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June BBN roundup

14 Jul 2019

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.

What were our BBN Teams up to in June? Let’s find out! 

We have a new team joining us in June, Community of Reason in Cincinnati, Ohio! Welcome to the Network, COR! 

Austin Humanists at Work held a donation drive for their June Giveaway. ATXHAW volunteers solicited donations via word of mouth, on neighborhood listservs, and social media, and were able to collect 2,346 items to distribute! Also in June, members of ATXHAW’s knit and crochet group, Gettin’ Knotty, met in the cafe of a local bookstore, creating washcloths to also be distributed at the giveaway - this month they created seven to hand out! 2019-june-13_bbn_atxhaw-gettin-knotty-june-2019-2On the morning of June 16, thirty ATXHAW volunteers gathered under a bridge in downtown Austin to hand out basic living items to those in need in their community. They were able to serve 209 fellow humans! Thanks to the Ethical Society of Austin for bringing coolers & ice to chill donated water. 

The Family & Friends Humanist Crew in Mundelein, IL participated in a 5K called Hustle for Health which raised money for the Kenneth Young Center. This organization helps older adults safely live independently and provides behavioral health services to children, adults, and families. It was held at the beautiful Busse Woods Forest Preserve in Elk Grove, IL. This team loves to run! 2019-june-08_bbn_family__friends_humanist_crew-kenneth-young-5k-run-2 One of our international teams, Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI), collected clothing, snacks and medicine to distribute to indigenous people in their area. This visit, they were able to provide vitamin drops for 36 children!

2019-june-08_bbn_hapi_indigenous-people-against-common-diseasesVolunteers from Humanists Doing Good in Grand Junction, Colorado, assisted the Special Olympics of Colorado's State Summer Games. Volunteers helped track and field athletes to their events and ceremonies and also aided with the necessary paperwork for the events. There were plenty of heartwarming moments and big smiles throughout the day. The team received late notice that the Special Olympics needed additional help and were able to provide six volunteers! 

2019-june-09_bbn_humanists_doing_good-special-olympics-2 Freethought Dayton in Dayton, OH, held a highway cleanup event, picking up litter from the I-675 and OH-48 interchanges. Five members participated and were able to gather about eight bags of trash! 

Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) volunteers worked as Housewarmers at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald House again this month, and then partnered again with the Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) volunteering as servers at the Community Shelter Board (CSB) facility on Van Buren Drive in Columbus, Ohio. COUNT also sent volunteers to a number of Adaptive Sports Connection (ASC) events, helping Central Ohio veterans, children, and adults who need adaptive equipment or instruction to participate in various sports including skiing, kayaking and cycling. (In June, it was more kayaking and cycling, not so much skiiing!) In the photo below, COUNT member Andrew (rear of tandem) shares a tandem kayak with a student participant.

2019-june-29_bbn_count_asc-kayak-volunteeringThe Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation Community Service Committee in Lincolnshire, IL, volunteered at St. James Soup Kitchen in Highwood, IL. Volunteers provided food, prepared and served, and cleaned up afterward. Full service volunteering!

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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.

By FBB

Foundation Beyond Belief usually chooses four beneficiaries to receive grants each quarter in the categories of Poverty & Health, Human Rights, Education, and the Natural World. However, one quarter per year we instead have an open, competitive process to award one innovative organization with the game-changing Compassionate Impact Grant. This grant is given to organizations whose programs are demonstrably innovative, evidence-based, and solve community problems. 

This year, we are thrilled to announce that 2019's Compassionate Impact Grant will be awarded to Pueblo a Pueblo to expand its innovative, data-driven, and culturally appropriate programs targeting locally-defined problems in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala.

pueblo-a-pueblo-logoSpecifically, this year's grant will support the Beekeeping project within Pueblo a Pueblo’s Sustainable Livelihoods program, targeting coffee farming communities with a focus on women and indigenous Mayan farmers. Coffee farming does not provide a stable income and is highly susceptible to the effects of climate change. For these coffee farmers, adding beekeeping helps provide year-round stable income though honey sales, and the bees help increase coffee income by increasing the coffee yield. Beekeeping has been a Mayan enterprise for centuries, making it a culturally appropriate addition for indigenous coffee farmers in the region. 

2019-june-pueblo-a-pueblo-beekeeping-2In the Lake Atitlán region, over 80% of the population lives in poverty, of which 40% face extreme poverty and live on less than $2 USD a day. Among individuals who self-identify as indigenous in Guatemala, 79% live in poverty (1.7 times higher than the general population). Coffee farmers are subject to volatile market prices, insufficient income for proper nutrition until harvest months, and are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Pueblo a Pueblo has designed the program to be sustainable without their support after three years. Pueblo a Pueblo installs locally-constructed beehive frames then collaborates with the group to expand their apiary and to gradually transfer ownership to them. The project model features in-depth workshops on all phases of apiary management, financial literacy, group dynamics, business skills, and marketing. In the third year of the project cycle and beyond, Pueblo a Pueblo remains a source of logistical support for the groups. Data from the most recent Beekeeping group to finish its three-year project cycle suggests a 44 percent increase in participants’ incomes from baseline data.

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Pueblo a Pueblo’s values and project design align with FBB’s very closely. Their project is designed to counteract the effects of colonialism with a culturally appropriate intervention that targets women and indiginous farmers who are living in poverty. Their project is holistic and designed from the beginning with community-led interventions and for control to be completely transferred to the beneficiaries after three years. Their initial program design is based on international evidence of the effectiveness of beekeeping as an effective intervention to address poverty and climate change. Pueblo a Pueblo’s own data has shown significant income increases for the participants that have already completed the three year program cycle. FBB is proud to support this innovative, effective, sustainable, culturally-effective project!

By FBB

This week in history, formerly enslaved abolitionist Frederick Douglass bluntly criticized the failure of American commitments to "freedom"  in several Independence Day addresses. 

"The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro" was delivered to a majority caucasian audience in Rochester, New York. Tomorrow (July 5th) marks its 167th anniversary.

For those unfamiliar, we encourage you to check out the audio and transcript.

The speech exposed how the Independence Day holiday is inherently tainted by America’s ongoing perpetuation of slavery:

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Those of us who consider Douglass' criticisms a matter of pure history may be reminded they are doing so while reading them on an electronic device likely manufactured by underpaid labor in cramped, prison-like conditions. We may be wearing clothing woven by a child’s hand in a sweatshop, perhaps enjoying coffee, chocolate, or rice produced by forced labor. 

Douglass’ main question might also be re-written to point us at some other issues:

42808034042_ebe96f53fd_k "What to the imprisoned migrant child is the Fourth of July?"

"What to the hundreds of thousands of disproportionately black prisoners working as exploited labor is the Fourth of July?"

"What to the missing indigenous women, exploited migrant workers, and modern debt prisoners is the Fourth of July?"

“What to people of color who are disproportionately impacted by police violence is the Fourth of July?"

To groups like this, our jubilant fetishism of the American brand of "freedom" may be as much of a sham as they were to the 19th century slave. 

Douglass' rhetoric continually prompts us to re-evaluate our definition of freedom. Some of us may bristle at the notion of publicly denouncing the above modern inequities as openly as we imagine ourselves decrying slavery in the 1800’s. Perhaps advocacy on these issues is unpopular in our social circles. Perhaps we see them as more complicated, less “black and white” moral questions than historical slavery. If so, we can remind ourselves that abolition was a radical concept in its time. Slavery was an integral part of our social and economic infrastructure— at least as much as the other aforementioned injustices are today.

Douglass also prompts us to look at the usefulness of our philosophical or spiritual convictions as they relate to helping us solve the problem:

At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness. Did this law [...] abridge the right to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to engage in any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder of a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church demanding repeal, repeal, instant repeal! 

Those of us reading this blog are unlikely to give homage to a god, but many of us are likely to be invested in issues affecting our ability to “worship” as we please. For many of us, this may be our pet issue. We may be quick to react to news about persecution against the nonreligious, or respond to action alerts on issues affecting separation of church and state. Are we prepared to also put that same energy into challenging other policies that rob human beings of their dignity and freedom? 

For the nonreligious, we might rephrase this passage:

At the very moment that we are enjoying civil and religious liberty, and for the right to think according to the dictates of our own conscience, are we utterly silent in respect to laws which rob humanism of its chief significance and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness?

Foundation Beyond Belief is funds to support free legal and social services to adults and children in immigration custody in Arizona facing deportation. Click here for more information or to contribute. 

 

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By Eric Zaklukiewicz, FBB Staff

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.

Let’s check in and see what the Beyond Belief Network Teams are up to as summer gets started!

The Family & Friends Humanist Crew in Mundelein, IL participated in the EmpoweRun 5K, benefiting A Safe Place, a local organization providing support services for victims of domestic abuse. Their team was able to get 16 pledges totaling $640.00. The walk/run itself was great and was held at Libertyville's Independence Grove Forest Preserve. Everyone had a great time and loved supporting this wonderful cause. Several members said they can't wait to do it again next year! 2019-may-4_bbn_family__friends_humanist_crew-empowerun-2

Center for Inquiry-Michigan members held their annual event at Long Lake Outdoor Center, helping prepare the campground for use this summer. After the nasty winter, much time was spent clearing downed trees, branches, and leaves from common areas. People also cleaned the craft house, washed windows in the kitchen and lodge, and conducted general cabin inspections to be sure they were ready for use. Long Lake Outdoor Center is a historical campground that can be rented by the public. CFI-Michigan holds their annual Secular Summer Retreat there in July. In May each year, they donate time and expertise for whatever priorities need to be dealt with for the campground to be ready for public use. After a terrible winter and questionable spring in terms of weather, they had a perfect day for doing outdoor work. Another great day spent giving back to the campground they have enjoyed so much over the years!

2019-may-04_bbn_cfi_michigan-long-lake-workday-mike-charles-chipping

Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) volunteers worked as Housewarmers at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald House again this month, and then partnered again with the Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) volunteering as servers at the Community Shelter Board (CSB) facility on Van Buren Drive in Columbus, Ohio. This month they also held their regular Bleed-N-Feed event at the Carriage Place Red Cross Donor Center in Columbus, Ohio. Folks donate whole blood or platelets, and then head over to a nearby restaurant to refuel afterwards. The next Bleed-N-Feed event is scheduled for July, so I’m sure we’ll hear from these great teams again!

The Secular Humanists of Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia adopted a local park and held their first clean up event in May. It was a great success despite the heat and humidity. Members covered a lot of ground and collected ten bags of trash. They even had a few new members show up who found out about their group through the cleanup event on Facebook!

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The New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (NOSHA) collected 46 pounds of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank in May. A NOSHA member made a delivery to the food bank the next day it was open. 

2019-may-18_bbn_nosha-food-drive-may-1

NOSHA also created a team to fundraise for Second Harvest through the Rubber Duck Derby. They surpassed their goal by selling 117 ducks through in person and online sales, bringing in about $500 for the food bank. Two of the ducks sold by NOSHA actually won prizes!

2019-may-31_bbn_nosha-rubber-duck-derby

A great month for our teams!

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.

By Wendy Webber, Beyond Belief Network Coordinator

GlobeMed, a nonprofit founded by students in 2006, supports 56 partnerships between university chapters and grassroots organizations throughout the world. With the goal of strengthening the movement for global health equity, each chapter is paired with a community-based organization to develop a long-term relationship. Partners work in various domains related to community health, including food and nutrition, income generation, and youth empowerment. As grassroots organizations are supported to advance their community impact, a generation of young people is simultaneously equipped with the skills, experiences, and values needed to transform the world.

“You came in and said to us: ‘We’re asking you what you need.’ Do you know how fresh that was?” said Lisa de Santiago, addressing students during a GlobeMed at Loyola weekly chapter meeting. Lisa, director of the youth program at Centro Romero, frequently expressed how refreshing it was to partner with the GlobeMed at Loyola chapter. When a group of Loyola University students approached Lisa in 2017 with the proposition of establishing a long-term partnership centering on mutual listening and learning, she was taken by surprise. Up until that point, Lisa’s experience with partners involved writing grants and personally searching for donors. With GlobeMed, Centro Romero was invited into a model of partnership centered on long-lasting, empowering relationships in which Lisa’s voice as a community leader was heard, respected, and uplifted.

Before their partnership with Centro Romero began in 2017, GlobeMed at Loyola was partnered with a health clinic in Ecuador. However, their chapter was shut down by Loyola administration in 2016 due to restrictions on international travel. Rather than let the student organization they knew and loved disband, a group of student leaders spent the next year digging deep and searching for possibilities. After extensive deliberation and self-reflection, they decided that as global health equity is just as relevant locally as it is internationally, relaunching the student organization with a local partnership instead of an international partnership would allow them to continue to do they work they longed for while also adhering to university guidelines. It was then that Loyola began its now two-year strong partnership with the community organization Centro Romero. 

For over 35 years, Centro has worked towards its mission of helping the primarily Latinx immigrant and refugee community on the northeast side of Chicago achieve self-sufficiency. The GlobeMed at Loyola team works specifically to support Centro’s BRAVE program which serves middle and high school students in an effort to combat typical stereotypes for Latinx youth, like violent engagement and delinquency, by building a supportive community, engaging the group in various after school activities, and believing in their full potential. Each week, a team of Loyola students makes the short walk to Centro to support the academic, social, and physical learning of the teens. Some days they involve the teens in healthy eating seminars, other days they lead interactive yoga sessions, but most days, they simply focus on building their relationships with the teens.

Sarah Alharsha, Loyola student and former co-president of the GlobeMed at Loyola chapter, explained that when their partnership with Centro launched, it took a lot of patience. When the students first began working with the teens, many participants questioned their intentions. “As first-generation Americans and as students of color, the kids are constantly faced with assumptions and prejudice,” said Sarah. “Society expects them to fail and in many cases, the odds are stacked against them.” In the beginning, Centro’s teens thought GlobeMed at Loyola was just another group of college students looking to get their community engagement hours completed. It wasn’t until a few months into the partnership that the teens began to realize that GlobeMed was in it for the long run. 

Soon enough, steady relationships developed between Loyola students and the teens in the youth program. In the process of truly listening to the teens and meeting them where they were, GlobeMed at Loyola members began to see their mentees leaning into the support they offered. The relationships established also enabled chapter members to grasp the connection between the hands-on work they were doing and the conversations around social justice and global health they had during their weekly chapter meetings. 

Over the past year, Sarah has often heard Lisa remind the teens in her program, “You give what you get.” In the Loyola chapter, members have experienced the truth of this statement through the transformative power of the relationships they’ve built. While the teens have benefitted from the steady mentorship of the Loyola students, the students have likewise been greatly impacted by the love, trust, and resilience of the teens. More than anything, GlobeMed at Loyola members appreciate the opportunity to walk alongside Lisa and the Centro Romero youth, learning from one another and working together to create lasting change. 

As the fall semester approaches, GlobeMed at Loyola leaders have begun envisioning their third year of partnership. Due to the nature of the constantly shifting student body of universities, they are currently working towards an approach that is more sustainable, while continuing to center the importance of one-on-one relationships. Being the first GlobeMed chapter to solely focus on a local partnership has not come without its hardships, but all in all, their journey the past two years has served as an inspiration not only to the chapter’s current members, but to the GlobeMed network as a whole. GlobeMed at Loyola has reminded students, alumni, staff, and board members alike of the power that partnerships hold. Whether partnered locally or internationally, each of the 56 GlobeMed chapters have made one thing clear over the years: authentic, sustained relationships are the heart and soul of the GlobeMed movement for health equity. 

***

GlobeMed is a beneficiary of our Humanist Grants program. More information about GlobeMed is available on their website at globemed.org

You may contribute to our Humanist Grants program here

By by Miriam Pierce, GlobeMed Senior Fellow

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