Dear UCM Members and Friends,
The UCM community has been supporting great organizations who align with our UU values for many years through our Community Pouch. Even during the pandemic, these donations have not stopped and each organization that was selected has received their money. The process may have changed over the years, but the sentiment has not. The Community Pouch is a way we show our UU values in action.
Over the years, we have supported the People’s Health and Wellness Clinic, the Good Samaritan Haven, Good Beginnings of Central Vermont, Another Way, Girls Boyz First Mentoring, Planting Hope, Central Vermont Refugee Action Network, Central Vermont Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Green Up Vermont, the Friends of the Winooski River, UCM’s Community Lunch, and Community Harvest of Central Vermont — to name a few.
This year the Community Pouch application and selection process was altered by the restrictions that the pandemic imposed. This difference opened an opportunity for the Community Pouch committee (CP committee) to reflect on the application and selection experience and how it embodies our shared vision.
One outcome of the reflection process has been that we have developed some shared values that we hope any future changes to the Community Pouch process will embody:
- Congregational Engagement
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Relationship Building
Congregational Engagement: Increasing congregational engagement is a key part of the Community Pouch selection process and forming accountable relationships with organizations that align with UCM’s values. The community pouch is a tangible and public act of generosity in which all participants feel they have a voice. The CP committee will be sharing updates and information on the Community Pouch process on UCM’s website, through the quarterly newsletter, in weekly announcements, and with the Committee of Chairs.
Transparency: As part of UCM’s commitment to democratic decision-making, the Community Pouch process should be clear and understandable to the congregation and to the community. The CP committee trusts that by sharing the selection process and publicizing the yearly timeframe for the applications, we can increase congregational knowledge and engagement with the Community Pouch process.
Accessibility: UCM has a wonderful website and will be building a page so that both the congregation and the applicants can get information about the pouch process. The CP committee will work to share information about the pouch process widely to ensure that organizations know how and when to apply as pouch recipients, and so that congregants know how and when they can participate in the pouch selection process.
Accountability: With more congregational engagement and clarity about the pouch process, the CP committee hopes to foster an environment of accountability surrounding our Community Pouch. Members of the congregation are encouraged to ask: What are the ways in which we participate in acts of generosity? What does support look like for each of us? Community Pouch applicants and recipients are also encouraged to give UCM feedback on how our congregation can be a better partner in their work.
Diversity and Inclusion: One of our goals in opening up the Community Pouch process more broadly, is to encourage applications from organizations that have not been recipients, and/or those whose work has been underrepresented in past years. These should include organizations led by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals and groups, as well as organizations or groups that are just starting up.
Relationship Building: The CP Committee would like the Community Pouch to help foster long-term accountable partnerships with organizations doing important work. While the pouch itself involves monetary contributions, we see an opportunity to expand our ideas of generosity in the future with the pouch recipients and applicants. The CP committee will continue to share information on the work of current pouch recipients, including testimonials, to strengthen these bonds of partnership. The future application process may include questions about how else UCM can partner with an organization; through supply drives, service projects, etc.
These ideas are part of the CP committee’s long-term visions for the community pouch and we welcome ideas from the congregation and community. As a first step, we are inviting the congregation to offer ideas about their favorite organizations through taking a brief survey. Please include contact information and a member of the CP committee will reach out to make sure that each organization receives the information needed.
Have a good day,
The Community Pouch Committee: