Happy November! I expect most of us are looking forward to a relaxing day with friends &/or family this Thursday. A time to reflect on past Thanksgiving gatherings while creating memories and enjoying Thanksgiving 2018. Make it a happy day!
I hope you take the time to read the HNCFL Updates which are sent out intermittently via email. As you may remember from the last HNCFL Update the HNCFL FACEBOOK page which I have been managing is being closed the end of December. Those of you who are on Facebook know it can be a good thing to keep up with people and events. If you would like to manage a Facebook page for the HNCFL please reply to email@example.com.
Last Saturday at Secular Conversations many of us were educated by Chad Hood, M.D. through his presentation “Healthcare for All”. Everyone with whom I spoke appreciated the information and enjoyed Dr. Hood’s presentation style. This was the final Secular Conversations program in 2018. Check out the listing of programs for 2019 which are on website, are listed in the Winter catalog of Master the Possibilities and which were sent to members and supporters in the last update. Mark your calendar and plan to attend.
The Central Florida Freethought Community extends their appreciation and thanks to the HNCFL for the $250 donation in support of their work on separation of church and state. The CFFC is also the principal (and possibly the only) group, in Florida, demanding that local governments offer &/or allow non religious individuals to participate in offering invocations or to move to a moment of silence instead of a Christian invocation.
Members and supporters were advised, in April, that The American Humanist Association and the Harvey LeBrun Chapter Grants Committee had awarded the HNCFL a grant. Specifically, “The Humanists of North Central Florida has been approved to receive a grant in the amount of $750.00 to expand outreach and education focusing on strengthening relationships with the local minority communities to learn more about how to offer support and solidarity regarding issues of race/racism.”
A call went out to members asking for volunteers to help determine specifically how we should proceed. We gathered to brainstorm. The result was a decision to reach out to organizations representing minorities and ask for volunteers willing to answer the question, “What is your experience as a minority in Ocala/Marion County.” The plan was to record the respondents’ answers. If required anonymity could be assured. The final audio-video presentation “Voices of Diversity in Ocala/Marion County would serve as a foundation piece upon which to open conversations within the HNCFL as well as at future community gatherings. These conversations would lead to collaborative planning and action. Action which would demonstrate the support by the HNCFL to groups and/or issues dealing with race/racism in Ocala/Marion County. This turned out to be an idea that could not be translated into action. Individuals who initially agreed to be interviewed ultimately decided they were not comfortable being recorded. The committee regrouped.
The commitment to learn from individuals and or groups in minority communities did not change. The process did. It was agreed that invitations would be extended to local leaders known to represent minority communities inviting him/her/them to be our guest(s at a meal in a restaurant. An excerpt of the invitation is here:
Our group, the Humanists of North Central Florida is working to better understand and learn about local minority communities directly from members in these communities. The objective is to offer our support and solidarity; however, we recognize that our effectiveness will be directly related to how well we understand the challenges faced by those living and working in Ocala/Marion County. We believe that through this effort we will build relationships for increased cooperation. We want to understand how race/racism impacts everyday living and how we can offer support and be better neighbors. Can you offer guidance? Can you connect me with others? We recognize this is a sensitive topic not easily discussed, especially between people who do not know each other well. We hope you will agree that conversation can be enhanced when it takes place over a meal. Would you and/or 2-3 others who you believe can help us be our guests for a meal and conversation?
At this point, we have input from five individuals. The process continues. What the final product will look like remains elusive. I believe at a minimum we will continue these conversations. I hope these conversations will expand to include more HNCFL members and supporters who are interested in offering support of and solidarity with those from whom we are seeking guidance.
RAMAL: Reach, Aim, Motivate and Lead
RAMAL continues to offer nontraditional students financial assistance which will help them reach their educational goals. A new component of RAMAL is a scholarship program set up through and administered by the College of Central Florida Foundation. The criteria is unchanged regarding consideration of nontraditional students who are usually older and can demonstrate financial need. RAMAL will again offer the academic summer camp through the Marion County Boys & Girls Club.
I want to share the following information about a project which the committee may decide to support financially with grant money. I encourage you to support the Bridges Project with your attendance and participation. The Bridges Project, started in 2015, as the result of concerned residents wanting to continue the conversation following a Friday Forum program about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The Bridges Project has evolved into a membership organization and expanded its numbers to include a diverse representation of Ocala/Marion County. One of the Bridges Project workgroups, the ChainBreakers, is planning a program which will be held at the College of Central Florida, Klein Center on February 4th 6:30 -8:30 PM. The program will offer a few short skits demonstrating what may or may not be seen as racism. Following the skits attendees, who will be seated at tables of 8, will be asked to answer the question, “What would you do?” Mark your calendar. This will be an interesting and informative evening. Would you like to be an actor in one of the skits? Try-outs are being scheduled. More information will be forthcoming about this event as well as membership in the Bridges Project.
Doing Good for Goodness Sake
You are invited to suggest a group or organization for the HNCFL to support. The HNCFL Board works to do good for goodness sake in ways which reflect our values and the purpose of our existence which is to promote Humanism. How do you want to see the HNCFL do this? Your input is welcome and appreciated. Talk with any Board member or reply to firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestion(s. Thank you!
Thank you for your ongoing interest and support.
Make it a Happy Thanksgiving.