Community Food Share Pantry

First Unitarian’s Community Food Share Pantry has been a continuously operating monthly food distribution site for the past 14 years on the third Monday afternoon of every month. As an agency of the Rhode Island Food Bank, CFS provides free food and household products to low-income families in the greater Providence community. Other services have included health care talks, free flu shots, and information about the SNAP (food stamp) program.

The Community Food Share Committee, which oversees and operates the CFS Pantry, purchases food from the RI Food Bank and We Share Hope. It also accepts donations from individuals and community groups.

A large team of volunteers procure the food, set-up and present the food, and coordinate the distribution each month. Children and youth from our Sunday school also assist the program.

Contacts: Judy Ortman and Martha Manno

Homeless Shelter

Every first Tuesday of the month, First Unitarian prepares and delivers a meal to the residents of Emmanuel House, a homeless shelter in Providence started by the Catholic Diocese of Providence to address a growing emergency need for shelter. Coordinated by our Neighborhood Social Justice Committee, First Unitarian also collects clothing and food to be donated to the residents of Emmanuel House. Many volunteer opportunities exist to help with this mission.

The Neighborhood Social Justice Committee provides other volunteer opportunities to work beyond our church doors, hand in hand with those in our neighborhood who have been socially, economically, or legally marginalized. In October, the group collaborates with the Beneficent Congregational Church to hold a Y’all Come lunch for the homeless. All are welcomed.

Contacts: Joe Salvatore and Chiara Romano Van Erp

Global Write for Rights

Change a life by writing a letter. Join us on Sunday afternoon, December 10, to be a part of the global Write for Rights, the world’s largest letter-writing event. In celebration of International Human Rights Day, letter-writing campaigns are held all across the US and in more than 50 countries.

The letters we write are for people whose basic human rights are being attacked. We help people wrongfully imprisoned to be released. We bring torturers to just. Our letters bring about more humane treatment for people in prison. We help to change abusive laws.

The Providence celebration of International Human Rights Day, held at First Unitarian and co-sponsored by our World Affairs Committee in collaboration with the international human rights organization the Beneson Society, includes refreshments, prizes, and an inspirational speaker. This annual event is free, open to the public, and suitable for young people and families. It runs from 1-5 pm.

Contact: Marcia Lieberman

Habitat for Humanity Work Group

Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. It seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.

Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races, and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need. The First Unitarian Habitat Work Group works with the Providence chapter of Habitat for Humanity of RI and usually has several houses under construction. Volunteers of all skill levels are welcome; the only requirements are a willingness and ability to do physical work and minimum age of 16.

Contact: Peter Van Erp

Girl Effect Task Force

The Girl Effect Task Force raises funds to support girls’ education mostly in less developed countries. We follow the example of The Girl Effect, a nonprofit founded on the principle that, “Girls are the most powerful force for change on the planet.”

We raise funds by selling Fair Trade handicrafts from less developed countries, also benefiting those who make the crafts.

The Girl Effect Task Force recently donated funds to Heshima, Kenya; the Kibera Girls’ Soccer Academy in Nairobi, Kenya; the Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network; San Lucas Toliman Scholars in Guatemala; and Save Every Last Girl program of Save the Children in Afghanistan.

Contact: Polly Walker