Welcome to Social Action
The Council recognizes four basic facets of social action:
First Parish has always held social action to be one of its most important values. In a recent survey of activity, parishioners reported involvement in nearly sixty organizations, local, regional, and global. Social action programming is coordinated by the Social Responsibility Council which was funded by a vote of the semiannual Parish Meeting held in October, 2001; monies flow to the Council through First Parish’s endowment. The goal of the Council is to act on behalf of the parish to coordinate and fund projects that express Unitarian Universalist values within our community. Starting with the 2018-2019 Church year, the Council accepted the responsibility for determining recipients for half of the first Sunday offering as part of the Sharing the Plate program. Seven members are elected by Annual Meeting on a staggered basis to serve three-year terms.
An important initiative of First Parish’s Social Responsibility Council is a program of grant-making and donations to agencies and organizations that represent our core values.
Share the Plate Funding for 2020-2021
Endangered Alphabets Project (October, $207.00) – One of the projects underway is the creation and distribution of minority language educational materials for children. Materials include a picture dictionary for Abenaki Indian children in VT and NH and a coloring book for children too young to read.
Bedford Food Bank (November, $605.47) – The Bedford Food Bank was established in March 2020 in response to increased food insecurity due to the ovid-19 pandemic. It took over for clients of the Bedford Food Pantry and continues to provide weekly food bags to any members of the community in need.
The Malala Fund (December, $506.74) This foundation was created by Malala Yousafzai in 2013 to champion every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe and quality education. The Fund impacts the most vulnerable girls across the globe who are denied an education.
Isidro Macario Education Fund (January, $2100.71) Our Guest in Sanctuary’s eldest son, age 26, was deported to Guatemala in February 2018. Isidro is currently working toward a college degree in teaching ESL to young children. Funds raised will be put toward his university tuition and fees to allow Isidro to finish his requirements to graduate in December of 2022.
Chelsea Food Collaborative – Chelsea Eats (February, $1230.47) This foundation was created by the City of Chelsea to provide emergency food to residents during the Covid pandemic with the goal of transitioning into a more sustainable model of food relief, including maximizing all public dollars already allocated to food. An additional $1,662.56 was raised at the Music Committee’s Valentine’s Day virtual concert.
The Ujima Fund (March, $715.15) The Boston Ujima project pools capital for communities of color to meet financing needs that traditional banks will not serve. Goal is to build wealth in the community.
UU Mass Action (April, $519.50) UU Mass Action’s mission is “to organize and mobilize UUs in MA to confront oppression. They provide pathways towards justice and identify opportunities in which we all can live our shared values.
Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (May, amount pending at this time) SCJC is “committed to working for climate justice, meaning keeping the interests and participation of communities most impacted and least responsible for climate change and environmental degradation at the forefront of our work.” Right now they are working to cover the costs of publicizing the dangers of biomass and the actions that people can take to oppose this.
Greater Boston Food Bank (June, amount pending at this time) The GBFB serves Bedford and many other surrounding towns providing food resources to help alleviate food insecurity.
Grants Funded For 2020-2021
Jon Sills African American and Latino Tenacity Challenge 2021 ($1000) The Tenacity Challenge is an academic scholarship competition for Latino and African-American students held at both Bedford High School and the John Glenn Middle School. The challenge was held virtually this year due to the pandemic.
UU Urban Ministry Believe in Success ($4,000) – The UU Urban Ministry serves as a bridge between diverse communities, bringing together people from different social and economic backgrounds for mutually transformative experiences. This grant funds the UUUM’s Believe in Success program providing job-readiness skills for survivors of domestic violence.
Guinea Pig Sanctuary ($1,000) The sanctuary takes in abandoned guinea pigs and delivers extensive community services including placement of emotional support guinea pigs for children struggling with anxiety during Covid and supports visitors to the 150 guinea pigs living at the sanctuary including those from adult group homes, special needs children, and children learning to read.
Solitary Bee Houses – Eagle Scout Project ($110.00) Parishioner Tim Bennet designed and built 7 solitary bee houses that will be placed in the Bedford community garden on Hartwell Ave.
Holiday Gift Bag – Prison Ministry ($200.00) Provided Holiday Gift bags to prisoners at the State Prison in Concord through the Concord Prison Outreach program.
Massachusetts’s Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) ($1000) To support Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance’s (MHSA) innovative “Home & Healthy for Good” program, which addresses the many challenges facing chronically homeless individuals in Massachusetts by securing permanent housing and providing support services.
Challenge Grant for Isidro Macario Education Fund ($500) The SRC provided a challenge grant to encourage donations to the Share the Plate collection for Isidro as noted above.
UUA Office of the United Nations ($500.00) – to provide assistance to Parishioners and friends who are in need of financial support for any reason. Disbursements from the fund are at the discretion of the ministers, and the recipients identities are kept confidential.
Bedford Peace Pole Project ($1000.00) To provide four $250 stipends to Bedford artists to design a peace pole. Four poles will be placed in locations around town.
Celebration of Grassroots Organizing ($2,500.00) The Celebration of Grassroots Organizing supports 11 grassroots organizations in Boston. These organizations spent the past year sustaining the neighborhoods most impacted by COVID, fighting on the front lines of the movement for Black lives, and defending communities from the harms of gentrification, policing, deportations, and climate change.
Additionally, the Social Responsibility Council is responsible for selecting the recipient of the 8:00pm Christmas Eve service offering. This year’s offering was allocated to the First Parish Sanctuary Program ($3542.02).