Humanists of North Central Florida
President’s Annual Letter
Please take time to read this end-of-year report. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification, offer constructive comments, suggestions for 2023, or other input. Please mark your calendar for the first HNCFL Annual Meeting in 3 years to be held on March 1st in Stone Creek Grill. More on this meeting as we get closer to the date. Now for the end-of-2022 report.
I trust you will agree that as we bring 2022 to a close and look forward to 2023 it is good to be reminded of our humanist aspirations. I frequently refer to the complete manifesto to gauge how well I and the Humanists of North Central Florida (HNCFL) put these words into action. The purpose of the Humanists of North Central Florida is to promote Humanism. Each of us does that by the way we move through each day using our attitude, talents, and resources in ways that demonstrate who we are. as individuals and as an organization. This year, again, there have been many opportunities to respond to local as well as international needs. The assistance provided by the HNCFL was possible thanks to the generosity of those members who contributed over and above the modest dues ($35 annually), the HNCFL Life Members (a one-time donation of $500), and those who contribute monthly. Please know that the board takes the responsibility of managing the resources of the HNCFL very seriously. Over the years the HNCFL has earned the reputation of quietly going about helping when and where we can without the expectation of accolades. We have provided assistance without requiring that the recipient(s) be of like mind. In past years members have helped distribute food, picked up litter, helped organize community events, and offered public educational programs bringing in excellent guest speakers. On behalf of the Humanists of North Central Florida Board, thank you for all you have done and thank you for your continued support and participation.
I believe you will agree that as each year passes it is more and more challenging to participate in volunteer activities requiring physical agility and stamina. Few among us are able to be the boots on the ground doing the work necessary to clean up after hurricanes, pick up litter, spend hours carting cases of food to stock a food pantry, or stand in the sun for hours at tabling events. Unless you would like to volunteer as a representative of the HNCFL in any of these or other tasks requiring physical effort, 2022 is the last year for these types of activities. Having said that, please know that your board will continue to do good for goodness’ sake in other ways. After appropriate due diligence, and as long as resources allow, we will provide support when we can, where we can, and work to increase relationships making our presence known throughout the community. I label this work as outreach. Please see the attached list of organizations that received HNCFL support in 2022 in amounts ranging from $100 to $3000.
The board approved using resources to place ads in the On Top of the World News and the Ocala Symphony Program. I am happy to report that each ad resulted in individuals finding the HNCFL and becoming members. The HNCFL was also a sponsor of the Juneteenth Celebration, Ollin Women Peace Summit, TEDx Ocala, Friends of Silver Springs State Park, a supporter of Friends of Freedom Library, and the OTOW chorus. The HNCFL logo was placed on electronic and on printed material of these groups
The HNCFL is a member of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA), https://secularstudents.org/. We again funded a $1,000 scholarship through the SSA. The SSA coordinates this process with all humanist groups throughout Florida. This year the SSA provided the HNCFL Scholarship Selection Committee with 29 applications to review. Three finalists were selected. When the final selection is made, by the SSA, we are notified and this information is shared with the members. The specific information was shared in the last update.
Again, in 2022, the HNCFL planned to award up to $1,500 in scholarships to local student or students. Notice of this scholarship(s) was distributed to organizations with whom the HNCFL has had contact over the past years. It was disappointing when we did not receive any applications. However, an applicant from Coral Springs submitted a well-written, thorough application. The applicant works and goes to school full-time at a junior college. The full $1,500 was awarded to this applicant. Going forward the board will evaluate the value of this process and decide whether we want to continue to fund scholarships locally and through the SSA. Your input is welcome.
ZOOM and GoToMeeting among other online communications programs became familiar ways to communicate in many of our households over the past few years. In April of this year, the HNCFL invited member-friends to participate in weekly ZOOM chats. Initially, we held gently facilitated topical discussions, however, after several months the group expressed a preference to use this time for catching up and/or to enjoy discussing a topic or topics that came up spontaneously. You are invited to join these chats. Simply send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a two-year interruption caused by COVID-19, Secular Conversations, the HNCFL monthly educational public programs offered in cooperation with Master the Possibilities Lifelong Learning Center, resumed in January. The schedule of guest speakers was confirmed through most of 2022. Jocelyn Williamson, Co-founder of the Central Florida Freethought Community presented in January. She shared her personal story “Life as a Humanist “. This presentation was scheduled to be in person, however, due to the low number of registrations and considering the distance Jocelyn had to travel the program was changed to remote. As you know advance registration is required for these programs. When it became obvious that the low number of registrations was not going to increase, the decision was made to cancel the remaining programs for 2022. It will come as no surprise to you that secular topics appear to be of little interest to many of our friends and neighbors.
In May, Secular Tables, the monthly lunch gathering of member-friends resumed. We continue to meet each month on the first Wednesday at 11:30 AM. We enjoyed good to excellent food and always a few laughs and good conversation. The schedule is sent monthly and your RSVP is necessary.
In May we resumed our evening dining out gatherings. Held monthly on the third Wednesday at 5 PM member-friends dine together at local restaurants. As always there is food and interesting conversation. These gatherings have been well attended and feedback has been positive. Please join us, your RSVP is necessary.
April found member-friends gathering in Sholom Park to enjoy the beautiful park and each other’s company. We have repeated this outing monthly since then. It is wonderful to be in the beautiful park with friends ( I doubt I need to mention that there is always laughter and interesting conversation). Throughout the park there are trails where one will find thoughtful sayings or poetry, a labyrinth is especially relaxing. The trails are walker and wheelchair-friendly and provide a level surface for those who avoid uneven terrain. Once in a while, we enjoyed bag lunches or snacks while enjoying each other’s company.
PARENTS, FAMILIES, FRIENDS OF LESBIAN AND GAYS (PFLAG)
Late last year a PFLAG group formed in Ocala/Marion County, https://pflag.org/chapter/pflag-ocala). I was attending the meetings as a representative of the HNCFL. Someone noticed that I had a pulse and asked me to join the board. I accepted as a representative of the HNCFL. Meetings are held monthly on the fourth Sunday at 1 PM in the Tree of Life Sanctuary (next meeting is in January). Please see the attachment to learn more. Your participation is welcome and needed. Since receiving approval from the national PFLAG group two of the original board members have either left or plan to leave to relocate to other states (or in one case to another country).
I was part of the planning committee for the second annual Juneteenth celebration on June 18th held at One Health (a lovely venue). Several member-friends attended and enjoyed dining on soul food, dancing, an entertainer, and music. The event organizer was R.A.M.A.L. Mark your calendar for next year’s event to be held on Saturday, June 17th.
SILVER SPRINGS STATE PARK
Several members gathered in SSSP to enjoy the hour-and-a-half glass-bottom boat ride followed by lunch together. Silver Springs State Park is a gem in our midst. Do not miss an opportunity to go to the park and enjoy the trails, flora, and fauna. Experience either the 30-minute or hour-and-a-half-long glass-bottom boat ride. When we went as a group, we saw manatees, a huge alligator, turtles of all sizes, monkeys in the trees, and a variety of birds large and small. SSSP is a wonderful destination for friends and family who visit and it is one of the best deals around.
OLLIN WOMEN PEACE SUMMIT
The HNCFL was a sponsor of the All-in Peace Summit at the Appleton in September. Marianne Williamson, the famed author, was the keynote speaker. Other presenters included Dot Maver, founder and president of the National Peace Academy, USA, and Madea Benjamin, co-founder of the women-led peace group CODEPINK. Local speakers included a frequent speaker through MTP Jessica McCune. It was a sold-out event with women in attendance representing all walks of life here in Ocala and surrounding areas.
SCHOOLS PROJECTS COMPLETED
Please take a minute and look at the attached picture of New Leaf Center’s https://www.marionschools.net/Page/50827. student space the Hollow, New Leaf is one of the two alternative schools supported by the HNCFL this year. After a visit in April and following conversations with school personnel, the board approved a proposal to help each school create space dedicated to supervised student use. This space is necessary because some students arrive for school in need of a shower, &/or clean clothing, and personal care items. During the summer New Leaf Center set aside a room for this purpose. The room was freshly painted and a team of school personnel was identified to create the space. I worked with the team at the school to identify what was needed and made the purchases. The final delivery was made the last week in October. There are plans to mount artwork by the students on the walls. All of the furniture, storage bins, and storage cabinets were purchased thanks to your generosity. Thank you! The principal and the assistant principal who was the in-school team leader were effusive in their thanks to the HNCFL for making this space into a welcoming space for the students.
Silver River Mentor and Instruction (SRMI), https://srmischool.com/ is another alternative school supported by the HNCFL this year. The student population at SRMI is older with different needs. The HNCFL provided funds to SRMI to stock their space with items frequently needed by their students.
The annual Thanksgiving gathering hosted by Carole and Danny James resumed this year. Twenty-six member-friends gathered (and there was a waiting list) to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal, lots of laughs, and interesting conversation. We were reminded what great cooks we have in our group! As has been an HNCFL custom at our social events, attendees were asked to bring a STEM book or toy, or money for the Boys and Girls Club of Marion County. Twenty books and games, earbuds (requested by the clubs), and a check for $500 to be used for student scholarships were delivered to the Ocala club. Thanks to everyone who donated and a special thanks to Carole and Danny for their hospitality.
The HNCFL Annual Meeting will again be a lunch meeting held in Stone Creek Grill (9676 SW 62nd Loop 34481) on March 1st at 11:30 AM. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend. It is always challenging to find space for this meeting and this year was no exception. Please email any questions you may have so we can be prepared to answer them before or at the meeting whichever you prefer. Also please be reminded that your suggestions for events and/or activities are welcome and appreciated.