As vaccines begin to roll out and we mark the longest nights of the year, many of us are celebrating our first hints of future light and hope at the end of what has been a long and lonely ten months. Your re-opening committee has been meeting regularly to discuss not how to open our church – our church community has always been open – but when we might be able to see one another in person and how we can best do that safely.
By Maureen McNair
I met the homeless man I will call Angelo in a moment of synchronicity. Angelo, who was so gracious, considers his life a success. I want you to meet him too, at least virtually. Here are the events that converged to bring us together and what he shared about himself. County Public Health closed down another food pantry in Chula Vista for a couple weeks because that pantry has an outbreak of Covid-19. Again. Pantries cover for one another, so last Monday, I drove over to a donor of the closed pantry to pickup 185 pounds of free frozen meat. Our clients at the South Bay Food Pantry will be thrilled to receive such a bounty the Saturday before Christmas!
Friday, Dec. 18th at 7:00pm. This is a ‘one-time-event’, so mark your calendars NOW! All lyrics will be scrolled during the Zoom Singalong, or you can download the lyrics in advance here, or you can use a separate device to download and view the lyrics. A maximum of 100 devices will be able to sign-on to the Singalong. There will be some time to say ‘Hello’ to others before and after the Singalong. Hope to 'see' you for an hour of singing some of your favorite holiday songs with your UU community!
In September 2020, members of the Living the Homestretch committee shared a presentation on many different ways that people can learn, explore, and entertain themselves while remaining safe at home or socially distancing. The ideas shared ranged from scenic local walks, to programs offered by universities, to virtually visiting museums, and even to taking a peek into outer space! While some programs are specific to elders, many options are open to people of all ages. At the end of the meeting, participants shared their own ideas for fun and enriching pandemic activities, adding more options for anyone looking for a meaningful way to spend some winter weeks indoors. Check out the list here: safe_pandemic_activities.pdf.
Are you feeling alone? The NAMI (National Association for Mental Illness) has many helpful resources that might help. To learn about them, visit namisandiego.org/covid-19/.
The Reopening Team has been researching and responding to your questions as our region continues to experience fluctuating and sometimes confusing COVID guidelines. As San Diego is currently in Tier 1 (Purple) on the state's infection scae, gatherings of any size are considered unsafe. However, we have been sharing ideas and we invite you to read the questions and answers so far. Steve H. sent in this one "I agree that we cannot get back to “normal” for many, many months, maybe years. But that does not mean that we must have no in-person activities. Please tell me if you think this suggestion is not advisable, and why."
By Maureen McNair
Less than two miles from our South Bay Food Pantry in Chula Vista, UC San Diego Medical School is conducting a Covid-19 prevention study to evaluate a vaccine. Pantry volunteer Jude Outwater, a senior at Lesley University in Boston and son of Board Vice President Julie Forrest, organized a visit by a representative from the Medical School to recruit study volunteers. Medical School Community Outreach Specialist Aaron Gutierrez spoke to Pantry clients and volunteers to ﬁnd adults, aged 18 and older, who are more likely to be exposed to Covid-19 and who might be interested in participating in the study, which does provide compensation.
Sunday, Dec 6, 10:30 am, https://bit.ly/FirstUUBoardChat. Chat with Board members to find out what the Board is working on or voice your accolades and/or concerns for our congregation.
We only had a few cans of food on hand and told her we had no opening plans yet. But, we offered to give her food. We gave her several cans of food with pop tops. She turned out to be the first client at our South Bay Food Pantry.
We won't be putting up an actual tree this year, but we will be creating a two-dimensional paper tree for Bard Hall's window! If you'd like to help decorate that tree, print out the PDF, decorate the ornament and/or paper chain strips, cut them out and return to church. You can drop them off at the Holiday Drive Through or drop them in the Main Office mail slot no later than noon on Dec 19, 2020.
On this week where we focus on gratitude we recommend watching two short videos:
By Maureen McNair
Last Saturday, the pantry held its largest food distribution to date. We gave away over 8,000 pounds of nutritious food. We distributed a variety of kinds of fresh produce, milk, yogurt, cheese, meat, poultry, shelf stable food such as cereal and pasta, and about 500 pounds of food donated by Starbucks. We also had the largest number of people come to the pantry for food. The prior week, we distributed food for over 150 heads of household, providing food for about 600 people. Last Saturday, we provided food for over 190 heads of household, providing food for about 800 people. Our pantry guests repeatedly express how thankful they are that we have this food distribution. One woman told me about her family emergency and how important we are to her. I want to pass on the gratitude I hear about to you. I am not completely sure why we saw such a huge increase in one week. But, I have a couple educated guesses.
SOLACE is a visitation program that comforts and supports persons held in immigration detention, tells their stories, and advocates for humane immigration policy. SOLACE offers a friendly visitor to end the isolation and affirm the dignity and worth of those who request a visit. Many people I've spoken to did not know we were back in as a presence at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. This is our 3rd life as SOLACE. We have to keep reinventing ourselves as we've been suspended three times. Two times because they changed the paperwork and agreements we needed to sign to enter the Detention Center? which would effectively have taken away our First Amendment rights. There were many visits to Congressional offices both times to find a way to get back in, as well as phone calls, and needed visits to pro bono attorneys. UURISE (Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education, Inc.) was one of the organizations we consulted with about this.
Following the leadership of BIPOC folks & admitting we can (& do) harm others are important learnings. Gain some insights by listening to:
From our partners at the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC):
"Thank you to everyone for your hard work in making the 2020 TRUTH Act Forum a success! Collectively we:
By Maureen McNair
For the ﬁrst time since the food pantry opened, Lead Minister Rev. Kathleen Owens had her Saturday morning schedule freed up enough that she visited a food distribution. Kathleen did more than visit, though, she worked helping unload a delivery of food donated by Starbucks. There is nothing quite like repeatedly carrying 30 pound boxes of food across the parking lot to put into the cars of our pantry guests to drive home how labor intensive and physically exhausting pantry work can be. Kathleen is deﬁnitely up to the task! Rev. Kathleen also got to talk with regular volunteer, retired Rev. Arvid Straube, and some pantry volunteers that she knows because they are congregants. She also got to meet some, not all, of our volunteers from the wider community.
By Maureen McNair.
Inclement weather was bound to happen! Last Saturday, volunteers gave out food during three squalls which brought rain and wind during our distribution. It was a crazy day all around! As of Friday evening, we thought we would be receiving a delivery of 192 boxes of food on Saturday morning. But, at 6:30 am Saturday, the delivery company sent an email cancelling the order because the food was bad. It all worked out, I think. We had plenty of food on hand to substitute and who needed soggy cardboard boxes anyway? You Can Still Make Financial Donations Directly to the Food Pantry! Both one-time and monthly sustaining donations help us stay open! No amount is too small, or too large. Donate online. If you need food, there are lots of options, get all the details on our Food Pantry page.
Journey Toward Wholeness: What Can I Do? Learn about the role of race in Biden's victory & Trump's relative success by listening to NPR's podcast "How Whiteness Affected the Election" (35:39). Listen to Krista Tippett's interview [51:00] with a trauma specialist "Resmaa Menakem in Conversation with Robin DiAngelo." It has made an impression with Beloved Conversations Virtual participants and may challenge you.
By Maureen McNair
Deer Park Monastery, located on 400 acres in the chaparral mountains near Escondido, is a monastery established in 2000 under the guidance of Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author Thich Nhat Hanh. It is a mindfulness practice center and monastic training center with two hamlets, one for monks and laymen and another for nuns and laywomen.
Read our UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick Gray's UU World column "A Message to White Unitarian Universalsists" about how her attitudes on policing has changed over the past years & the resource list at the end of the article. Then watch the brief (2:13) interview with Sonya Renee Taylor on combating racism with action.
The volunteers had fun dressing up for our food distribution. And, as ever, our pantry clients are deeply grateful for the amount and quality of food we give them. I’ll be back next week with more pantry news. Meanwhile, take care and thank you for your continued interest in the pantry and generosity.
By Pat Gordon, First UU of San Diego Board Member
Our UU camp, Camp de Benneville Pines, located in the San Gorgonio wilderness, has been repeatedly hit hard this year and is in trouble. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all on-site events are canceled through April 1, 2021.The aftermath of the El Dorado Fire damage and the seriousness of the pandemic could require even further delays before we can consider re-opening. If we're to have a camp to bequeath to our children's children, then preserving what we have now is imperative. We almost lost our camp in the El Dorado Fire, this fire, and had it not been for the work of our staff and volunteers performing fire clearance duties throughout the summer, we would have. And yet, we'll still need more help during the spring and fall to rake pine needles and trim ladder fuels in camp- live or dead vegetation that allows a fire to climb up from the forest floor into the tree canopy. Please continue to send healing thoughts and good words of appreciation to our devoted staff, as they navigate through all the added responsibilities that come with the fire aftermath. We must now address the newest threat to camp's existence - flooding.
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