Signature Social Justice Project
After a church-wide survey conducted in the Fall of 2012, First UU Church members at the Museum District Campus adopted Healthy Parenting as its signature social justice project. This long-term project assists young mothers and other families as they struggle to nurture their children and become self-supporting. First UU volunteers partner with existing programs in our own Third Ward neighborhood. Since its inception, Healthy Parenting has grown and is recognized in the larger Third Ward community.
The project is large enough and deep enough to involve volunteers with many skills and interests. Tutors and mentors are needed for young mothers and teens, as well as tutors for children. Willing child care providers are essential. You could lend administrative support, help with graphic design, help with materials for the table in Channing Hall, or with special events. Drivers are sometimes needed to help single mothers move into new quarters. Knitters could make comforting small blankets. And more. . .
The church has developed partnerships with three organizations: Project Row Houses (PRH), Lawson Academy, and the Nehemiah Center. PRH is a neighborhood-based nonprofit art and cultural organization in the Northern Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American communities. Lawson Academy (formerly WALIPP) is a charter middle school, which was founded about twenty years ago by the Rev. William Lawson family. The Nehemiah Center is a charter school on Fannin St., near First UU Church, which serves low-income families.
Volunteer for any of the Healthy Parenting projects in Channing Hall on Sundays or contact the Healthy Parenting Chair, Rita Saylors (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Co-Chair, Darla Jones (email@example.com).
Project Row Houses
- Tutoring young mothers and youth
This Monday evening program at Project Row Houses matches church volunteers with young mothers who take college classes, elementary-age children, and youth who participate in the Third Ward College Bound Program. Mary Koch, the Coordinator, pairs tutors with students, based upon their strengths and interests. Each tutor/student team meets regularly to help the students work on course content, study skills, and time management.
Mentoring for young mothers
Volunteer mentors meet at least twice a month with young mothers who participate in the Project Row Houses Residential Program. This ongoing program pairs a participant with a volunteer advocate who listens, provides feedback, and helps the young mom to develop time management skills. The Coordinator is Mary Koch.
The Academic Advisor helps the young mothers to become more accountable for their academic performance to themselves and PRH staff members. This volunteer meets regularly with the young mothers to discuss their planning, coursework, and schedule. S/he may refer the young mother for tutoring and/or counseling. Mary Koch is the coordinator.
Tutoring for Adults
Volunteer tutors work with Third Ward adult residents at Project Row Houses. Some adults are enrolled in college courses, and some need help with basic skills, such as reading. Volunteer tutors are paired with adult students, based on their strengths and interests. Tutors and students schedule their sessions at mutually agreeable times. Sue Steinhardt is the coordinator.
Young Mothers Employment Placement Pilot Program for Third Ward
This time-limited project will pair volunteer mentors with 10 young mothers (either a resident at Project Row Houses or a Third Ward community resident). The program assists young mothers to become more employable by developing job-keeping skills. Each mentor communicates regularly with the assigned young mother to help with problem solving and provide support. Sue Steinhardt is the coordinator.
- Nurturing Child Care
Volunteers provide care for the children of young mothers while they are taking part in tutoring, mentoring, or other PRH programs. Darla Jones is the coordinator.
- Mentoring for eighth graders
This program runs at lunch time Monday-Thursday at the Lawson Academy. Volunteers meet with their mentees for half an hour per week. The coordinator is Penny Cerling.
This program occurs usually between 2:45 and 3:40 after classes, although tutoring can also be scheduled during class hours for special situations. The coordinators are Nancy Edwards and Kassim Panjwani.
The church’s signature program could use YOUR help. Feel free to contact any of the coordinators listed above or the project chair, if you want to know more about the Healthy Parenting signature project.