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 2021-2022
The Greater Boston Food Bank (October, $474.62) – The GBFB serves Bedford and many other surrounding towns providing food resources to help alleviate food insecurity. Our own Bedford Food Bank receives weekly donations from GBFB.
Transylvania Scholarship Fund (November, $276.26) – These funds are used to assist with high school tuition for members of our partner church.
Immigration Justice Task Force First Parish Concord (December, $398.67) – These funds were directed to assist in resettlement of an Afghan family being sponsored in Concord.
International Institute of New England (January, $345.98) – This organization in Lowell is very actively involved in resettlement efforts for refugee families.
The Women’s Lunch Place (February, $580.16) – The Women’s Lunch Place (WLP) is a safe, welcoming and comfortable day shelter in Boston that provides individualized services for women who are experiencing homelessness or poverty. Staff and volunteers are committed to welcoming all self-identifying women with open arms, dignity and respect, and unconditional love.
UU Mass Action (March, $423.78) – Donations will go to providing general support to UU Mass Action, a Unitarian Universalist state action network. 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.
Mothers Out Front (April, $297.86) – These donations will be used to support Mother’s Out Front’s ongoing programing in Massachusetts, working to educate and engage members to take action for climate change solutions.
Boston CASA (May, $275.00) – The mission of Boston Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children is to ensure a safe and permanent home for court-involved children in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties who have experienced abuse and neglect. They recruit, train and supervise community volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (“CASAs”) who work to ensure that these children have safe and permanent homes.
The Nature Connection (June, $164.00) – The Nature Connection provides opportunities for people who are largely isolated from the outside world to experience the therapeutic influence, educational power, and transformative presence of nature. They bring monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly therapeutic nature programs to residences and day programs where participants engage with plants, small animals, natural materials, and expressive arts.
Grants Funded For 2021-2022
Jon Sills African American and Latino Tenacity Challenge 2022 ($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 once again held in person this year!
UU Urban Ministry Believe in Success ($3250) – 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.
Hearth, Inc ($2,000) – Hearth, Inc. works to end and prevent elderly homelessness in the Greater Boston area. These funds will be used to fill 10“Housewarming Boxes”. These boxes are designed to help ease the transition from homeless to housing for older adults.
Eagle Scout Project ($750.00) – Parishioner Cole Bennett requested funds to build and install 6-8 bat houses in Bedford as part of his Eagle Scout project. The bat houses will be placed on the southern side of various bodies of water in Bedford with the goal of reducing mosquito populations and to preserve threatened bat species.
Sanctuary Boston ($3000.00) – This grant will help fund the Boston Area Campus Ministry program aimed at connecting with and providing a spiritual home for young adult UU’s in college campuses in the Boston area.
Ukrainian Refugee Relief (MHSA) ($2000) – This money will seed a fund created to provide parishioners with a secure means to donate to Ukrainian refugees’ emergency needs. The funds will be channeled through a trusted organization in Romania where over 600,000 refugees have fled.
Additionally, the Social Responsibility Council is responsible for selecting the recipient of the 8:00pm Christmas Eve service offering. The youth of First Parish choose the recipient of the offering of the 3:30pm service. Unfortunately, this year the 3:30pm service was cancelled. The Social Responsibility Council decided to divide the offering between the two recipients. This year’s offering of $1389.30 was allocated as $649.65 to UNHCR – UN High Commission for Refugees for the 8:00pm service and $69.65 to Sunrise for the 3:00 pm service.