Julia McCain from Humanist Community of Central Ohio answered some questions to help you get to know their team and what they’re up to.
How did your group get started? What motivated you to organize and maintain a secular humanist group?
Our group was started in the mid-1970s as a campus group at the Ohio State University. The founding members wanted to continue their involvement in a secular humanist organization after graduation, so they established HCCO. The group incorporated in 1979. Our stated mission is to provide a local community for humanists and other nontheists, while promoting ethical and reasonable worldviews through education, community service, outreach, activism, and social events.
Were there any particular challenges you had to overcome to form the group or keep it together?
In recent years, our membership has really diversified. We have more parents and people of varying ages. We’ve tried to provide a wide range of activities and incorporate multiple communication styles for our events.
How or why did your group choose to be involved with volunteering?
Community service, in our view, is part of being an effective Humanist. It’s deliberately included in our mission statement to reflect our ideals and how we put those into action. Additionally, we enjoy volunteering, and it brings additional diversity to our membership.
What sort of volunteer events does your group participate in?
For as long as we have been active, we’ve taken donations for the Clintonville Community Resources Center, a local food pantry. In recent years, we’ve donated blood as an organization to the American Red Cross at a regular event called “Bleed and Feed.” We volunteer to serve lunch every fifth Wednesday at St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church Soup Kitchen. Additionally, we collect winter clothing for the Open Shelter from November to mid-March. We participate in other one-time activities as they arise.
How do you deal with the additional organizational challenges posed by a volunteer event?
Most responsibilities are delegated to ease the strain of event coordination. Each event has a “host.” If that host has an issue, they’re encouraged to contact our part-time coordinator or work with others volunteering at the event to solve the related issue.
What is your favorite event so far?
I really enjoyed our Bleed and Feed Event. In the last two years, we’ve donated over 80 units of blood as an organization. We’ve attracted a lot of new members through our participation with the American Red Cross. It’s been a great opportunity to meet new people and serve the community.
What kind of impact does your group have in the local community? Do you feel supported by others in the community?
We contribute to the local community by providing a safe haven for those not involved in a religious fellowship. We raise awareness of secular humanism, creating a more open environment for people questioning or living without supernatural beliefs. We provide a sense of community and acceptance for people who say they feel isolated without a group like ours. We work with secular and religious groups to organize service activities, co-host events, and look for new opportunities to improve the humanist community in central Ohio. Our diversifying membership and many collaborative efforts demonstrate community support for HCCO.
What would you like to tell other secular humanists who are interested in volunteering?
As secular humanists, volunteering is an excellent means of improving the material world and showing concern for others. Volunteers support valuable programs that improve our community. Being involved in volunteer work is rewarding and gives you a sense of fulfillment and pride in yourself and your community. It is also a great way to meet other secular humanists. It’s important for each person to work to build the kind of connected, thriving community they want to live in.