Social Action at Sunnyhill supports our Unitarian Universalist principles, including
. . . Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
. . . the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
. . .respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Our Social Action Committee encourages and coordinates activities balanced among international, U.S. Domestic, Pennsylvania, and local Pittsburgh humanitarian needs. As a community, we designate the collection from one Sunday per month to a deserving organization.
Many of our congregants are members of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), an independent branch of the UUA, that actively promotes human rights and social justice both in this country and around the world. The UUSC is especially active in national social concerns such as gay rights and peace efforts. Our congregants of all ages participate in the "Guest At Your Table" campaign culminating around Christmas-time whereby we put money in a special box at each meal to support UUSC projects.
In addition, members of our church participate in letter and email campaigns as well as public forums aimed at raising awareness of political and social concerns.
Currently, our social action includes the other activities listed below. All charitable organizations are carefully screened for the quality of their services and management of administrative funds.
In 2003, three of our members introduced FINCA's microcredit program to our adult congregation. Their efforts prompted donations of over $5,000 to sponsor a village bank in Zambia. FINCA's approach is to provide very small loans to local women for cottage industries. These Zambian women owned and managed their bank so successfully that members of our congregation spearheaded a second fund-raiser in 2007. This time, the congregation of about 200 members raised over $15,000 in just two weeks to sponsor three village banks in Haiti. The theme of "Mothering Out of Poverty" began on Mother's Day in the U.S. and ended on Mother's Day in Haiti -- a powerful way to promote the concept of women helping their children.
Currently our 8th graders are building upon these past successes in raising funds for microcredit loans. Once they know how much money they have they will go on the KIVA website and choose how to allocate their resources to one or more small businesses in '3rd world' countries. They plan to monitor how these businesses do, and report to the congregation.
We are also planning on contributing to the Central Asia Institute (CAI) which promotes and supports community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. CAI was founded by Greg Mortenson, the author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School At A Time.
Christmas 2008 was our third year to raise money for holiday gifts for a very grateful Kopek, Romania congregation, our Partner Church. Member Roz Maholland visited there in August 2006 with other area Unitarian Universalists. The purpose of the Partner Church movement is to learn about Unitarian Universalism in other parts of the world and to facilitate global friendships. American UU congregations currently have sister congregations in eastern Europe (especially Hungary and Romania), India and the Philippines.
State and Local (Pittsburgh Area) Activities
Currently 8 to 10 adults spend one Saturday a month working for the Habitat for Humanity chapter in Washington, PA.
We also support the South Hills Interfaith Ministry (SHIM) with periodic food collections and with donations of money or school supplies for children in need at the beginning of each school year.
In the past we have joined other Pittsburgh faith organizations as members of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) . PIIN draws attention to and advocates for politically to address needs in under-served areas of the city. We plan to continue in this endeavor.