Love is the Spirit of this Church

The Heritage Outreach Collections
Part II

by Church Historian Mike Roberts

Last month we took a look at organizations that have, on multiple occasions, been the recipients of our Sunday outreach collections. This month, we will review just a few of the dozens of service groups who attracted the attention of the outreach committee during times of calamity, distress, grief, and trial. 

Grant Us Hope was awarded our collection in the summer of 2019. This organization attempts to “amplify the conversation around teen suicide prevention and collaborate with key stakeholders to bridge service gaps for teen mental health.” One of their leaders states that “While it takes a village to raise a child, we believe it takes an entire community to save one.”

In 2016, one of our selections for contribution was Women Helping Women (WHW). They provide crisis intervention and support for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. Last year, WHW provided these services to 8,200 survivors and offered training totaling 26,000 hours to 5,600 students in classrooms across Southwest Ohio.

Three years later, our outreach coordinator chose the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change to be a recipient of a Sunday outreach collection. This organization was founded by Coretta Scott King “to utilize Dr. King’s philosophy and methodology of Nonviolence365 to create a more just, humane, and peaceful society.” The King Center is located in Atlanta, Georgia – across the street from the national park service Martin Luther King National Historic Park and adjacent to Ebenezer Baptist Church.

In 2018 and again in 2019, a Sunday collection was directed to the Hispanic Federation for the purpose of aiding Puerto Rico in its recovery from Hurricane Maria. That Category 5 storm killed nearly 3,000 persons on the island and caused widespread destruction and devastation. As part of its effort, the Federation delivered over 7,000,000 pounds of food, water, and other supplies to the people of Puerto Rico.

On August 14, 2019, nine people were killed in a mass shooting in the Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio. In March 2020, Heritage answered the call for help and sent the Sunday outreach to The Dayton Foundation to assist victims and family affected by the shooting. One hundred percent of the money sent to the foundation was directed as compensation to those directly affected by this tragedy.

Support for our furry and feathered friends also is important to the Heritage family. Several of our donations have been directed to the League for Animal Welfare. This group provides loving care for dogs and cats that have lost their homes. Permanent adoptions are then arranged after the animals are ready to leave this temporary shelter. The League has been in existence since 1949 and continues to operate from their headquarters in Batavia.

With Memorial Day recently passed, it is appropriate to remember that in 2019 one collection went to the American Gold Star Mothers. In their thank-you letter, they mentioned that all of the money collected would go directly to The Joseph House for Homeless Veterans located in Over the Rhine.

Cancer strikes one in five Americans and to alleviate the stress of dealing with the disease, Cancer Family Care (CFC) services individuals and families coping with cancer. In 2019, a Heritage Sunday collection was directed to CFC to assist them “to strengthen the wellbeing and alleviate the suffering of any child, adult, and family coping with cancer.” CFC is a local organization that has been in existence for 52 years.

On a June Sunday in 2019, Heritage directed its outreach to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. The society directs its efforts toward researching new therapies and providing support for those suffering from the disease. Educating the public about this illness is also a primary goal.

An integral part of UU belief is that everyone should have equal opportunity. With that in mind, one of our Sunday collections was directed to the International Women’s Health Coalition. This organization states its goals “to advance global policies that recognize and support women and girls, invest in community-based women-led organizations in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, and strengthen women’s movements to drive lasting change.” This group is currently in its 40th year of existence.

Equal justice is also certainly at the forefront of UU philosophy. In 2016, an outreach collection was gifted to the Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC). Their organization attempts to create “a fair, intelligent, redemptive criminal justice system through zealous client centered advocacy, innovative policy reform, and community education.” One of their clients fought for years to get medical treatment for his Hepatitis C. The OJPC said in its thank you letter, “Your gift helps ensure healthcare for clients, gives second chances to those returning from prison, and advocates for smart legislation that makes our communities safer.”

These donations are but a small reflection of the generosity and caring of the Heritage family. Since outreach collections began, dozens of organizations have benefitted from the love of that family for those in need of financial as well as spiritual support.

Finally, it would be remiss to not mention the efforts of Regina Pugh, who identified those organizations that would profit most from the Heritage love. She performed this task so admirably for many years. Since her move to Arizona, that role has been capably taken over by Erin Walczewski. Many thanks go out to her for enthusiastically replacing Regina.

Love certainly is the spirit of this church.  

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