2006 Recipient: The Winchester Unitarian Society in Winchester, MA

On Labor Day weekend 2005, Rev. Mary Harrington, minister of the Winchester Unitarian Society and members of the worship committee, replaced their scheduled worship service with a special service and sermon devoted to Hurricane Katrina survivors and a call to action. What followed included six trips to the Gulf Coast by intergenerational teams from the congregation who joined relief efforts. A partnership was established with the North Shore Unitarian Universalists in Lacombe, Louisiana. Seventy members of the congregation (a full half of their members) including thirty-two teens participated in one or more of the three week long service trips. Volunteers provided general assistance as needed: paperwork, clean-up, child care, carpentry, painting, yard work, tutoring, errand running, and support.

A 'New Orleans Nite' fundraiser featured food and music from New Orleans and raised over $4,000. Individual members also contributed generously to the UUA-UUSC Gulf Coast Relief Fund.

The Youth Group produced a documentary "With Our Eyes Shut" about their experiences and the ongoing devastation that continued six months after the hurricane.

For more information Contact: Youth Director Jessica Rubenstein at jessica.rubenstein@comcast.net.

Social justice work consists of service, education, advocacy, organizing and public witness. It should when possible bring people together across race, class, age, and other differences. The Winchester Unitarian Hurricane Relief Project involves all of these elements. It is an excellent recipient for the Bennett Award.

Rev. Harrington writes, "We provided physical labor, pastoral care, worship services, supplies, funds, friendship, witness, meals and love. We received the gifts of community. It helped draw us together and strengthen us. And in the midst of so much trauma, we were reminded of how it really it is better to light just one candle than to stumble in the dark."