Frozen Monkey Loved by All

We had a great day at UUCA yesterday (9/13) as about 75 of us wandered over between 3 and 5 to share fabulous shaved ice creations (my personal favorite flavoring was Tiger Blood!). Many thanks to UUCA member Mike Closson for this much-appreciated auction donation and to the McLellans for in turn donating their auction win to our congregation! The weather was perfect, the ices were terrific, we actually visited in person with each other, all with proper social distancing and masks when required. Watch for another event in the next few weeks while the weather still begs for outdoor visiting!

Multiple image of people outside gathered (sith social distancing) to talk and eat shaved ice concoctions.

Follow-up to Closing the Opportunity Gap: Black Children Thriving in School

As you may recall, UUCA hosted the September 2019 symposium, “Closing the Opportunity Gap: Black Children Thriving in School.”  Now the first issue of a journal at UNCA, Moja, focuses on articles from the speakers and participants at the symposium. Moja is an interdisciplinary journal of Africana Studies at UNCA.

 

Eleanor Lane again wants to express her appreciation to our Anti-Racism and Immigration Justice Action Group and UUCA for supporting the symposium with volunteering, finances, use of our space, and arranging childcare.

Missing Church

Photo of Orion attending his "church"This from lifelong UU Orion, barely 3 years old:

As a toddler, I continue to live in the moment, even during times of “The Birus.”  Until I am not.

I have not brought up “church” (or school) or people there all that much over the past several months.  (But oh how I enjoy seeing familiar faces, and tuning in and out at Zoom Vespers on Wednesday nights.) Then the other day, when my stuffed animal friends were congregated together, I pulled over my keyboard, picked up a piece of paper and went to “work.”  When Mom poked her head into my room and asked how I was doing, I responded, “This is the choir. I am playing the piano for them.  I am helping Les. (My hero!).  But first I am reading the bulletin. So, I need space!”  [Mom translation:  I need space = leave me alone right now please]
So  yeah, I am living in the moment, until something I and my mom hold dear to our hearts from months ago bubbles up.
We are grateful for the rituals, community, and beauty we experienced at UUCA before Corona Birus, and for the ways we continue to connect now.  Like this!
What’s YOUR story of living your values?
Orion (and Mama Holly)
PS   Speaking of things that haven’t been around for a while… (In case you noticed the background) The other day I told Mom that I NEEDED to get MY Christmas tree out. Just in time for Christmas in July! Doing my part to keep things festive and light.

One Member’s Stay-Safe Pastimes

Here’s a little report from Linda Kooiker.  Send yours to Linda Topp!

I am standing in front of my home with some pansies.
Just added some more containers and plants yesterday.
The photo below shows the car loaded with the 3rd delivery of food and supplies that was delivered last week to a low-income apartment complex next to Hawthorne.Village.  We will do our 4th delivery this week. I instigated this Hawthorne community effort in late March. It has brought my neighbors into a community effort and has helped other neighbors.  Some residents of Hawthorne involved in this effort do not attend social events or board meetings.  It is amazing to see the good will this effort is generating.
I have been making masks and asking for a donation that then goes to buying food and supplies for our efforts with Spruce Hill Apartments.  I have also been enjoying our marvelous flowering trees.

New UUCA Member Lise Anne Ellsworth Volunteers at AHOPE and Learns So Much!

Several weeks back Rev. Mark posted a request from AHOPE about needing volunteers under 65.  I reached out to AHOPE and have been volunteering off and on since then.  As requested, here’s an article to share with other congregants about my life while in isolation. Note that there is a call for supplies at the end of the article.

“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”  This statement popped into my head as I drove past the homeless shelter looking for a place to park my two-year-old Mercedes – a car that seems ridiculously inappropriate during the current state of affairs, and one that I’m quite sure will be added to the list of debt that will go unpaid in my new life as an unemployed American.  As I walk to the back door of AHOPE, reporting for my volunteer shift on a sunny Saturday morning, I assure myself that this is surely the least of my worries – at least I have a roof over my head and heat in my house.  My sensitivity to wanting to appear as though I fit in quickly, to feel like one of the regular workers or volunteers, wore off immediately as I was greeted with a warm hello from one of the clients enjoying coffee outside, bundled in as many blankets as she could hold.  It was still early March, and the nights had been far too cold to be on the street.  I handed her a muffin and she gave me a huge smile, asking if I used to be a basketball player, saying how lucky I am for being so tall.  She makes me laugh.

I was assigned mailroom duty so that I could acclimate to the surroundings in the rather cramped space behind command central.  Command central is where the staff is able to register clients into the system, deliver their mail, and provide them with necessities such as socks, underwear, shampoo, razors…you name it.  Due to the tightened restrictions for social distancing brought about by COVID-19, only a few clients were allowed in the building at one time, making it difficult for them to take showers, make phone calls, see their case worker, or simply come in from out of the cold and warm up with a cup of hot coffee. This is now a very accelerated process and could create stress for the clients and the staff, but there’s no stress to be seen.

As I brought out the clients’ mail, I was able to observe the beehive of activity out front as staff handed out supplies, calling each client by name, checking in on their mental and physical health, and offering encouraging words and support to lighten their day.  This was a system that, despite the looks of it being somewhat chaotic to my naïve eyes, was indeed very functional.  And the gratitude that was shown…it was enormous.  “Thank you for the socks, Pip…I’ve been wearing two pairs that have been soaking wet for a week,” said one of the clients.  It made me want to do more besides look for mail.

On my next visit I knew that I didn’t want to work in the mailroom if there were opportunities that allowed me more interaction with the clients.  My friend, Joe, the volunteer coordinator, gladly gave me tasks such as handing out food and coffee off the back porch, cleaning the public spaces every half hour with disinfectant wipes, and then washing the floors of the rooms for the women living at Room In the Inn, an AHOPE program shelter.  As I mopped the floors between the mattresses that were shared in this makeshift room, my heart felt ripped open as I thought about the circumstances that led these women to take shelter here.  Aside from a few items by their bed, their entire belongings were required to fit inside a 30-gallon tub that they only had access to when the shelter was open.  As I mopped, with tears streaming down my face, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” became my mantra.

You see, in December of last year I lost my job.  After the shock wore off, I resigned myself to knowing that the next great position was around the corner.  People switch jobs all the time, so I didn’t really have major concerns about not finding another one fairly quickly.  I packed up my two dogs and my belongings, drove across the country, and moved into my Asheville home that had been a rental property for 12 years.  It was a long-awaited dream for me to move here, as I knew in 2008 that this was where I was being called to live.  The only catch was that, although this is a thriving and bustling city, it is not one with big-city jobs like I had before.  I’ve always known Asheville was a B.Y.O.J. (bring your own job) town, and as much as I tried to do that, God had other plans.

Thinking I’d be gainfully employed by February at the latest, it’s now four months later, and the rest of the country is now sidled next to me in the unemployment line due to an unforeseen global pandemic.  Wow! Now if that isn’t some crazy story of codependency, I don’t know what is! I mean, surely I could have handled this alone, and I looked forward to the metamorphosis that I knew would take place now that I was finally home, but did I really need to bring millions of Americans along to commiserate with me?  Apparently so.

Now that I’m sheltering in place, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to think about this recent experience: about my emotions related to my own fragility, the real prospect of homelessness for millions of people around the world – and possibly myself — our crumbling society, and the disenfranchised who are often left to fend for themselves when the system let them down.  I have unwavering faith that God does provide – not in a manifest-it-and-it will-come way, but in a way that is beyond human capacity to understand.  I’m reminded that no one chooses losing their job, homelessness, or a virus to be the catalyst for change.  It’s bigger than that.  God invites us to see the gifts in all of our experiences large and small, and in the good and the bad. God taught me to see the irony of a girl who likes nice things but can’t pay the rent and who is volunteering at a homeless shelter – that there’s beauty in a smile between two strangers who are six feet apart, and that the very things that define us could be the hands of our undoing. That being sequestered in our homes means we have a home.

Amidst this crisis, there are a multitude of blessings.  It is my belief that we must learn to be grateful for the gifts that don’t come in packages with a bow.  We must be grateful for the difficult gifts, the challenge to figure it out one minute after the next, the opportunity to see just how much we’ve strayed from what is truly important.  We’re learning so much about ourselves during this time of isolation, and we’re seeing our earth respond with a heartfelt “thank you.”

I’m so grateful there are places like AHOPE, Homeward Bound, UUCA and other congregations that are there for our human family in times of housing, shelter, spiritual, and physical needs that can overwhelm the strongest of us.  And as I walk this path of uncertainty, I observe God’s bounty everywhere and say “there, through the grace of God, with a grateful and humble heart, go I.”

AHOPE still needs volunteers and is in observance of the strict 6-foot social distancing policy, however, you can also support them through a donation of socks, underwear, individually wrapped sandwiches, brownies, cookies, protein bars, or fruit, or any items that would help those who are sheltering-in-place in camps to remain there.  If you can find it in your hearts to offer these items to our brothers and sisters in need, I promise to give you a giant hug when it’s safe once again.  Thank you!

~Lise Anne Ellsworth (new Member since February)

Music-themed Emails Entertain Choir Members

Mike Ellis has been sending out fun little emails to the choir, usually providing a recently-posted song he’s discovered along with a little quiz. Write to Mike if you want in on the fun.  Here’s the latest:
Paul Simon just posted (3/19/2020) a home video of American Tune, a song I’ve loved since he first recorded it in 1975.  It’s even more meaningful today.

https://youtu.be/wVYPVvS-mI4

Extra credit if you recognize the Bach Chorale on which the melody is based.  Extra extra credit for knowing the title in German 🙂
Stay well, stay safe,
Mike
If you’re interested in joining in on the fun, write to Mike at michael dot f dot ellis at gmail dot com (linked emails get spammed so we’re protecting Mike here).

Men’s Breakfast Met Virtually on Saturday Morning!

The Men’s Breakfast and Discussion Group met this past Saturday as usual, in five separate homes! Eric Hoffman hosted the monthly gathering of the Men’s Group on the Zoom platform. The only thing missing was the smell of the potluck breakfast. However, the ever-present coffee addiction was on display. As usual, we had a thought-provoking discussion through Zoom. This group has been meeting for over 32 years in one form or another, and we can safely say that this was the first time we meet at five sites simultaneously!

We meet on the second Saturday of each month at 8:00 in 23 Edwin, our two volunteer hosts prepare a main breakfast entree and the other men provide potluck additions. We follow breakfast with a discussion on a range of topics selected by the hosts. We frequently find depth in discussions in a broad range of topics. This week we explored forgiveness. If you would like to participate contact Michael Beech, mandjbeech@icloud.com for information.

Fun at Buddhist Meditation Class?

Yes, indeed.  On Tuesday, February 25, I so enjoyed Buddhist Meditation. The group is led by Jim Steffe and Karen Waters. Our biweekly meetings provide for a 30-minute meditation and a group dharma/discussion. But THIS week we did a ‘social’. We had food and beverages. We yapped.

One member told the well-known joke: Buddha tells the pizza person, “Please make me one with everything.” But then another member added: Yeah, but did you hear the rest? “So Buddha gives the pizza person a $20 bill and waits until he must ask ‘Where’s my change?’ The pizza person replies “All change comes from within.”

See? It’s not all serious. The group then had a idea-packed discussion of ways to provide some meetings utilizing different ways we might experience our practice.

Submitted by Susan Beachum

UUCA Supports UUSC’s Guest at Your Table Program

Great news!   The results are in! Guest At Your Table was a success with over 30 contributors who also became Unitarian Universalist Service Committee members just by submitting any contribution.  We raised over $2,000 to help people in the US and all over the world using UUSC’s grassroots partnerships to advance human rights.  Many thanks to everyone, especially those who have been long-time UUSC members–and all of our new members, too!

Auction Results Are In! Best Auction Ever!

Auction Gala 2019

Yes indeedy!  The Auction Committee ROCKS!  And so do you!

The Committee did a fabulous job of keeping expenses low (this fancy new venue at AB Tech actually cost less than our previous venue) and you did a great job of donating services and “things to do” that people wanted to buy.  That terrific combination resulted in a record-shattering net income of about $36,000, $5,000 above last year’s record-breaker. 

Extreme thanks go to chair Tory Schmitz, her inner circle of Ann McLellan, Margaret McAlister, Sally Witkamp, Jim Gamble, Judy Galloway, Deb Holden, and Judith Kaufman, special food experts Robin Loew and Karen Morris, and what seems like a cast of thousands that provided support in various ways from bartending to greeting, from soliciting business donations to contributing things we can sell, from buying balloons to setting up the room, from playing in the band to handling the A/V duties.  (Seriously, I can’t name everyone, and I already apologize if I missed someone I shouldn’t have!)

auctioneer 2019 Gala

Christmas Pageant Service Delights the Crowd

And I’m not just saying that although it’s possible I have some bias. The cast was terrific, the script was funny, the story came out just the way you expect (it IS about the birth of Jesus after all) and the cookies were plentiful. What better way to spend a Christmas Eve afternoon?

The Scoop: Fibre Friends Donate!

Fibre Friends gathers at 1 pm the first Saturday of the month at 23 Edwin Place. There are about a dozen “regulars,” but there are a total of 24 of us on the email list. We are mostly knitters, but we do welcome all fiber arts, including several crocheters.  Sometimes we work on personal projects, but our focus is on community donations. Working with our own yarns and those kindly donated (often anonymously), we produced the following in 2018:
  • For Room At the Inn: eight hat-and-scarf sets.
  • For Meals On Wheels: 43 washcloths, wrapped around bars of soap.
  • For Trinity Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Shelter: six hat-and-scarf sets, three separate hats, 20 scarfs, two boas, one reversible cowl, one cowl/scarf, and one shawlette.
Martha Shepherd delivered the Room At the Inn items, and my husband, Bob, and I handled most of the rest. I wish everyone could see how delighted the recipients were.
Speaking for my fellow Fibre Friends, we are proud of our accomplishments this year and welcome all who would like to join us in 2019.
Donna Hughes, UUCA Fibre Friends Coordinator

The Scoop: Fibre Friends Donate!

Fibre Friends gather at 1 p.m. the first Saturday of the month at 23 Edwin Place. There are about a dozen “regulars,” but there are a total of 24 of us on the email list. We are mostly knitters, but we do welcome all fiber arts, including several crocheters.
Sometimes we work on personal projects, but our focus is on community donations. Working with our own yarns and those kindly donated (often anonymously), we produced the following in 2018:
  • For Room At the Inn: eight hat-and-scarf sets.
  • For Meals On Wheels: 43 washcloths, wrapped around bars of soap.
  • For Trinity Place Runaway & Homeless Youth Shelter: six hat-and-scarf sets, three separate hats, 20 scarfs, two boas, one reversible cowl, one cowl/scarf, and one shawlette.
Martha Shepherd delivered the Room At the Inn items, and my husband Bob and I handled most of the rest. I wish everyone could see how delighted the recipients were.
Speaking for my fellow Fibre Friends, we are proud of our accomplishments this year and welcome all who would like to join us in 2019.
Donna Hughes, Fibre Friends Coordinator