Making A Difference:  Little Things Mean a Lot
by Joan Butcher

I’ve noticed that the contents of the blue bins at the back of the Sanctuary have slim donations at times. Please remember the bins are there for any and all of us to donate items for Turning Points. For example:

  1. Personal hygiene products: soap,
    deodorant, tooth paste, tooth brushes (especially
    single size or travel size) underwear, socks, flip flops,
    inexpensive shoes are given to homeless people who
    come in to use the showers.
  2. Children’s storybooks, coloring books, crayons and
    card games are put in the health clinic so children who
    are waiting for either their own or another family
    member’s doctor or dental appointment can be kept
    amused.
  3. Donated non-perishable food items are the primary
    reason we have the bins and “in season” when more
    members are in town they fill up fairly quickly.

So, I got to thinking that those of us who are here year round might put a new spin on the supermarket sales known as BOGO: Buy One, Get One. How about Buy One, GIVE One? If it’s an item you usually eat, put the extra can or box in the blue bin. If it is not something you generally eat but it’s nourishing and easy to prepare, donate both cans and thereby double your generosity!
Do you remember the old song: “Little Things Mean a Lot”? We know that is true when it comes to friends and family. But what about people we don’t know? What about things no one knows you are doing? Well, that matters, too! You might say: “Oh that’s just a small thing I can do quietly and feel like I am helping. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it.” That is your right, of course.  What you do may not be a big deal to you, but to others who receive your kindness, it is a big deal.

But at MUUF we feel it’s important to recognize volunteer efforts. They also believe it helps spread MUUF’s good news to the community at large. It’s also important at Turning Points and Our Daily Bread. When we drop off the donations, they want to know who in the community has been kind enough to help them. And they are very grateful however large or small our contributions are.

This is just “food for thought”  we do our shopping. And whether you are noticed or not as you donate to the bins, I hope you will help fill the blue bins for the grateful needy clients at Turning Points.
 Ed. note: Thank you to Joan Butcher, our summer transporter, and Walter Pascal, in winter,  for delivering our donations to Turning Points.

 

Making a Difference in the Gay Community of Manatee County

by AJ Wolff

Manatee Gay Pride. We put on our “Standing on the Side of Love” tees and joined the celebration at the 4th Annual Manatee County Pride Festival at Bradenton Riverwalk Pavilion area for an afternoon of fun, music, food and an opportunity to share our UU values at the MUUF booth. See our pictures of all four festivals in the ALBUM heading

Third Sundays: We take a monthly Special Collection every month. In March the collection benefits Prism Youth Initiative. This is a cause dear to my heart. I wish there had been such a place for my cousin in our youth when he tried to commit suicide because he was a transgender. Luckily it was a failed attempt, but a cry for help that was never really addressed. Today we talk about LGBTQ Equality but it is still very challenging to be a LGBTQ youth in these times. 

Prism Youth Initiative is dedicated to supporting, affirming, encouraging and empowering the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 13-23 of Manatee County. Prism is committed to doing this in an environment that is safe, hospitable, warm and welcoming. The website is: /http://www.prismyouth.org

Empowerment of our Youth

* Prism strives to empower our youth by facilitating Youth-led support groups.

* Prism provides advocacy and referrals for services. As well as education about bullying, suicide prevention, HIV prevention and other LGBTQ issues.

* Prism has a Youth Council which provides leadership training for our youth.

* Prism enhances our youth’s lives by involving them in community events as well as hosting field trips to theater, museums, etc.

* Prism provides a safe space for our youth ages13-23 to be themselves and build social support networks.

* Prism works with Manatee Children’s Services to provide services for youth ages 13-17

* Prism offers referrals for counseling if needed, that is provided (at no cost) by a licensed mental health counselor.

Prism is seeking donations to expand hours and fund a permanent Youth Center.

 

 Making a Difference in Cultural Diversity in Bradenton

by Chris MacCormack

Bradenton is a community full of happy retired people, but there is also a struggling community of hard working people, recent immigrants, poor children and many people with special needs. According to Unidos Now the Hispanic population here is growing very rapidly. In this area, no one is surprised when a 75-year-old has a job or volunteers at Turning Point. Luckily, it seems to be recognized that the senior citizens in our area are still a vibrant part of society and have a lot to offer.

After I retired, I found I still needed structure in my life to get me going in the morning. I still needed the sense of satisfaction that I had done something useful with my day to help me sleep well at night. My one day a week volunteer teaching job at Project Light at 1104 14th St W, turned into a paid part-time director position last November. As a former Spanish and English teacher, I again work with wonderful appreciative students, and caring, mature and interesting teachers.

Project Light offers free classes ($30 registration fee to cover the cost of books) to immigrants in Bradenton 13 hours a week in the mornings or the evenings. We have farm workers, unemployed recent immigrants, landscapers, and well-educated immigrants who currently have jobs at Beall’s or McDonald’s from Mexico, many other Latin American countries, and Haiti. They range in age from 18- 89 and blend cheerfully in small group classes at five different levels of English.

Project Light is somewhat famous in Bradenton. This non-profit school, financed solely through donations and grants, was started 21 years ago by Sister Nora Brick and Ann and Ed Griffen as an English school that would be flexible enough to meet the schedules and complicated lives of immigrants. We still don’t reprimand students that come 30 minutes late or disappear for three days or two months. My job is to help willing volunteers learn the ropes so they can teach a class once or twice a week on a regular schedule usually in the morning from 9-11:15. With all volunteer teachers, the students have a different teacher every day of the week. Certain teachers like discussing history or culture, explaining grammar, having casual conversation or playing games. The teachers communicate with a log and emails to stay coordinated regarding the work done in the textbooks. The teachers have told me that working at Project Light is a very enjoyable experience and many stay for years and years watching their students’ progress, go to college and get better jobs. Our youngest teacher is a 20-year-old SCF student and our oldest teacher is 84 with a Doctorate in Education. I am glad that last November 2016, I took the chance to fill my days again with worthwhile work. I don’t see why others my age should put excess value on their free time if they enjoy being part of a project, helping others with their talents, and perhaps earning some extra money. In summary, I would advise others, not to underestimate the possibilities in our community for them to find a place to serve and, at the same time, feel good about making a difference in Bradenton. If Project Light interests you, then speak to me, Carol Bearfield, Bernita Franzel, Jaime Canfield, Walter Pascal, Beverly Willis, or Judith Frye. They all have been working at Project Light as teachers or office support staff. Project Light’s website is:  /http://projectlightofmanatee.org