Tag Archives: community

An Intentional 2017

January 1, 2017

2016 was an interesting year, leaving many of us feeling motivated to become even more engaged in making a difference, helping others, and strengthening our communities.  As we journey into the new year, let’s focus as Humanists on what we can do to uplift others and make the world a better place.

We’re going to make it easy to expand your kindness footprint this year.

Some upcoming events are highlighted below – join our member site and keep an eye on the calendar for more ways to get involved.

We also have a list of Volunteer Resources  featuring other local and national volunteer organizations.

Join our 12x12x12 Challenge

In this dodecagon of kindness, pledge to make one care kit every month this year with 12 items for someone in need.  Find care kit ideas: SafeHouse Wishlist or Coalition Wishlist or join our event for additional ideas. You can drop off kits at the shelters or at any BE. Orlando event in 2017.  (This challenge was initiated by our Gulf Coast project leader, Kim; if you’re in the Tampa area, contact us to get in touch with her to find shelters and people in need in your local community.)

MLK Day of Service Event

Join us on January 16th for “A day on, not a day off”.  We’ll be preparing and serving lunch at the Ronald McDonald House.  This will be our first time at their new location in Lake Nona.  RSVP here.

You can find other MLK Weekend events through Allforgood.org.

Pi Day!!

Share math & science activities with kids on March 11th at the 5th annual Math, Science, and Pi(e) Festival for at-risk children at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.  RSVP Here.

Blood Drives

Donate blood with us and/or volunteer at the BE. Orlando tent at Earth Day (Apr 22) and Veg Fest  (Oct TBD).  We’re also planning a Pulse Anniversary blood drive at Target in Oviedo on June 3rd (a week before the main Orlando activities will be taking place) and we’re looking forward to a 2nd annual blood drive & STEM toy drive collection in December.

Learn more about our blood drives here: http://JustGottaBE.org/the-gift-of-life

STEM-Themed Summer Book Drive

Commit to help us provide STEM-themed books and books that highlight successful women and minority leaders in STEM and other fields to assist with the summer reading initiatives in our community.  Learn more at https://stem4youth.wordpress.com/stem-book-drive/ or RSVP with us on Meetup.

Monthly Meal Serve

We have hosted monthly dinners at a local shelter since January 2013. All of the 2017 2nd Wednesday SafeHouse dinners are posted and themed, including Taco Nite, Breakfast for Dinner, Challenge ingredient: Chocolate, Luau, and of course holiday themes for Oct, Nov, and Dec.  Join to view events on our calendar.

Free professional development workshop on faith diversity

Join us on Saturday, March 25th, for a free, fun, interactive workshop exploring faith and non-faith diversity in our culture and how we can can each play a role in generating respect and inclusion for everyone.  Workshop hosted by the UCF office of Diversity and Inclusion; certificate of completion provided. Visit http://SRMA-UCF.org  for details and registration information

How YOU can help us BE more successful in 2017

  • Become a member – it is free, and we have some great service and social events planned for 2017
  • Suggest our group to others
  • Join our member-based Board of Advisors (contact BEOrlando@live.com)
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
  • Visit http://JustGottaBE.org to learn more about us and our initiatives & follow our blog
  • share http://JustGottaBE.org on your social media and other networks.

THANK YOU for making a difference!

kindness-footprintYou do so many things every day that make the world a better place: from the support you provide to friends and family, to the child you made smile in the grocery store, to the larger more intentional acts like volunteering, donating blood, and investing in charitable causes.  What you do MATTERS. 

Making kindness a priority means discovering the ways you are already making a positive impact, and doing more of those –  then adding to the list.

Whatever the cultural climate, political absurdity, or human atrocities dramatized by headlines, we must remember that we have the power to make a difference around us every day.  Let’s focus on the good, together.

We wish you an amazing, rewarding, uplifting year of kindness and compassion.

 

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International Volunteer Day

A note from a dear stranger, a distant friend*, on the other side of the globe, gave a reminder to acknowledge local heroes on this International Volunteer Day (IVD).

This is a day to celebrate those who make a difference in their communities around the world.  We applaud you – Whether you save lives by donating blood, donate hours in service to causes in your area, work toward local, national, or global change, or simply expand your kindness footprint daily in personal ways to uplift others around you. It matters.

The 2016 IVD theme is #GlobalApplause: Give Volunteers a Hand.  We applaud our members and our partner organizations for their commitment to making a difference, such as the Central Florida Freethought Community for adopting a park and supporting the STEM Toy Drive. & blood drive this coming Saturday. THANK YOU for the impact you have through volunteerism and through the kindness you share. You make the world a better place!

From the United Nations:

On IVD, we not only celebrate volunteerism in all its facets – but also pay special tribute to people’s participation in making a difference locally, nationally and globally. IVD highlights the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grass-roots in decision-making processes, ultimately creating space for participation that leads to: stronger governance, social cohesion, peace and sustainable development.

On 5 December join us in recognizing the commitment of all volunteers, and applaud hundreds of millions of people who volunteer to make change happen.

* That note came from John Iriri, leader of the Blood Donor Community in Kenya, who has been a treasured connection in the network of blood donor advocates around the world and a hero to many.  Thank you, John, for your continued leadership, inspiration, and encouragement!  Follow his donor community’s lifesaving journey on twitter, @DonorCC

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Blood Drive & STEM Toy Drive Drop-Off

Blood Drive & STEM Toy Drive Drop-Off
December 10th, 2016
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Target in Oviedo

Come say hello – BE. Orlando Humanist Fellowship and the Central Florida Freethought Community will be hosting tents and welcoming our members, friends, and anyone who would like to learn more about our groups & initiatives.

We’ll be accepting donations to the toy drive all day, and you can also get on the Big Red Bus and give the gift of life this holiday season!  Every toy will go to an at-risk child in our community, and every blood donation has the potential to save three lives.

Make a difference with us on December 10th – we look forward to seeing you there!

If you can’t make it on the 10th, don’t worry – we’re taking donations at all BE & CFFC events through December 16th, and we can even arrange a pick-up.  Visit stem4youth.wordpress.com for details or contact us.

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WHY?

STEM toys develop interest and skill in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and gives them a head start and advantage as they progress through their educational journey.  Not only do we use STEM skills in many aspects of our lives, but the best career paths are in STEM fields – and we need great people educated to fill them in the future.  Toy drives bring in many kinds of gifts, but there is a shortage of drives focusing on STEM-related gifts that can spark a young person’s interest – and perhaps influence their future. Please join us in this effort to make a difference for at-risk youth in our community!

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Gratitude Beyond Belief

What did you do for Thanksgiving?  What were the most inspiring moments? What was the most beautiful thing you saw? What will stay with you? For what were you grateful?

Here are some thoughts from BE. Orlando’s founder.  If you’re so inclined, click play on TJ’s video below & listen while you read.  🙂

What did you do for Thanksgiving…

A visit to Cedar Key, a city more beautiful than ever only months after Hurricane Hermine. It was uplifting to feel the strength of their community and connect with old, new, and furry friends.  The first sight when entering town was the wagging of a familiar tale, followed by a slobbery greeting from the pirate pup and a warm welcome from his family – and so began a beautiful weekend.

The town was exactly as expected. Glimpses of the hurricane’s devastation were around to be seen, but the sparked spirit of community and determination to rebuild and thrive were the most evident remnants of Hermine. It is a reflection of the inner strength of humanity. Every face that passes us each day has endured the storms of personal losses and devastation, and has overcome.  The strength of the Cedar Key community is a potential in each person we meet, and in each of us.

What were the most inspiring moments…

1126-90-low-key-evening-9A bonfire concert in a sea-side garden. Everyone singing to the tunes of Houston Keen, young musician from Chiefland, and enjoying the warmth of the fire as the cool front started blowing in.  Houston played a set of favourite covers and some originals.  When asked to play his favorite song to perform, he stunned us with a touching song called “Sleeping in his Dress Blues.”  It was unexpected and touching; a beautiful surprise.  Wondering what personal meaning that song had for him added to the depth of the moment.  There was not a dry eye in the garden.  With the next song he lifted us back up, but he had stopped us all in time for one song that was not only touching in itself, but also a reminder that every face we see has the stories of a life’s journey behind it.

What was the most beautiful thing you saw…

1126-38-flight22-smallOh, the view. Sunsparkles on the water, playful dolphins, soaring birds, spectacular sunrises & sunsets. The most awesome view, though, is from the sky.  The clam farms by Dog Island, the beautiful sands on McCrary Cove at North Key, the peaceful town below. And the dynamic topology of the sandbars around the islands, so different every time – especially after the recent storm. As a kayaker who loves to wander out to sandbars & private beaches, those flights are also kindle dreams of future adventures (and places to nap in the sun).

There were two teenage girls that rode with us – one had never flown before, and neither had ever been in a small plane before. But through the flight, they were in their phones. They’ll never get that moment back – so sad that they missed the experience. One thing i love about that town is the rarity of digital zombies; mostly, people there connect with one another and are present. It is nice to see people talk to each other and look up and around when they walk.

There are beautiful things around us. We can only see them if we are present.

What will stay with you…

1125-20_terry-daily-grindOne of the new stores in town, a coffee shop called the 1842 Daily Grind & Mercantile, is run by Terry and Martin. The place was amazing – beautifully laid out, unique decor (even a record player playing records!), amazingly artistic and delicious food, and great coffee.  They are very passionate about the coffee!  🙂

The day they were to open was the day Hurricane Hermine hit.  That means they had invested time and resources to make the shop perfect for its opening day – and it was destroyed by the flood.  Grief over the loss was no match for strength of character: within weeks they had picked up the pieces, cleaned the destruction, and re-created their dream. Their example of what inner strength means will stay with me.

They weren’t the only ones –  Bonish Studio (the new adventure of old CDK friends Pat and Cindy Bonish), and other businesses were similarly impacted, and rebuilt with resilience and courage. A trip to this place is always inspiring and a perfect place of peace for re-charging; this time, it was so much more.

For what were you grateful…

Cedar Key, for its community and for the beauty of the nature around it, and my great fortune to be able to visit there. The warmth and welcome from Cedar Key friends.  Catching a surprise TJ Brown concert, and for the garden concert by Houston Keen. The ability to appreciate the beauty around us, and the reminder of how important a lifestyle of gratitude and connectivity really is.  Beyond Cedar Key – just too much to list; life is a beautiful challenge. And it passes so quickly; how we invest every moment matters.  I’m grateful for that awareness, for the journey of life, and for connections to others.

live-gratitudeRemember that the best expression of gratitude is action.  I hope for all of us that we have come away from our Thanksgiving reflections with a renewed sense of purpose.

How will you incorporate gratitude into your daily actions?

If you are in Central Florida seeking a positive Humanist community  committed to make a difference together, visit our free member site.

 

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Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving Reflection 2016

We’re grateful not only for the good in our lives, but for our ability to improve the lives of others. Remembering that the holidays are difficult times for many, recognize and increase the ways that you uplift those around you every day.

The stories behind every face would surprise us. Have you taken the time to talk to and learn about someone who wouldn’t normally be in your spheres of interconnection? Have you ever looked at everyone around you in a store and wondered about their families, histories, losses, and the difference that they’ve made for others?

Compassionate connection to others is a skill we need to continually work at developing.  I remember the story of my mother trying to get to the hospital to be at my father’s side for his last breath, and how my brother drove to get her there. No courteous driver awards for him that day. When someone cuts us off in traffic, are we quick to anger, or do we focus on keeping everyone safe?   In our reactions to the world around us, are we coming from a place of judgement and egocentricity, or are we concerned with the well-being of others? Wherever we are on that variable scale, today we can be better – and tomorrow, even better.

live-gratitudeWe can tell how grateful we truly are by how we act; the clearest expression of gratitude is kindness. There are many ways you can expand your kindness footprint. Donations and drives fill needs in our communities; outreach and advocacy inspire an informed public to act; and daily human kindness connects us to others. I have an autistic friend with a talent for making every baby smile.  He can calm a wild tantrum in a store – how’s that for a superpower?  What’s YOUR superpower?

This Thanksgiving, let’s make a commitment together: we’re going to make the world a better place by valuing our own empowerment to do good for others, and putting gratitude into action through both random and intentional acts of kindness.

Are you in?

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PSA – Family Volunteer Day

iccdThe holiday season is coming and with it, an increased interest in giving back to our community. On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we reflect on the importance of volunteering with our families and friends on national Family Volunteer Day.

Volunteering together strengthens our connections to each other – what better way to bond than working together to make a positive difference in the world?  With it comes knowing that our collective effort can make a more significant impact than we can make alone. Your family may be the traditional picture – or it may be friends who’ve become an integral part of your life. Volunteering is a great way to spend time together. On Family Volunteer Day, plan to celebrate your human connections by leveraging your strength to make a difference!

And bring the kids.  Volunteering is a hands-on way to teach children about the issues in our community and how we are empowered to make a difference for others. It prepares them to be involved, informed citizens. Compassion and responsibility are developed by engaging in positive volunteer activities, as well as the sense of accomplishment in knowing that your actions made the world a better place for someone. It is a great way to make new friends, learn new skills, and have fun together.

About Family Volunteer Day

Family Volunteer Day is a day of service that demonstrates and celebrates the power of families who volunteer together, supporting their neighborhoods, communities and the world.

Points of Light created the day in 1993 to showcase the benefits of family volunteering and provide opportunities for families to help communities create supportive environments for their children and each other. This year Family Volunteer Day takes place on November 22 and is being sponsored by Disney Friends for Change and powered by generationOn.

Family Volunteer Day is held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to “kick-off” the holiday season with giving and service. It also signals the start of National Family Week, sponsored by the Alliance for Children and Families and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Families that volunteer together not only address community social problems, but also strengthen themselves. Volunteering together as a family provides quality time, strengthens family communication and provides opportunities for family members to be role models.

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Family Volunteer Day – Generation On

Family Volunteer Day – Points of Light

Points of Light Foundation

Thanks4Giving, Volunteers!

img_20161109_192109215BE. volunteers prepared a fantabulous Thanksgiving-themed meal for our November monthly meal service at SafeHouse of Seminole.  Eleven volunteers prepared more than 20 dishes including chicken, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetable dishes, fruit platters, salad, breads, olives & cheese, potatoes, pasta dishes, and more.  Dessert included apple and pumpkin pies and creative turkey cupcakes!

For those in shelters and experiencing other challenges, loss, or isolation, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time. Volunteers who invest the time to make a difference provide not only a comforting meal, but also demonstrate compassion and create community. They give the gift of hope.

vbb6Thank you to our volunteers for their time, talent, and donations.  And thank you to EVERYONE who takes the time this holiday season to make a positive difference. Remember that every face you see has a story you don’t know, every heart misses someone, and everyone benefits from the kindness of others. Whether you volunteer, make a donation, or just take a moment to help someone in the grocery store, you make the world a better place.

“There is more good than bad in the world; more light than dark.  And YOU can make more light.” – Robert H. Reynolds

Get involved with us this holiday season!

We have some great opportunities for giving, volunteering, and just plain socializing in the next month or so.

  • dec-iconDonate STEM toys! Participate in our STEM Toy Drive – bringing math & science themed toys to holiday gift programs for at-risk children in our community.  Last drop off is the morning of December 17th. [Read more]
  • Donate blood! Join us at Target in Oviedo on December 10th from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Get on the bus with us, drop off STEM toys, or just say hello – we’d love to meet you. Look for the BE. Orlando and the Central Florida Freethought Community community tents in the parking lot near the Big Red Bus. [Read more]
  • Support a scholarship!  Looking for a great way to make a last-minute donation before year end?  Join us in supporting a new local scholarship fund supporting secular students at UCF. [Read more]
  • Volunteer!  Our Christmas Holiday meal serve at SafeHouse is on the second Wednesday of the month. Membership is required and space is limited, so visit soon.  [Read more]
  • Join the Leadership Team!  After five years of serving our community and our members, we are establishing an advisory board to help us increase our impact and achieve some longer-term goals. If you are interested in serving on the advisory board, please contact BEOrlando@live.com for more information.

Secular Gratitude

sgRecently at an advocacy event we were approached by a Christian who wanted advice on including their newly “out” Atheist son in the family tradition of grace before meals.  As the holidays come closer, mixed-perspective family and friend groups can feel stress and fear of being excluded or excluding others.  Please visit our site on Secular Gratitude for information on secular reflection, grace, and “prayer”, as well as a collection of popular secular and multi-perspective inclusive examples.

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