On Ukraine and finding ways to help

Sometimes our humanity is brought out by times of extremity.  That appears to be the case right now all over Europe and all over the world.  For example, the BBC had a report yesterday about the organized effort by people in Berlin to assist the thousands of Ukrainian families arriving by train every day right now.  Most of these are mothers and children since most fathers and husbands of fighting age are not allowed to leave the country at present.  When these Ukrainian families arrive at the train station in Berlin they are met by an organized crowd of Germans.  Some give out food and food vouchers.  Other are handing out SIM cards that work with the EU cell network.  Still others are holding up signs that read “Can host two people! Short or long-term,” and ”Big room. 1-3 people. Children welcome too! For as long as you want.”  There are hundred of these signs being held up in the main lobby of the train station by people who have some memory of collective hardship in their distant past.  As a result, thousands of scared Ukrainian families are being cared for at least for the time being.

Like you I find myself practically glued to various news sites monitoring the infuriating and tragic events in the Ukraine.  And like you I am asking myself what we can do here from North America.  I have had several folks email me directly this week posing that question.  I share here an initial of list endorsed by the UU Service Committee of suggested ways that we can probably be of some help and support over the course of the next many weeks and months.

The Standing Committee (our board) is meeting this coming Tuesday night and will be discussing and brainstorming ways we can support the larger effort.  It seems like suddenly the whole world wants to step up and help, in a way that has not happened for a very long time.  So stay tuned and feel free to be in touch with ideas and suggestions.

In the meantime we have some excellent ongoing initiatives to help refugees and people right here in our region.  See below for an update on our gift card drive to help Afghani refugees resettling to the Boston area.  This work is being coordinated by The International Institute of New England (i.e, the IIME – whom we have supported for several years).  Our goal was to collect 300 gifts cards (at $50 piece) and we have now collected over 340!  In addition the IIME has asked its network to support a new piece of federal legislation, the Afghan Adjustment Act.   This will assist Afghans in their immigration process.  You can find information about that here.

There is also information here on our effort to help a poor young mom to-be have a baby shower, a drive sponsored by the UU Urban Ministry.

Speaking of which, we are pleased to welcome back to First Parish the Executive Director of the UU Urban Ministry, the Rev. Mary Margaret Earl.  She will be with us this Sunday for what should be a poignant service.

It is sometimes amazing how quickly our lives and world can change.  Pandemics and wars will do that.  During times like this, it is a blessing to be part of a caring and inspired community like this one.  We all need companions in the work of nudging our selves and the world in a better direction.

See you in church.