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Outreach Programs at First Parish

The following is a list and brief descriptions of the Outreach programs supported with contributions from the First Parish Church in Weston. The budget which funds these programs is raised each year through contributions to the Church through the Stewardship drive. Parishioners are invited to volunteer their time with any of the organizations listed. If you would like to volunteer your time, we encourage you to review the list and descriptions below and contact the liaison named under the organization listed.

Victims of Violence

Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry's Renewal House (Jean Masland)
Partakers (Leila Hooper)
The Second Step

Development Needs - Infants and Children

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee -UUSC
Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry (Jean Masland)
Kasiisi (Cristy Ballou)

Homelessness & Affordable Housing

Bristol Lodge
Community Day Center of Waltham (Leila Hooper)
Newton-Weston Wellesley Committee for Community Living (NWW)
Waltham Alliance To Create Housing (WATCH)

Disaster Relief and Miscellaneous

METCO Scholarship Fund

Second Step

Founded in 1992, The Second Step is local Massachusetts organization that offers a comprehensive program for survivors of domestic violence. The Second Step offers transitional housing, advocacy, safety planning, mentoring, children’s programs, legal case management, and an array of supportive services for families transitioning away from abuse. For more information visit their web site.

Partakers, Inc.

Partakers strives (for) reconciliation between prisoners and society. It breaks down the walls that separate prisoners from others by bringing them together, and fostering accountability and responsibility towards one another.

First Parish took the first step in sponsoring a prisoner in 2008 who was enrolled in the College Behind Bars Program. Currently, five members of First Parish are volunteering to mentor a prisoner as he studies for a BA degree that will lead him to a productive and lawful life after he returns to society. Partakers presently has 55 prisoners enrolled in the program with 40 sponsoring groups. The College Behind Bars program has earned tributes from all who participate in it its activities. One person has put it this way:

“. . . Partakers empowers the College Behind Bars scholars to be all they can be. The spirit of compassion with which the Partakers sponsoring groups support their prison scholars breaks down the traditional misconceptions and leads to transformation of all who are involved. That’s what is so brilliant in the program model---it captures the power of relationship as a force for transformation and change. “

For more information, please contact the Outreach Committee, Leila Hooper or Partakers.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)

Through a combination of advocacy, education, and partnerships, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) protects and promotes programs and policies that empower women, defend the rights of children, and support the struggles of oppressed racial, ethnic, and indigenous groups. Their programs are based on Unitarian Universalist principles affirming the worth, dignity, and human rights of every person and the interdependence of all life. UUSC works for long-term solutions through partnerships in the U.S., South and Southeast Asia, Central Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

First Parish Church provides financial support to UUSC. Additional support is provided when parishioners become individual members, by the sale of holiday cards, and by participation in programs such as “guest at your table” and the “Coffee Project.”

Currently, UUSC is sponsoring Reverse Trick-or-Treating, providing kits for children to use when trick-or-treating. They include Fair Trade chocolate to give to homes the children visit. The purpose of the program is to raise awareness of child labor abuses in the cocoa industry and to promote protection of the environment. Over 250,000 kits were handed out.

The Coffee Project involves the sale of Fair Trade coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate bars. Parishioners and visitors to First Parish can usually purchase or order these products on Sundays in the breezeway or Parish Hall or by contacting Lee Engler.

Finally, UUSC has established the Gaza Humanitarian Crisis Fund, the proceeds from which go to help fund youths working in Gaza to repair homes and to conduct community trauma workshops to increase young people's resiliency during the on-going stress of daily life under the blockade.

For more information go the web site:

Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry

For nearly 200 years, the UU Urban Ministry, based in Roxbury, MA  has been working side-by-side with individuals and communities in Boston to create opportunities and instill hope for a brighter future. 
UUUM Mission Statement: The UUUM unites communities and transforms individuals through education, service, and advocacy.  We engage communities and congregations in social action and change, with programs that empower youth and adults to realize their full potential.

The Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry administers the following programs:

Roxbury Youth Programs (RYP)First Parish Weston contact is Jean Masland

English as a Learning Language Adult ProgramFirst Parish Weston Contact is Jean Masland

Mondays and Wednesdays 10:00 am to noon at the UU Urban Ministry
Renewal House offers English classes to community members and residents of our Renewal House domestic violence shelter. These twice-weekly classes are taught by volunteers and cover conversational English, grammar, vocabulary, and life skills. A combination of group work and individual tutoring provides each student with help at her own level. Classes begin with students and teachers sharing breakfast and a bi-lingual check-in. Volunteers focus on building students’ confidence and providing a safe and comfortable learning environment. Teachers are given materials and curriculums and receive specialized training on domestic violence and its effects on students. Advanced students who are interested in becoming citizens of the U.S. are invited to join a concurrent Citizenship Class.  Here they prepare for the oral and written parts of their naturalization interview, including an extensive civics test, and get assistance with the citizenship application process.
Childcare is available for the children of both teachers and students.

Jericho Road RoxburyFirst Parish Weston Contact is Jean Masland

Jericho Road Roxbury strengthens Roxbury-based nonprofits by matching them with the talents of skilled professionals, to help these nonprofits better meet their missions and deliver services more effectively. With short-term, well-defined projects done at no cost to nonprofits, our model promotes community development, strengthens social services, and enriches the lives of everyone involved.  Volunteers are needed to help with: fundraising, grant writing, event planning, web development, web design, and more.

Renewal House First Parish Weston contact is

Renewal House is a domestic violence shelter for individuals and families who are fleeing violence or abuse. Since 1980, Renewal House has provided temporary emergency shelter and advocacy services to more than 1,000 individuals and families escaping domestic violence. Renewal House was one of the first domestic violence shelters in the state to provide shelter for male survivors as well as female, and is sought out by other agencies for its expertise in attending to the spiritual needs of survivors. Renewal House works closely with other programs that serve the LGBTQ communities, as well as those that serve elders and individuals with disabilities to provide the best support we can to these under-served populations.

Bethany HouseFirst Parish Weston contact is

Bethany House provides a safe, supportive community for single women between the ages of 18 and 30 living in the greater Boston area. Bethany serves 44 women living in three adjoining townhouses and is located on Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay. Bethany House provides affordable housing for young women from a variety of backgrounds, and exists in part to be a supportive program for women transitioning from homelessness, some of whom have experienced violence or abuse.
We strive to embody an inclusive and supportive environment for women who are committed to social justice and building community. Bethany House is a place for women in need of transitional housing and those who value being part of a diverse, intentional community. Our model is one in which all residents feel safe, respected, supported and heard, and our staff play a key role in creating an environment where women can express themselves fully. We provide ways for women to participate in the different aspects of community and offer residents opportunities to increase self-knowledge and develop skills and knowledge together. Bethany House is an innovative and transformative community for women during a critical/formational period in their lives. Our outward focus is to reach out into the community and provide forums/events/gatherings addressing issues specifically related to the safety and well being of women. Bethany offers single and double rooms and a shared bathroom on each floor, and provides a healthy breakfast and dinner Monday-Friday.

Kasiisi/Kanyawara School

First Parish Church began supporting the Kasiisi Project in western Uganda in 1999. Through the efforts of Elizabeth Ross and her husband, Richard Wrangham, parishioners of First Parish, and with the help of generous support from the Outreach Committee and the First Parish congregation, the project funds classroom construction, scholarships for students and teachers and academic support at two rural primary schools in Western Uganda. Recent projects include supplying sanitary pads and special latrines for girls, clean water, and a lunch program.

In 2010, The Kasiisi Project is working on the renovation of eight nearly-derelict classrooms at the Rwetera School. The Rwetera classrooms were built in the 1950s by a British tea planter named Price. His grandson now owns a nearby safari lodge and he is collaborating with the Kasiisi Project on the renovation. The school, with 11 teachers, services almost 700 children in Grades K-6. The entire project is expected to cost about $20K and a $7K matching grant was promised by a generous donor. The First Parish Outreach Committee voted to make an extra $600 donation towards that matching grant.

Rewetera Before Rewetera After Rewetera Students performing chimp conservation play
Rewetera School Before
Rewetera School After
Rewetera students perform chimp conservation play with student-made masks and models

For more information, visit their website ( or contact Elizabeth Ross (

Bristol Lodge

The mission of Bristol Lodge is to provide shelter, food, advice and counseling to homeless people in the Waltham area.

Specific facilities include a family shelter accommodating 6 families, a women’s shelter with 15 beds, a men’s shelter with 45 beds, and a Soup Kitchen. The Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen provides a hot, nutritious dinner, prepared and served by volunteers to 60 to 110 people daily. In addition, the kitchen prepares sandwiches and take-out lunches.

Besides the living accommodations and the Soup Kitchen, Bristol Lodge provides case management, counseling groups for women, housing advocacy, AA meetings, employment counseling, crisis intervention, therapeutic group meetings, family life advice, and referrals to other social agencies.

Bristol Lodge is part of the Middlesex Human Services Agency, Inc, a nonprofit organization. It is funded by donations from individuals, groups, and churches such as First Parish Church in Weston. Funding also comes from the State Department of Human Services.

Many parishioners have contributed many hours cooking as well as serving our monthly dinner at The Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen. In addition, food prepared and served by our parishioners is paid for by parishioners. Money is also contributed to Kitchen shortfalls.

Food providers and soup kitchen volunteers are needed on the fourth Wednesday every month. Contact Mary Menino if you would like to participate in this much-needed ministry.

Community Day Center of Waltham

After opening its doors in 2003, the Community Day Center (CDC) of Waltham has become a "life-line" that provides many practical resources to help people in need find assistance in making the necessary next steps to improve their life situation. CDC serves the homeless and low-income members of the greater-Waltham/Metro-West area, and provide a safe place for people to come each weekday afternoon.

A primary service of the CDC is to provide a welcoming and nurturing shelter during the weekday afternoon hours when there is no alternative place to go for many in the community. In this manner CDC serves as a community "drop in" center where anyone can come in to get warm, find fellowship, be nourished and find specific assistance.

CDC has telephones with free-long distance, a high-speed Internet café with 6 terminals and printers, anonymous answering machines, and an anonymous P.O. box (especially vital for the homeless). CDC provides critical information on available social services in Waltham and beyond to its guests. The staff and interns from a local counseling center offer crisis counseling and traditional counseling to those in need. Through helping guests write resumes, locate resources on the Internet, find available jobs and housing, CDC offers its guests direct next steps out of homelessness or other challenging situations.

The Community Day Center is strategically located directly between the Salvation Army (serves breakfast and lunch each day) and the Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen (serves daily dinners). The Center is open Monday through Friday, 1:30-4:30 pm year-round and 7:30- 9:00 a.m. in the winter in the community hall of First Presbyterian Church, 34 Alder Street , Waltham , MA 02454. First Parish has supported CDC since 2005. For more information contact CDC’s Director, Marilyn Lee-Tom at (617) 960 7793 or visit their web site.

Newton, Weston, Wellesley Committee for Community Living - NWW

Inge Engler at NWW AuctionFirst Parishioner Inge Engler serves hors d'oeuvres at the 2009 NWW Auction

Newton, Weston, Wellesley Committee for Community Living, Inc. (NWW) was incorporated in 1972 as a private, nonprofit agency serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. NWW was founded to create alternatives to institutional settings. Today it offers a full spectrum of housing options, supportive services, educational resources, and recreational services to over 300 persons of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Residences operated by NWW are located in neighborhoods in Newton and Wellesley with easy access to stores, libraries, and transportation. NWW's clients and their families are assisted in establishing themselves in other appropriate living situations, and NWW provides support services as needed. In addition, NWW provides many opportunities for mentoring, companionship, counseling and life skill training. NWW is a training site for graduate students from Simmons School of Social Work and Boston College. NWW is also affiliated with the Best Buddies organization at Boston College and Wellesley College.

For over two decades, First Parish Church in Weston and NWW have had a long and beneficial relationship. First Parish is a major supporter of NWW’s annual autumn auction held each October at the First Parish Church in Weston. Parishioners make financial contributions as sponsors, contribute items for the silent and live auction and also attend the auction. Members of the Outreach Committee prepare and serve hors d’oeuvres to the auction guests.

First Parish Church also supports NWW’s bi-weekly Wednesday Night Drop-In Program and its Faith in Action Program for individuals in the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Drop-In Program provides social and recreational activities such as the Harvest Dinner, Bingo, the Halloween Dance. The Faith in Action Program provides Shabbat services and ecumenical services for NWW residents and their families.

Rev. Judith Hoehler and Mary Parker were long-time members of NWW’s Board of Directors. Lee Engler has volunteered his time and expertise as a business consultant for NWW.

Persons interested in learning more about NWW or volunteering their time may contact or Tina Jameson, NWW’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Waltham Alliance to Create Housing (WATCH)

Waltham Alliance to Create Housing (WATCH) is a non-profit community development corporation in Waltham, MA. Their mission is to build, preserve, and promote affordable housing and to enhance economic opportunities, civic participation and leadership of low- and moderate-income families in the Waltham area. They also help low-income families change society, find a better place to live, learn English, and find better employment.

WATCH is a unique developer in its consistent efforts to involve community residents in every phase of their program. They expect to keep the jobs local, to involve tenants and neighbors in planning and policy, and to involve community residents in improving their neighborhood through sweat equity. For more information, visit

Metco Scholarship Fund

The Metco Scholarship Fund, Inc. was formed in 1976 for the purpose of raising funds to provide financial aid to students who attend the Weston public schools through the METCO program. Over the years, it has provided financial aid to more than 200 students. For the academic year of 1999-2000, the Fund awarded scholarships totaling $25,400 to 12 students. It is expected that the number of students applying for financial aid will increase in the coming years as Weston’s public school enrollment increases. Fund raising efforts are made each year in Weston and Boston. Students seeking aid must demonstrate acceptance at an institution of higher learning and evidence of financial need. Over 40 colleges and universities throughout the United States have accepted Weston Metco students. Several members of First Parish were instrumental in organizing the Fund and several are serving as Trustees of the organization today. First Parish in Weston has been a proud contributor to the Fund for many years.

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