The Social Justice committee meets at noon after the Sunday service on the first Sunday of each month. Occasionally when a special event is held at that time, the meeting is held the following Sunday. All meetings are open to MUUF members and guests. Notifications of meetings, agendas, and minutes may be emailed upon request. Through regular participation in the meetings, in activities of the Committee or by request, any member or friend of MUUF may become a member of the committee.
a. Once a month we address the injustices in our local community by inviting leaders of local charities to tell us about their work. These speakers discuss their program, services and needs on Sunday either by presenting the main address or presenting a thumbnail description of their program. On these Sundays a special collection is taken for that local charity.
b. Frequently the social justice committee will sponsor a program for the monthly Share-A-Dish meals which are held the second Friday evening of each month. These programs educate and inform about timely topics.
c. Each quarter a member writes a thorough paper about an issue chosen in the Social Justice meeting. These Issues of the Quarter are distributed to members and friends and are on the website under ISSUES. Issues in 2016 were: Income Inequality, Move to Amend, Voting Rights, Ballot legislation. Issues in 2015 were: Water, Decreasing Carbon Use, Black Lives Matter/Mass Incarceration, Inequality.
d. The Social Justice Bulletin Board helps to inform our members about what the committee is doing, and has information about issues.
e. The monthly newsletter, UPDATE, gives commentaries about current issues.
f. During October to May once a month we co-sponsor an evening movie and discussion program with OCCUPY-Bradenton about an issue of local, national or international interest.
g. Each month we learn about local charities and collect items. A “Wish List” is circulated for the items needed by that particular charity.
1. MUUF supports Move to Amend. Corporations are not People and Money is not Speech. MUUF was the first UU congregation to put a resolution on the Move to Amend website..
2. MUUF supported the Restoration of the Right to Vote for ex-felons in Florida. We will now process the voter registration of those redeemed.
3. MUUF supports the Charter resolution for Manatee County.
- MUUF supports OCCUPY-Bradenton.
- MUUF supports Indivisible-Progressives in Bradenton.
Pictures are from Move to Amend demonstration at Rt 41 at Bahia Vista in Sarasota with Occupy and UUs from Manatee, Sarasota and Venice observing the 5th anniversary of “Citizens United”
MUUF PARTNERS with many organizations for improving social justice.
A. We support Unitarian Universalist Association social justice groups:
UU Ministry of the Earth – uuministryforearth.org
UU Justice Florida – uujusticefl.org
UU Service Committee – uusc.org
Standing on the Side of Love – standingonthesideoflove.org
B: The committee arranges speakers from LOCAL AND NATIONAL charitable groups which work directly with people in difficult circumstances. We take a collection to support their work. The committee feels it is important to support various groups which may be overlooked by faith-based donations. We want to support organizations that promote our liberal faith-traditions. Coalition of The Homeless (PATH) – fchonline.org
Our Daily Bread – odb.org
Volunteers from MUUF serve lunch to Bradenton’s needy at Our Daily Bread, one of many programs at the One Stop Center at 900 17th Avenue West in Bradenton. Over 200 meals are served every day. The staff prepares meals accepting food donations from local grocery stores and monetary donations from churches, individuals and many organizations. Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has been contributing time for 16 years. Besides volunteering at lunch, we also have a special collection for Our Daily Bread each January.
PRISM – prismyouth.org
We support Prism in the Annual Gay Pride event in March.
Coalition of Immokalee Workers – ciw-online.org
We support the annual observances of the Immokalee Workers each March to earn Fair Pay and Fair Food Program for the workers at Immokalee and other areas of the United States.
Planned Parenthood – plannedparenthood.org
We support Planned Parenthood by participating in the volunteer activities and fund raising.
Turning Points – Jobs for Vets – tpmanatee.org
We support Turning Point programs by donating food, clothing; by volunteering, by applyng for grants for their support, such as the 2016 MLK Jr Day of Service grants for two job search computers and 4 dental program computers.
Church Women United by participating in the Crop walk – churchwomen.org
MUUF members pledge money to the MUUF volunteer walkers in support of world hunger.
Southwest Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice – sarasotapeacenter.org
NAACP, especially for voting rights – manateenaacp.org
Many MUUF members are also Members of NAACP and cooperate in chapter functions, with collecting petitions for restoring the right to vote for ex-felons, with support in police relationship programs on MLK Day.
League of Women Voters with issues of conservation and voting rights – lwvmanatee.org
Unidos Now in support of Immigration Reform and Latino affairs – unidosnow.org
Staff speakers and student leadership latinos present programs for our Share-A Dish events. We support efforts to register voters and securing volunteers for the High School-On to College mentor education program.
OCCUPY – facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Manatee-County Our Social Justice Committee meets twice a month with OCCUPY on issues national an international.
We support and participate in annual Climate Change activities sponsored by 350.org.
ManaSota-88 has spent over 30 years fighting to protect our environment. It is a 501.c3 non-profit organization, incorporated in the State of Florida. We are dedicated to protecting the public’s health and preservation of the environment. Created in 1968, ManaSota-88 evolved from a major environmental health study sponsored by the U.S. Public Health Service, Florida State University, the University of Florida and the Sarasota and Manatee County Commissions. Our commitment to safeguard the air, land and water quality is aggressive and uncompromising. Speakers from Manasota-88 are frequent presenters on Sunday morning and Share A Dish programs. Their spokespeople are dependable presenters at County Commissioner hearings where we applaud their efforts. http://www.manasota 88.org
5. ACTION - Monthly Special Collection
by Bill Hayes: In February our Special Collection raised $568 for the benefit of Selah Freedom which works in the Sarasota/Manatee area to fight human trafficking. Laura Lynch, a volunteer for Selah, gave us a good overview of Selah’s work.
In March the Special Collection will benefit the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. MUUF has long supported this group which works to help the migrants working in the South Florida tomato fields. In fact, we once hosted a dinner for the workers and their supporters as they marched on foot toward Publix’s headquarters in Lakeland. This year we wrote post cards in support of a new rural hospital in their area. The Coalition’s goal is to have all grocery chains and fast food restaurants only buy tomatoes from those growers who pay a living wage. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is worthy of our support.
Special Collection March 31 for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) by Bernita Franzel.
The Coalition began in Florida to bring fair working practices to the tomato industry. Since its inception in 1995 it has had many successes in having food retailers and restaurants agree to buy their tomatoes from growers who abide by the Fair Food Program. After many successes in Florida with tomato growers, The Coalition spread its methods to other products and for workers in other areas of food production. The program, now called Alliance for Fair Food Program is a national program. It has been honored by U.S. legislators as well as receiving awards in the UN.
From March 2 to 14, 2019 CIW will have a tour to four of the country’s major state universities – the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ohio State University in Columbus, and the University of Florida in Gainesville – to join students and community members to call on these flagship institutions to end their relationships with Wendy’s until the fast-food giant joins the award-winning Fair Food Program. On February 24 MUUF collected jackets and coats to be given to the workers as they go into the cold north.
Wendy’s is the last of the Big Five (McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Yum) to agree to the Fair Food Program. In February 2019 students at University of Michigan successfully lobbied the University to refuse to grant a permit to Wendy’s to supply food on campus. Many grocers have joined the Alliance but not Publix. Many of us are reluctant, if not outright refuse, to shop at Publix. MUUF has supported the boycott of Wendy’s.
A book about the CIW history is in the MUUF library: “I am Not a Tractor: How Florida Farmworkers Took on the Fast Food Giants and Won” by Susan L. Marquis. A review will be posted on the bulletin board, with photos of past events. A documentary, available at Netflix is “Food Chains” shown last year at an OCCUPY meeting.
6. ACTION - Rural Hospital
LAWSUIT DROPPED! RURAL HOSPITAL PROJECT CAN GO FORWARD by Joan Butcher
In late January Dr. Allen Weiss, President and CEO of Naples Community Hospital (NCH) and Kevin Cooper, the hospital Chief of Staff, were given the opportunity to resign and they did.
They had been the primary leaders of a lawsuit to prevent the construction of a small rural hospital in eastern Collier County near Immokalee which they claimed would take away patients and revenue from NCH.
Once they resigned, the new interim CEO, Dr. Leon Dutcher, made the decision to drop the lawsuit.
He considered it a public relations hassle creating an image problem in the community. Between the June 2018 initiation of the lawsuit and the January 2019 resignations there had been mounting negative public pressure via letters to the editor, billboards, testimony at legal depositions, demonstrations and other activities. The case has been dropped from the legal dockets. Once final approval steps are completed the original goal of constructing the new rural hospital can move forward!
After putting so much time and money into this worthy project Dr. Beau Braden, director of the Braden Health Clinic, along with his business manager and board of directors welcome this victory and view it as a complete repudiation. Switching from working on legal issues and returning to building design and construction issues has kept them very busy. In addition, they have been left with a $200,000 legal bill even without the anticipated February trial in Tallahassee.
Along with sharing the good news they sincerely and profusely thanked us for our efforts. How much impact did we have? While one can never know the specific influence of each activity, the sum of the various efforts and public pressure ultimately made a huge difference. Extending his heartfelt thanks, the business manager promised to keep us informed as they move forward.
I want to add my personal thanks to our Social Justice Committee members and everyone who signed letters and postcards. I believe we helped “win one for the little guy!”
7. ACTION - Wish List Giving
“Due to health reasons of one of the Wish List project team members, the project has been suspended until further notice.”
The Wish List Giving Project, with leadership of Barb McRea, focuses on collecting in-kind (new or gently used) items for local organizations according to their “wish list” needs. Below is a descriptive list of the current and the past Wish List Giving campaigns and the local organizations so generously supported with donations:
- March: This Project is on Hold. We are supporting Manasota Operation Troop Support (MOTS) and their program to send Care Packages to our deployed service members. MOTS is a non-political 501(c) 3 organization who has been serving Manatee and Sarasota county troops and their families before, during and after deployment for over ten years. MOTS serves service members through referrals from friends, families, teachers and others in Manasota communities. It is funded by private donations from individuals, veterans’ organizations, local churches, fundraisers and grants. Each month volunteers from a variety of local organizations help MOTS pack and send between 35 and 50 Care Packages to our troops serving in foreign lands. The MOTS Director exercises sole control to ensure service member confidentiality and that all Care Package address labels and APO/Customs shipping forms are properly completed. MOTS also supports service members and their families back home by helping them with cash, gift cards, furniture, veteran’s food pantry, emergency financial assistance, community outreach programs and referral assistance depending upon their needs. Care Package items are mostly donated by individuals and various local groups, but what MOTS really needs help with is purchasing Care Package shipping postage. Of all the items included in these Care Packages, the most cherished by the service members are the personal messages of support and encouragement because it says that we care about them! Our campaign offers several ways to get involved: (1) Purchase Care Package shipping postage. It costs $18.40 to ship each box. MOTS really needs help with this! (2) Donate Care Package comfort items that help ease the hardship of deployment. (3) Meet-N-Greet MOTS Director, Linda Craig, for a presentation about MOTS’ mission. We’ll do this at the Social time on Sunday March 10th, after the Sunday service. (4) Write/Sign a personal message of support. We’ll do this as a group in the sanctuary on Sunday, March 24th, after the Sunday service. (5) Pack Care Package boxes. MOTS will provide the items we’ll pack. We’ll do this as a group in the sanctuary on Sunday, March 31st, after the Sunday service. Information on the purple insert in the Sunday service bulletin and on the red bin will give you the details. Our deadline is Sunday, March 31st, when we pack the Care Package boxes! Remember — The sole purpose of this “in-kind” (which means goods as opposed to money) giving program is to donate items to match specific needs of a local organization. If you wish to make a monetary donation to this organization, please contact MOTS directly: c/o Linda Craig (Director), (941)782-0748.
• February: Time out to concentrate on auction.
• January 2019 campaign — Bishop Animal Shelter promotes the compassionate treatment of companion animals in Manatee County and surrounding areas from its adoption facility. As of January 20th, MUUF donated 26.1 lbs. of dog food and treats, 15.7 lbs. of cat food and treats, 2 blankets, 10 towels, 2 rugs, 2 sheets, 1 cat scratch board and 2 grocery bags of newspapers.
• December 2018 campaign — Turning Points provides a variety of free services designed to assist individuals and families to help prevent and end homelessness. MUUF donated 19 holiday bags filled with new Christmas toys and gifts for children.
• November 2018 campaign — SafePlace2B Youth Shelter provides a safe haven with family counseling for troubled teens who are in a family crisis situation. MUUF donated 11 grocery bags containing clothes, shoes, personal toiletries, housewares, recreational items and a holiday dinner certificate.
• October 2018 campaign — Feeding Empty Little Tummies (F.E.L.T.) a local non-profit charity dedicated to feeding Manatee County’s most needy — homeless students. MUUF donated 107 pounds of nonperishable food.
• September 2018 campaign — HOPE Family Services offers domestic violence outreach services and shelter for families and their dependents. MUUF donated approximately 60 pounds of school supplies.