January Beyond Belief Network Roundup & Recognitions!

We just rounded up what volunteer teams in the Beyond Belief Network (BBN) did to kick off the new year! Check out what compassionate humanist and nonreligious volunteers did for their communities last month.

First off, please welcome BBN’s newest team — and its first Ugandan team — Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity, and Accountability (HALEA)!

Humanist volunteer team HALEA

Hailing from the city of Kampala, HALEA’s mission is to “promote a tolerant, responsible and open society in which the oppressed and minorities are equally heard and their aspirations are respected in order to promote human transformation through the application of reason and science!”

Most recently, HALEA has been providing young people with hygienic menstrual materials and education on how to use them; giving food relief for people experiencing COVID-19 hardship; and acting as a resource for nonreligious people seeking shelter from persecution. We’re looking forward to supporting this work and more!

Northwest Chicagoland Humanist Crew (NCHC)

NCHC (pictured at top) is 2021’s first BBN Team of the Month! In January, their volunteers made 15 no-sew fleece blankets for hospice patients in Buffalo Grove IL. The hospice had requested the blankets, saying they’re “like giving [the patients] a warm hug.” The team reports it was great to hold a socially-distant activity that could bring together both young and old members.

Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT)

January’s Picture of the Month comes from one of COUNT’s four Adaptive Sports Connection (ASC) skiing events in January.

Humanist volunteer team COUNT

ASC is a chapter of Disabled Sports USA and helps Ohio veterans, children, and adults who need adaptive equipment or instruction to participate in sports. Trained Winter Sports Volunteers help instructors give lessons to students with various handicaps. Volunteers help assess students, select outriggers and other equipment, adjust before the lesson, and help during the lesson.

COUNT also held three other monthly events: serving at a local shelter, providing hospitality at the Ronald McDonald House, and donating blood at the Red Cross.

All this helped COUNT become a Silver Level team this month! In our level program, BBN teams earn points — generally one for each service event. 8 points netted COUNT the Silver status, making them eligible for grants up to $250 for service projects!

We’re glad we can always “COUNT” on this team to be active (and to provide us a reliable pun). Nice job!

Atheist Community of Polk County (ACPC)

Just a month into the year, ACPC was the first team to hit Gold Level BBN status! Gold Level is unlocked when a team earns 12 points. This makes them eligible for grants of $500 or more to support their work!

Last month, this work consisted of:

  • 10 events preparing/distributing meals to people experiencing homelessness! Volunteers made and distributed 253 meals altogether, including home-cooked hot recipes! They served them straight to people on the streets in three locations, in partnership with charity Street Warriors.

While handing out meals, one volunteer shared, “Today I had someone (a regular) ask me if we were with a church. I told her that we were with the Atheist Community of Polk County, working together with Street Warriors – a Christian organization – feeding people in downtown Lakeland, Winter Haven, and Saddle Creek. She didn’t bat an eye, just smiled and said something like, ‘that’s really nice’ and thanked us again like she always does. I told her, ‘See you next week!'”

  • Two events packing 50 bags with food for students and families at a local school who are experiencing food insecurity!
  • One event cleaning up ACPC’s adopted stretch of roadway. This was the team’s first cleanup since the COVID-19 shutdown nine months ago. As a result, volunteers reported the roadway was really trashed. The team covered 35% of their 2.2 miles and filled up 24 bags of litter.

Way to take it to the streets, ACPC!

Atheists United (AU)

This Los Angeles-based team hit Bronze Level last month, for performing four service events! This earned them 8 branded shirts to identify their team while doing charity work.

Last month, this work consisted of  a weekly commitment to record readings of print materials for people with visual impairments. Volunteers made recordings of flyers and ads — a 2.5 hour process each session. This includes finding, reading, editing, verifying, and uploading the recordings for a podcast by Audio Information Network of Colorado.

Austin Atheist Helping the Homeless (AHH)

Austin AHH specializes in identifying the needs of people living in area encampments and organizing mass giveaways of essentials. The group met once in January to pre-pack bags, and the next day to give them out. Volunteers reported a larger than normal pre-packing event as they had a lot of stuff to prep. This included making a special project out of sorting thermal underwear by size.

Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless at a giveaway event

For the giveaway itself, the team reported they took care of every single person they could find. Volunteers mostly tracked down residents and handed gift bags to them. They also set up special table stations to give out the badly-needed thermal underwear and over 9 gallons of hot coffee.

Local charity I Support the Girls provided mascara, hair treatments, and specialized shampoo. Atheist Community of Austin and the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas helped with toiletries and food items. Generous support from the public at large took care of much of the food, including ramen, water, applesauce and granola bars.

Austin AHH usually does this giveaway at two different encampments every month. However, this time they had so much to give out they ended up driving to eight different intersections until everything was gone!

Phil Session of Austin AHH recently visited us for a chat about how people can get involved alleviating food insecurity. Check out the video below for tips, insights, and more.

This is just a sample of BBN teams’ hard work responding to inequality. We’re committed to supporting these teams through organizing this network and providing the grants we mentioned above. We want to keep reaching more new teams and provide more resources. But we can’t do it alone. When you have a moment, please chip in a little to the BBN program here.


Button: Imagine. Give.