This calendar contains events of the Social Justice Committee and special-interest social justice groups at USNF in bright purple. Other social justice events of interest locally are displayed as grayish-purple. To submit an event for consideration in our calendar, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Haiti Support Group was formed in 2010 to support the volunteer medical work in Haiti of USNF members Matt Kane and Ann Markes. In November 2011, we helped Matt and Ann conduct a Sunday service that highlighted their work in Haiti. You, the congregation, were so moved by what they had to say that you contributed almost $2,500 to fund the HSG and Matt and Ann’s work.

The USNF Haiti Support Group is open to all members and friends interested in supporting the work of fellow Society members as they deliver health care and community support through several programs outlined below to impoverished rural communities in the island nation of Haiti.  The Haiti Support Group consists of Marybeth Bridegam, Jeff Dahlberg, Ryan Donahue Juli Kinsman, Sajo Jefferson, Matt Kane, Ann Markes, Nancy Sandeson, Sam Simonds, Rich West, and Cynthia White.

Haiti Village Health. Matt Kane and Ann  Markes, both doctors, have worked for the past several years in alliance with Haiti Village Health (www.haitivillagehealth.ca) delivering free health care to the people of the northern Haiti region of Bas Limbe. HVH runs a year-round clinic staffed full-time by Haitians including a doctor, a nurse, three health agents, and one pharmacist. The permanent presence of the Haitian health staff is expanded nearly every month by volunteer teams from Canada and the United States who run pediatric and maternal outreach clinics in neighboring villages. Under the auspices of Haiti Village Health, the Unitarian Society has been underwriting the full-time salary of Marie-Claude, a Haitian health care worker who delivers pre-and post-natal care and education to the women of the Bas Limbe region.  Also, the Society's coming-of-agers led a successful fundraising effort to send a herd of 20 pregnant does and one ram to the village of Bode me Limbe.

Helping Hands with Haiti is a group of motivated Amherst high school students who are interested in supporting and promoting the sustainable development of health care and education in Haiti. The group was founded by HSG member Sam Simonds, Nancy Sandeson and Jane Simonds' son. The enthusiasm and energy that the group possesses has fueled three exciting projects.  The first is a Student for a Year Campaign, giving people in the Pioneer Valley community the opportunity both to support the education of one student for a year (at the cost of around $30) at a village school called Lafrasiliere in southwestern Haiti and to become a penpal with that student.  The second is an Art Curriculum Project at Lafrasiliere to work with Haitian teachers to support enriching the school experience with art classes.  The third is a reforestation project launched by Sam's brother, Jonathan.  Please feel free to visit their web page at www.helpinghandswithhaiti.webs.com, or their Facebook page, Helping Hands with Haiti to learn more.

The HSG also works with the USNF Habitat for Humanity group and hopes to support construction projects in Haiti in the future. 

We welcome new members.  If you would like to learn more about our work in Haiti or join the Haiti Support Group, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The following vision statement expresses the aims of the Big Ol' Gay Committee of USNF. It was drafted and approved in 2009. 
 
We will be like a tree with four branches. Rooted in our UU principles and purposes, we hope to grow strong and provide both shade and sustenance.
 
 
On one bough grow the congregational branches:
 
 
1. Education
The committee will sponsor and create programming (services, adult ed, workshops, etc.) for the congregation which will increase awareness, foster dialogue, and promote understanding of various LGBTIQQA issues. Programs will be designed to speak to people with varying levels of comfort & experience with these issues, and will bring home the idea that concerns of gender and sexual identity affect us all. We will also endeavor to review relevant aspects of the literature, policies, and R.E. courses we use, to explore whether we as a congregation are living up to our goals of right relations and compassion in these matters.
 
 
2. Support
The committee will hold events for GLBTIQ people within USNF, to provide opportunities to uphold each other in our struggles and joys, to address specific concerns, (including those of children, parents, and friends of LGBTIQQs) and to party! We hope to ensure that LGBTIQQA members and friends feel comfortable, respected, visible, and heard.
 
 
On another bough are the branches which lean out toward the world at large:
 
 
3. Outreach
The committee will reach out to the local community and show that we truly are a welcoming congregation. Through events, a consistent web presence, and partnering with schools and organizations, we plan to draw new people in to a place they may not have heard of, but find they love. A special focus will be on young adults, in college or otherwise, who often have a new and acute need for a supportive spiritual home.
 
 
4. Activism
The committee will be a force for political witness, generating ideas and organizing actions in which the congregation can participate. We will partner with other organizations, both religious and secular, to expand our impact. We will also be a group to which ideas for queer activism can be brought by interested parties, and we will strive to create an efficient process by which these thoughts can be borne out. Through these activities, we seek to live out our ideals of equity, compassion, and justice for all.

 

 

Big Ol' Mission

The mission of the USNF Big Ol' Gay committee is to provide a focal point for LGBTIQQ people and our allies to support one another, build a better community through education and dialogue, engage in political action, and have fun.

To learn more about the Big Ol' Gay committee's aims, read our vision statement. To learn about our current projects, events and what we're up to, see the BOG Blog.

Big Ol' Projects

  • Email notices of our own BOG events, BOG-sponsored and supported events and other "events of interest" in the wider community. 
  • Participation in Pride events such as:
    • LGBT Coalition of Western Mass's Dyke March 
    • Noho Pride
    • Trans Pride
  • LGBTIQQA-themed workshops 
  • Development and distribution of educational materials about LGBTIQQA topics
  • Improving LGBTIQQA visibility in the USNF community (e.g.  putting up rainbow flags, etc.)
  • Interfaith Circles for the LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ worship service led by the Big Ol' Gay Committee
    ["In Our Own Voices" - our 2010 LGBTQ service]

 

Big Ol' Meetings

Our regular meetings are held at 7pm on the first Monday of every month (September-June), Social Room at USNF. All are welcome to attend our meetings and events!

Big Ol' Co-chairs

Ty Power and Barbara Allen 

Big Ol' (or little ol') Questions? 

Contact the Big Ol' Gay Committee co-chairs or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Find us on Facebook!

Social action at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence takes many shapes and forms – education, advocacy, public witness, fund raising, and direct service.

We educate ourselves and others through getting involved with efforts spearheaded by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, local interfaith groups, and other local, national, and international organizations.  We read, we invite speakers, show films, and have discussion groups.

Some of us work directly on programs that we hope will make a difference in others’ lives.  We advocate through petition drives and direct work on community programs such as the Northampton Living Wage Coalition.  We raise money and provide some of the volunteer staffing for the Hampshire County Interfaith Help Fund and the Cot Shelter.  We work in a community garden project that provides vegetables for the Northampton Survival Center.

Our efforts to make a difference in the world around us are limited only by our imaginations and time constraints.  All are welcome to join us.

Occupy Northampton 2012


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