Social Justice

Unitarian Universalists have a strong and historical commitment to social justice. Our congregation has been active in working for civil rights, gender equality, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights including marriage equality, environmental justice, living wage, fair immigration policies and peace.

Since 2008 the UUCC has focused its social justice efforts on homelessness and affordable housing.  We encourage our members to take an active role in promoting these and other causes, and we provide many service opportunities:

Direct Service

  • Habitat for Humanity – Teams help build houses for our low-income neighbors. Teams meet quarterly for a day of hard work, fellowship and giving back to the community. Contact Mary Burnett, mcburnett@windstream.net.
  •  Room in the Inn – Teams assemble weekly from December through March to provide winter shelter, food and fellowship to homeless neighbors in Freeman Hall. Contact Rocky Hendrick, rockyhendrick@mindspring.com.
  •  Men’s Shelter – Teams cook and serve lunch or dinner several times a year to our homeless neighbors at the Tryon Street Men’s Shelter. Come join the team to cook, serve (or both!) and provide a good, hot meal and fellowship. Contact Nancy Wielunski, themommyw@aol.com.

Mentoring and Education

  • Housing & Employment Resource Center – Work one-on-one with men at the Men’s Shelter to overcome barriers to obtaining housing and employment.  Assist with obtaining foundation documents (birth certificate, ID, etc.) and help search for housing and employment. Contact Craig Miller, craigmmiller@hotmail.com.
  •  A Child’s Place – To help erase the impact of homelessness on children’s education, volunteers work with students an hour a week as tutors, lunch buddies, or classroom assistants. Volunteers are also needed to pack or deliver snack bags or assist in the office.  For more information, contact Mary Ann Lawler, malawler0@gmail.com.
  •  Legal Aid of North Carolina – After receiving training, volunteers work with people at the Crisis Assistance Center who are threatened with eviction, providing information and referrals to free legal assistance and other resources.  Help people fight for their rights to stay in their homes!  For more information, contact Vivian Brenner, socklady@aol.com.
  •  YWCA Central Carolinas – Is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen communities. Volunteers work in Youth Development Centers, providing literacy tutoring with children K-5th grade in designated YWCA after school programs.  For more information, contact Megan Van Fleet. meganvanfleet@gmail.com.

Supporting People

  • Changed Choices – Support women in making a transition after incarceration.  Uplift someone as a monthly pen pal or card writer. Be a Mentor for someone recently released by driving her to an appointment or helping with a job search. Join in a Tuesday night gathering with women residents at the Changed Choices transitional home.  Be a catalyst for real change in a woman’s life! Contact Barbara Conrad bebeconrad@gmail.com.
  •  Housing Works – Volunteers work in teams with this Urban Ministry Center-based program that places the chronically homeless in permanent housing with holistic support.  UUCC members have been providing support through fellowship events, holiday gift exchanges, move-in packages, and tutoring. Contact Susan Orrell, susaneorrell@gmail.com.

Advocacy

  • Advocacy – Work with non-profit and government partners on reducing homelessness and increasing affordable housing opportunities. The work can take many forms including presentations to the congregation, meeting with elected officials, organizing petitions and letter writing campaigns, and many other activities. Contact Phyllis Bertke, pbertke@bellsouth.net. More and more apartments are being built in Charlotte that are not affordable for families of moderate income, and many families are being displaced.  It is time for our government leaders to do more to ensure availability of affordable housing across the area.  We hope that you will join us in advocating for change!Actions to Transform and Support Affordable Housing in Charlotte:
    1.       Read “Evicted – Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond
    2.       Resist NIMBY (not in my backyard) responses to affordable housing development in our neighborhoods.
    3.       Read the “OneMECK Affordable Housing Action Plan” and the associated “Charlotte-Mecklenburg Strategies for Affordable Housing Development Report”.Call or email City Council and County Commission members* urging them to:

    Adopt the recommendations of the Report to meet housing needs and to help economically integrate our public schools;
    Identify and utilize all appropriate surplus city, county and CMS lands for affordable housing;
    Ensure new affordable housing serves those with the greatest need (i.e. households below 80% of area median income).

    *http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/BOE/elections/Pages/ElectedOfficials.aspx

The Social Justice Fund

Swaraj Yoga awarded with checkThe UUCC organizes charitable events with proceeds going to the Social Justice Fund. Funds are awarded through a grant process to outstanding organizations that provide homeless services and promote affordable housing.  Past recipients of Social Justice grants include: Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Hope Haven, Changed Choices, Swaraj Yoga, Time Out Youth, Urban Ministry Center, Charlotte Family Housing and Samaritan House.

How To Get Involved

To help with our social justice work, visit our social justice table in Freeman Hall after a Sunday service or contact Beth Kinny, chair of the Social Justice Team, through our contact form.