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Summit Unitarians get award for funding projects in developing nations
Media Organization:Summit Independent Press, Summit, N.J.
Date of Publication:Sunday, February 19, 2012
Summit Independent Press | Read it on NJ.com
Charles Huschle (center), senior associate for foundations and corporations of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, presents the UUSC Collective Giving Award to the Unitarian Church in Summit. Receiving the award are the Rev. Kim Tomaszewski, assistant minister for congregational life, and Gary Nissenbaum, chair of the Social Action Committee.
SUMMIT — The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee recently presented the Unitarian Church in Summit with its Collective Giving Award "in honor of exceptionally generous support" of UUSC development projects in the developing world.
Charles Huschle, the UUSC senior associate for foundations and corporations, visited Summit on Feb. 5 to deliver the 2010–11 award and discuss current projects.
The UUSC [. . .] is a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world through advocacy, education and partnerships with grassroots aid groups.
The Summit church is one of only 17 UU congregations nationally to receive the Collective Giving Award, Huschle said. There are about 1,000 UU churches and fellowships in the United States.
For the past several years, the Summit congregation has dedicated its offering plates for four weeks in January and February to worthy UUSC projects. Each time, social action leaders choose specific projects so the congregation knows just where the money goes.
Three years ago, the money raised helped build a women's shelter in a refugee camp in Darfur. Two years ago, the funds bought oxen for farmers in war-torn Uganda. Last year, the money was used to build a girls' boarding school in Haiti.
This year, the Social Action Committee set an unprecedented goal of $10,000 to fund two projects simultaneously, one in the forested Kakemega district of Kenya and the other aimed at helping ethnic minorities in the Shan border area of Myanmar, formerly Burma.
In Kenya, the program aims to preserve the forests and water supply by helping plant trees, provide seeds for nutritious food crops and offer skills training in marketable crafts that can be made from non-tree materials. The $5,000 would fund about half the project's total cost.
In Myanmar, the self-sufficiency program provides revolving loans to farmers of ethnic minorities to cover their expenses until harvest time. Otherwise, to survive, these farmers have to sell their crops at the time of planting at far lower than market price. The goal of $5,000 will provide loan funds to 10 to 11 communities with a total population of more than 3,000 people
In the four Sunday-plate collections completed Feb. 12, the congregation beat its goal raising $10,782.62. This is the fourth year in a row that the Unitarian Church in Summit has exceeded its goal to fund a UUSC international project.