Healing Our World (H.O.W.) one project at a time!
In our Church virtually everyone is engaged in individual acts of caring. Parents take care of children. Adult children take care of parents. Grandparents and grandchildren take care of each other. Friends take care of each other. Most people support a favourite cause or perhaps several.
First we felt the ideas for an annual project should come out of the ranks of the congregation rather than from our Social Responsibility Committee. So, in January each year we launch a publicity campaign to encourage H.O.W proposals from members and friends. Typically, by March we have gathered three or four solid proposals.
The Social Responsibility Committee then asks sponsors to prepare a poster illustrating their proposal and a single page information sheet. One Sunday in the Spring the ideas are presented from the pulpit, and the posters and information sheets go in front of the congregation at coffee time.
Then, over two Sundays, the congregation votes during the coffee time after service. For the first five years each voter got two little red stickers which they attached to their favourite poster or posters. The vote count is announced on the third Sunday. Sometimes two projects draw substantial support and the congregation is invited to support both.
In the sixth year, 2011, the voting system was changed. In the past, there have been winners and losers, even though the proposals put in front of us were excellent. The different voting system saw all four projects getting a share of donations with the voting determining the priority for how funds collected will be allocated to meet the 4 project's goals. No project will receive greater than the amount of their goal. Any surplus contributions will be held for H.O.W. 2012.
As in previous years people can still designate precisely where they would like their personal donation to go if they wish.
How is it working?
In our first year, 2006, the congregation voted to support rebuilding a school in Sierra Leone. Fortunately, there was a former student, now teacher, in town to describe the needs first hand, answer questions and to ensure that all donations got entirely to the project.
In 2007, the congregation chose a local project. There was (and still is) an acute shortage of affordable housing for the working po0r. The project set out to provide a single parent working poor family with a subsidy of $300 a month (paid directly to the landlord) for a year. The congregation liked that project enough to provide that subsidy for 3 single parent working-poor families.
In 2008, there was only one vote separating two proposals so the Social Responsibility Committee invited the congregation to support both – and it did. The first project was in Ghana, under the auspices of the UU UNO, through a program called “every child is our child” our congregation provided the money to guarantee 10 orphaned children 10 years of education as well as health care for the host families. The second project was in Kenya where more than 8 million people have no access to a toilet. Widespread human waste provides countless breeding grounds for flies. Flies spread a painful eye disease, Trachoma, which leads to blindness. We provided the funds to build 100 communal toilets.
In 2009, the voting was close so we undertook to support two projects again. The first project was to help fund 100 micro loans to women entrepreneurs in the developing world through the online microloan funding website Kiva.org. We also committed to re-loan the money for a minimum of five years. People liked the project so much we funded 138 loans! The second project was to support a local family living in poverty by paying their rent for one year.
In 2010 with close voting, almost a tradition now, we again undertook two projects which both involved young people. The first project, in South Africa, to feed for a year 85 orphans whose parents had died from AIDS. The second project, had us help subsidise young teens attending ‘The Power of Hope’ summer camp here in BC.
2011 saw us undertake four projects: paying the school fees for Burmese children living in refugee camps in Thailand, fixing a roof for a library at a school in Sierra Leone, riverbank restoration for farmers in Nepal and feeding injured animals at Victoria’s Wild ARC.
2012 saw us undertake three projects. Project one: 30 kids at Brown's Town Primary in Jamaica will eat breakfast every school day for a whole year. Having enough to eat will help them learn and grow. Project Two: Supply Rev. Al Tysick with the goods he needs to care for members of the street community afflicted with addictions or mental illness. Project Three: Cover the cost of the host Drum and Emcee for the Powwow which is a free gathering intended to encourage aboriginal youth back into their community. All cultures are invited to participate. Dancing, drumming and singing.
For more information on the 2013 projects click here. HOW 2013 projects (pdf).>
If you would like to have more information please contact Lisa Greenly, at email@example.com
|First Unitarian Church of Victoria
5575 West Saanich Road
|Office: (250) 744-2665 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Ministers: (250) 744-2601, cell (250) 891-6330
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
|Director of Spiritual Exploration and Learning for Children and Youth
(250) 744-2695 FayeM@victoriaunitarian.ca
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