The All-Parish Project
Each year, The First Parish Church in Weston has the custom of finding, funding, and finishing a special project that has the potential to change us and change the world. "All-Parish" means all of us –
For 2009-10, our project is "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" and it was kicked off with the congregation during worship on Sunday, September 13, 2009, with the following remarks from Senior Minister Tom Wintle and Associate Minister Peter Boullata.
Tom: We've been through some tough times recently. Some have lost their jobs, some have known cut-backs, furloughs, and uncertain futures in this recession. If you're OK, how do you feel? Thankful, I'm sure. But perhaps also this: we wish we could help others not as fortunate as us. Here is a way: "Neighbors Helping Neighbors," our All-Parish Project for this year.
The idea of "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" is to identify some local agencies and other programs helping the needy whose budgets have been severely impacted by the recession and discover some ways we can assist them.
So how do we do that? We have an All-Parish Project Committee and you're welcome to join. But here's something else. It turns out we have this fund from the last capital campaign that is just for new program initiatives. It can't be used for operating budget; it can't be used for capital expenditures. Over the summer, your Finance Committee authorized spending $5000 this morning.
Who should we help? We want YOU to decide.
In a few moments, the co-chairs of the All-Parish Project Committee, Chet Cekala and Leila Hooper, are going to distribute envelopes to every person here, adults and children. In each envelope, is some of that $5000 - in amounts from $5 to $500. We want you, each of you, to find some way to help a neighbor in need. It's your choice, your call, your decision. Take that money and find a way to help someone.
And here is our only request: this is a creative, resourceful congregation - we'd like to share reports on some of the neat ideas you come up with, maybe a note in the Parish Post, or a testimony in church by you or your child in Chapel. You don't have to decide right away what to do; you might want to hear what some others do. We could receive these reports for months.
But we have a suggestion or two.
Peter: It was quite a deliberate choice to include children in this "cash give-away," this "reverse collection." It could be a child who gets an envelope with $500. How does she decide what to do with her $500? We want to encourage FAMILIES to pool their envelopes and decide together - in a democratic fashion, of course - how they will help "neighbors in need."
It might be a real neighbor, someone next door. It might be a social service agency you know in Waltham that could use some bucks to replace ancient computers or to give a gift to clients who need immediate help.
Maybe we like the Red Cross. Maybe our family will MATCH what the church gave us with some of our own money.
Maybe the venture capitalists among us will invest their $500 and then give $5,000 to the Red Cross!!!
The idea is that we will not only help neighbors in need this year, but we will also teach our children about the importance of finding ways to make a difference in the world.
Tom: So, Chet and Leila, please pass out the $5,000.
Community Day Center in Waltham, Renewal House, Animal Care Network – We received a total of $60 from the reverse donation "pot". We decided to match this total with a $20 allocation and had a few family meetings to discuss the possible charitable recipients. Our first discussion was just after I reported on the Community Day Center in Waltham so everyone was excited to send money to them. During our second meeting, we had another idea to consider Renewal House. I also stumbled upon the Animal Care Network in Waltham and put them on our consideration list. Our final vote produced the following:$60 to Renewal House; $40 to Community Day Center; $20 to Animal Care Network. These decisions were based on connections we have to these causes. This was such a wonderful experience for our family. We are glad to have the exposure to many new organizations that we can support. Thank you so much for doing this!
Partners in Health – After lengthy consideration about the great needs of neighbors near and far, we heard news of the earthquake disaster in Haiti. We decided to pool our gifts from Neighbors Helping Neighbors, triple the total, and send a check to Partners in Health to support the relief efforts in Haiti. Partners in Health is an organization with a long-time commitment to improving the health of Haitian citizens. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
Pennies for Peace – For my "Neighbor Helping Neighbor" project, I have done the following. Since I got a small amount, and since I wanted to keep the spirit of the "talents" parable, I decided to support the Pennies for Peace project. I used the FPC funds to buy Greg Mortensen's two books, I donated them to Traditions Assisted Living in Wayland, and I took a jar the Gr. 7 kids had decorated and put it at Tradtions along with the two books. My thought was to both support the fund raising drive the kids were conducting and to engage seniors in a community project and connect them to a larger world cause. I wrote an explanation of the project and left it with the jar at Traditions front desk. The jar has been filling up nicely, so I think the investment is paying off!
Child friend with CF – I wanted to follow up to tell you what our family did with the money we received on the first Sunday in September. We received $70 and sat down as a family to decide what to do with it. Both kids remembered that they had contributed some of their "Charity Money" (which they get with their allowance each week) to "Team Haskins" in the annual Cystic Fibrosis walk this year. Tom Haskins is a co-worker of mine whose son, Jimmy, has CF. They each suggested that they would like to give the money to help find a cure for CF, but kept saying that they might choose something else instead. Last week, Jimmy was admitted to Children's Hospital, where he is very ill. He will be in the hospital for at least two weeks, if not much more. They decided that instead of giving the money to the CF Foundation, they would rather send it directly to Jimmy so he could buy himself something to cheer himself up. Our daughter wrote on the card that she wished she could go into the future when they have a cure for CF and then come back and tell Jimmy what it was.
Rosie's Place – On Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, my Dad's 89th birthday, he and I each received an envelope at First Parish Church for $10 to help others. Circumstances have not always been simple this year, and it has taken us awhile, but after some discussion we are donating $100 to Rosie's Place on behalf of First Parish Church in Weston. Thank you for giving us the opportunity, as part of the parish community, to help others in some small way.
Heifer International – Our family received $80. We added to it and decided to buy a pig for a village through Heifer International. We found this fun and compelling because of the element of perpetuity...pigs make more pigs and many people can benefit...an incredible deal for $120!!! I might add that on the day of the reverse collection I had a good friend visiting from Chicago who was astonished at the concept!
The Re*Generation – I had 20 dollars from the first church service of the year. I wasn't quite sure what to do with the money until I went to a Lady GaGa concert in December. At the concert she explained that she was doing a benefit with Virgin Mobile. She planned to match any contributions to The Re*Generation, supporting efforts to end youth homelessness. I was happy to know that my 20 dollars turned into 40 for these kids.
William Ellery Channing Elementary School – Our family, and in particular my son, was so moved by Cheryl Lloyd’s presentation in church on the William Ellery Channing Elementary School in Hyde Park, that he wanted us to donate our money to this school. He LOVES libraries and books and thought it so sad that this school did not have a real library with books. Our money will be used by their principal to purchase books for their students.
Billy Burchard Foundation – When the “reverse donation” took place in the fall, the “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” theme made us think of our neighbor, Billy Burchard. Billy was an integral part of our neighborhood and the Weston community as a whole. His legacy continues through the Billy Burchard Foundation, which raises money for pancreatic cancer research, the disease that took Billy from our lives far too soon. We realized we could help our neighbors help other neighbors. We then thought about how we could take our collective $50 and, like the first servant in the "Parable of Talents," turn it into something greater. One of the many roles in which Billy touched Weston was as Commissioner of Little League. We decided that, with a little leverage, we could invest in t-shirts with the slogan, “Weston, Mass – That’s a Baseball Town!” We sold many of these t-shirts on May 2's Little League Opening Day. However, we have the opportunity to out-do the first servant’s 2x return if we can sell out our inventory! Please send requests for shirts to CameronPeters@comcast.net. Shirts come in Youth Medium & Large, as well as Adult S, M, L, and XL. Shirts are $15 for one, $10 each for two or more. Direct contributions can be made, and more information obtained, via http://thebillyburchardfoundation.org/
Alzheimer’s Association – The $5,000 give-away idea is a stunner - thanks to the committee for this unique idea – and opportunity. I’ve been pretty involved with various causes and social services organizations that do good work but haven’t done much for an organization that works to find ways to address the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. 35 million people worldwide are afflicted with this dreaded condition – and the numbers are increasing. The Alzheimer’s Association raises funds for research into the causes of Alzheimer’s, for the development of drugs that may lead to a cure, and for programs that provide care for Alzheimer’s patients and respite for their families. So yesterday I participated in the Alzheimer’s Organization’s “Memory Walk” to which I contributed the contents ( + ) of my envelope from First Parish Neighbors Helping-Neighbors fund. Thanks for the opportunity.
Leland Home – [We] wanted to do something for the Leland Home in Waltham where my 95 year old godmother has been since breaking her hip last winter. We combined our two amounts (and added a little more) for the Activities Department to bring in some musical entertainment for the residents. My godmother has said they have had music or dance entertainers occasionally and she enjoys them greatly, but their budget is small, so this will provide an extra festive occasion or two for their residents.
Greater Boston Food Bank – My $20 from First Parish along with my personal check to the Greater Boston Food Bank was doubled by a donor if sent by September 30th. A great idea!
Alliance for Children Foundation: I loved the September 13th church service. I loved the readings, the children's story about the talents and the servants’ use of them. I also was blown away by the distribution of the $5000 to the congregation and the charge to use the money for good and then tell you what we had done. I felt blessed to be part of such a wonderful worshipping, service-oriented and Spirit-filled church family. I opened my envelope after the service, and found a $20 bill. While I wanted to have more to work with, I knew that I could do good with any amount. An invitation came in the mail that week inviting me to a fundraiser for an organization called The Alliance for Children Foundation. I wanted to do something connected to the Weston Community and children, since the project is called Neighbors Helping Neighbors, so reading that the families who were part of this organization were in the area, decided to use the money toward the $30 ticket. I also invited a friend, who added his $35 to the cause. That made a total of $65 donated to this worthy cause. The Alliance for Children Foundation supported local families in adopting children from Viet Nam until September 2008, when those adoptions ended. Now, the organization continues to support needy Vietnamese children by sending funds to the An Hoa Social Caring Center in Hue, Vietnam, which provides temporary care for orphans, housing care for elders and respite care for those with HIV/AIDS. The adoptive families were there and showed photos of their children, the An Hoa Center and of Vietnam. The website is allforchildren.org if anyone else would like to support them in their good work.
• Friends of the Council on Aging: I took the Church’s $10.00 and $10.00 of my own and gave it to the Friends of the (Weston) Council on Aging. Thought to start a revolving loan fund but didn’t have enough capital to begin.
• CROP Walk – One parish family enjoyed participating in the Weston CROP Walk on Oct. 4. Please note that the entire contribution of $260 was money we received in our Neighbors Helping Neighbors envelopes ($100+$100+$50+$10). We thought it would be a good idea to do something a little more hands-on with our contribution so that the kids can get more out of the exercise (no pun intended!).
• Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries – I am donating my envelope money plus some additional money to Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries. My husband, who died in 1985, was so impressed with this organization and was scheduled to be their layman president.
• Waltham Family Shelter – Three families worked together: We have pooled our money and added some money in order to buy some supplies (disposable diapers) and clothing for two homeless children at the Shelter. They have ten children ages 15 to 1 (five of the children are still in diapers) and the lovely woman who works there told me what two of the neediest of the children needed. We will be delivering the items to the shelter in the next day or two.
• Friends of the Weston Council On Aging: It seems I may have missed one of the most talked about, memorable Sundays this fall. However, in the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, I just gave a donation to the Friends of the COA to help struggling seniors in Weston with fuel, etc.
• Roxbury elementary school: In response to your request Sunday that parishioners let you know how we are spreading the outreach of FPCW, we added to the $20 we received in church last month and sent a check for $120 to the fund that supports field trips for students at the inner city school in Roxbury where we tutor. I think this project is a brilliant way of doing outreach, not only in dollars that will be spent but also in the family discussions that I'm sure are sparked by this project. I suspect the Holy Spirit has been at work at FPCW!
• A high school neighbor (for tutoring assistance)
• Rodman Ride for Kids: The $50 that was received by our family in church back in Sept., was most appreciated! $10 went in the offering plate and the best was my grandson gave me $40 to put towards my fundraising effort for the Ride. At that point I only needed $50 to hit my goal of $10,000 – I was at $9950. The money went to the Spark Center, which is Boston Medical Center’s outreach program for children with HIB and other failure to thrive issues. It was a great way to start the church year.
• The Women's Lunch Place: I wanted to let you know that [our] family decided (after thoughtful discussion) to donate the $60 we received from First Parish to The Women’s Lunch Place. Located in Boston, The Women’s Lunch Place provides a safe, comfortable daytime shelter, nutritious food, and services for women who are homeless or poor. In matching that gift, the six of us will deliver some toiletries and supplies to the shelter itself.
• Renewal House: With my $20 (+), I've bought some kids' books for the families at Renewal House. Susan Chorley was enthusiastic about the idea, & the first batch has been sent there. We're working on the idea that, when families "graduate" from the shelter, every child can leave with a book of his/her own. I was pretty excited about the idea, & about doing it. My interest in the shelter stems from a sermon by the then-director about 25 years ago and I've supported them in a very modest way ever since.
• Greater Boston Food Bank: My $20.00 went to the Greater Boston Food Bank who had a donor who would triple donations up to $5000.00 early this fall. That means that it became worth $60.00.
• UU Urban Ministry: I received $100 and sent that amount to the UU Urban Ministry for use in its after-school program.
• New England Home for Little Wanderers