Each month we identify a special project or community partner and we give away 25% of our weekly Sunday offerings to this effort.

April 2021: Camp de Benneville Pines

Sixty years ago this month, Rev. Ray Manker finalized the purchase of the San Bernardino Mountain property that was to become de Benneville Pines Camp and Conference Center. Camp de Benneville Pines is owned by the congregations and fellowships of the Pacific Southwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and for six decades it has been, in Rev. Manker’s words, “a special place where people could gather in nature and breathe clean, crisp mountain air while sharing their ideas about making a difference in the world.”

In normal years, Camp de Benneville Pines welcomes a year-round community of campers of all ages for three- to seven-day camp and retreat sessions. Closed since March of 2020, and at least through this upcoming summer, the camp has established an Emergency Fund for support through this time of diminished revenue.

The Camp’s Executive Director writes:

2020 was a difficult year for people and the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected global society, and weather events have wreaked havoc on communities and the environment. Camp de Benneville Pines was affected by both. We continue to keep the camp in good physical shape while protecting it from potential damage from rain and flooding due to the aftermath of the El Dorado fire last fall. With hope in our hearts, we are watching the progress of controlling the pandemic and look to the day we can be together on the mountain top. Camp without campers is a lonely place.

We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received through this challenging time.

Please contribute as generously as you are able to the Camp de Benneville Pines 2020/2021 Emergency Fund Campaign. Your donation will help ensure that this beloved camp will remain open for current and future generations of youth and adult campers.

For more information about Camp de Benneville Pines, please visit www.uucamp.org.

March 2021: Immigrant Legal Defense Center

Did you know that immigrants in immigration court do not have a right to government-appointed counsel? Lack of legal representation has a profound impact on immigrants’ outcomes in removal proceedings.

Santa Barbara’s Immigrant Legal Defense Center (ILDC) believes that no one should walk into an immigration court alone, families should remain together, and no one should be kept in a detention center, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. They envision a society in which ALL people are treated equally and with dignity.

The ILDC promotes equal access to justice and due process by:

  • Providing free legal services to asylum-seekers that may be eligible to obtain relief on humanitarian grounds,
  • Representing people in detention seeking release through bond,
  • Striving  to provide security and stability for unaccompanied children who are abused, abandoned or neglected,
  • Conducting Know Your Rights presentations in Santa Barbara County, and
  • Hosting community clinics to screen individuals for immigration relief, assess their criminal record, and determine whether they have a final order of deportation.

The ILDC also trains and supervises its volunteer attorneys, and was recently selected as a host organization for an innovative state-funded legal fellowship program for attorneys committed to providing legal services to immigrants. Please give as generously as possible this month to support the ILDC and our immigrant neighbors. To learn more, visit www.sbimmigrantdefense.org.

February 2021: Hunt for Justice

Learning to “put legs on our faith” through giving is one of the earliest religious values we teach our children. Caring and sharing behaviors can be taught and modeled at all ages and are at the roots of teaching empathy.

And a great place for children to learn about giving? Home. Once again we are making our traditional Easter egg hunt, the Hunt for Justice, a family project. Our Outreach Offering for February will fund the charities chosen by our children.

Many children have little opportunity to learn about the work of local charities. Linking giving to interests or experiences they have had is a wonderful way to teach. A child who enjoys animals might want to support the Humane Society. Has your child had a classmate who is seriously ill? It might be helpful to learn about the work of medical charities. Or maybe your child has a classmate who lives in foster care who has benefited from a court-appointed special advocate

Thank you for helping us teach giving as a reflection of our Unitarian Universalist values.

January 2021: Sumi Nungwa

Although there will be no spring service trip this year, USSB can still support our Hopi and Navajo neighbors through Sumi Nungwa.

Sumi nungwa is a Hopi phrase meaning “to come together to help and benefit one another with no expectation of reward.”

Sumi Nungwa’s core mission is to provide food, clothing, medical supplies, and firewood to Navajo and Hopi elders seeking to maintain their traditional lifestyle on their reservations in northern Arizona. The organization also encourages Hopi and Navajo artists to continue to produce their traditional arts and crafts, as well as hosting service projects like the ones USSB has been part of in past years.

Visiting groups like USSB have roofed hogans and homes, cleaned up and  recycled trash, built traditional stone bread ovens, and  taken on other projects for the elders and their families. More importantly, Sumi Nungwa observes, “they’ve learned about the Hopi and Navajo cultures and spent time with the people. Interacting with the Native people is as important as learning to fix a roof.”

In response to the pandemic, Sumi Nungwa is distributing “COVID-19 boxes” to those who test positive for the virus. Each box contains a fourteen-day supply of sanitizing and isolation supplies. Let’s come together in generosity to support our elder Hopi and Navajo neighbors. For more information about Sumi Nungwa, please visit www.suminungwa.org.

December 2020 : Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara

Throughout Santa Barbara County, very young children are in need of a soft place to land after experiencing abuse or neglect. Angels Foster Care places infants and toddlers with carefully screened and trained foster families, and helps those families provide loving care until the court decides on a permanency path for the children.

Founded in 2006, Angels Foster Care is a private agency that operates independently, but in cooperation with the Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services. Angels serves children from birth to age three, and siblings to age five, all of whom are Santa Barbara County residents.

As a non-profit 501c(3) organization, Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara is completely funded by private donations from philanthropic individuals, companies, and foundations. All funding received is used to recruit, train, and support Angels families and their foster children.

For more information about Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, please visit www.angelsfostercare.org.

November 2020 : Hillside

Hillside is an independent nonprofit residential facility serving 59 intellectually and developmentally challenged adults. Hillside’s dedicated staff provide 24-hour care, implementing their person-centered plan that includes medical care, a wide range of therapeutic support, and a wealth of life-enriching opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for a significant increase in expenses, as additional staff have had to be hired to care for residents who are required to remain in their bedrooms. Financial support will also assist in the creation of smaller group homes for the residents, greatly improving their quality of life.

Please give generously during the Outreach Offerings in November to support our neighbors who live at Hillside.

For more information about Hillside, please visit www.hillsidesb.org.

October 2020: PATH Santa Barbara

Founded in 1984, PATH is the largest nonprofit organization working to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities in California. PATH provides affordable supportive housing and homeless services in 150 California cities and serves 20% of the state’s population experiencing homelessness. In the last five years, PATH has helped more than 10,000 people move into permanent homes.

In Santa Barbara, PATH operates a 100-bed interim housing program on Cacique Street that works with chronically homeless men and women, many of whom suffer from severe behavioral and physical health conditions, and  some of whom are the most vulnerable in the county. PATH also operates a number of community-based programs that will house over 40 people in permanent housing over the next 12 months.

COVID-19 posed a serious threat to people living in congregate housing like PATH. Thanks to early action, highquality protective equipment, and safety protocols, PATH Santa Barbara continues to be COVID free! The pandemic has impacted PATH financially as the agency has had to address an extensive need for personal protective equipment, and revise programming to maintain safety for staff, people receiving services, and volunteers.

PATH envisions a world where every person has a home. Please give generously in October to support this vision for our neighbors in Santa Barbara. To learn more about PATH, including volunteer opportunities, please visit www.epath.org/regions/santa-barbara-central-coast.

September 2020: Academy for Success – Santa Barbara Public High Schools

The Academy for Success is a life-changing program of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation, available in each of Santa Barbara’s public high schools. The Academy provides academic and emotional support for students who identify themselves as not likely to make it through high school. Participating students are placed in a cohort to work with Academy teachers and mentors, and attend group and personal counseling to help develop healthy behaviors. The Academy program is a three-year plan. Students are identified as eligible for the program in the ninth grade, and start the program at the beginning of their tenth grade year:

  • Year One—Teaching Success: Making them students
  • Year Two—Connecting Lives: Community partnerships and integration
  • Year Three—Post-Graduation: College and career planning

In 2018, 98% of the seniors in the program graduated from high school and 92% enrolled in post-secondary education. This year will be a particularly challenging one for all students. Funds collected through the Outreach Offering will support students’ remote learning needs, including noise-canceling headsets, electronic pencils, and other electronic necessities, as well as the purchasing of non-perishable snacks to be distributed at school sites during drive-by pick-up times. Please give generously in September to support this program and the dedicated young people it serves. For more information, please visit the SBEF website: www.sbefoundation.org/the-academy-for-success/

August 2020: Our Local LGBTQ+ Partners

The Outreach Offering for August goes to our local LGBTQ partners, including Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN). These organizations provide services and advocacy for the gay and transgender community.

  • Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF) The Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara has had a longstanding relationship with the Pacific Pride Foundation. We turn to PPF for resources and education as we seek to grow in our understanding of the current needs of the LGBTQ community. Our own spiritual journey is enriched by our work with Pacific Pride, and we have stood with PPF in the public square to advocate for justice and celebrate our progress! www.pacificpridefoundation.org
  • Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) PFLAG describes itself as “the extended family of the LGBTQ community.” Its membership consists of LGBTQ individuals and their family members, friends and allies. They provide peer-to-peer support, publications, tool kits, and other resources to support LGBTQ family members. This allows families to further support, affirm, and advocate on behalf of their LGBTQ loved ones. www.pflagsantabarbara.org
  • Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN) SBTAN educates individuals and organizations on best practices for transgender and gender-expansive clients, patients, students, congregants and families. It creates spaces, actions, and policies that advance the welfare of transgender people and their allies in Central Coast communities. SBTAN has provided training to workplaces, schools, medical providers and social service agencies, including Cottage Health Emergency, UCSB Faculty and staff, and Santa Barbara public and private high schools. www.sbtan.org

July 2020: The Unitarian Universalist justice Ministry of California (UUJMCA)

The Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California is a grassroots-led organization dedicated to advancing justice in our state by cultivating and connecting leaders and communities, and by empowering the public voice of those who share UU values and principles. Our Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to educate and organize for justice that transforms our world. Widespread poverty, inequitable access to health care and higher education, and environmental degradation are embedded in the structures of our society. UUJMCA helps us move beyond charitable activity—the necessary efforts of reducing the symptoms of these realities—into faith-rooted action that addresses them at their institutional foundations. In 2020, priority issues for the UUJMCA include:

  • Economic justice
  • Immigrant justice
  • Healthcare access
  • Environmental justice
  • Racial justice

Through the generation of faith-development resources, accessible programming, and accountable relationships, UUJMCA serves to support all UUs in California in putting their faith into public action. For more information about how UUJMCA creates collaborative justice please visit www.uujmca.org. Justice is not simply helping others survive. Justice is collectively ensuring that we are all able to thrive.

June 2020: Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund

The Unitarian Society has an ongoing congregational friendship with the people on Hopi and Navaho, and it is with particular concern that we are learning of the increasing rates of infection on Navaho. Last month we focused our outreach on families in our Santa Barbara community experiencing food insecurity and managing exposure risk; this month we will extend this care to families on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations by designating the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund as our June Outreach Offering recipient. The Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund is an all-volunteer, grassroots, indigenous-led group operating on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. They are prioritizing the elderly (especially those raising their grandchildren), single parents, and struggling families by helping them buy groceries, water, and health supplies, and by protecting them (and their vulnerable communities) from exposure by engaging volunteers to make the purchases and deliver them to a safe transfer location for the families. This fundraiser is organized on behalf of Rural Utah Project Education Fund. More information about the fund can be found at the website www.navajohopisolidarity.org.

May 2020: Foodbank of santa Barbara county

In May, our Outreach Offering will support Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, another local organization that is effectively mobilizing to support the most vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Foodbank of Santa Barbara County’s mission is to end hunger and transform the health of Santa Barbara County through good nutrition and increased food security. With nutrition education, disaster preparedness, environmental sustainability, and community resilience at the forefront of its mission, Foodbank is working to solve the underlying causes of hunger in Santa Barbara County.

In ordinary times, one in four people in Santa Barbara County receive food support through Foodbank’s 300 programs and partners annually. Since Covid-19 safety measures took effect, a visible and staggering increase in need for food is evolving throughout the county. Foodbank has tripled the amount of food it normally provides to community members facing food hunger and food insecurity. In the last week of April, to meet growing need, the Foodbank purchased $100,000 in food that is difficult to source by donation. 

At this time, financial donations and volunteers are most urgently needed. For more information about the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, including how to volunteer, please visit their website: foodbanksbc.org.

April 2020: 805 Undocufund

The Outreach Offering recipient for April is the 805 Undocufund, a collective effort among Ventura and Santa Barbara County-based grassroots organizations. The fund assists local undocumented immigrant individuals and families who are are excluded from federally funded safety net programs, and who have been economically impacted by the loss of their homes, wages, and/or employment due to disasters in our communities like wildfires, mudslides, and now COVID19.

The 805 Undocufund was created in the aftermath of the 2017 Thomas fire and the Montecito debris flows in early 2018; it was relaunched after the Woolsey and Hill fires in 2018, and reopened again for the Easy and Maria fires in 2019. In 2020, the fund is opening again, with a widened scope of mission, to assist families impacted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The fund estimates that over 126,000 undocumented immigrants live and work in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties; many work in sectors that will be hard hit by COVID-19, including service and hospitality, restaurants, child and elder care, and day labor. During the Thomas fire and Montecito debris flows, the 805 Undocufund raised over $2 million. The goal is to raise at least $1 million in response to COVID-19 to give a meaningful level of assistance to help individuals and families recover.

Undocumented immigrants, including mixed-status families, who are residents of Ventura or Santa Barbara Counties who have experienced loss of housing, job, or income are eligible for assistance.

Thank you for giving generously to support this uniquely responsive organization. For more information about the Fund, including their need for volunteers, please visit their website: 805undocufund.org