Category Archives: Diversity Initiative

Thank you, donors!

We are grateful to the donors who contributed 15 units of blood at Saturday’s blood drive and 97 books to support summer literacy initiatives!

IMG_20170603_1253255071 – BLOOD DRIVE

On Saturday, in partnership with Target (Oviedo) and OneBlood, we joined the Central Florida Freethought Community to host the first Pulse Remembrance blood drive in Central Florida; the 15 donors were the first to earn the STILL STRONG donor shirt.  We enjoyed  a great day making a difference with the CFFC and members and friends who came to support the efforts.  Fifteen units of blood collected will impact 45 lives in our community.

donor3Our blood drives to date have collected more than 182 units of blood, impacting 546 lives.

 

 

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2 – BOOK DRIVE

The event was also the final drop-off for our annual STEM-themed summer literacy book drive.   In support of local literacy initiatives of the Heart of Florida United Way and its partner agencies that focus on bridging the summer reading gap, we collect new science, technology, engineering, and math-related books, and books that highlight women and minorities in successful leadership roles, that will be given to youth as gifts.  The Central Florida Freethought Community joined the effort again this year.  With their help, we reached a total of 97 high-quality new books.

IMG_20170603_102219674This year’s collection included multiple copies of Women in Science, an autographed copy of Astronomy Saves The World from its author Daniel Batcheldor, Chasing Space, and many more fun and visually stunning books that will be sure to ignite the imagination of young readers.

Our next STEM-themed collection will be the holiday toy drive – BE part of it! Follow us at http://STEM4youth.wordpress.com.  We’re proud to be a part of STEM4Youth, a collaborative effort of local secular and Humanist organizations.  Initiatives include the summer book drive, holiday toy drive, and an annual Math, Science, & Pi(e) Fest.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Click here to become a member and RSVP:

  • Make a Difference in Under a Minute (sign online thank-you letter to a local university for their Humanist inclusion efforts)
  • Monthly meal serve in Sanford
  • Solutionary Festival & Peace Walk at Lake Eola
  • Park & Lake Cleanup event
  • Food donation sorting at Second Harvest
  • Living shoreline stabilization project at Canaveral National Seashore
  • Professional Development – free diversity workshop on faith in the workplace
  • Mattress recycling project at the Mustard Seed

LINKS

 

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New resource at UCF includes Humanism

May 26, 2017

voicePlease join BE. Orlando in thanking the University of Central Florida for their commitment to an inclusive community. Take a moment to sign the thank-you letter to UCF for enhancing inclusion for secular and religious minority individuals: https://srmaucf.wordpress.com/thank-you-ucf

Signing the letter will show UCF – and other institutions that might consider similar initiatives – that inclusion MATTERS.

martin-luther-king-jr-quote-anextraordinaryday-net_Faith-related discrimination is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time, and much effort needs to be focused on supporting people of non-faith,  one of the most hated and misunderstood marginalized populations in America.  We can work to change this through education to overcome misinformation; building bridges across our differences; and working together to make the world a better place for everyone.

There are shining examples in our own community of individuals, organizations, and institutions making inspiring efforts to ensure inclusion and equitable resources for people of all faith and non-faith perspectives.

In June 2016, the University of Central Florida revised its official non-discrimination statement; the changes included explicit recognition of non-religious identities as a protected class.  This month (May 2017), they have published a website providing both religious and non-religious resources for inner-life support of students, faculty, and staff.  You can view the site here: http://rnr.sdes.ucf.edu.

The University of Central Florida is an innovative, progressive national leader in diversity and inclusion. It is the second largest university in the nation, serving more than 65,000 students and employing more than 10,000 faculty and staff.  We should be proud of UCF for many things – and one is its clear commitment to ensuring an inclusive campus for everyone.

We hope you will join us in signing the thank you letter to UCF.

For more information, contact nonreligion@ucf.edu.


 

Remembering Pulse: Blood Drive, Book Drive, & More!

You’re invited to join us on June 3rd, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Target in Oviedo for our Pulse Anniversary Blood Drive event.

There are many unable to donate blood in support of their identity community; will you give a pint on their behalf? Blood donors of all types are needed to ensure adequate blood supply in our community for daily needs and to be prepared for unexpected emergencies.  One of the Pulse victims used 200 units of blood; help us make sure blood is available when it is needed.

Look for the Big Red Bus and our tents in the target parking lot, and if you can, please make an appointment to donate blood with us.

We will also be collecting new, STEM-themed books for middle and high-school students to support the Heart of Florida United Way’s summer literacy initiatives. Visit our book drive site for great book lists and other resources: http://stem4youth.wordpress.com/stem-book-drive.  Youth books in Spanish are needed as well to support the Latino/a Community in Central Florida.

And for our animal lover friends, we will be collecting cat food and cat litter to support an elderly man in our community who cares for two feral cat colonies (care includes TNR services, medical care, food, water, shelter, and copious love).

We hope you will support these efforts, but you don’t have to donate anything to stop by and say hello at our tents and meet members and leaders from the local secular community. Learn about what we do, take the opportunity to ask questions and have a great conversation, or find out how you can become more involved in the local secular and Humanist efforts.  See you there?


EVENT LINKS

Make An Appointment to Donate  |  Secular Community Blood Drives

FaceBook Event  | Flyer to Share  | RSVP with us on Meetup:  BE. Orlando or CFFC


We’re grateful to our partners, the Central Florida Freethought Community, the Humanist Community of the Space Coast (who think they can collect more book donations than we can – HA!), Target in Oviedo, and of course the dedicated, life-saving staff of OneBlood.

Remembering Pulse: Honoring victims and survivors

As Humanists, we seek the means to make a positive difference for others.  We respond to tragedy in our community by providing support, giving back, volunteering,  sharing a message of  – and demonstrating – inclusion, and working to provide fellow Humanists opportunities to be empowered to make a difference with us.

A week after the Pulse tragedy on 6/13/16, local secular and Humanist leaders joined in an effort to host a blood drive that honored our LGBTQ+, Latina/o, and Muslim members and friends.  Our efforts not only raised units to impact 80 lives in our community, but also provided healing empowerment for those who wanted to do something positive that would help others.

We have not forgotten our members or our community.  We’re looking forward to another heartwarming day spent working together to make a difference.  Will we see you there?

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National Day of Reason This Thursday

BE. Orlando believes in the right of every American to have and practice their faith or non-faith.  We promote respect for diversity and inclusion, and recognize the importance of efforts like the National Day of Reason (NDoR) that are working to ensure true religious liberty and end divisive religious practices.  We appreciate local organizations like the Central Florida Freethought Community for their vigilance and active engagement promoting the separation of church and state in Florida.  And we actively support the Secular and Religious Minority Awareness initiative at the University of Central Florida, promoting respect for individuals of all faiths and non-faith and educating about the challenges faced by minority faith identities in our culture.

The first Thursday of every May is designated the National Day of Reason. It exists to inspire the secular community to be visible and vocal – on this day and throughout the year – so that we can overcome exclusionary practices, bigotry, hatred, and discrimination normalized by the National Day of Prayer (which falls on the same day). It brings an inclusive secular worldview into the national conversation on a day when there is so much effort to force Christianity into our schools, workplaces, and  government.

In our diverse society, including everyone of all faith and non-faith perspectives is imperative.  NDoR celebrates freedom of all from governmental intrusion into private faith practices and works to reduce stigmatization of those of non-faith and minority faiths. NDoR seeks to include ALL people, regardless of faith or non-faith, in a day to celebrate reason and religious liberty.

We are grateful for the efforts of the American Humanist Association and other secular leaders and organizations that spearhead NDoR efforts, and for local leaders who are working toward an inclusive Central Florida.

LINKS

Darwin Day in Orlando

February 13, 2017

Yesterday was an amazing day, meeting people and enjoying insightful speakers. Special thanks to the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC) for all that they do to connect our local secular organizations and ensure representation and resources for Secular Americans in Central Florida.

On the first day of Random Acts of Kindness week, we were grateful for everyone who stopped by our vendor table to learn about ways that they can join us for community impact initiatives.  We shared information on upcoming adventures like Pi Day, Second Harvest Food Sorting, and our monthly shelter meal serves. We had great conversations about the importance of community engagement, the experience of being secular in our culture as a volunteer and as a person in general.  It was uplifting to learn about the many ways other members of our community are involved in making a difference.

And it was fun as heck to challenge the Humanist Community of the Space Coast to a STEM Book Drive Challenge!

THANK YOU to everyone who made a contribution to help us raise funds to host another meal at the Ronald McDonald House!  We raised $72.00, which we will match and host a great lunch.  Join us!

THANK YOU to everyone who filled out a valentines card for SafeHouse of Seminole!   There were 40 cards for children and 10 messages of support and encouragement for both the adult residents and the SafeHouse staff.

LINKS

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A day on, not a day off.

January 13, 20171

Monday is a national day of service – this weekend, seek out ways to make a difference in your communities.

On the third Monday in January, individuals across the nation rise together in service to our communities to honor civil rights activist and unity visionary, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Now more than ever, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder to support the vision of a united, inclusive, multiracial, diverse nation.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our organization has been criticized in the past for our celebration of this holiday by Humanists who disesteem King’s message because of his faith, which was an integral part of his identity. But divisiveness was not.

King came from perspective of Christianity and promoted ecumenical unity, an inherently divisive concept marginalizing non-christians.  However, if he were here today, in an openly perspective-diverse nation, wouldn’t he see beyond the barriers of his faith? King looked on the world through a lens of inclusion; rather than ecumenical unity, couldn’t he evolve to focus on human unity?  Some people are pent by their faith or non-faith and are not courageous or compassionate enough to truly value those of different perspectives.  Would King have been?  Are we?

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 King was a vehement advocate of equity for all races; would his vision have been mature enough to see the evidence of inequities, discrimination, bullying, and other unacceptable transgressions against people of non-faith and minority faiths?

How can we, in our small spheres of influence, both honor his work to overcome the sadly still-relevant racism in America and further celebrate and promote a message of inclusion for all?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

King made a famous, uneducated response to a youth who asked him for advice about his feelings of attraction to other boys (Ebony Magazine advice column, 1958).  The  response was misinformed, but it was not judgmental.  While it may lead some to believe he was blind to diversities beyond colour, he did not have the culturally facilitated opportunities for enlightenment that we are privileged to have today. That statement was made 11 years before the Stonewall riots that began the journey toward equality and brought the LGBTQ+ community into the national diversity conversation. Dr. King was tragically assassinated the year before Stonewall.

Subsequent to the riots, his wife, Coretta Scott King, joined the efforts to stand for LGBT equality, as she felt that her husband would have done the same. Mrs. King said: “I’m proud to stand with all of you, as your sister, in a great new American coalition for freedom and human rights.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Those  who value and speak for equality only for the demographics of which they are a member are brave self-advocates whose voices make a difference, but they are not true inclusion champions. When equality is one of our core personal values, we join the conversation to promote inclusion for other marginalized demographics when we learn about, and have compassion for, their challenges. We become an ally.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Uniting people through service

One of King’s core values was service, and he lived his life in service to others.  On the third Monday in January we strengthen our communities by joining with others – of all diversities, of all faiths and non-faith perspectives – to make a difference.  We make the world a better place through service; we are empowered to overcome challenges through service; we are connected to one another through service.

As Humanists, we value action-oriented, solution-focused answers to the needs in our communities.  Tomorrow, on MLK day, honor your lifestance of Humanism by putting your values into action and engaging in service.

FIND SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES

From the Corporation for National and Community Service:

After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

MLK INFORMATIONAL LINKS

Local Events & Info:

National:

What a great day!

Dec 11, 2016

Thank you to everyone who stopped by the blood drive & STEM toy drop off event yesterday!  The blood bus was full to capacity throughout the day, and the toy bins were almost full – thanks for taking the time to make a difference for people in our community.

Elfing Day – our day of delivering gifts to shelters – is Saturday, December 17th.  If you still want to donate, please contact us to arrange a drop-off point this week. Toys will benefit the gift drives for the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and SafeHouse of Seminole.

Special thanks to our great partner, the Central Florida Freethought Community, and to Target and OneBlood.

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