A Newsletter from the Unitarian Society of Germantown
March 2017

As members and friends of USG, we are committed to being compassionate agents for social justice. Each month we will focus on one of the many social justice paths that our members walk, as well as point to other paths that are being walked that month.
Our USG core values statement reflects our belief in the interconnectedness of life and the obligation to care about others in need. We declare in our statement of intentions that we seek to become vital effective agents for social justice through service and dialogue. Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is an opportunity to help neighbors in need. 

This month's newsletter includes:


Rebuilding Together Philadelphia targets low income neighborhoods for intense renovation efforts. Many volunteer groups come out to work on houses in an area of a few blocks. The renovation efforts have a measurable impact on the blocks and neighborhood. Instead of becoming abandoned, houses in disrepair continue to shelter a family that has roots in the neighborhood.  

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is the local affiliate of a nation-wide organization that has 140 chapters. You may know that Philadelphia has the highest proportion of extremely low-income residents, and also a very high percentage of homeowners. This combination results in homeowners with an inability to do basic maintenance which over the years leads to abandonment. Rebuilding Together Philadelphia has an informative website where you can learn more:


For the past 6 years, USG members have made a significant contribution to the welfare of low income homeowners by carrying out home repairs and maintenance with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. We have been paired up with homeowners in Latino North Philly, Germantown, Logan and Mantua.  

We have learned incredibly moving stories of our neighbors' lives. We have learned what repairs they feel would most improve their homes and worked along side them to carry out these projects. We have been moved by the resilience of people whose life chances have been diminished by race and class and education, but who nevertheless, create families and communities of hope and determination.  

 MARCH 31, APRIL1 & 2

The renovation work is carried on by volunteers-THAT IS US-over a three-day weekend. We will be working in Belmont this year, a little west of the Mantua neighborhood we worked in the last few years.  It's about a 20 minute drive from USG, behind the Zoo. 

We will be working on the 3 story row home of Mrs. Taylor, on N Brooklyn St. The house was purchased by Mrs. Taylor's parents in 1950. She grew up there and moved out to raise her own family. She moved back in to live with her mother 45 years ago and is now a widow herself. Mrs. Taylor had a career as a clerical-technical supervisor with the IRS, retiring 9 years ago.  

The volunteer days are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 31, April 1 and 2. Eli Scearce will direct our work. Skilled and unskilled workers are needed, age 14 and up. You can participate for one day, part of a day or all the days. Our list of projects includes a lot of painting, laying vinyl flooring, repairing drywall. We will work from 8:30am - 4pm. Lunch is provided.

Watching this 2 minute video will show what the block build is like. Both the homeowners and the volunteers describe how meaningful the experience is. And you meet amazing people!

Working on the RTP house is a fun and rewarding tradition at USG. We have worked with amazing people over the years and strengthened our relations with each other. Anyone who has participated will confirm how rewarding it is. To indicate your interest in volunteering, send an email to Linda Bernstein at


The Social Justice Movie for March will be Newtown. We will be showing it on Monday, March 13 at 7 PM. Two years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the small New England town is learning how to cope in the wake of the tragic mass killing of 20 children and 6 staff at the hands of a disturbed young gunman. 

Newtown is an intimate portrait of a town in grief and recovery. We come to know families, immersed in a surreal fog of despair, perseverance and unthinkable strength, managing to carry on every day. Together, their intimate stories, along with those of teachers, neighbors, first responders and clergy, reveal reverberating rings of grief, compassion, survivor guilt and the profound desire to create meaningful change out of a tragedy that will mark their town for generations to come.

share the plate

Each month USG passes the plate for a charitable organization. This past year, Share the Plate has donated over $14,000 to local community and international organizations serving children, families, those without homes, without jobs, those returning from prison, and immigrants new to Philadelphia. The Share The Plate Task force welcomes suggestions from the congregation:

On Sunday, March 19, the Share The Plate recipient will be Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTP). Although the labor is donated, RTP must pay for the materials we use and the expenses of their small staff. USG has generously supported RTP in the past. RTP needs our financial support more than ever this year. 


UUPLAN's social justice teams provide a unique way that people with strong identities as UUs can become more effective as advocates, particularly at the state level. Each of the UUPLAN justice teams not only works with various local and statewide partners, but importantly has made some selection of which bill or policy is currently "front burner" in Harrisburg and therefore needs our urgent action or long term focus. Also, UUPLAN Teams are very often working closely with staff and resources from the UUA, from the UUSC, and from the UU College of Social Justice.

Right now, we have close working relationships between the Ending Racism Committee and the UUPLAN Anti-Mass Incarceration Team.

Eric Foster and Tom Smith are working with the UUPLAN Reduce Gun Violence Team.

Gail Mershon is working with the UUPLAN Environmental Justice Team.

Yvonne Marlier and Dennis Brunn are working with the UUPLAN Immigration Justice Team.

Devery Howerton is working with the UU PLAN Reproductive Justice Team. 
For more info on UUPLAN, contact Dennis Brunn, USG Liaison with UUPLAN: 215-242-2099 or

Ending Racism
ERC recently adopted the following Vision and Mission statements:
Vision: ERC envisions a society in which racial justice and equality are the reality for all.
Mission: ERC works toward dismantling racism in all its forms, individual, institutional, and systematic, through self-examination, advocacy, public witness and service.

March Activities
  • CAMI (Coalition Against Mass Incarceration) meeting, Tuesday, March 7th, 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. at USG
  • White Privilege Conversation (facilitated by Treva Burger, Sandy Campbell, Gail Mershon & Eli Scearce), Sunday, March 19th, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m., in the Daskam Room


Reducing older adults' social isolation is a UU House Outreach Program goal. Some studies relate social isolation to depression and mental decline. Other studies find possible relationships to reduced activity and heart disease. Outreach staff members, interns and volunteers constantly find ways to connect to their 300 clients through:
  • Regular phone calls and updates.
  • Home visits.
  • Small group activities.
  • Quarterly large group programs.
Client feedback lets everyone know that their efforts are successful. Some say:
  • It was great to get out and have fun with other people.
  • I painted a picture and I didn't know that I could make something beautiful.
  • I saw a friend I hadn't seen in years. We're going to call each other more often.
If you know someone who lives alone, seems to have few friends or doesn't get out often, feel free to suggest that he or she contact Outreach at 215-843- 5881 or email

Local Activist Groups
Indivisible: NW Philly Group Meeting
Sunday, March 12th 3-5pm at Unitarian Society of Germantown
All are invited to this planning meeting

NW Refugee Support Network
Sunday, March 12th 2pm at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown
6001 Germantown Ave., all are invited to this community conversation on refugees and preparing to welcome new refugees to NW Philadelphia.
Newsletter Articles
Articles for April's social justice newsletter are due on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Send them to Dennis Strain,

Unitarian Society of Germantown | 215-844-1157 | |
USG's Social Justice Facebook Page: USG members are involved in a multitude of social justice projects. To view the latest activities and post new ones, join the USG Social Justice Group on Facebook.