Greater Good Project

‘Tis the season to Give It Up for Good! Each year, at this time, we as a community come together in an effort known as the Greater Good Project. We declare our value to live simply, so that others may simply live. We look at what money we will spend on the holidays, and sacrifice half of that amount to serve needs greater than our own.

This all-church endeavor asks us to bring meaning back to the holidays and tap into the strength and power of the spirit of the season. Each of us is asked to tally what we spend on the holiday season and take that number and cut it in half.  Contribute that amount to a project at the church – a gift to the Greater Good.

The children in our Religious Education program vote on which two of several applicant charities will share the donated money.  Since this endeavor was initiated in 2006, we have collected over $500,000 from members and friends of our church and members of the larger community.  These contributions remind us of needs greater than our own and lift up “living simply so others can simply live.”

Learn more about the history of this project:

2015 Project Recipients

Donations to the 2014 Greater Good project totaled $32,000.

Great Schools for All
Great Schools for All is a coalition of Rochester community volunteers, including members of our own congregation.  Their commitment is to reduce the concentration of poverty in Rochester city schools via elective integration.  Our gift will help to fund a staff member to coordinate their multi-pronged approach which includes focus groups, summer learning programs and public policy change.  The concentration of poverty and the segregation of our city are deep rooted problems known to all of us.  This very capable collective is doing the hard work to find proven solutions and our gift can further kindle their fire.
Women on the Move
Women on the Move is a program provided by the St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center.  It is designed to progress a group of women from poverty to self sufficiency and financial independence.  Women are disproportionately affected by poverty while often being paid less and shouldering more parenting responsibility than men.  Participants in Women on the Move are heads of households who are struggling financially while working low wage jobs and/or seeking to improve their education.  In its 8th year, the 9 month program offers weekly workshops in budgeting, domestic violence, job readiness, parenting and personal health.  If we match our total gift contribution from last year, we will be able to fund this coming year’s Women on the Move program in its entirety.

2014 Project Recipients

Donations to the 2014 Greater Good project totaled $50,467.00.

Teen Empowerment
Teen Empowerment’s mission is to empower youth and adults as agents of positive change.  This organization’s focus is with urban youth, ages 14-20 years old.  Their current campaign is called “Solutions not Suspensions” and aims to address the disciplinary actions that keep students out of school.  In the 2012-2013 school year, 54,620 days of instruction were lost due to suspensions in the Rochester City School District.  That’s as if 300 students missed an entire year of school.  There is a better way for students, schools and communities to solve this problem, and Teen Empowerment is leading the way to solutions for our community by collaborating with law enforcement, school administrations, and school community partners to revise codes of conduct toward more on-site, solution-focused restorative processes.

Richard M. Guon Childcare Center at Monroe Community College
The Guon Childcare Center is dedicated to affirming strong attachments between children, families, and caregivers. This organization’s motto is that learning is noisy, active and messy. This childcare center allows for parents attending MCC to focus on their studies, while knowing their children are also in a safe learning environment. Our Greater Good funds will be used to specifically help children who are struggling with developmental and behavior challenges by providing funding that was cut for additional special support and assessment.

2013 Project Recipients

Donations to the 2013 Greater Good project totaled $49,500.

The Coffee Connection
The Coffee Connection is a nonprofit business providing support to women in recovery from addiction.  Women receive on-the-job training in all aspects of operation of the coffee shop, as well as learning skills such as conflict resolution, managing emotions, and taking responsibility for their sobriety.  Greater Good funds will enable creation of four additional positions for women with children who want to stay on as full-time employees, and would expand the scope of training offered.  This business model seeks to reduce the costs of social services needed in the community as women move from poverty to economic self-sufficiency.

Micro-Financing and Community Development Task Force
The mission of our Micro-Financing and Community Development Task Force is to support economic growth and community development in targeted areas of the City of Rochester by providing small loans, financial assistance and mentoring services to individuals and small businesses.  Greater Good funds provided seed money for this project.  As loans are repaid, the money will be available to loan again – a gift that keeps on giving.

2012 Project Recipients

Donations to the 2012 Greater Good project totaled $35,500.

RAIHN – the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network – assists homeless families achieve sustainable independence by providing resources such as shelter, food, childcare, and personalized case management.  First Unitarian is one of 15 host churches where the “guest” families are housed during evenings, hosted by congregation volunteers.  All other services are provided at the Day Center, a house on Meigs Street.  Greater Good 2012 funds were used to make much-needed upgrades and repairs in the Day Center.  These changes have transformed the day center into a much safer, healthier, and more comfortable facility for guests to work on securing employment and housing.

Honduras Project
The Honduras Partnership has used previous Greater Good contributions to bring a variety of public health improvements and expanded educational opportunities to the people in San Jose, Honduras.  The 2012 proposal was to continue of both of these efforts.  Some of the funds are earmarked as scholarship support for additional students to attend high school.  These funds are needed for books and other materials, school and sports uniforms, and sometimes living expenses for students to board in town to avoid long commutes to the schools.

2011 Project Recipients

Donations to the 2011 Greater Good project totaled $50,000.

Coping Power
Coping Power is an evidence-based program for students in grades 4 through 6 who are exhibiting aggressive behavior.  These behaviors often are linked to later violent behavior in other settings.  The program teaches skills in adaptive coping, organization, goal setting, and self-control.  Delivered by school psychologists or social workers, students meet weekly in small groups (usually 4-6).  The program reduces aggressive behaviors, decreases suspensions, increases school bonding, and improves social competence, all leading to a decrease in youth violence and juvenile crime.  Our gift to Children’s Institute has resulting in Coping Power being offered to students in eight additional Rochester City Schools (#7, 8, 19, 25, 33, 39, 42, 58) where countless children will be impacted.

Honduras Project
An established task force of our church, the Honduras Project used our 2011 donations to continue the school scholarship fund for children in Honduras that was established with the first Greater Good donation six years ago. So far the fund has supported 36 students to attend seventh grade at an average cost of $460 per student per year. Although Honduran students are not charged tuition, they must pay for school and sports uniforms, books and other educational materials, and, in some cases, living expenses to board in town to avoid an overly long commute.  Our gifts are allowing children, families, and an entire community to grow, and we look forward to continuing to help their light shine in the world.

2010 Project Recipients

Donations to the 2010 Greater Good project totaled $50,400.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY, Inc.
NOFA-NY is a statewide organization of consumers, gardeners, and farmers working together to create a sustainable regional food system that is ecologically sound and economically viable. NOFA-NY brings consumers and farmers closer together to make high-quality food available to all people using a Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) model.

Our gift from the Greater Good supported the implementation of a comprehensive sustainable plan for low-income communities of Rochester to achieve greater access to organic produce. The program served about 60 families at the end of year one, with new families being added as the program continues to be implemented.

St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center
The Center provides comprehensive health care, counseling, adult education and social work to individuals and families who lack access to health insurance.  Patients and clients are mostly working poor who fall between eligibility for public insurance products and affordability of private insurance through their employers.

Our gift from the Greater Good allowed better service to patients including: multi-lingual resources that teach ways to manage disease on limited income, nursing staff for the Health Empowerment Program, teaching of exercise regimens and healthy cooking classes, and patient-to-patient advocacy training.

2009 Project Recipients

Farmworker Legal Services of New York
This not-for-profit organization provides free legal services to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers.  Most of these workers are Spanish speaking and come from Central and South America.  FLSNY helps victims of human trafficking – farm workers who may have been recruited through deception, fraud, the abuse of power, or outright abduction.  FLSNY staff help victims talk to immigration officials and law enforcement so they can stay in this country and help prosecute the people who enslaved them.  Our Greater Good money helped FLSNY staff connect to 600 farm workers, hear their stories, gain their trust, and work to restore earned wages to farm workers.

Highland Family Medicine Global Health Initiative
The Honduras Project returned to the focus on public health via improved water supply by continuing work for water delivery.  With these new monies, the project can now plan, design and develop new water projects for these communities, Guanacaste and Los Potreros, which together have approximately 90 occupied houses.  Villagers from Guanacaste and Los Potreros are thrilled to be on board with the rest of the community, now working on building and planning water systems for their families.

2008 Project Recipients

Local Project: The Center for Youth
The Center for Youth provides a variety of programs and services to youth who voluntarily seek their help. Most are victims of unfortunate family circumstances. Many have nowhere else to turn.

With the support of the Greater Good fund the Center has been able to keep all facilities open and to maintain service quality. Half of the grant from the 2008 campaign has been targeted to support programs in emergency housing, transitional living, and street outreach. The remainder has been applied to programs for older youth, including emergency grants for medical or housing needs, transportation, training and career development, and child care and other expenses.

International Project: Honduras
Once again, The Greater Good Project directed the international portion of our collection to the Honduras Project, specifically to support Middle School scholarships.

Most children in the San Jose region of Honduras have access to basic education through the sixth grade, but most do not successfully complete that level for a variety of reasons and do not imagine the possibility of furthering their education. Although school itself is free, most families are unable to pay for books, supplies, school testing fees and uniforms.  The 2008 Greater Good campaign enabled an additional 13 students to begin seventh grade while the first group moves on to eighth grade.

2007 Project Recipients

International Project
We provided funds to deepen our relationship with the rural Honduran village of San Jose as we continued our partnership with the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Rochester.  We provided funding for a volunteer house (for a Peace Corp volunteer), schooling needs, latrines, cook stoves, and micro-financing, to enrich, strengthen and empower the lives of about 3,000 Hondurans.

Local Project
Rochester Roots encourages self-reliance by providing the education and tools that help low-income people obtain nutritious, locally grown food, through the development and marketing of urban produce and products.  This year-round project teaches elementary school students how to grow organic vegetables, herbs and flowers.  Our investment in Rochester Roots helped create educational workshops, provide teacher training, offer summer youth internships, and implement more school gardens and greenhouses.

2006 Project Recipients

Donations to the 2006 Greater Good project totaled $79,000.

Local Project: Families & Friends Of Murdered Children
Rochester mom Audrey Smith started this organization years ago when her son was tragically murdered in Rochester.  Families & Friends Of Murdered Children provide financial support, funeral planning advice, court advocacy and grief support to families who have been victims of violence.  We helped them strengthen their programming and build an interfaith coalition that addresses gun violence in the city’s hot spots.  Using proven programs from other parts of the country as a model, the group developed a program based on radical forgiveness whereby the families of victims become advocates and educators of the community.

International Project: University Of Rochester Family Medicine Department
The Department of Family Medicine of the University of Rochester works with a rural Honduran village (San Jose San Marcos) offering curative care while using a global health holistic approach.  Women and children walk daily in this village for 1-2 hours to gather water which is often contaminated.  Our funding will help villagers install slow sand filters, build Ferro cement water tanks and continue constructing water pipes. We are excited about an ongoing partnership as future initiatives unfold.  Workcamps engaging our hearts and hands are planned for future involvements.  Honduras is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.