having a blast! On this highway clean-up day the group filled seven trash bags over the course of two hours. Like many groups who do highway clean-ups, the Skeptics chose their location strategically. The two-mile stretch of Highway 65 in Ozark, Missouri is right in front of the James River Assembly megachurch.

We'll announce the March BBN Team of the Month next Thursday...stay tuned!

By FBB

Foundation Beyond Belief was pleased to announce the Beyond Belief Network (BBN) Picture and Team of the Month Winners for February, but those weren't the only BBN teams doing amazing work! Beyond Belief Network teams reported nearly 30 events and 1,300 hours of service in February. Here's what some other teams were doing in February!

South Texas Atheists for Reason (STAR) continued providing humanist chaplains for weekly discussions with trainees at Lackland Air Force Base. Between 700 and 1,000 trainees attend every week! STAR volunteers also helped the San Antonio River Authority clear the invasive cats claw vine off of trees and plant new trees as part of the Watershed Wise Warriors environmental preservation program. They also worked on the garden plots at the San Antonio Food Bank and handed out hygiene supplies and weather appropriate clothing at their monthly giveaway for residents in need.

Brevard Area Atheists cleaned up 33 pounds of roadside garbage in their community. They're keeping track of the tally for the year!

Springfield Skeptics took on a building project in partnership with a local dog rescue organization. Rescue One needed an enclosed play area at one of the locations where dogs are fostered while permanent homes are found. Springfield Skeptics located, donated & fundraised for some used chain link fencing, dog kennel panels, t-posts, gates, and hardware.

As they do on the fourth Thursday of every month, the Fellowship of Freethought-Dallas prepared and served a meal for the residents at the Ewing Center, which provides medically supportive housing to low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Continuing with their fun monthly themed meals at SafeHouse of Seminole, BE. Orlando prepared and served a heart-themed dinner in February. Volunteers also joined other community organizations at Second Harvest Food Bank to sort donations provided by local grocery stores.

Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry picked up 11 bags of litter (165 pounds) along their stretch of adopted highway. The group has been cleaning up the stretch of road for more than 10 years! Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry will also be hosting the 76th annual AHA conference June 8-11th in Charleston, South Carolina. Foundation Beyond Belief staff and members of the board will be there! Will you?

The Atheist Community of Colorado Springs (ACCS) continued with its bimonthly crafting for charity. The group saves thousands of plastic bags from going to the landfill by turning them into sleeping mats for the homeless. These sleeping mats are donated alongside other needed items to a local charity, Street Supplies Inc. The group completed three new mats in February!

Sunday Assembly Los Angeles hosted a blood drive at the February Assembly. Despite untimely street closures in the area and the resulting lower turnout, SALAmanders donated 19 pints!

Minnesota Atheists volunteers pitch in every month at The Food Group, a secular, non-faith based, non-profit organization whose mission is to serve the hunger needs of the Twin Cities. In February, the group packed 3,240 pounds of food to be distributed. The group also continued its monthly volunteering event at The Family Place, a day and night center for families living without a permanent home. Eleven Minnesota Atheists volunteers purchased ingredients to make a delicious pizza dinner for 16 children and five adults. They cooked, served the meal, and cleaned up after the guests were done eating.

The Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) and Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) got together for their fifteenth joint event at the Community Shelter Board facility in Columbus. Some volunteers serve dinners while others wash dishes, mop floors, file forms and clean tables. COUNT volunteers also worked as "Housewarmers" at the Ronald McDonald House on SuperBowl Sunday. The Columbus Ronald McDonald House 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 - they staff the front desk, assist families with their needs, give tours, prepare guest rooms after checkout, do laundry, restock supplies, and clean the facilities.

Do you volunteer with a local group putting humanism into action? Talk to your group about joining the Beyond Belief Network.

By FBB

Beyond Belief Network teams reported nearly 30 events and 1,300 hours of service in February. Austin Humanists at Work captured the Picture of the Month at their February Giveaway, where about 30 volunteers handed out the nearly 5,000 food and other essential items they had collected since the last giveaway. In all, 145 Austin residents in need benefited from this month's giveaway.

Atheist Community San Jose (ACSJ) is our February Team of the Month in recognition of the group's contribution to disaster recovery efforts after a historic flood. On February 21st, rains that battered much of California caused flooding in San Jose that displaced 14,000 residents and left $73 million in damage. ACSJ volunteers joined the offices of Mayor Sam Liccardo, Councilmember Tam Nguyen, and Councilmember Raul Peralez in neighborhood cleanups along Coyote Creek in the impacted neighborhoods. Volunteers helped muck out houses, garages, and streets, as well as move unusable items to dumpsters, in addition to helping move emergency shelter supplies.

By FBB

We've already announced that the South Texas Atheists for Reason and the Tri-State Freethinkers were our Picture and Team of the Month winners for January. Here's what the rest of the teams were up doing in January.

Four times a year, Springfield Skeptics muster up their resources and prepare a meal for the LGBT+ youth at the local support center. In January, the group organized a taco night, and the youth at the center loved them! Springfield Skeptics also hiked through the trails of the Busiek State Forest, cleaning up bottles, cans, and all sorts of other trash.

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By FBB

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