The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Berks County was honored to be the recipient of the Reading Branch NAACP's 2017 Community Impact Award at the 30th Annual Freedom Fund Gala. Rev. Dr. Aaron Wilford, Jr., PA Commission on African American Affairs, delivered the Keynote Address on the Gala's theme: "Steadfast and Immovable." Other award recipients were: Community Youth Award: Jada Thompson and Alexia Rickenbach; Corporate Award: Berks Packing Co. Inc.; and Image Award: State Sen, Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat, and Kim Talbot, executive director of the city Human Relations Commission.
The UU Berks congregation was honored for its collaborative work in the areas of racial, immigration, good government, and LGBTQIA justice. A Black Lives Matter banner is displayed outside the building as part of a public statement on racial justice, and members are engaged in anti-racism training. Immigration efforts focus on justice for asylum-seeking women and children at the Berks Detention Center. The congregation also participates in local Pride events, coordinates a monthly food pantry, and offers hospitality for homeless families several times a year. Rev. Sandra Fees offered the Invocation at the Gala, and Art Arleth, Board President, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation. The congregation is proud to have two of its members, Dennis Williams and Linda McCormick, currently serving on the NAACP's Board.