Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady (UUSS) members and friends volunteer in a variety of ways. Some of the volunteer opportunities are listed on this Volunteer Opportunities page.

For more information on any volunteer opportunity, visit the Social Justice table at the back of the Great Hall after Sunday services or contact the Social Justice Action Team.

Bethesda House

Bethesda House is an interfaith ministry to the homeless, disabled, and economically disadvantaged citizens of Schenectady County, building a just, hospitable, and inclusive community by affirming the dignity and addressing the needs of each our their guests. Bethesda House provides a safety net of social services and advocacy for the homeless and economically disadvantaged; addresses the needs of the whole person by encouraging self-respect and personal responsibility; educates the Schenectady community concerning the needs of vulnerable citizens; and collaborates with other social service agencies to enhance the efficiency and provide ease of access to available services. Bethesda House is located at 834 State St., Schenectady 12307. Phone 518-374-7873. On the web site, see www.bethesdahouseschenectady.org

CROP Walk against Hunger

The Schenectady CROP Hunger Walk is held every spring. This 5k walk raises money for local and international hunger relief. Some of the money goes to Church World Service which works with people around the world to build better lives such as providing access to clean water and helping families to grow their own food. Locally, the money goes to goes to the Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM) which runs the largest food pantry in Schenectady County.

You can register and fundraise online here: Schenectady CROP Hunger Walk. Our team name is UUSS. You can also fundraise using a paper form. Forms are at the Social Justice table in the spring. For more information contact Gary Feinland at 242-9801.

ECOS: The Environmental Clearinghouse of Schenectady

Volunteer Time and Requirements: varies
Address: Aqueduct House, P.O Box 9118, Niskayuna 12309
UUSS Contact: Nancy Peterson
ECOS is a non-political not-for-profit organization providing environmental information and educational opportunities throughout the Capital Region in an effor to build a community that is informed about environmental issues.

Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM) Food Pantry

Volunteer Time and Requirements: Monday-Friday Mornings at the food pantry; and monthly collections at FUSS on the 1st Sunday of each month.
Address: corner of Lafayette and Chapel Streets, In the First United Methodist Church. Schenectady, NY (foodpantry@sicm.us) Ph: 346-4445
UUSS Contact: Crys Hamelink
The Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM) food pantry provides emergency food to individuals in need up to four times over a 12-month period. Baby formula, baby cereal, cereal, pasta, rice, peanut butter, jelly or jam, cocoa mix, spaghetti sauce, Jell-O, macaroni and cheese, and crackers frequently are needed. Monetary gifts help to purchase milk certificates, and items from the Regional Food bank at greatly reduced prices. We also donate calendars and children’s books for distribution at the pantry. ] For one week in the summer, UUSS supplies volunteers to help with SICM”s free summer lunch program for children in our community. The food pantry also accepts donations of diapers of all sizes (diapers are an expensive necessity which are not covered by food stamp programs). More information about SICM is available at www.sicm.us.

Girls, Inc.

UUSS Contact: John Reschovsky
Girls Incorporated inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The organization is committed to helping girls build skills and capabilities for a responsible, confident, and self-sufficient adulthood. Girls Inc. understands the complexity of girls’ lives and provides free access to a wide range of programs dealing with STEM education, health & nutrition, pregnancy and drug use prevention, media and economic literacy, career exploration, and more. Programs are offered at centrally located sites in Albany and Schenectady and also at more than 20 extension sites in Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties. The organization serves over 200 girls per day with its after-school programs in Albany and Schenectady. Girls Inc. is located on the web at www.girlsinccapitalregion.org , by mail at 962 Albany St., Schenectady, NY 12307, and by telephone at 374-9800.

Habitat For Humanity of Schenectady County http://www.schenectadyhabitat.org/

Address: P.O. Box 9043, Schenectady 12309 () Phone: 395-3412
Volunteer Time and Requirements: varies. In addition to helping build, volunteers are needed to help with development, publications, publicity, and outreach
UUSS Contact: Members of the Social Justice Team
Habitat for Humanity is a globally recognized nonprofit housing organization. Habitat acts as social advocate, builder, and banker for non-home owning inner-city families earning forty to sixty percent of the county’s median income, enabling them to own new, simple, decent homes. Habitat provides volunteer labor to construct homes and lends approved families thirty-year, zero percent interest mortgages. You can help Habitat by donating land or property, donating new building material, sponsoring a home, donating tools, giving your time to a building project, and donating other household items such as kitchen cabinets, appliances, and used furniture to their ReStore location in Schenectady. Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County is located at P.O. Box 9043, Schenectady, NY 12309. You can also reach them by email at habitat@schenectadyhabitat.org or by telephone at 518-395-3412.

Interfaith Impact http://www.interfaithimpactnys.org

Volunteer Time and Requirements: varies
UUSS Contact: Ernie Hall
We are the progressive religious community’s united voice for social change in New York, speaking especially for those left behind at society’s margins. We engage in policy primarily through contacts with people of faith statewide, encouraging UUSS to become active in public advocacy. Interfaith Impact addresses emerging public policies and their legislative implications from the shared faith traditions of its constituencies. We engage in policy; we do not engage in politics.

Lincoln Reading Mentors

Volunteer Time and Requirements: weekdays, time TBD with faculty; activities include reading one-on-one mentoring students; assisting as classroom aides supporting teachers; or volunteering as library aides; all at Lincoln Elementary School.
Address: 2 Robinson St., Schenectady, NY Ph: 370-8355
UUSS Contacts: Lisa Angle or Carol Hamblin
We have partnered with Lincoln School through this program for many 10 years. In addition to volunteering time with students, we maintain an in-school multi-media collection of themed books, activities, and supplies, including books for teachers and classrooms. In 2013-2014 we purchased a subscription to Scholastic News Magazine, a graded, Common Core-focused, take-home publication available to all students, highly valued by teachers. We sponsor a bulletin board focused on reading. We also participate in the “Tools For Schools” program sponsored by Price Chopper, have received grants for our activities and were featured in the UUSS Social Action Council’s Alternative Gift Project in December 2013. More information is available through the contacts noted above or through the Social Justice Action Team, which has a table in the Great Hall at UUSS on Sundays following the church service.

Mooncatchers Project
We produce reuseable, washable feminine hygiene products for distribution to low-income girls in the USA and in developing countries. In impoverished areas, young girls miss school or drop out for lack of feminine menstrual pads. We sew disposable, reusable, durable pads made of flannel, plus an absorbent layer and waterproof tyvek layer. All are welcome to attend the Mooncatchers monthly “MoonBee” sewing bees, which are typically held on the 28th day of the month starting at 7 pm. UUSS is a frequent host of the bees. Sewers are welcome to bring their sewing machines to the bees, but lots of non-sewers are needed too!  If you can measure or cut with provided scissors, you can help out.
UUSS Contact: Ellie Von Wellsheim
For details see http://moon catchers.weebly.com/

Regional Food Bank

965 Albany Shaker Rd.
Latham, NY 12110
UUSS Contact: John Good
The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York has been helping to feed the poor and hungry in our communities since 1982. The Food Bank collects large donations of food from the food industry and distributes items to charitable agencies serving hungry and disadvantaged people in 23 counties. There are various monthly opportunities to volunteer with food distribution at the Food Bank; see the Social Justice table in the Great Hall on Sundays. For more information on the Food Bank, see www.regionalfoodbank.net

Schenectady Home Furnishings

UUSS Contacts: Lee Danielson and Kim Schnell
The Schenectady Home Furnishings Program is dedicated to providing usable donated furniture and household items to families and individuals transitioning from emergency situations such as fire, rehab, domestic violence, homelessness, abandonment, or mental illness. The program collects beds, dressers, kitchen sets, living room furniture, and other items from donors, storing them in our warehouse in Schenectady. The program is involved with numerous churches, corporations, and other community volunteers, and helps hundreds of individuals and families each year. The warehouse is located at 603 State St. in Schenectady. If you wish to donate furniture to the program, call 346-2444 or email homefurninc@aol.com to arrange for a pickup. Look for this organization on the web at schenectadyhomefurnishings.org  View Schenectady Home Furnishings fact sheet here:

Roots and Wisdom

Roots and Wisdom is a youth and agriculture service program. Roots and Wisdom brings together urban, suburban, and rural Schenectady County residents to grow organic vegetables for donation to local food pantries and for sale within the county. The program teaches its participants about sustainable agriculture, hunger, nutrition, and diversity. Genuine change is created by helping county residents in need and in providing youth with opportunities to work and grow. Roots and Wisdom has a six-week Summer Growing Program for youth ages 14 to 18, as well as regular programs for children and youth in the spring and fall. Call 518-372-1622, extension 286, to inquire about volunteering, or contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension at schenectady@cornell.edu for more information. Roots and Wisdom can also be reached at Schaffer Heights, 107 Nott Terrace, Suite 301, Schenectady, NY 12308.

Unitarian Universalist Partnership Church Council  http://www.uupcc.org
Volunteer Times and Requirements: varies
UUSS Contact: Dan Leonard
UUSS has worked with a partner church in Marosvasarhely, Transylvania (Romania) since May of 2003. Groups from our church visited Transylvania in 2003 and several times since then. The vision of the UU Partner Church Council is that partner relationships between North American congregations and churches around the globe will be forged and sustained wherever they are desired — and that all of these relationships will be of high quality, firmly based, mutually beneficial, responsibly sustained, and linked by a joint and mutual covenant. The focus this year of the UUSS partnership committee is fundraising and planning future trips.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) http://www.uusc.org

Volunteer Times and Requirements: varies
UUSS Contact: members of the Social Action Council
UUSC is a nonsectarian organization that promotes human rights and social justice worldwide. Their programs are based on Unitarian Universalist principles that affirm the worth, dignity and human rights of every person. Through a combination of advocacy, education and partnerships with grassroots organizations, UUSC supports programs and policies that empower women, defend the rights of children and support the struggles of indigenous people and oppressed racial and ethnic groups.

UUSC Coffee Project

Fair trade coffee, purchased under the UUSC partnership project with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned fair trade organization founded in 1986, is used at the UUSS coffee hour. Packages of fair trade coffee (and chocolate) are also available for purchase at the Social Justice table in the Great Hall after Sunday services.