Social Justice - Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua

Social Justice Committee Annual Report, 2013-14
General Information
The Social Justice Committee’s mission statement is as follows:
The Social Justice committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, grounded
in our UU principles, is committed to making our church a force for positive social
change in our community and in society at large.
We advocate for peace, justice, compassion and caring. We encourage all church
members to be engaged, through their deeds and generosity, in issues of local, national
and global concern, and to develop action plans in areas of particular interest to them.
We provide a forum for a wide range of ideas on issues of concern. We ask church
members and friends to actively participate in educational programs on important social
We work with UU churches, other religious congregations, civic, labor and social service
organizations and all groups that are seeking to build a more peaceful, just and caring
The Social Justice Committee meets monthly, normally on the first Sunday of the month
in the Fellowship Room. Of course, all are welcome to attend.
Participating members of the Social Justice Committee during the past year:
Ellen Barr
Mary Ferguson
Adrian George
Tess George
Bob Keating
Hilary Keating
Harvey Keye
Nancy Klarman
Sharon Machado
Robin Nash
Jerry Ross
Mary Sias
Marty Storer
Nona Storer
Elaine Thomas
Sarah Widhu
Apologies to any members and friends inadvertently omitted!
New Committee Governance
This year, the Committee has moved from single-chair leadership to shared leadership.
Periodically, we publish announcements in the church newsletter and in the Order of
We maintain an email list consisting of Committee members and many others who are
interested in social justice issues.
The Social Justice Committee’s web page is at (menu item on
the church’s main page) and is maintained by Ellen Barr. (The entire church web site,
including the Social Justice Committee’s page, is being updated to use newer
development technology.)
We also maintain a Yahoo! group that serves both as a mailing list and a repository for
meeting minutes and much other information, such as announcements, flyers, and
articles. The Yahoo! group complements the Committee’s web page and email list. See
Marty Storer to join the Yahoo! group ( Note: the content of this Yahoo! group still needs to be updated.
Community Action Group
The Community Action Group is presently the only autonomous subgroup of the Social
Justice Committee. The group supports the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter
( with monthly meal preparation and serving. It also
administers our Outreach Collections.
Outreach Collections
The Outreach Collection program is one we can all feel very proud about—we give away
our entire collection plate to groups outside our church. Applications are reviewed by the
Community Action Group, and collections are scheduled accordingly. To apply, please
visit our online form at and click on “Outreach Collections” in
the Members section.
Greater congregational participation in selecting Outreach Collection groups, and in
deciding on the selection process itself, is welcome and desired.
Here is a report showing the groups we have collected for during the past year, and the
amounts raised:
June through
September, 2013
Harbor Homes
October, 2013
Senior Center
November, 2013
December, 2013
UU Nashua Community Suppers
Christmas Eve,
Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter
January and
February 2014
Southern NH Service (Fuel Assistance)
March, 2014
Donna Purkhiser White Wing Scholarship
April, 2014
Girls Inc.
May, 2014
UU Chalice Lighters Program
This total is close to last year’s, which was a record. Thanks to all for your contributions
in economic times that continue to be tough for many people.
Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter
Another activity of the Community Action Group is to prepare and serve meals for the
Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. The following donations were made during the past
church year:
6 large casseroles x 12 months = 72 casseroles
12 lbs. elbow macaroni x 12 months = 144 lbs.
5 lbs. mozzarella x 12 months = 60 lbs.
12 lbs. ground beef x 12 months = 144 lbs.
12 jars (2 lbs. 13 oz.) Ragu x 12 months = 144 jars (34 lbs.)
24 oz. Parmesan cheese x 12 months = 18 lbs.
The above comprising $122 (approximate) per month, x 12 months = $1,464
Thanks to Mary Ferguson, Mary Sias, and approximately 20 other volunteers who
contributed time and resources.
Ending Hunger and Homelessness (EHH) Project
Much of the following is quoted and otherwise adapted from the EHH Project web page:
On January 31, 2012, the Board of Trustees of the UU Church of Nashua adopted an allchurch social justice project under the banner of "Ending Hunger and Homelessness."
Based on a Project Overview from the Social Justice Committee
(, and recognition of the many people
in our church already working on related issues, the Board of Trustees deemed this
project to be one of the top three priorities for our church during the next 18 months.
During that period, the project aims to be "All-Church," involving as many church
members and friends as possible (including children), and having four specific areas of
focus: Education, Advocacy, Service, and Financial Support. In addition, the Board has
defined the following metrics for the duration of the project:
To accomplish four major efforts (events, publications, or the like) which will
serve to educate our church members and friends, as well as the wider
To track (and double) the number of volunteers associated with our church
working in the associated organizations and the hours spent volunteering.
To donate at least $10,000 to associated organizations.
EHH Update for Church Year 2013-14
At our Annual Meeting in June 2013, the Board of Trustees announced that this project
would be extended for two additional years under the banner of "All Church Social
Justice Focus." The measures of success are defined as (1) 6 major educational efforts,
(2) all member involvement in a service project, and (3) at least $15,000 raised and
donated to organizations focused on hunger and homelessness issues.
Current EHH Activities
At this time numerous projects are going on:
Ending Homelessness Fund-- The Ending Homelessness Fund of Harbor Homes
was officially launched on January 29, 2014 with a kickoff event attended by over
150 people, including Governor Maggie Hassan who spoke at the event. To date,
we have raised over $110,000 of the $200,000 we set for a goal this year, and that
has enabled Harbor Homes to house 22 formerly chronic homeless people, with
more to come. Committee members Jerry Ross, Elaine Thomas, Sarah Widhu,
Ellen Barr, Hilary Keating, and Bob Keating were part of the creation of the
EHF. Our church, through the outreach collections and individual donations by
members, has contributed one-third of the total funds raised. We are well on our
way to housing all of the people identified as chronically homeless in our
community and thus becoming the first community in the nation to do so. We
should be proud that this community initiative began in our church!
Advocacy for the Residents of Bronstein Apartments--Bronstein is a housing
project in downtown Nashua with 49 affordable units. The Mayor had expressed
interest in demolishing Bronstein without talking with the residents or detailing a
relocation plan for the 160+ residents. Although the mayor's intentions have
quieted down for the present, we are still keeping an eye on this situation.
Soup Kitchen Support--on a monthly basis, many members of our church have
participated in (1) the preparation of six large casseroles which we drop off at the
Soup Kitchen for future use and (2) serving one dinner.
Anne Marie House Volunteering--A number of members currently volunteer
hours at this supportive facility for transitional housing. Of particular mention is
Janie Andolsun, a church member who gave many hours of service. When Janie
passed away in November of 2011, donations were solicited for a Memorial
Library that has since been dedicated in her name.
Food, toiletry, and clothing collections--A basket in the Parish House hallway
indicates the focus of the current collection, and welcomes donations. (Individuals
in the Social Justice Committee communicate with area organizations to identify
Third Sunday of the month dinners offered at UU Nashua—The Soup Kitchen
doesn't offer Sunday evening meals, and we have helped to fill that gap. The
monthly dinners have been a huge success, thanks to many volunteers under the
leadership and coordination of Jenn Morton and Michelle Morrison. A committee
is now in charge of organizing these dinners.
To get information about volunteering for a local organization, please see Also, we invite you to stop
by the table in the front of the dining room. You will find materials on volunteer
opportunities. If that's not possible, please call the church office at 882-1091—
they'll help get you in touch with the right person.
The Social Justice Committee looks forward to working closely with other committees,
with Janet Newman, our Interim Minister for 2014-15, and with Meredith Olson, our
Interim Director of Lifespan Religious Education, on this church-wide project.
Granite State Organizing Project and Other Activities
The Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) is a coalition of religious,
community, and labor organizations that concentrates largely on community-level
issues, but recently has focused on efforts in support of labor unions and Social
Security. This year, both the Committee and the church maintained a high level
of participation in GSOP.
Ellen Barr, Adrian and Tess George, and Elaine Thomas have been active in
organizing to support unions and to stand against cuts in Social Security benefits
and new restrictions on eligibility for those benefits. See any of the above folks if
you want to get involved.
Besides advocacy with and for tenants of Bronstein Apartments, and retirement
security, GSOP’s other efforts this past year include legislation relating to
bedbugs (for more information, see, or contact Rick
Castillo, Statewide Coordinator for the New Hampshire Bed Bug Action
Committee, at 603-668-8250); far-reaching legal reform in the area of landlordtenant relations; payday and car title lending; and immigrant justice. GSOP’s
efforts have been rewarded with some big successes.
The Social Justice Committee is now working jointly with the Spiritual
Development Committee to show films/videos monthly.
In January, our church and the Social Justice Committee hosted an event
produced by NH Rebellion ( celebrating the life of
Doris “Granny D” Haddock, who worked tirelessly for campaign finance reform
from age 88 until her death at age 100. The event got massive media coverage.
Some members have maintained contact with NH Rebellion, which plans to make
systemic political corruption their key issue for the 2016 primaries. The video
about Granny D, which was shown at January’s event, is tentatively scheduled to
be shown at the church in October of 2014.
The Social Justice Committee wishes to thank our outgoing interim minister, the
Reverend Olivia Holmes, for her support and help in encouraging the continuing
integration of social justice with the life of the congregation. We thank her for her service
over the past two years. We are eager to continue our work in cooperation with the
Reverend Janet Newman.
Respectfully submitted,
Marty Storer
Outgoing Chair, Social Justice Committee