Murray Church Notes

July 25, 2019

Volume 8,  Issue 2

In this Issue:

Listening to our Food Pantry Clients’ Stories

by Judy DePue

Henry (not his real name) went from being a veteran and a business owner, to homelessness, after he developed complications from diabetes. When he was living “under the bridge”, he was approached one day by the Attleboro City nurse and a cop. With their help and the senior center resource person, he said he was able to get ongoing medical care, funds for a rooming house, and help with a disability application. Now he is supporting himself on disability and is waiting for public housing.

This was one of many stories Barbara Clark and I heard from our food pantry clients in early June. Our Green Sanctuary environmental justice project asks us to learn more about food insecurity by getting to know the community we serve, and to learn directly from them about their needs. The hallway outside the Murray food pantry was abuzz, as several people joined into our conversation, while they waited their turn to go inside. There were seniors and toddlers, and many ages in-between. Several people, like Henry, lamented the lack of affordable housing and the long waits for public housing. Henry told us the wait in Attleboro is typically 7 years and that even rooming house rent can be too costly during this wait. 

A new food pantry client reported her work time had just been cut to only 15 hours per week on her Dollar Store job. This cut came due to frequent absences, related to her son’s disability, when he had to be picked up early from daycare.  This single mom was therefore unable to pay her rent for the past 2 months. The Mass Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) in Taunton said they could only help when she received an eviction notice, not before.  She was hoping to avoid the eviction, which could lead her family into homelessness.

Housing is only one of the expenses weighing heavily on these families. We heard about the high cost of gasoline and lack of public transportation options. Even access to Dial-a-Ride services is limited by eligibility and by few available cab services.  One woman said she could not use Dial-a-Ride for a minor surgery if she used anesthesia in that procedure. Therefore, she opted to go anesthesia-free in order to get a ride home! Making ends meet is also strained by the high costs of heat and electricity, which in turn is strained by increasing numbers of hot days in summer and cold days in winter, as we are seeing more weather extremes each year with climate change.  Most told us they are getting heating fuel assistance in winter, although few people are getting electricity assistance for summer air conditioning and fans. Of course, we also heard about rising food costs. The floods, draughts and fires in other areas of the country, where much of our food is grown, may further increase these costs. At the same time, many clients said they are seeing reductions in the amount awarded for food stamps and in eligibility for that benefit.    

A recent NPR story by Tamara Gane (6/30/19) reported that 11.8% of Americans are food insecure. Feed America, a national network of food banks, reported 1 in 7 Americans relies on a local food pantry to eat. Similar to the people described in the NPR story, many of our clients are working, but still unable to make ends meet. Many use more than one food pantry to cover family needs. Some are ashamed to have to use the food pantry and go to another town rather than their own, to less likely be seen by someone they know. Murray’s is the only food pantry in our area that is not limited to local city or town residents only. Our Murray food pantry distributed 3,700 bags of food to 200 families in the past year, providing assistance to over 500 children, adults and seniors. We also serve recent immigrants and refugees who are trying to get a foothold here amidst learning English and other obstacles, as they are starting over in a new country and culture.

Is there more we can do about these basic needs? One thing we all can do is to use our influence and our votes to support city/town ordinances, and state legislation that would fund more local services, resource persons and affordable housing. This advocacy can also be part of our social justice work at Murray. For example, our Green Sanctuary team, along with Representative Jim Hawkins, will host a legislative town hall at Murray Church on October 29th. This event will address energy, environment and related social justice issues—food insecurity and affordable housing needs will surely be a topic discussed. 

Barbara and I heard more than once during our conversations: “Thanks for asking.” We were frequently told how much they appreciate what our Food Pantry provides. The gift of food when you are hungry is huge! Yet we also heard it was nice to know that the people at Murray care about them as persons. 

We hope these stories will inspire other conversations within our congregation on how we can further support our Food Pantry volunteers and our clients, and on how we can further extend our efforts to serve our local community.
   

Summer Services 2019

Produced by the Religious Services Committee 

July 28
You U Behind the Wheel | Amy Craig
An exploration of being a UU while in our most powerful position – behind the wheel. How road rage affects the best of us.
 
 
August 4
Anti-Science VS Democracy | Len Yutkins
Democracy depends on a well-educated, well-informed public.  As we enter the 21st century, we find ourselves in a highly technical and scientific environment.  Yet there is a growing distrust of scientists and experts in various fields and that poses a very serious threat to our democratic principles.  How can we change this?  Some ideas will be explored.
 
August 11
Concrete Actions You Can Take Against the Climate Crisis
| Carolyn and Rand Barthel
These days, people are inundated with so much overwhelming information, it can be empowering to be focused and specific in our actions. Come learn what you can do and walk away with a to-do list! Carolyn and Rand Barthel are members of First Universalist Society in Franklin and 350 Massachusetts, a network of volunteer climate activists across the state.
 
August 18
The Evolution of Prayer | Liz Kenyon
Evidence of humans praying dates back to the third century B.C. in the form of a statue of a holy Hindu man holding prayer beads. Over the following centuries, prayer beads have been used by Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox Christians. We will touch upon these prayer rituals before focusing on the evolution of prayer in the Christian tradition, including our UU faith.

August 25
Blessing of the Animals | Kavita Vansant
Our pets are part of our family. We love and care for them and in return we receive unconditional love, companionship, comfort and loyalty. Let us acknowledge how our pets uplift our lives, and why we have them. Bring your pet (on a leash/cage, please), a photo of your pet and/or a favorite stuffed animal to be blessed.  The service will be held outside, weather permitting.
 
September 1
The Music Lesson | Ruth Debrot
A musical instrument that lies on the ground makes no sound. It is a musician who must bring “Music” forth. What can Music teach us about our lives? As humans, all of us are musical in some way. The thing is, many people let notes and rhythms get in the way. Join me and explore how Music, on many levels, can be a metaphor for life and living.
 
September 8
Rev. Gretchen Weis Returns to the Pulpit
Water Communion Ingathering Service
This Saturday, July 27:

Volunteer in the Soup Kitchen

This Saturday is the Food n' Friends Soup Kitchen at the Centenary Church.  President Stephanie Paquette (a.k.a."Chef Steph") could use your help during any of the time-slots available at the Doodle Sign-Up here.

Please consider donating 45 minutes of your time to help our neediest neighbors.
August 1:

Cranberry Coast Concert at Murray Church


Cranberry Coast Concerts  
presents

4 Hands & 4 Voices
Thursday, August 1st at 7:30 PM
Murray Unitarian Universalist Church
505 North Main Street, Attleboro, MA 


Internationally renowned husband and wife piano duo Kirk Whipple & Marilyn Morales will be joined by a quartet of vocal luminaries in a performance of “Liebeslieder Waltzes” by Johannes Brahms and other works for piano & voice.

Doors open at 7:00 PM. All are welcome!
Donations will be accepted in support of CCC Season 14 programs.


For program details and other information please contact:
(508) 491- 8888 | CCC@WhipMo.com | www.Facebook.com/CCCFestival
August 25: Save the Date!    

RE Ice Cream Social         

Come have ice cream, reconnect with old friends and meet new ones! This is a wonderful opportunity to bring a friend and have some fun!
 
We will provide ice cream, and you provide the toppings.
 

Date: Sunday, August 25, 2019
Time:  4:30-5:30 pm
Where:  Backyard of Murray Church
Starting Sept. 8:    

Have Your Photo Taken Free for the Murray Church Directory   

It's time to update the church photo directory.  Come have your photo taken after worship in Harmony Hall on any of four Sundays in September, following worship. We invite all Murray members and friends -- especially our many newcomers -- to have their photo taken.  There is no charge.  We encourage everyone -- individuals, couples, families and even family pets --  to participate, as we update our directory for the 2019-2020 church year. 

Once again, we are pleased to have the professional photography experience of church member Phil Frink behind the camera lens.


Photo shoot dates: September 8, 15, 22 & 29

What the Murray Gardens Need

Extra hoses needed.  Before we spend more money on hoses (money that could go toward bulbs to add to the Oval Garden), we thought we’d ask if anyone has a couple of extra garden hoses they no longer want?  We need about 160’ to go from the faucet to the 2nd half of the new Oval Garden.  Please don’t drop off hoses that have leaking splits, but we sure could use ones that need minimal or no repair.  

More help needed on Wednesday evenings from 5 to 7ish, we’ll be in the Oval Garden and/or the Memorial Garden.  

Oval Garden:  Needs wet newspapers to prevent weeds from growing though the mulch on top (mulch is from the pile at the back of the church).  The garden also needs deadheading of new plants and frequent watering.

Memorial Garden:  Needs work!  We’ve ignored it while working out front.  Needs 
deadheading, pruning, weeding ASAP!

                                                              Thanks,
                                                               Bill and Rusty Morrow

Lost & Found

A pair of reading glasses and a key have been in the church office unclaimed and are now in the hallway by the church sanctuary with other lost & found articles.

Needed: Assistants for our Religious Education Program

If you can give an hour a month to assist in the classrooms from September to June our children will appreciate it.  You will have a wonderful time getting to know our amazing children and make a difference in their lives. All the support will be provided: a Lead Teacher, lessons and supplies. You just need to come have fun! 

Please contact Kavita or Carol Connolly if you are interested. 

Magazines needed!  

The RE program is in need of magazines for projects.  Please leave them in Kavita’s office. Thank you!

From the Murray Church Food Pantry:  
Volunteer Opportunity Available

Would YOU like to be next in line to fill this satisfying role? To learn what volunteering entails, please contact Barbara Clark. This is to replace a long time volunteer who has relocated.

We may also need occasional substitute volunteers during the year.

Food Pantry Donation Suggestions

It's summer vegetable season!  Do you have surplus zucchini?  Donations of any home grown produce would be most appreciated!  

Personal care items would also be most welcome, including deodorant, toothpaste, and feminine care products.


Thank you from the Murray Food Pantry team.

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Please e-mail all newsletter submissions by Tuesday end of day for inclusion in the following Thursday's Murray Notes. The next deadline is Tuesday, August 6th.  Please include 'NEWSLETTER' in the subject line.  

What's going on at Murray? Click the calendar!

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508-222-0505