First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

Archive: SJMT Ongoing Projects 2013-2014

Social Justice (2013 - 2014): Ongoing Projects

Here are a couple of the past Ongoing projects and initiatives:

Achieve Now - The Learning Buddies at Jackson Elementary School (12th and Federal streets) are launching a new reading program called Achieve Now. It is a phonics-based program designed specifically to be used by volunteers. It is a series of scripted lessons requiring no advance reading instruction knowledge on the part of the teacher. The training for administration takes only about an hour. So far the students seem engaged and enthusiastic. If you are available from 10:30 through 11:30 on Wednesday mornings, and are interested in helping city children achieve more, call Sharon Tomalin (215-735-5047) or email Don't delay—the school year is speeding to a close.

    Lead: Sharon Tomalin

Learning Buddies (formerly Reading Buddies) is ready to launch its fourth new school year.  See whether your time and talents fit into their needs:

  • Spanish speakers who will volunteer to teach conversational Spanish once or twice a week to adults and/or children. Class times could be 8:45–9:45 am; 3:15–4:30, and/or 4:30–5:30pm.
  • Spanish speakers to go into class rooms (any day, any time) to translate class instructions, etc. to non-English speakers.
  • Spanish speaking Learning Buddies to assist not-yet-proficient English students with English language reading materials.
  • Additional Learning Buddies to read with and listen to K–2 grade readers. Preferred Wednesdays, 10–11 AM.
  • Additional Learning Buddies to work with 3–8 grade readers to support and develop reading skills (materials and instructions provided by the school). 9:30–11:30 AM Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Library Assistants who will volunteer on a weekly basis to help support the ongoing operation of the library.

Volunteers are needed at The Andrew Jackson School (12th and Federal and is served by the #23 bus or the Broad Street subway line) and the Greenfield School (22nd and Chestnut). You'll need a child abuse clearance, which entails an easy process and costs $20. See the Social Justice bulletin board for more details, or call or email Sharon Tomalin.

    Lead: Sharon Tomalin

Three Opportunities To Help the Andrew Jackson K-8 School Library
Thinking about daytime volunteer opportunities in the fall? 

  • Ongoing Volunteer Library Assistants are needed.  Library Assistants will work in pairs checking in and out books, helping children locate books and shelving returned books.  Training is provided.  A commitment to work most weeks of the school year is required  Have questions:  How about talking with some of our stellar First Church veteran library volunteers who can give you a first-hand account?
  • Barcoders are needed:  Prefer to have your own schedule for volunteering 2 1/2 -3 hours per week?  Barcoding is for you.  Volunteers are trained to create catalog entries and to print barcodes. The school is open M-F from 8:30 AM to 5 PM.

Please contact Debby Schultz to express interest or ask questions about either of these opportunities.
    Lead: Debby Schultz

  • SJMT is collecting donations of age-appropriate non-fiction books for the library and classrooms at Andrew Jackson Elementary School.

    Lead: Sharon Tomalin


Maps for Andrew Jackson School
Have any world maps kicking around your house or apartment? Lynn Rubin is collecting maps to donate to the Andrew Jackson School. Many come free with magazine subscriptions or even after charitable giving - if you can't use yours, consider donating them to AJ Elementary. Contact Lynn Rubin, or drop of maps on Friday mornings between 10 and noon.

Task Force to Against Mass Incarceration

- Literacy Project for Returning Citizens.   This is an exciting new venture, an informal partnership with the Center for Literacy (CFL), an organization that provides training for adults to learn the skills to tutor other adults in literacy;  the Center for Returning Citizens (CRC) an organization devoted to assisting citizens returning from prison in their transition to freedom; and us, friends and members of First U who are willing to tutor.  It expands and builds on our successful tutoring program at the Andrew Jackson School.

- Prisoner Visitation, Ruth Crispin has told me of her regular visits with women prisoners at the federal prison on Arch Street, in a program organized by the Quakers. For more information, check out the web site: 
- For more information, resources, and inspiring video clips, check out this UUA web site:  The DVD The House I Live In tells the story of the impact of the war on drugs on our society and is available from Netflix.  Also check out Matt Pillisher's  DVD Broken On All Sides: Race, Mass Incarceration & New Visions for Criminal Justice in the U.S.
- The Sentencing Project has just released colorful and compelling graphs and statistics showing incarceration trends nationwide:
- Contact Martha Copithorne ( to get on the email list for future notices
    Lead: Martha Copithorne

UUPLAN involvement - "We are Unitarian Universalists working together in common cause to embrace, articulate, and advocate for all goals of social and environmental justice." For more information, visit: or contact the First U liaison, Ed Greenlee.

    Lead: Ed Greenlee

Continuing Social Justice Programs

In addition to the Task Force projects above, there are a number of ongoing social justice programs (not connected to the Education and Literacy theme), which have been part of the church’s efforts for many years.


The Welcome Center
The Welcome Center - Located in the rear of the Holy Church of the Communion Lutheran Church - enter on 2111 Sansom St. Twice weekly offerings of meals and hospitality for everyone on Tuesdays and Fridays 12-4 PM. Various duties for volunteers - help with cooking, serving, socializing. Talk with past UU volunteers Diane Frey and Ginny Beier on Tuesdays or contact the Church at 215-567-3668.

    Lead: Ginny Beier

Winter Shelter
Our standard of providing a quality home-cooked meal for the 22 men of  the Winter Shelter continues. These monthly (3rd Fridays) dinners from November until April take place at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church (22nd and Spruce Sts) as part of The Bethesda Project. It requires a team effort depending on cooking skills and financial abilities to make it happen. Plans may be made to increase our participation for the next Winter season. See sign up sheets in the back of the Church.
     Lead: Ginny Beier

Books Through Bars
Donations of paperback educational, historic and Spanish language books, as well as novels and other non-fiction, are welcome in the bin located in our lobby. Members with cars are encouraged to help transport donated books to the meeting space of this books to prisoners project which meets at the A-Space (4733 Baltimore Ave)  on Tuesday evenings, 7:00 p.m., and first and third Saturdays, 11am-2pm. Visit online for more info at
     Lead: Ginny Beier

Greater Good Site 
Visiting a set of websites can lend support towards important issues without any monetary donation. Go to and click on "Literacy". This click will send free books to children. Additional clicks on the other cites listed will support Hunger, Breast Cancer, Animals, Veterans, Autism, Diabetes and Rainforest. The sponsors of the ads which can be ignored support the causes.

First Church continues its efforts to support the Interdependent Web of all existence which we proclaim in our seventh Principle by Recycling whenever possible. Please deposit your trash responsibly in the correct containers as well as glass and plastics and paper. Also, we reuse covers from the order of service so please place them in the basket in the rear of the church in the provided basket at the usher’s table and not in the trash or the recycling bins. 

New Fair Trade Coffee at Coffee Hour
First U has always supported fair trade coffee we now are promoting a new locally roasted coffee which is also fair trade certified. The current selection for your tasting comes from a cooperative in Honduras which mostly employs women. Philly Fair Trade Roasters is our new coffee supplier. Let us know how you like it! This local company offers a fair trade hot chocolate which we might add to our beverage line up, as well as their decaf coffee. 

Call the church office (215) 563-3980 or check the member directory for contact information.


Here are a couple of the past projects and initiatives:


School Supplies Drive– For the fourth year in a row First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia helped the Andrew Jackson School at 12th and Federal Streets kick off the school year with a delivery of school supply items.  Many THANKS to all who contributed and supported the drive. 

Holiday New Book Drive - The Young Adult Ministry Team and Social Justice Ministry Team had the 4th annual Holiday Book Drive, which ran from December through early January.  85 books were donated and went to the Andrew Jackson elementary school library and classrooms. Individuals selected an ornament (or several!) from the white tree; each ornament was labeled with a specific book title on the back. Then he/she purchased a new copy of that book, filled out a bookplate and placed it in the bin by the tree. Check out the Thank You letter from Lisa Kaplan, Principal.

    Lead: Julia Bernd (Young Adult Ministry Team)


Past Events:


April 25, 2014 - Winter Shelter - Our young member of First UU, Delaney McKeon, is serving alone on 4/25 and could use some help.

April 18, 2014 - Winter Shelter - sign up in the back of the church or contact Ginny Beier.

April 6, 2014 - From Inspiration to Action - This will be a follow-up to Jondhi Harrell's inspiring sermon, to help us identify ways we can individually and together take action to end mass incarceration. Jondhi will join us for this meeting at 12:30 pm on the Third Floor.

March 16, 2014 - Social Justice worship service called "The New Underground Railroad" regarding Ending Mass Incarceration presented by Jondhi Harrell, the Director of Center for Returning Citizens.

February 25, March 4 & 11, 2014 - Tutoring Returning Citizens training, First U Parish Room, 9:30 AM.
Do you want to provide support to returning citizens who want assistance with literacy skills? This project is a joint effort of First U, the Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC) and the Center for Literacy (CFL). Nine hours of training for the tutors will be provided by CFL for a fee. Alternatively folks can take the class in the evening at the CFL office for free. For more info, email or call Martha Copithorne or 315-751-2124.

February 2, 2014 - Vignettes from the Criminal Justice System in Philadelphia - Inspired by the issues raised in Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Karen Wolfe will share her experiences as an attorney with the Defender Association of Philadelphia.  The event is co-sponsored by the Task Force to End Mass Incarceration and the Young Adults.

January 20, 2014 - MLK Day of Service - the Unitarian Society of Germantown organized leaders and many volunteers who came to do important work at over two dozen projects that took place at USG and the surrounding community. More info is at

January 17, 2014 - Winter Shelter - Thanks to all the wonderful Young Adults who served up a feast Friday, January 17 at Winter Shelter. Providing not only a ham dinner but a turkey ham for those who declined the pork along with Baked Ziti, salad, and a dessert of brownies and ice cream were Miles Davison, Laura Bender, Laura Hadden, Elizabeth Miller, Kitty Jauregui, and Michaela.

January 12, 2014 - Task Force to End Mass Incarceration Kick-off Meeting at 12:30 at First U.

January 5, 2014 - Follow-Up to the Mass Incarceration Teach-In - A meeting to follow up the Teach-In on The New Jim Crow  will review the findings of the Teach-In, bring you up to date on the activities within the region, plan our advocacy role, decide on a program behind which we can all unite, and explore a funding system and structure of the organization to which we may all contribute to sustain our work.  This will be held at the Unitarian Society of Germantown at 3:00 pm.

December 9, 2013 - National Day of Action rally in support of public education. The event took place on at 4:30 PM outside Governor Tom Corbett's office on Broad and Walnut Streets. More than 100 community groups in over 60 cities will be fighting for equitable education funding. Learn more at

December 1, 2013 - January 19, 2014 - Holiday Book Drive to support the Andrews Jackson Elementary School Library

November 22, 2013 -  Ornament Making/Holiday Gathering - The Young Adults and the SJMT are teaming up for our 4th Annual Holiday Book Drive. We need paper ornaments for the tree! There was an Ornament Making Party/Early Holiday Gathering from 5:00-8:00 PM at Renee's apartment. There was holiday-inspired cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and a screening of Elf.

November 3, 2013 -  Teach in on Mass Incarceration, Unitarian Society of Germantown.   Exciting and diverse speakers, excerpts from the film "Broken on all Sides", and six breakout groups on related aspects all promised a stimulating and energizing afternoon.

October 6, 2013 - Social Justice InGathering - A meeting was held to look further into our community and search for additional areas of social injustice that we can work to ameliorate. We knew that many members and friends of First UU already have causes they passionately support. We invited all to tell us their ideas for a new social justice theme.

September 8, 2013 - Social Justice Ministry Team table at the Teamwork Fair



We want to stay in touch! Please subscribe to our weekly email newsletter for announcements about upcoming programs.

© 2018   Created by First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service