by Wendy Webber, Beyond Belief Network Coordinator and Humanist Disaster Recovery Coordinator
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.
April was a busy month for our teams. The Secular Humanists of Roanoke (SHOR) in Roanoke, Virginia, volunteered their time to help clean up along the river of Explore Park. Over 500 lbs of trash was collected in three hours! The Secular Humanists of Roanoke joined up with 70 other volunteers from across the valley to help with this clean up. Everyone worked really hard to accomplish this task. SHOR plans on joining upcoming cleanups throughout the year.
Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) volunteers worked as Housewarmers at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald House (RMH). RMH 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 by greeting, assisting with family needs, answering phones, giving tours, assisting with checkin/checkout, preparing guest rooms after checkout, cleaning the facility, laundry, restocking supplies, and staffing the front desk. At the May 5th RMH Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, four currently active COUNT members were recognized as having volunteered more than 100 hours and two for working at RMH for at least five years!
COUNT then paired up 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 was COUNT and HCCO’s 40th joint shelter event. CSB provides housing and meals to homeless families and individual men and women in Central Ohio. Some volunteers served dinners while others washed dishes, mopped floors, and cleaned tables. Once the dishes are done, they adjourned to the Omnipresent Atheists meetup in progress for dinner, drinks, and conversation. We love seeing these teams work together each month!
Camden County Humanists in New Jersey volunteered as staff for a fundraising event for Humane Animal Rescue Trapping & Transport (HARTT). HARTT is an organization in the Blackwood, New Jersey area that traps, neuters, and releases feral cats. Seven Camden County Humanists worked as kitchen staff, preparing, warming, and setting up the buffet table for the event. Not having done this as a group previously, they came together well to complete their portion of the event. All went away satisfied with their effort.
Brevard Area Atheists in Melbourne, Florida, held an event cleaning up a mile stretch of Babcock Road, north of Palm Bay Road. Keep it up!
Volunteers from Humanists Doing Good were busy helping out their community as they served a meal at the Homeward Bound Shelter in Grand Junction, Colorado. The volunteers reported that they received lots of thanks and left feeling like they had helped many people.
Also in Colorado, the Atheist Community of Colorado Springs Yarn Craftivists group had two get-togethers to knit and crochet hats and scarves to donate to area middle and high schools. The items are delivered to the school social workers who then distribute them to students who they know are in need. The host was able to knit for the first time since getting out of a cast for a broken arm. Before that she was limited to crocheting. Talk about dedication!
Nearby, the Pikes Peak Atheists and Pikes Peak Atheist Families in Colorado Springs held a donation drive throughout April for One Nation Walking Together (ONWT), which supports impoverished Native Americans living on reservations. They collected about 1,500 items to donate, and finished out the drive with a volunteer day to help ONWT organize their warehouse and load a semi-trailer for delivery of donated items to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Before their work, there was barely room for two people to squeeze into the canned food area; afterward, there was a huge amount of floor space in which to work! The incoming donations were seemingly never ending, but they sorted many bags of items and boxed up dozens that were especially needed at the Pine Ridge Reservation in light of recent flooding. This volunteer day was also part of the Secular Week of Action, in which we were excited to see our BBN teams participate!
In Mundelein, Illinois, the Family & Friends Humanist Crew held a stuffed animal collection drive for Zac’s Zoo. Zac’s Zoo takes stuffed animal donations for kids who are in tough or scary situations to give them some comfort, such as in first responder vehicles. Overall the team collected 26 stuffed animals to donate. So much cuteness, so much comfort!
In the Philippines, the Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI) held a collection drive for the Bahay Pangarap Women’s Center, providing second hand clothes and personal hygiene kits (shampoo & conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste, bath soap, facial wash, deodorant, feminine wash, sanitary napkins, panty liners, wet wipess and tissues), and visited the Center to check on the girls there, interacting to find out how they’re doing and helping them know they matter.
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.