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Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson

Social Justice

Envisioning a world where justice and compassion cross all borders, we pledge energy and resources to transform ourselves, our community, and the world around us.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson furthers it mission through various programs.  The social action program is one of those.  The program is directed by a Social Action Council which coordinates groups involved in homeless hospitality and social action.  UUCT is active with the No More Deaths movement.

Social Justice Council

Additional Links

Homeless Summit Meeting - Aug 12, 2020

10:32 pm

Welcome (27 attendees) - Rex

Rex Graham, Sam Meyer, Darlene Matthews, Beth Britton, R. Russell-Lowe, Seve K., Ken Asch, Alma, Carolyn & Frank Valdes, Jody Bergedict, Margo Newhouse, Barb Ricca, Celeste Rodgers +1, Micke Gould, Hanet Moore, Mary Wiese, Georgia Conroy, Sue Watts, Chuck Gould, Julie Olson, Aston Bloom, Judy Jessing, Kurt Reuter, Jan Mulder, Margi Magruder, Bon Gordon, Cindy, James Hannley, Judy Jessing, Kurt Reuter, Tawmess Hatfield)

Housekeeping

Reading of Mission

Reading - Bethany

Introduction of speakers

R. Bethany- Background.  Since March attempt to uphold the “no overnight camping” policy.  Aggressive incidents began in April and in order to keep staff safe we needed to contact the police.  The police police is a no-hands policy due to covid. (At this point there were 10-12 people camping every night) There was an incident in July with a man with a machete (under the influence, dehydrated, refused to go to hospital) where the police cane to the campus and a trespassing charge was made with this person.  The Tucson homeless taskforce came out and talked with the campers within an hour of being contacted by police.  Homeless were given two days to leave the property (options were given for taxis & a hotel room).  Bethany & Jesus went out and over an afternoon homeless were escorted from the property.  Respect was increased with the visual of (collared) Bethany with Jesus so the homeless knew that Jesus was associated with the church.  The next day we are filing police reports with every incident (daily) so that a record is held for vandalism, trespassing, and/or camping.  The log is needed for tracking of future incidents.  Mary Wiese is the contact person if you see trespassing.

Issues

-Water (drinking, bathing, washing) is left on. $800 (2 month) water bill

-Holes in the Back Fence, the city is responsible for fixing the fence

-Need- resources list is needed for local homeless resources and keeping it up to date.

Barb Ricca- Landscaping (Chuck, Carolyn, Ken & Barb.  Help needed!)

Will take the lead in cleaning up the west camp.  Last week of August (24th) will clean up trash and debris.  A 40 yd dumpster will be delivered by the city.  Wed 8/26 starting at 7am until it gets hot, continuing Thursday and Friday if needed.- Volunteers Needed.  Sept 1-4 Landscaping will try to do some cutting to discourage camping in the area.  Carolyn will be the contact to organize volunteers.  Description of work to be done by volunteers.  [Hazardous materials organizing]. Signage posting for property collection.  Potted plants are dying as there is no weekly volunteer to water them.  

Questions:  address to Barb Ricca or Carolyn Valdes, contact the office for their email addresses.

Darlene Matthews Facilities Team (stand-in for Margo Garcia)

The electronic locks are broken periodically.  There is a single key for the manual locks.

Jesus has removed all the spouts on the faucets so water can’t be used a readily.  However, some have used pliers to open the faucets, a basket is recommended to prevent water usage.

Fence holes, no action has been taken

Environmental Services has been contacted to investigate cleaning up the debris and there are positives and negatives in having them come (there is a cost involved).

Electrical was damaged in the spring and outlets and breaker boxes have been hacked into.  The solar panels were turned off by trespassers.  Campers are using the electricity.

Aston Bloom

An understanding was reached that we cannot aid the homeless on our property.  Task Force resources should instead focus on helping and making connections with groups in the area.  Casa Maria.  Soup Kitchen. Gospel Rescue Missions (help needed serving food) new hotel building.   Sister Jose’s Women’s Center.  Southern Arizona Food Bank.  Any organization nearby who helps local homeless.  

Questions and Answers

Georgia Conroy- Acknowledge the meetings over the past 1.5 years of a homeless task force.  Feels that something needs to be done to empower these persons to have a better life.  Needs for a canopy.  Hope city church.  Georgia was upset because the work of the past years has not been acknowledged  or utilized.  

Sue Watts - multiple reasons for homelessness (mental health, etc.) Not every church has the resources to directly deal with the unhoused.  Ideas from St. Michaels’s:  boiling eggs for casa Maria, replacing them in the cartons, they are taking to Casa Maria.  Sue is offering to spearhead a program (if the congregation is interested in participating) to boil eggs. PBJ sandwiches are also being made at home and utilized.

Chuck Gould - there is no real place to sit down with people traveling across the campus to help them.  Mentioned a place on S. Palo Verde that helps both men and women.  Use of bus tickets, meal tickets, or cash.  

Julie Olson - public library keeps current lists of resources for the homeless

Bob Gordon- And organization that work with the root causes of homelessness rather than the effects.  (response from Aston) - Center for Opportunity (at GSM) includes counselors.  

Jan Mulder - send a list of resources that she received recently for responding to homeless folks.

Tawmess- Has been in an emergency shelter in Burlington Vermont during a spiritual exercise and lived with the homeless.  His take away was that he has no significant difference in people who are homeless or those who have jobs. 

Ken Asch- What should landscaping do day-to-day to keep the campus empty for landscapers?  Contact and coordinate with Jesus.

Wrap up

R. Bethany- It has been the purview of churches for centuries to help those in need.  UUCT offers water, mental health resources, and hopes to connect with people, genuinely, when necessary.  There is a way that we fulfill hospitality needs to those who use the pedestrian corridor of 22nd street.  Bethany is encouraged by the ideas.  She does not want people to fight over what to do… just go and do something, whatever, it is you feel moved to do. We are going to continue to make a positive difference in the world while keeping our campus clean and welcoming.

Rex- Importance of coordinating with Mary and Barb.  Volunteering- contact Barb or Aston.  

Email Rex or Bethany additional comments .

Thank you to all those who are working on this issue.  

UUJAZ Activities

Hello friends,

UUJAZ has released our programming for the upcoming season, in response to your requests for more! Seventy-five of you signed up for our UUJAZ Book GroUUp on How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. Tuesday Action Hour with Casey, our UU the Vote Coordinator, is growing each week, my office hours on Friday have been buzzing, and we've had lively conversations about the call to defund the police. Today, we are following up with the framework for UUJAZ programming we discussed: upcoming opportunities for justice work within, among, and beyond.  

Within is justice work we do to change ourselves: reading listening, learning, healing, and reflecting with others in community.

READ ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES, TIMES, AND HOW TO ATTEND

NMD Wins ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism

Press Release

NEW YORK – The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) is pleased to announce that the 2020 ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism will go to No More Deaths in support of its humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering and end the fatalities of those crossing the southern border of the United States. One of the largest monetary awards for human rights in the world, the ALBA/Puffin Award is a $100,000 cash prize granted annually by ALBA and the Puffin Foundation to honor the nearly 3,000 Americans who volunteered in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to fight fascism under the banner of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. This year’s award acknowledges the urgent need for humanitarian aid to safeguard the lives of immigrants and refugees worldwide, and the profound bravery of the civil disobedience sometimes necessary to accomplish that goal. The award ceremony will take place at the Japan Society in New York on May 17, 2020 at 5pm.

“No More Deaths is comprised of individuals from all walks of life who are standing up in defense of human rights against the ill-formed and odious actions of their own government. Their work speaks louder than words, saving lives that have been devalued by heartless US policies.”– Perry Rosenstein, President of The Puffin Foundation

No More Deaths is a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona. It was created in 2004 as a coalition of community and faith groups, dedicated to stepping up efforts to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert and to achieving the enactment of a set of Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform. This coalition later developed into an autonomous project dedicated to ending the death and suffering in the Mexico–US borderlands through multiple projects of civil initiative.

“It's an honor to be recognized for the vital work we do in the borderlands. Over the past few years our organization has been targeted as part of widespread attacks on undocumented people in the United States. However, we will not be deterred,” stated Paige Corich-Kleim, a longtime desert aid worker. “We will use these resources to further our mission and continue to stand in solidarity with migrating people around the world.”

Drawing on the foundational principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence, No More Deaths is dedicated to its mission to end death and suffering in the US Borderlands. The organization has conducted multiple projects to aid and bear witness to the struggles of migrants at the border. Through its network of volunteers, No More Deaths has maintained a year-round humanitarian presence in the deserts of southwestern Arizona; a program of research and documentation to expose patterns of abuse against people crossing the border at the hands of Border Patrol; an aid program in northern Sonora for migrants that plan to cross the desert; and a weekly legal clinic in Tucson that works side by side with community members applying for status or facing deportation and that trains participants to help each other through the immigration court process. No More Death also operates a 24-hour Missing Migrant Hotline and deploys search and rescue teams to look for the disappeared.

“No More Deaths embodies the same spirit of volunteerism, humanitarian intervention, and courage that animated the volunteers of the Lincoln Brigade more than 80 years ago,” said Kate Doyle, Chair of ALBA’s Human Rights Committee. “In the face of the global refugee crisis and the failure of current public policies, No More Deaths offers a powerful model for personal and collective conscientious engagement.”

The ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism is an initiative to sustain the legacy of the experiences, aspirations, and idealism of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. It supports contemporary international activists and human rights causes. Philanthropist and visionary Perry Rosenstein, President of the Puffin Foundation, created and established an endowed fund for this human rights award in 2010.

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