A big thanks to those UUCC volunteers that served at Harvest Hope on Saturday, October 15th. They worked side by side with other organizations packing Senior Boxes to help with the many needs that are being experienced by Harvest Hope caused by the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. In the picture to the left, left to right, are Mike Sullivan, Tony Ganong, Ceren Farr, Jim Verne, Ginny Verne, Bob Whitaker, Gloria Talcove, Cheryl Soehl, Joan Watterson, Bonnie Stronach, and Sarah Grenier (not pictured Alex Virzi, Jeanette Walton, and Anne Mellen)
Savannah River Site Watch
Two members of the Social Action Committee – Stephanie Palmer-Smith & Tom Clements – had the thrill of meeting musician Bonnie Raitt at her October 28 sold-out concert in N. Charleston! After tabling for Savannah River Site Watch, where letters were gathered to Governor Haley against import of nuclear waste and plutonium to the Savannah River Site, the volunteers went backstage for a short interaction with the well-known musician. Bonnie is supportive of the work of SRS Watch, which monitors activities at the sprawling SRS nuclear complex near Aiken. If you want to send the letter to Gov. Haley, request it of Tom Clements, SRS Watch director: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We made a great showing in the Pride Parade on Saturday, September 3, with nearly 50 members and friends riding and walking along side our very colorful float as they passed out candy and greeted bystanders. We were very well received by the record-breaking crowd of more than 35,000 in attendance. We thank Jeanette Walton and Grant Seuser for their work and commitment serving as co-chairs to achieve the success of this annual event. Many thanks also to those who pitched in the morning of the parade to help put the final touches on the float and all of those who were a part of our group. Look here for a joyful selection of photos from the parade.
Our Social Action Committee recognizes our role in the community and our need to have a presence in taking an active part in social justice events. We want the community to know who we are and what we stand for. It was evident in the parade that we were known for what we believe in as our group was cheered while our float went by. We want to be known as an organization that has an outreach for social justice.
A Rally Against Gun Violence was held Saturday, June 19, 2016, on the State House grounds to bring attention to our legislators that action must be taken to change the very lax gun laws of South Carolina. This was in response to the deaths of the Emanuel Nine in Charleston, South, Carolina one year ago and the forty-nine that were killed just one week ago in Orlando, Florida. Due to some quick and efficient planning by Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia’s Stephanie Palmer-Smith with help from Grant Seuser, Jeanette Walton, and Linda McLeod they managed to gather together 35 people with a passion to show their support against gun violence and the need to change South Carolina gun laws. They heard from several excellent speakers that helped to educate even more on the need to take action to let our lawmakers know that we have HAD ENOUGH and changes must be made. Martha Weeks and Ceren Farr were helpful in passing out signed, self-addressed post cards at the rally and more at church on Sunday to be sent to our legislators to let them know we must make necessary changes. We have also been called upon to contact our congressional leaders (Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott and our local congressmen) asking them to vote for the new gun control legislation to be heard this week. Wringing our hands and talking about it will not stop the violence. It is now time for us as voting citizens to take action. It can’t stop here. We must continue on with each possible move we can make to change these laws.
We ended our Summer 2016 project of Seeds of Hope once again with great success. Social Action sponsors a fresh market stand in front of the church beginning each Sunday from mid- June (hours – 10 to 1:00) through mid-August.
Bauer Westeren has been our volunteer managing the scheduling of this event for several years now. Farmer Louis Reid has become well known to all of us over the years as our supplier of great fresh produce and this year we broke our sales record by selling $1500 worth of produce for him. UUCC and many other Columbia community churches take part in this project to help low-income farmers. It is a nice invitation to the community as they are out on Sunday morning walks to stop by the fresh market stand and pick up fresh produce from the smiling faces of the volunteers that assist for the UUCC Seeds of Hope .
So What Else are We Doing to Help the Refugees?
In addition to providing many opportunities for our members to become involved locally, the committee also helps frame statements that promote a greater good. For instance, in December, 2015, the committee presented a statement to the Board that was approved unanimously that called for an acceptance of Syrian refugees, as described in the statement below.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia calls on Governor Nikki Haley and the state legislature to act with love and courage to welcome Syrian refugees for resettlement in South Carolina. These families fled their homes to escape the terror of the Bashar al Assad regime and ISIL. Even after extensive screening of 18 months to two years before being allowed to come here, they will face more persecution and suffering if South Carolina turns its back on them and their plight. It is unconscionable, immoral, and un-America. Immigrants build this country and continue to add incredible richness and diversity to the American tapestry.
We must not face terrorism with fear; love is the only thing that we know can truly conquer hate. We call on our elected officials to lead on the side of love for refugees.
We also participate in Families Helping Families