We've recently highlighted some of our BBN teams in South Texas who have been working even harder than usual to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, but let's get up-to-speed with what everyone was up to in July.
Our wonderful community of Beyond Belief teams was busy the first half of the year and from the looks of July’s activities, the second half will be just as impactful in outreach and service!
To celebrate the July efforts of our teams, and match the summer season, we thought we could throw a hypothetical Foundation Beyond Belief Backyard Barbecue (phew that’s a mouthful!). When we think of July, thoughts drift to the smell of the grill and the cool of a tall glass of lemonade as we conjure up the perfect backyard barbecue sharing the events of our amazing teams.
First guest to arrive at our virtual backyard is the Springfield Skeptics. In addition to bringing their unique regional dish, Springfield Cashew Chicken, they filled us in on their July service events. They sure know how to jump right in and help, as a pop up July donation drive proved. The organization, Gathering Friends, reached out to Springfield Skeptics letting them know they needed bottles of water and Gatorade for those experiencing homelessness in the Springfield area. Springfield Skeptics put the word out to their group, and within a few days they had over 200 bottles ready to send to Gathering Friends!
A spontaneous event like a donation drive didn’t deter them from pitching on their planned events. On Jul 29, the Springfield Skeptics helped at the Ronald McDonald House. It was a beautiful day and they needed some landscaping and weeding, so the Skeptics went to work. After just a few hours they had filled nine trash bags with weeds from around the property. It didn't look bad before, but it looked even better afterwards! We are hoping they will stick around after our barbecue and help us clean up too!
Our next two guests are experts at cleaning up their communities as well.
The Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC) joined us with dessert to share – Coconut Patties and Key Lime Pie? Yes please! They also shared about their time in Kewannee Park. This is a six acre park and the CFFC removed trash from the park and accompanying areas for their monthly event.
Then in came in the Camden County Humanists with some hot dogs, but move over grilled dogs cause these are the uniquely New Jersey Italian hot dogs and Rippers. While we munched on all the delicious food, they told us about their Adopt-A-Highway Clean Up. Members of the group cleaned up a mile-long stretch of road that they adopted last year. Four members of their group braved the heat and humidity to collect several bags of trash, making this clean up an ultimate success.
After that heavy main course, we were delighted the Humanists Doing Good (HDG) showed up with some offerings from their lush agriculture; Colorado wine and peaches were just the thing to lighten our meal while we recapped with their July volunteering. On July 6th, the members of HDG worked at the Community Food Bank in Grand Junction, CO. They interacted with families to fulfill food orders, stocked the pantry, packed boxes, and divided up dog and cat food for future distribution. It was a slow night because it was their first time offering food at this day/time of week but they still had a great time interacting with the families that did come in. Everyone got to try out different stations and train in each area and they are excited to make this a regular event.
When the Minnesota Atheists (MNA) arrived, we knew it was time to take a break in our feast by getting a little lawn game going with their Minnesota-invented Nerf Footballs. I’m sure they were happy to leave the cooking to others as their service event in July was all about feeding folks in need. Eleven MNA volunteers purchased ingredients to make sloppy Joe's, baked beans, chips, watermelon and ice cream Sundaes for dinner at The Family Place, to feed 14 children and six adults. The kids loved being able to make their own sundaes and the rest of the meal was a hit with the kids and adults.
Speaking of cool treats, the Atheist Community of San Jose brought Bay Area creation that the whole family can enjoy – popsicles! We chilled out with the fruity frozen refreshers while they filled us in on their July event. On July 15th, San Jose Atheists donated blood through the Stanford Blood Center in Mountain View, CA. Everything went smoothly, surely in part because the people at the center are always great. The group then met for a brunch downtown to replenish after the donation.
Carpooling in from Ohio to join us were the groups of the Columbus Coalition of Reason (CoR) that are very familiar with donating blood themselves. Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) and the Humanists Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) cruised into the barbecue with not only experience in blood drives, but also with a plethora of burgers from the many famous fast food joints that originated there and Ohio’s signature Cheese Coneys. While we began round two of our feast, they updated us on their joint and solo activities for the month.
On July 11th, 8 CoR volunteers from HCCO and COUNT worked as servers a total of 20 hours at the Community Shelter Board (CSB) facility on Van Buren Drive. Two serving lines were open, as the few staying in the Men’s dormitory were served from the kitchen. 73 Columbus CoR volunteers have worked 663.5 hours in 32 events with the CSB to date. Once the dishes are done, they adjourn to the Omnipresent Atheists (also part of Columbus CoR) meetup in progress for dinner, drinks and conversation. Their 73rd participant joined CoR at the shelter for the first time at this event!
Their second joint event was the Columbus CoR Bleed-N-Feed on July 20th. Five CoR volunteers spent a total of seven hours donating seven units at the Carriage Place Red Cross Donor Center in Columbus. Donors become diners as they head to a nearby restaurant after to replenish. This was the fourth Columbus CoR Bleed-N-Feed since the COUNT helped to expand the longstanding HCCO event.
In addition to the joint activities with HCCO, COUNT had a couple more events that they hosted. First was their monthly event at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus on July 2nd. Three COUNT volunteers worked as House-warmers. Later in that week, four COUNT volunteers worked at the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) Conference. This was their fourth year helping by recording presentations and transporting speakers/attendees to and from the airport. They were then able to sit in on some sessions and get some training on organizing groups after their hard work. We invite COUNT to share any learnings and organizing tips in our Beyond Belief Network Facebook group!
Now, what would a barbeque be without some beef on the grill and in our bellies? Luckily BBN hosts a few groups from Texas! Our first Texas group to join this backyard party is the Austin Humanists at Work (ATXHAW) and they brought along “Texas Red,” also known as chili, and some Fritos for build your own Chili Pies! While we busied ourselves in the construction of that delectable dish, they shared with us their July events.
On the evening of July 13, members of ATXHAW's Gettin' Knotty group met up in the cafe of a local bookstore to create items for the July 16th giveaway. At their April, May, and June giveaways, ATXHAW served more people than usual. By the time the July giveaway rolled around, they had a lot of empty bins! Their volunteers spread the word that they were out of many items on social media and by word of mouth, and their community responded. Their donors came through with 4,390 items!
The Wells Branch neighborhood in north Austin held their quarterly Extreme Clean event, where neighborhood residents can dispose of unwanted items such as hazardous chemicals, Styrofoam, clothes, shoes, and furniture. The neighborhood association allows ATXHAW to place a donation bin at these events, and the residents usually give generously. This month was no exception–817 items were donated, including two huge trash bags full of new tennis shoes!
ATXHAW had some special helpers this month in the form of Brownies from Troop #2259 of the Girl Scouts of Central Texas. They not only donated 500 items, including 50 handmade first aid kits, but several of the girls and their parents came to the July giveaway to lend a hand. ATXHAW is so thankful to have such wonderful young ladies and their families in their community!
July 16th was a hot, humid Texas morning, but 30 ATXHAW volunteers came out to assist those in need in their community through their July Donation Giveaway. Thanks to the generous donations of many, they were able to provide basic living items to 186 people!
Austin, Texas saw another Giveaway in July, this time hosted by Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless. We settled down with some beef fajitas, while they filled us in on their July 23rd event.
Over 220 people were helped in just over an hour in the largest giveaway this group has ever been a part of. Whether it was the intense Texas heat day after day or the humidity, they have never had so many folks. So many, in fact, that they ran out of orange juice and water altogether before reaching the end of the line. They want to send a special thank you, as always, to Support the Girls–Austin for providing the feminine hygiene products for this giveaway. In addition, a few folks from the Atheist Community of Austin and a local organization called Our Way came out to help distribute things, too!
Their clothing isle was stocked thanks, in part, to donations received from the Airman's Attic on Lackland Air Force Base. It was picked over quickly, for sure.
Speaking of Lackland Air Force Base, a group that spends quite a bit of time with the Air Force Trainees are here at the BBQ and they’ve brought Prime Texas Longhorn Beef Ribs and Tex-Mex favorites, steak fajitas! While we chow down on that deliciousness, the South Texas Atheists for Reason (STAR) fill us in on their July.
STAR had another busy month with the trainees at Lackland Air Force Base as well as other hosting other events to help the community. Each month, STAR hosts meetings every Sunday where Humanist Chaplains provide two back-to-back sessions on various relevant topics presented to Air Force Basic Trainees. July’s topics included Rise of the Nones, Grief and Stress, Spiritual Fitness, Humanism as an introduction to the philosophy, and Death. They also had a guest speaker–the Skeptical Chief from San Diego at their July 23rd meeting.
Around the community, STAR was present in a quite a few activities throughout July. They kicked off the month at the San Antonio Food Bank where they assisted in preparing the garden plots for some sweet potatoes and watermelon. On July 15th, STAR had an even with Habitat for Humanity, where they assisted with house building duties as assigned and got to use power tools to help the homeowners in the program complete their home (featured photo.) Then on July 22nd they assisted the Watershed Wise Warriors do cleanup of the trails. Finally, on July 30th, they had their Helping the Homeless Giveaway where they gave hygiene supplies and weather appropriate clothing items to 140 people.
What a fulFILLING July the teams of Foundation Beyond Belief have had!! We hope you enjoyed yourselves at this virtual backyard celebration of the hard work and have worked up an appetite for more sizzling summer events. Thank you all for the dedication to your communities this month and every month! See you back here at the end of September for another BBN Round Up celebrating all the service in the month of August!