Social Action Updates
From this perspective it is a shame that community wide social action, in this time of the coronavirus that does not seem to be going away, is so difficult to organize and deliver. Just leaving your home is risky business, and the needs of family and close friends are vastly multiplied. That being said, some of the Temple’s social action projects have continued throughout the pandemic.
Our involvement with the Soup Kitchen in New London has hardly missed a beat and, under the leadership of Hali Keeler, we are still preparing and providing dinner to those who need on the third Tuesday of each month.
Our mask making project, which made and delivered over a thousand masks, is on temporary hold but Temple members still remain connected to a mask making project in Eastern Connecticut. It is noteworthy that the Temple’s mask making filled a huge void when masks were generally unavailable in this area. We expect to resume the project if and when area agencies indicate that they again have a need.
Our Sunday builds for Habitat went on hold when Habitat needed to stop their Building. But now Habitat is returning to its build sites–there are four ongoing in the area–(Norwich, East Lyme, New London and Willimantic) and it is hoped that by December we will be able to resume Sunday Builds.
Groups that we have historically been involved in such as Start Fresh (helping immigrant families) are returning to their activities, and work with our own congregants who have needs must become active and more vigilant. We do need to meet soon–hopefully in person– so that we can get a handle on organizing and determining needs that we can work on. Hopefully, that will happen in November, but most important the desire to relegate the coronavirus to a harmless location “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
Safe Futures Annual 4K Safe Walk • October 1 – 4
This year to keep our community safe, Safe Futures’ Annual 4K Safe Walk occured virtually from a location of your choice starting on Thursday, October 1 to coincide with the start of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The event ran 4 days so you had 4 days to complete your 4K. Walk, run, bike, hike, dance, walk the dog, ride a horse…! Members of Sisterhood, as well as other members of the Temple community participated in this walk!
The bad news is that the Coronavirus is still a substantial factor in all of our lives, especially in other parts of the Country. The good news is that in Connecticut the virus is greatly diminished and hospitalizations and positive testing for the virus are way down as well. So Connecticut is slowly opening up, and this allows a wide array of social action programs where the Temple is involved to begin to begin again. As an example, Habitat for Humanity for Eastern Connecticut has reopened both of its area Restores, and although all of its construction sites are still closed, with the coming of Phase Two of Connecticut’s recovery all of Southeastern Connecticut’s active construction sites will reopen. A reminder: Habitat needs volunteers. It is expected that by the time of the next bulletin article the Temple’s Sunday Builds will be will be functioning again. We were last working in Norwich on an almost completed home. That seems like a million years ago.
As for the Soup Kitchen in New London, it never shut down completely, but instead provided meals in a different way. Thus in June, Hali Keeler and others from the Temple were still cooking, packaging and making ready for delivery meals for those in need. People need to eat even if there are no jobs, and the area is mostly closed down. Hopefully the New London Community Meal Center will soon be able to serve meals in the traditional way, and Hali and her crew will be there.
The Social Action project that has been most active during the virus crisis is the Temple’s mask making and distribution effort. Organized by Matt Shulman, we have made and distributed about 2000 masks to people and agencies that are in need. Since masks are likely going to be with us for a long time to come, there will be an ongoing need for mask makers into the future. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Matt Shulman at 2020Jewishthought@gmail.com.
Two things about the project that should be noted: First, the Temple is now working in conjunction with church groups and others in making and distributing masks. That’s positive exposure for us in the Community. Second, most of our mask deliveries are to area agencies like the Covenant Shelter, Waterford Youth & Family Services Inter-Faith Food Locker, the Homeless Hospitality Center, Safe Futures and area Senior Centers. This provides not only multiple positive connections with the Community, but it also gives food for thought regarding other projects we can get involved with when the present virus crisis is under control.
The Social Action Committee welcomes new members, young and old, as well as fresh ideas as to how we can serve the Jewish Community and the Community at large. We expect to resume regular meetings when these extraordinary times are under control, hopefully by no later than the fall.
Please feel free to join us at that time.
It is late April and extraordinarily difficult times affect us all. The Temple is virtually closed, except virtually. Those who are working are, if possible, working at home and everybody else is discovering that the once a week highlight of the day is going to the supermarket. Formal Social Action at the Temple gives way to individual Social Action–making sure that our loved ones are safe and well. The irony is that when helping those most in need is most urgent, our ability to pro-vide that help is extremely limited. Providing Social Action must recognize the difficulties pushed upon us by the virus, and we need to all do whatever is required to live through this pandemic and get to its end as healthy and as fit as we possibly can be. Finally, we must all recognize and fully ap-preciate the heroic work that is being done by our first re-sponders.
Turning to a few specifics:
Habitat for Humanity has rescheduled our April-Sunday-Build to Sunday, May 17. As things stand now it is likely that this Build date will also be rescheduled.
The New London Soup Kitchen is not open in the normal sense, but as of now the Temple participates, in a limited way, by preparing food which is boxed and then given out at the door. Let’s hope that by the third Tuesday in May things will be more normal.
The Homeless Hospitality Center is open. They are in need of masks, and we are on occasion providing meals when they are otherwise not available.
The Social Action Committee is putting together a project to make masks that will be available to congregants and then, where needed, to the community at large where the need is great. If you have the ability to sew and if you are interested in being part of this mask making project, please contact, Matt Shulman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone, please stay safe.