June was an eventful month for the Beyond Belief Network (BBN) teams. From outreach to exposure to service, the teams of Foundation Beyond Belief ramped up their impact, despite the climbing temperature. Let's take a summer "road trip" to check out all the great things they've been up to!
First stop is the Sunshine State where we visit Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC). They had a busy start to June, partnering with a fellow BBN team, BE Orlando, for a Pulse Remembrance Blood Drive and STEM book drive. They set up a tent for Humanist advocacy and enjoyed the day collecting books and donating blood. They gave away rainbow support ribbons, Humanist Blood Donor bumper stickers, re-usable grocery bags, and spent the day building community and sharing an opportunity to make a positive difference. Following up on Be Orlando's support rally and drive last June, this was the first Pulse Remembrance blood drive in Central Florida, and the new STILL STRONG blood donor shirts made their debut at this drive.
The very next morning, CFFC was removing debris at Kewannee Park in Casselberry. They removed trash from the park and accompanying areas. What a weekend!
Two CFFC Directors presented at the remembrance of the Pulse tragedy in Orlando. They were introduced as secular humanists and offered words. This is a unique presentation opportunity on behalf of humanists. More events that they participated in for exposure included tabling at the Solutionary Festival [photo 8] and hosting a presentation on The History of Climate Change, by Dr. Daniel Britt, Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences at the Department of Physics, University of Central Florida.
"A solutionary is someone who chooses to be a part of the world's solutions. It's time humans transformed from a problematic species to a solutionary species! Solutionary Events connect communities together by finding unity through compassion". Thank you to CFFC for sharing your time, your passion for humanism and solutionary events with your community!
Moving through Florida, we check in with BE Orlando's other events this month, and we can't help but wonder if we could snag some leftovers from their fabulous monthly meal serve to fuel us up on our trip! For the BE Orlando monthly meal serve at SafeHouse of Seminole, they prepared a "rice bar." It turned out to be a great theme & was a hit with the residents! The residents enjoyed trying different toppings on rice, and were asking for recipes so they could re-create some of the dishes. The most popular was a homemade Mexican spiced bean dish. Another favorite was the portobello alfredo. And everyone enjoyed sampling items from the Indian dish section. In addition, this was the last opportunity for members to drop off books to support the STEM-themed summer literacy book drive.
BE Orlando also rounded out the month with a cleanup event by joining the parks and recreation team for Seminole County (SERV) to clean trash from Red Bug Lake Park and remove invasive species from its shoreline. Volunteers canvassed the park for three hours, filling bags with trash and talking to the younger volunteers about the impact of trash–especially deadly shiny items like confetti, Mylar balloons, and tin foil. Their youngest volunteer, a 3rd grader, said this was her second time volunteering. When asked what she learned from the project she said, "I learned not to litter." What an impact on both the present and the future!
Now it's time to "cruise" out of Florida and check in with our partners holding it down in the Lone Star State!
First up on our Texas tour is Humanists of Houston. On June 3rd, they did a joint project, Operation Impact, with Interfaith Ministries and Meals on Wheels. Humanists of Houston delivered shelf stable meals and water to Meals on Wheels recipients so they have food on hand in case of an emergency when their regular Meals on Wheels service is interrupted.
Next we head over to Austin, where we learn that the Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless have been providing essential services for their local community.
June 25th was a warm and humid morning, but that didn't stop Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless, comprised of 24 volunteers, from coming out to help. Together, they were able to help about 150 people with toiletries, hygiene supplies, and ice cold drinks to try to beat the Texas heat.
They had an over abundance of clothes on offer, so much so that two tables were needed to even attempt to contain them all…spoiler–they didn't! They received a large quantity of feminine hygiene products for June and July from Support the Girls-Austin. Also, they received hygiene kits from fellow BBN team, Austin Texas Humanists at Work!
Austin Atheists look forward to breaking barriers and shattering expectations about what drives humanism and charity, one giveaway at a time.
Another group in Austin were also making a difference in June! Austin Texas Humanists at Work held their monthly Donation Drive and Giveaway. Between their May and June giveaways, ATXHAW volunteers solicited donations by word of mouth, sharing on social media, and leaving ATXHAW cards at local businesses. They received 2,797 items from the community. On the morning of June 18th, ATXHAW volunteers gathered in downtown Austin to assist those in need. It was a warm, humid morning, but 26 volunteers came out. They were able to assist 165 fellow humans by providing basic living items donated by their generous community.
Included in their June Giveaway were the contributions crafted during their Gettin' Knotty (GK) event. Five members of ATXHAW's Gettin' Knotty group met in the cafe of a local bookstore to knit and crochet. In the weeks between the May and June giveaways, the GK members created 14 cotton washcloths!
Our last stop in the burning hot (with service!) state of Texas is San Antonio, where we check out the activities of South Texas Atheists for Reason (STAR).
STAR kicked off the month with their recurring Food Bank event. During this event they assist the food bank preparing the garden plots for needy folks in and around San Antonio area. This month they harvested 1500lbs. of cantaloupe and got to pet some of the animals at the farm!
Next on their agenda was assisting Watershed Wise Warriors with cleaning up the trails and removing invasive plants, such as Chinaberry trees, in order to help native plants flourish. The June hard work plus fun combo included cleaning up the fence line from the overgrowth of the vines.
Sundays throughout June, they hosted back-to-back discussions at the Lackland Air Force Base with Air Force Basic Trainees. Topics included morals, fallacies, separation of church and state and coming out. During their coming out discussion, they had guest speaker Jason Heaps and the event was so popular they actually had to turn away 300 people. The following week they had over 1200 participants and had to hold a second service simultaneously to accommodate everyone!
Mid-month, the STAR team worked with Habitat for Humanity, assisting with house building duties as assigned. They get to use power tools to help the homeowners in the program complete their home. They have installed closet bracing, cabinets, siding, window frames, and J-channels for the soffits. All equipment, gloves, safety gear, and lunch is provided. They were able to complete the assignment and work well as a team, mixing fun and hard work like pros! Another monthly event they host, Helping the Homeless, continued to be a success for STAR and their community. They provided hygiene supplies and weather appropriate clothing items to all in line with no shortages.
Now that we've finished catching up with our Lonestar teams, it's time to make the long haul to the Golden State to the home of the Sunday Assembly of Los Angeles (SALA).
On Jun 18, SALA gathered to host a food drive for Food Bank. On that same day, they also assembled for the first time in their NEW Venue! Cheers team to your new digs at Fiesta Hall in West Hollywood!
As much as we want to stay on the sunny west coast, we are eager to loop back up and around to check in on more teams!
Next stop is Colorado Springs in the Centennial State. The Pikes Peak Atheists & Pikes Peak Atheist Families have been donating time to the One Nation Walking Together group.
One Nation Walking Together is a secular organization that strives to make a positive impact in the lives of Native Americans. They deliver the basic necessities of life while uplifting the lives of the most impoverished people in our country. They receive donations of food, clothing, furniture, and household items.
Pikes Peak Atheists worked at their warehouse to help sort donations. Part of the group worked primarily on non-perishable food donations, sorting them by item type. The other part of the group sorted through a huge donation of sheets from a local hotel. Any sheets with stains were removed, and the rest were folded and boxed.
Working with secular organizations like One Nation Walking Together sounds like a great way to gain impactful insight on the needs of a disenfranchised community!
We leave Colorado Springs and head up to Minneapolis to meet up with Minnesota Atheists shining bright in the North Star State. They have been hard at work in the kitchen to benefit The Family Place.
On June 17th, 10 volunteers from the Minnesota Atheists purchased ingredients to make a delicious meal for 13 homeless children and 6 adults. They made tacos, veggies skewers, cookies, and punch.
They had a new host this month, because the other three previous hosts attended the same secular wedding that day. Their new host did a wonderful job with helping create the menu and getting the meal completed on time.
All the talk of tacos and service reminds us that we better get back on the road if we want to make it to the Buckeye State before dinner time! We head over to Columbus, OH on our final stop of our summer "road trip." We check in with the Humanist Community of Central Ohio and their fellow Columbus BBN team, Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT).
The dynamic duo worked together on June 13th at the Community Shelter Board Volunteering event. This was their 18th joint shelter event! In addition, this month, all three serving lines were open as there are Family, Women’s and Men’s dormitories in use again. After they finished up serving dinners, washing dishes, mopping floors, filing forms, and cleaning tables, the groups the Omnipresent Atheists meetup in progress for a little dinner, drinks and conversation of their own.
In June, COUNT held their reoccurring event at Ronald McDonald House Columbus (RMH). RMH provides housing and meals to families with children being treated at Nationwide Children's Hospital and other area hospitals. The group volunteer as house warmers. House warmers work with the guests to provide a home-like environment; greet, assist with family needs, answer phones, give tours, assist with check-in/checkout, prepare guest rooms after checkout, clean facility, laundry, restock supplies, and staff the front desk. They have contributed 925 hours from the start of their involvement with RMH since 2013!
The weekend of June 23 – 25, eight COUNT volunteers worked a total of 62 hours in the Columbus Coalition of Reason (CoR) booth at the Columbus Community Festival (COMFEST). Donations gathered at Columbus CoR group meetings raised more than sufficient funds to pay expenses. COUNT member Avery Winston led the overall effort including fundraising, recruiting/scheduling volunteers and purchasing leaflets. Two years ago, United Coalition of Reason had paid for the banner that was reused this year. COUNT members planned the booth and produced signage. The large “Don’t believe in God? Join the club!” banner generated substantial interest. 60 attendees signed up on an email list to receive more information about COUNT and other Columbus CoR groups. Talk about mass exposure!
As we wind down our Summer "road trip" and head home, we can't help but be so proud of our teams this month! Beating the heat by giving back to your communities is what drives us!