by Maureen McNair
Earlier this month, Feeding San Diego (FSD) made an offer I couldn’t refuse. They are now delivering food to us every week! This is a really big deal for two reasons: the pantry does not own a truck and sourcing tons of food every week is time-consuming work with no guarantee of success.
During the pandemic last year, FSD had waived their rule that they would not bring on any new pantries to supply with food, and offered to deliver food the first and third Fridays each month. The first and third Fridays food and delivery was arranged as an incredible surprise by another pantry manager whose family has hosted a food distribution for 30 years. She saw the need for food in our community and our church’s commitment to providing it. Those deliveries have been very gratefully received by pantry volunteers, client, and me.
by Maureen McNair
Even though the Food Pantry volunteers received a key for our new suite at the beginning of the month, we could not move in immediately. The owner of the strip mall where we are located sent in a plumber, carpet cleaner, and property manager to do some work. Even after he sent in a carpet cleaner and released too many cans of air freshener, the suite was still visibly dirty. We were also concerned the air freshener was not solving, but only masking, odors we originally detected. The suite had been a marshall arts studio for many years.
by Maureen McNair
Imagine my surprise earlier this month when Feeding San Diego asked me to train people wanting to start new food pantries. Only two years ago this month, I was a newbie, traipsing around Chula Vista with Rev. Andrea Travers, a facilitator for Beloved Conversations and the South Bay Wisdom Circle. We were gathering information about food insecurity from local social service agencies.
I have met lots of food pantry managers who have been running pantries for decades. I continue to learn a lot from their expertise. And, our volunteers just started to clean out a closet-sized junk room at our South Bay campus in December 2019 that would be the start of our food pantry. So, we have been operating less than two years.
But, at the request of Feeding San Diego, I have now started to train someone who wants to open a food pantry at her church in Santee. We’ve met on the phone. And, last Saturday, she came to our pantry for a tour of how we have set up our operations. Our volunteers were singing loudly while bagging green beans, so they made the work look fun and easy.
Feeding San Diego, the region’s largest food bank, is the local affiliate of Feeding America. They have done a lot for our pantry during the pandemic and months of severe food shortages. My contact at Feeding San Diego has been a Neighborhood Coordinator. She was promoted to management at the end of September and reached out to me the first week of October. I am really grateful for the opportunity to give back to an organization that has been so supportive to us.
She had another welcome surprise for us last week too. If all goes according to plan, I will share that news with you next week. Meanwhile, thank you all so much for your continued generosity. We would not be living our values the way we do without each of you.
by Maureen McNair
The food pantry volunteers finally have a key to our new suite! Here are a couple photos of the raw space. The suite we will move into is in the same strip mall where the South Bay worship space and social hall are located. It is adjacent to the social hall. Thanks to your continued generosity, the food pantry now has 810 square feet of dedicated space. We do not know when we will move yet because the exterior door needs to be replaced, internal repairs need to be done, and tenant improvements also need to be taken care of.
By Rhiannon Roselle, BoardTrustee
October is a month of many spooky things - pumpkin lattes, bats, ghosts, and goblins. It's also time for one thing that ISN'T scary . . . a return to the Annual Pledge Drive! First UU's yearly operations are made possible by member and friend financial commitments which make up 60% of our annual operating budget. It helps keep the programs, facilities, and music you love running. This year's Pledge Drive theme is Back to Basics: Building Our Community. With everyone longing for connection, the Annual Pledge Drive Team is planning something special. By the end of the month, every member will have received an invitation for a personal phone or zoom call or, if they're comfortable, an in-person visit. These personal calls and visits will be a chance to spend time with a fellow First UU congregant and are much more than simply making your financial pledge.
The vote for the execution of the Grant of Easement and Agreement between UC Regents and First UU has passed with yes's from 98.5% of the eligible voters. Thank you for your participation in the voting process.
This year, we are going "Back to Basics: Building Our Community" with our Fall Annual Pledge Drive. With everyone longing for connection, the Annual Pledge Drive Team is planning something special. By the end of October, every member will have received an invitation for a personal phone or zoom call or, if they are comfortable, an in-person visit. These personal calls and visits will be a chance to spend time with a fellow First UU congregant and are much more than simply making your pledge or financial commitment. The Annual Fund Drive is a time to build our connections with each other and with our church. It's a time to get excited about the things we can do in the future - things that will only happen with our financial and energetic involvement! An important aspect this year is we are switching from a "year round" to a "calendar year" pledge drive and we're also moving it to the Fall from the Spring, which will make our annual budgeting process so much easier. Your Annual Pledge Drive Team includes Dave Hunt, Pam Bates, Isaac Castro, Rhiannon Rhys Roselle and Robie Evans. Please watch your home mailbox and your computer inbox for more detailed information about your own financial commitment. Pledge cards will be available every Sunday. If you would like to volunteer to be part of the fundraising outreach, please contact Dave Hunt. For more information, go to our website
Good News from your Board President. We are all looking forward to being back together again in person on our Hillcrest campus for Sunday morning worship services. An amazing donor has given us a gift to purchase and install custom made shade sails for the Hillcrest patio to provide much needed shade while providing 96% UV protection! We hope to have them installed in the next few weeks. The company, SoCal Shade Sails has been installing sail shades for over 25 years. For photos of commercial installations and more info check out their website. The exciting thing is that we have two great references - one from our very own tenant: San Diego Cooperative Preschool who just installed shade sails in their back play yards. And, Palomar UU Fellowship just installed shade sails in their outside area so they could come back together for worshipping outdoors. Both organizations raved about the service and craftsmanship they received from SoCal Shade Sails. We anticipate that this will happen in a few weeks. For more information, please contact board president Julie Forest.
As Rev. Tom Owen-Towle reminded us recently, things around us are always changing and the best approach to life is to be an ever-changing person. Tom's words have special meaning during our current pandemic. Of course not all change is for the worse.
We currently have the position open of Music Director. If interested in applying for this position, please email your cover letter, resume and two letters of reference to email@example.com and Reference "Music Director" in the subject line. Electronic submissions only, no phone calls please. Download the job description.
by Maureen McNair
Did you know that almost every Saturday, the food pantry volunteers give our clients about 400 - 500 pounds of food we receive from Starbucks?
We give away wraps, paninis, muffins, salads, yogurt, desserts, and any other kind of food Starbucks sells. Our clients love receiving this food. And, we like giving it to them so the heads of household who have stood in a long line can go home and feed their families right away without having to do food preparation.
We have come about receiving the donations from Starbucks in quite a circuitous way.
First UU has been selected by Project New Village to receive the Fannie Lou Hamer award at the annual celebration to honor the legacy of that great civil rights leader. The event date is to be announced and the award ceremony will take place at the San Diego Port Pavilion. We hope to purchase a number of tickets to encourage our members to attend. More information will be forthcoming soon. If you're interested in attending please contact Steve Gelb firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Maureen McNair
Every Friday morning, the Smart & Final on Main Street in Chula Vista gives us the opportunity to ask if they have a food donation for our pantry. Sometimes, the store has nothing to give. Sometimes, they will have a hundred pounds or so of meat. Volunteers will drive to the store in their cars, pick up the donation, dispose of meat in trays that have been punctured, and stash the rest in our freezers. Not so this past Friday.
As a part of their 10-year master plan for the Hillcrest Medical Center, UC Regents/UCSD has asked First UU to sign an Easement Agreement in conjunction with their requested Street Vacation through the City of San Diego for Arbor Drive. Negotiations continue and deadlines are coming soon. Please join us for these important discussions and updates. Download the Special Congregational Meeting Agenda. If you need more information, please email Robie Evans.
UCSD Health this week published a new study on the effectiveness of vaccines and the high transmissibility rate of Covid's Delta variant. The data are very concerning. Even in a more than 80% vaccinated workforce, vaccine effectiveness appears to be waning, down in July to 65% from 95%. This likely comes from the Delta surge combined with the end of indoor mask mandates. Please note that while vaccine effectiveness does seem to wane over time, let us be clear that vaccines are still our best single defense against the virus. The overall risk in San Diego had already been creeping up. The number of cases and deaths make us a high-risk area. And the latest UUA guidelines for high-risk areas like ours is to suspend all large in-person gatherings, both indoors and out.
by Maureen McNair
Thanks to your continuous and generous donations, the South Bay Food Pantry will be moving into a new suite immediately adjacent to the strip mall suites currently housing the worship space and social hall.
But, when are we moving?
We don’t have a move-in date yet!
The Board of Trustees held its retreat by Zoom. All current Board members; Robie Evans, Director of Operations; and, Rev. Michael Brown attended. Even though we are governing together, some of us have never met in person. So, we had a long getting-to-know-you discussion. Board President Julie Forest informed the Board that Rev. Michael, who will be serving us through Dec. 31, 2021, will not be serving in the capacity of Lead Minister. The role of Lead Minister will be filled by an Interim Exec Team, aka the Succession Policy's Interim Committee consisting of Julie, Robie, Lay Leader Dave Hunt, and Cora Pendergast, Board Vice President. The Board also spent time reviewing some of our basic governance documents and received a presentation about the seven types of Board meetings and actions provided for in the church constitution. We began brainstorming our priorities for this fiscal year which the Board will produce in its Annual Agenda by the end of September. Finally, in a major change in policy and practice, the President and VP agreed to open up agenda planning for regular monthly Board meetings to include all Board members who want to attend. ~ Maureen McNair, Trustee at Large
The most recent Board meeting was August 17. Beginning with happy news, the Board unanimously approved Congregational Sponsorship of Rose Reidel, our Office Manager and student at Starr King School of Ministry, to support her process of becoming a UU Minister. We heard a summary of finances and approved an Annual Pledge Drive for this Fall. As we face a series of short term ministers, the Board agreed to a temporary administrative structure in which those ministers will be supervised by the Board of Trustees; Omega Burckhardt, the Assistant Minister arriving Sept. 19, will be supervised by the Julie Forest, Board President; and, Robie Evans, Director of Operations, will serve as Head of Staff, supervised by Board Vice President Cora Pendergast.
Happily we have experienced two in-person large gatherings on our campus, the Saturday evening musical event in honor of Rev. Kathleen, and the Sunday worship service in the meeting house marking the end of her ministry with us after 14 memorable years. In most ways the recommended protocols about masks and distancing were observed, and so far no negative outcomes have been reported. We are pleased to continue recommending more in-person happenings.
One educational requirement for becoming a Fellowshipped UU minister is to have chaplain experience through the Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE). And though mine happened long ago in the summer of 2003, I still remember the hardest lesson I learned from that time…it was the importance of saying goodbye. I would often end a pastoral visit with a patient with the words, ‘see you later.’ One day my supervisor asked, “How do you know you’ll see that person later? They might be discharged from the hospital before you visit again or worse, they may die before you return. It’s important with every visit to say ‘goodbye.’” And there were times during that summer that proved he was right – I didn’t always get to see someone later.
by Maureen McNair
A bottle of scented hand sanitizer. A ﬁve dollar bill tucked in an envelope. Homemade food. These are just some of the gifts our pantry clients give to our pantry and volunteers on Saturdays.
This past Saturday, one of our existing clients told me he owned a signage business and oﬀered to make more laminated numbers similar to the ones we hand out to clients so we can practice a ﬁrst-come, ﬁrst-served food distribution. He oﬀered signs and banners too. All for free.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus is causing increased cases everywhere. We no longer have any true "no risk" situations. Fortunately, the vaccines are highly effective, though slightly less so among the elderly and those immuno-compromised. The variant is as contagious as chicken pox and can hit the not vaccinated really hard, including children. Vaccinated persons are FAR less likely to face possible hospitalization or worse. The disease can surely be spread by those not vaccinated who pick up the virus, but also by fully vaccinated people who may become infected even without showing symptoms. Getting vaccinated is the primary responsible thing we can do, for ourselves and others. We surely don't want to help perpetuate health disparities among those who are marginalized in any way, who may face more crowded living conditions and fewer work options than some do.
by Maureen McNair
Every winter for many years, the volunteers at our Hillcrest Interfaith Shelter Network site, which hosts homeless guests for two weeks, prepare for our guests’ arrival by watching an instructional video. The video does not tell volunteers how to organize meals or set up cots we borrow. Instead, the video features homeless guests from prior shelters who speak to us directly about how to engage them in conversation.
"I am very pleased to announce that the FUUSD Board has hired Omega Burckhardt as our assistant minister with a two-year contract. She will begin her ministry with us effective September 19. Here are some words from the soon-to-be ordained Omega Burckhardt." - Julie Forest, FUUSD Board President.
"¡Es un gran honor andar por este camino con Uds.! I am honored to serve as your Assistant Minister beginning in September. In this time of tremendous transition, I look forward to learning about this vibrant community within and beyond the walls of the church buildings, fostering relationships with ministerial and lay leaders, and working towards a shared vision of the Beloved Community of Now and the Future while honoring the traditions and complexities of the past. Juntos honramos el pasado, celebramos el presente, e imaginamos el futuro.
Saturday, Aug. 21, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Hillcrest patio. Come and help us celebrate Rev. Kathleen’s 14 years of service to our congregation as we fondly say “Farewell.” We’ll celebrate outdoors on the Hillcrest patio with special musical guests, Chris Hassett and Drew Massicot - you won’t want to miss this! During this time of rising infection rates with the Delta variant, there will be no food or drink served at the event; but please bring your own individual water container. There will be plenty of time to visit with each other, masked and socially distanced. Please arrive between 6:30 pm and 7 pm; live music will start at 7 pm.
The First UU Church of San Diego blog is your resource for upcoming events and past event recaps. Leave us a comment to let us know what you think!