Tag Archives: humanism

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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Holidays & Happiness, Humanist Style

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BE Present: Mindfulness is about connecting to the world and others around us, and connecting that awareness to our thoughts, words, and actions.

BE. Orlando celebrates the holiday season by hosting events and drives that make a difference in our community.  Investing our time and talent to have a positive impact on the world around us honors our commitment as Humanists; we recognize each individual’s connection to others and empowerment to do good.

I was asked recently why a secular organization would focus so much energy on giving to Christmas drives and supporting holiday activities. The holiday season is a time of increased economic and other stress, increased travel and accidents increasing need for blood – yet there’s a decrease in blood donorship, and a time when those without the means to provide for their families are more impacted than ever by heartbreaking challenges.

Inequities, tragedies, and other human struggles transcend faith or non-faith perspectives – they touch everyone. Parents may be unable to provide a holiday for their children in the tradition of their family. Those facing loss of family and loved ones, isolation, and fear for the future may feel that the greater community has forgotten them.  Those in need should never go a day without receiving a kind, uplifting word or deed.

Together, we can make a difference. A Humanist’s wish for a happy holiday season is communicated through our actions. This December, our members enjoyed creating and sharing a holiday meal at SafeHouse, donating blood, and collecting STEM-themed toys for local at-risk youth.

HOLIDAY MEAL AT SAFEHOUSE

BE. Orlando’s monthly dinner at SafeHouse of Seminole takes on a special meaning during the holidays.  For October, November, and December, we host super-special meals and share a meaningful evening with each other and with the residents of SafeHouse.

Serving to create an evening of joy for people who are facing challenges is an honor. And those challenges are not only among “others” – but also potentially a current or past part of the lives of volunteers and staff. We must remember that every face we see has a story that we do not know; at this event we join together, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to make a positive difference for everyone around us.

274029We brought a honey-baked ham, and the ten volunteers prepared homemade side-dish recipes that have been meaningful in their lives during the holidays to share with the SafeHouse residents.  The 17 unique dishes included whole-potato-sweet-potato casserole, green beans (from the family garden), apple & snickers salad, Spanish rice,  fresh field greens salad, anniversary potatoes (like potatoes au gratin), homemade mac & cheese, green bean casserole, steamed veggies, cheese, olive, & nut trays, and of course holiday cupcakes an peppermint brownies.

There was a grab-bag with toys for every child at the shelter (and grown-ups are kids, too!), and the volunteers dressed in festive attire of aprons & antlers.  There was singing, laughter, and a great feeling of community.

We are grateful to our members who contributed time, food, and supplies, to the Foundation Beyond Belief for a project grant that assisted with the December food costs, and to the staff and residents of SafeHouse for the opportunity.  We can’t wait wait for Taco Nite in January as we kick off our 5th year of hosting monthly dinners at SafeHouse!

See more photos on our Facebook album.

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BLOOD DRIVE

On 12/10 we joined with the Central Florida Freethought Community at Target in Oviedo and hosted a blood drive, raising 12 units.  Each unit can impact three lives – our donors gave the gift of another holiday, another hug, another sunrise to 36 people!

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TOY DRIVE

Throughout December at all of our events – including the toy collection & blood drive event on 12/10 at Target, BE. Orlando and the Central Florida Freethought Community together collected 68 STEM-themed toys and games and 65 books.

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Special thanks to Target in Oviedo for their support!

JOIN US – MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY!

If you are still looking for a way to give back this holiday season, consider making a donation to the Central Florida Freethought Community to support their programs and initiatives, or to the new scholarship fund promoting volunteerism among secular students at the University of Central Florida.

If you’re in Central Florida and interested in joining our 2017 volunteer adventures, membership to our event calendar, Meetup.com/BEOrlando, is free – we hope to meet you at an event soon!

PSA: International Human Rights Day

December 10th, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Pause today and think about people around the globe, and in our own local communities, who face marginalization, bullying, discrimination, and violence.  Today, reflect on our own empowerment to make a difference for others around us and make the world a better place, one kindness at a time. Take time to learn about the experiences of marginalized individuals around the world – and around us in our own spheres of influence, and pledge to help make the space around us more welcoming and respectful for all.  Defend human rights where you can, and pledge to focus on uplifting others. How can you make a difference for someone today?

If a country doesn’t recognize minority rights and human rights, including women’s rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible. –Hillary Clinton

 

From the Council on Human Rights 2014 report to the United Nations General Assembly:

Section 9: Victims of violence come from all religious or belief backgrounds. They comprise adherents to large “traditional” communities and followers of small or new religious movements, which are often stigmatized as “sects”. Furthermore, atheists and agnostics suffer in many countries from a climate of intimidation, repression or violence. Another frequently neglected group of people are the adherents to different indigenous beliefs, who are also targets of violence carried out by State agencies and/or non-State actors.

Section 10: Countless examples demonstrate that violence in the name of religion usually displays a pronounced gender dimension. Many women and girls are victims of “honour” killings, acid attacks, amputations or floggings, sometimes pursuant to penal codes that are based on religious laws. Women and girls also disproportionately suffer from sexual violence, such as rape, abduction, sexual enslavement, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, often in conjunction with forced conversion, or other cruelties.

Section 11: Furthermore, homophobic and transphobic violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons may also be perpetrated in the name of religion. Those perceived as LGBT may be targets of organized abuse, including by religious extremists. Violence against LGBT persons includes brutal gang rapes, so-called “curative” rapes and family violence owing to their sexual orientation and gender identity. There is a strong connection between discrimination in law and practice, and incitement to violence in the name of religion and violence itself. Violence against women and against LGBT persons is often justified and given legitimacy by discriminatory laws based on religious laws or supported by religious authorities, such as laws criminalizing adultery, homosexuality or cross-dressing. The Human Rights Committee has noted with concern hate speech and manifestations of intolerance and prejudice by religious leaders against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, in a broader context of acts of violence, including killings of LGBT persons. There have also been reports of direct violence exercised by religious authorities against LGBT persons, although many of them are religiously interested in practising.

 

LINKS

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948 – International Bill of Human Rights

BBN Team of the Month!

We’re grateful to the Beyond Belief Network, a part of the Foundation Beyond Belief, for their many national programs and initiatives that foster, empower, and recognize Humanist volunteerism & philanthropy.  And we’re honored to be a Volunteers Beyond Belief team.

BE. Orlando was recognized as the 2016  November Team of the Month for our role in initiating a scholarship fund supporting secular students at the University of Central Florida.  Winners will demonstrate a commitment to community engagement through their hours of service and their written reflections on secular volunteerism in America.  BBN also recognized our November meal serve at SafeHouse.

In 2015, BE. was awarded the Heart of Humanism Award for media coverage around the Math, Science, and Pi(e) Festival, and Jocelyn Williamson, BE. member and co-leader of the Central Florida Freethought Community, accepted the award for us in D.C. at the Reason Rally.

Little groups like ours around the nation benefit from the support and resources provided by the Foundation Beyond Belief.  They increase the scope of service impact through grants, provide encouragement and recognition, and create visibility for the good work of Humanists around the country.  Thank you, Foundation Beyond Belief!

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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.

 

LINKS

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National Philanthropy Day

On this National Philanthropy Day we celebrate our members and friends who give back to our community, supporting programs and initiatives that change lives and make the world a better place.  Humanism is about recognizing our connection to and impact on others – celebrate Humanism by making a gift this holiday season.

Here are a few Humanist efforts that need your support:

This information from the National Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Official DNP site: http://npdlove.com/

Philanthropy is “the love of humankind,” and National Philanthropy Day® (NPD)—November 15—is the day that thousands of people around the world come together to both (1) put that word into action and (2) recognize the change that word has brought to our communities.

NPD is a celebration of philanthropy—giving, volunteering and charitable engagement—that highlights the accomplishments, large and small, that philanthropy—and all those involved in the philanthropic process—makes to our society and our world.

National Philanthropy Day® is both an official day and a grassroots movement. Every year, since 1986 when President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed November 15th as National Philanthropy Day®, communities across the globe have celebrated by hosting events to recognize activities of donors, volunteers, foundations, leaders, corporations, and others engaged in philanthropy.

In 2012, the nation of Canada officially recognized NPD permanently, setting a new model for other countries to emulate.

But NPD is far from just a top-down idea full of formal events. NPD is also a grassroots movement to increase public interest and awareness of the importance of philanthropy, as well as knowledge on giving, volunteering and engagement at the charitable level so people can practice EFFECTIVE philanthropy.

While many people show interest in giving or getting involved, they often need a little reminder about needs and to be inspired by goals and dreams. NPD spurs action, by not only providing tips and guidance, but ways to connect with causes and each other—so people can be inspired by what others are doing and create their own ideas for philanthropic engagement.

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Holiday STEM Toy Drive!

December 10th collection event

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Join us on December 10th at Target in Oviedo, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., for a blood drive! Save lives this holiday season, and drop off items for the Holiday STEM Toy Drive!

Skip the line to donate blood – make an appointment!


Make a difference with us this Holiday Season!

In a growing partnership, we join other Humanist and secular organizations in our community to bring STEM-themed toys and books to at-risk children in our community.

Central Florida – we need your help!  Host collections in your workplaces, families, neighborhoods, teams, and other communities. View drop-off & pickup options on the STEM Toy Drive website – STEM4Youth.wordpress.com.  Our big drop-off event is on December 10th, but we will be collecting through Decmber 16th.

On the website you’ll find information about the drive
and an amazing STEM toy shopping and resource list!

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