Helpers among the community of Pittsburgh area UUs. Link to the main Sunnyhill site.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Social Action Committee

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 committee encourages and coordinates activities balanced among International, National, Pennsylvanian, and Local Pittsburgh humanitarian needs.

As a community, we designate the collection from one Sunday a month to a deserving organization.

In addition, members of our church participate in letter and email compaigns as well as public forums aimed at raising awareness of political and social concerns.

Current and past 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.

International Activities

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. Because this approach is so successful in helping recipients become self-sufficient, 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.

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.

International & National Activity

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 the holidays whereby we put money in a special box at each meal to support UUSC projects.

National Activity

In response to the hurricane two groups of adults and youth went to New Orleans in 2007 to help repair some of the damage.

State & 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 congregations as members of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN). PIIN draws attention to and advocates politically to address needs in under-served areas of the city. We plan to continue this endeavor.

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