We have already had a number of great successes with our two-month-old program, including:
Gathering clothing (over three hundred pieces) and other items for a low-income single mom.
Donating a bike for someone whose broken bike had been their only mode of transportation to and from work.
Gathering a number of furniture pieces for a woman who had recently moved out on her own
Rehoming a washer and dryer for a low-income family and their roommate. This was badly needed because they have two young children in cloth diapers.
Providing a twin hide-a-bed so a woman could spend her husband’s last nights in hospice sleeping next to him. We also participated in the meal train for this family.
Pikes Peak Atheist Families has been around for three years, but was primarily a play date and family event group for the first two years. With the launch of Pikes Peak Atheists almost a year ago and the expansion of our leadership to its current seven members, we have taken on the challenge of meeting many of the needs of our members. Our leadership team strives to create an alternative to church, for those who want the community a church offers but are no longer or never were religious. We help to meet these needs by having social, intellectual, family, and charity events every month. But, we were lacking in other types of support offered by a church. We identified the need to help support the members in our own community because although we are out doing great charity work for a number of local organizations, there are also members in our group who need specific assistance.
All of our individuals seeking assistance are kept confidential if they choose to be. We let our members know what is needed on our Meetup and Facebook pages. Also, we collect items at our regular events.
Since the program is so new, we do not have a lot of lessons learned yet. We have discovered that it is helpful to have one member of our leadership team be the contact person so they can coordinate the requests. It’s also very helpful if both the donor and recipient are willing to get into a Facebook conversation together. This allows us to stay out of the equation as the middle man, except when we need to step back in to coordinate deliveries. Since having the parties involved in a conversation together does cause some loss of confidentiality, this will not always work.
The outlook for this new program is great. We already have more needs than we could have imagined in our small community of perhaps two hundred adult members plus their children. Everyone who participates in a particular drive gets a great sense of helping someone in our immediate community. For the members needing help, they feel the connection to a community and demonstrate a desire to “pay it forward,” as we have seen in multiple examples already for this fledgling program.
We’re excited about this new program in our community, and hope others can make similar successful programs around the country.
Michelle Swenson and Crystal Starkey Pikes Peak Atheists and Pikes Peak Atheist Families