What a beautiful, wonderful day at Central Florida Veg Fest yesterday! We spent the day meeting great people and enjoying the fresh air, music from the acoustic stage, the smell of amazing vegan food, and watching happy-waggy pups of all kinds. Very few people were disconnected by their devices; most were looking where they were going, saying hello to one another and having conversations, laughing, and being aware of what was around them!
The blood drive went very well – the generous, community-minded crowd at Veg Fest exceeded the expected units – 26 units were collected! In fact, the bus was so busy that the staff couldn’t keep up and several people were unable to donate. If you were one of those, please visit OneBlood.org and click Donate to find a branch or bus near you. Thank you, everyone, for saving lives with us! The Humanist Community of the Space Coast had a successful blood drive yesterday as well – thank you, Keith, and all of the HCSC members for making a difference!
Our donation jar collection was to help with our 2016 holiday STEM toy drive – providing math and science themed toys to at-risk children in our community. Thank you, kind people, for donating $51.25 to help! Visit our toy drive page for information about the drive and great links and STEM toy suggestions for your own shopping.
One of the missions of Veg Fest is to empower people to make positive changes to the way they eat and live. Humanism is a non-religious worldview that focuses on a person’s connectivity to and impact on others. Humanists reflect on our ability and responsibility to make a positive difference in the world. Our local secular group network offers a variety of ways to engage and empower Humanists, whatever their interests. BE. Orlando’s mission is to “Provide a diverse, service-oriented Humanist fellowship in Central Florida that makes a positive difference in our community and in the lives of our members.”
Veg Fest is always a great place to meet community-minded people who care about their impact on the world. We connected with many people who were already members of the local secular communities, as well as many who hadn’t known there is a network of positive support and involvement opportunities in Central Florida.
There were some great conversations. For example, a woman came over and asked “is this an Atheist tent?” She saw our “good without god” sign and stopped by because she is a Christian and her son recently “came out” to the family as being non-religious. Atheism was not something she had any experience with. She wanted an opportunity to talk to someone (not just read about it) to understand more about the values and perspectives of people of non-faith so that she could better understand and include her son. For example, what happens when it is his turn to say grace before dinner, as that rotation is part of their family tradition? A suggestion was to encourage him to say a secular grace that is meaningful to him.
Another great conversation was with someone who wondered about why people of non-faith would have a “community”. We talked about a church as a perspective-specific community and the non-religious aspects of church that are part of a Humanist community, such as sharing ideas, spending time with others who share your values, volunteering, learning, support for one another, a place to make friends, and a place where families can ensure their children have peers and role models that share the family’s values.
We of course want to encourage people to vote this election year, and had secular values voter stickers at our table – they were very popular! One local secular activist shared some research his organization compiled regarding election issues. We added his information to our list of secular voter resources to help everyone as they educate themselves about issues and decide what kind of difference their vote is going to make.
Many people came over to ask about general volunteering resources (not with a church or with a Humanist community – just volunteering). To help our members and others seeking ways to get involved, we host a volunteer resource page providing links to local volunteer management agencies. We also talked to several people about specific charities that aligned with their interests.
One woman was overjoyed to learn that Second Harvest Food Bank has a family night were younger children can come volunteer. Families are often looking for ways to engage their younger children in making a difference, but due to insurance and other necessities, charities often have an age minimum. There are, however, charities where your children can volunteer.
There are also events like park or beach cleanups where kids are able to join with others in making a difference. The Central Florida Freethought Community recently adopted a park and they host regular family-friendly Sunday morning cleanup events there (with donuts and coffee!). Also, you can connect with agencies like Seminole County SERV to find events like invasive species removal or fun waterway cleanups.
Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by to say hello, share their personal journey, or connect with our community. Thanks for all the thumbs up and smiles and nods of those walking by, and for everyone who thanked us for being there to share our message at Veg Fest. We hope to see you again soon – if not at one of our events, maybe stop by and say hello at our vendor tent in April at Central Florida Earth Day. 🙂
And special thanks to Larry, Ryan, and the whole team that makes both Veg Fest and Earth Day festivals amazing! You all ROCK!