CUUC

CUUC

2018-09-21

From the Minister, Fri Sep 21

Kudos and much gratitude to Mary Cavallero, Jeff Tomlinson, and Pam Cucinell who, with me, constitute the SJCC -- Social Justice Coordinating Committee. (The name always reminds me of the historically significant SNCC -- the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that did so much in the '60s to advance justice.)

Mary, in particular, has done yeoman's work in keeping the SJCC, our SJTs (Social Justice Teams) and, indeed, our congregation's social justice effort organized. The SJT Fair we had after the service last Sunday (Sun Sep 16) was wonderful, and I'm thankful to all SJTs for the heart and time they put into their displays. Way to go, teams!

If I had only seven words to say what Unitarian Universalism is all about, they would be these: Nurture your spirit; help heal our world. But I must take some additional words to emphasize that these are not two things, but one: nurture your spirit BY helping to heal our world -- and help heal our world BY nurturing your spirit, healing yourself, growing in wisdom and compassion. This was clearly on display at every table last Sunday at the SJT Fair!

Our Social Justice Teams are organized on a model of concentric circles: the center circle is the chair or two co-chairs of each team. The second circle is the 5-member "leadership core" of the team. The third circle is all the active members. Fourth is the "on-call" members. Fifth is the entire congregation, which may be called upon for certain specific big projects any SJT might initiate.

Love, my friends! And justice -- for justice is what love looks like in public,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit / New this week:
Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE. Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE
Practice of the Week: The Shower-Write Practice / Our minds can sometimes fall victim to thoughts/feelings that spin out of control, resulting in a feeling of high anxiety and overwhelm. This simple Shower-Write practice stops thoughts and emotions from spiraling out of control. This practice rescues us from mental "freak-out" and allows us to get our thoughts and emotions back under control. Begin with a warm shower, then...READ MORE.
Your Moment of Zen: Not Helping / After a talk by Raven about the precepts, Woodpecker said, "The cowbird lays her egg in the wren's nest, and the two wrens have to hustle to feed the cowbird's baby as well as their own. I don't see why the wrens stand for it, especially since the cowbird's baby is a lot bigger than theirs and has a huge appetite. Maybe the wrens are really bodhisattvas, selflessly devoted to helping others." Raven said...READ MORE
Zen at CUUC: Sat Sep 22

2018-09-20

RE News: Sun Sep 23

Lifespan Religious Education

September has arrived with all the promise and beauty of fall. The academic school year begins for all and so, too, Religious Education at CUUC! Our program was launched on Sun Sep 16 commencing with teacher orientation. The teaching staff were most receptive and very eager to embark on the new year.

As I visited all the classrooms and observed, there was no denying the enthusiasm and engagement of the teachers and children.
The feedback I have received from teachers concerning their first class has conveyed a very positive foundation with even better things to come.

In just a week, the parent-teacher meeting will take place, on Sun Sep 30. I envision this meeting to be an exceptional opportunity for our Director of Faith Development, Perry Montrose, and me to talk about our religious education program, our curriculum, and our goals. Most importantly, the parents also have the ability to meet and speak with our teachers!

It is my hope that this team energy will continue to grow and flourish toward providing a give and take balance of learning and understanding between teachers, students and families.

Michele Rinaldi
Religious Education Coordinator
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Religious Education this Sunday, Sep 23
K-5th grade start in Fellowship Hall for Children's Worship with Children's Music Director Lyra Harada.
6th-12th grade start in classrooms.

2018-19 Curriculum: Pre-K - Chalice Children; K-1st - A Discovery Year; 2nd-3rd - Affirmation Year; 4th-5th - Toolbox of Faith; 6th-7th - Riddle & Mystery; 8th-9th - Our Whole Lives; 10th-12th - Youth Group

To view a spreadsheet version of the RE Calendar, CLICK HERE.
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Faith Development Friday, Fri Sep 28, CUUC
An evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. RSVP to cuucEvents@gmail.com.
6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner, 7:00pm Programs, including:

"Faith Like a River" Adult RE - Session facilitated by Rev. Meredith. The class explores the people, ideas, and movements that have shaped our faith heritage. If you can't attend in person, you can join online via Zoom videoconferencing at https://zoom.us/j/2898507899.
Family Journey Group - Parents discuss the theme of faith, facilitated by Barbara Montrose, while children have their own group, facilitated by Perry Montrose, Director of Faith Development. Adults without children are welcome to participate in the parent group.
Youth Group Social Night - High school youth gather for a night of fun. Bring a friend!

Adults may also just share dinner and then stay to chat and be together in Fellowship Hall, without specific programming. We welcome all to stay for coffee and conversation after the programs.
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Parent-Teacher Meeting, Sun Sep 30, 8:45am, Fellowship Hall
Join Perry and Michele to learn more about the vision of Religious Education. Parents, meet your children's teachers and hear about the curriculum. Breakfast served and childcare available.

2018-09-19

The Shower-Write Practice

Practice of the Week
The Shower-Write Practice

Category: Occasional, or Worth a Try. These are practices suggested for "every once in a while," or "give it a try," or "as needed." You may find it so valuable that you stick with it, and it becomes a Key Supporting Practice for you. Some of them are responses to a particular need that may arise; others are simply enriching occasional enhancements to the spiritual life. All of them are worth a try at least once. And any of them might become a regular and central part of your spiritual practice.


Our minds can sometimes fall victim to thoughts/feelings that spin out of control, resulting in a feeling of high anxiety and overwhelm. Times of great stress can drive us to seek escape (drugs, alcohol, binge eating, or various other addiction/escapist moves) – though escapes only make matters worse.

After much trial and error, I've found this simple Shower-Write practice that stops thoughts and emotions from spiraling out of control. This practice rescues us from mental "freak-out" and allows us to get our thoughts and emotions back under control.

SHOWER. Begin with a warm shower, then gradually make it cooler and cooler until it is very cold. Finally, end the shower by making the water very warm. A simple ten-minute shower like this can powerfully change how you think and feel.

WRITE. As soon as you’ve dried off, write down: “Three small steps I can take to better handle the things going on in my life.”

I once had a client, Linda, who periodically became overwhelmed by the demands of her life. When this happened, she would drink her way into oblivion, or become suicidal. After a couple of suicide attempts, she sought my professional help. Linda wanted to avoid anti-depressant medication because normally she wasn't depressed. In fact, she was often quite happy—but would occasionally become subject to intense feelings of fear. I suggested that, upon the first symptoms of feeling highly stressed or having suicidal thoughts, she take a shower, adjusting the water temperature as described.

Linda tried my suggestion the next time she felt overwhelmed, and was amazed at the results. However, she told me that after a few hours, the fearful thoughts returned. After all, the stressful situations in her life still existed. That’s when I told her to add the WRITE part. The next week when Linda returned to my office, she exclaimed, “It worked!”

Since creating this dual approach to handling feelings of overwhelm, I've used it with dozens of clients. They have all found it to be a practical and effective way to feel they are back in charge of their life.

Why does the shower-write practice work? Basically, our feelings are the result of sensations in our body combined with the focus of our mind. When we feel overwhelmed, it usually stems from trying to focus on all the problems we have or all the things we need to do. Inevitably, this leads to a feeling of stress in our body. Unfortunately, like a microphone caught in a feedback loop, the tightness of our body can lead to focusing even more on the problems we face. Soon, our emotions can be wailing out of control. Fortunately, this unpleasant cycle can be avoided. Showering relaxes your body and changes the focus of your mind. Going from warm, to cold, to hot water helps to “flush” your emotions through your body, leaving you feeling relaxed and renewed.

After the shower, simply get a piece of paper and write down your “anti-overwhelm” list, under the heading: "Three small steps I can take to better handle the things going on in my life.” Write down anything that occurs to you -- just get it out of your head and onto the paper, but make sure you have at least three things.

In addition to SHOWER and WRITE, there’s a PRE-STEP and a FOLLOW-THROUGH.

PRE-STEP. Help yourself know when it’s time to utilize this practice. Each person reacts to stress differently, so it's important to know the first signs that your emotions are careening into trouble. Ask yourself, “In previous times when I've felt overwhelmed, what were the first signs I was losing control?” Write your answer down on paper. This will help you recognize when to head for the shower.

FOLLOW THROUGH. Once you have a list of small actions you can take to handle the stress in your life, prioritize them. Ask yourself, “What's the most important thing to handle first?” Then, keep prioritizing them until you have a list of action steps, from most to least important. Finally, when you feel ready, take care of the first item on your list. By taking action, you'll feel better. You'll get out of your thinking mind and into taking care of the situation at hand. The experience of being overwhelmed results from a lot of thinking and little or no action. As you take even small steps to improve the situations at hand, you'll feel back in charge.

Sometimes people are so good at avoiding a problem that they don't even know a situation is overwhelming to them. To avoid unpleasant feelings, they stay in denial, or distract themselves a thousand different ways. For example, I had a client named Mark who had been in a very destructive relationship with his wife for a long time. Yet, he avoided ever trying to improve the relationship because, any time he thought about it, he felt inundated by fear. I suggested he try the Shower-Write Practice. Just to get him started, I told him not to worry about the follow-through part. “Just write down three steps; you don’t have to do any of them,” I told him. To his pleasant surprise, Mark not only wrote down five small things he could do, but he acted on three of them. When he excitedly walked into my office the next week, he reported, “I now have some hope. While our relationship still needs a lot of help, it feels a hundred percent better than it did last week."

If you live with people, ask them to remind you to use this method the next time you seem out of sorts. When you can quickly turn your fear into positive action, you'll avoid a lot of needless suffering, and you'll be well on your way to a happier and healthier life.

* * *


2018-09-17

Music: Sun Sep 23


When does a composer “let go” of a creation? When are “visions and revisions” at an end, and the piece belongs to the ages? The assiduous work habits of Johannes Brahms prompt such speculation. Brahms labored over his scores, spending nearly twenty years working on his first symphony. An indefatigable perfectionist, Brahms couldn’t bear to leave behind evidence of his struggles: he is reported to have destroyed some 150 compositions, before allowing his Opus 1 to stand. In some instances, the composer returned to works he had completed early in his career as much as 40 years after they’d been published, preparing revised versions reflective of his autumnal maturity. Posterity is left with few clues about Brahms’s creative processes: only the finished products, which met with his unsurpassed scrutiny, survive.

Sunday morning’s musical selections include several of Brahms’s short piano works from various stages of his career. The moody Four Ballades, Op. 10 are early works, and the first one reflects Brahms’s interest in an ancient Scottish legend of parricide. His final solo piano works---his opuses 116-119--are represented by several poignant, introspective Intermezzi. By contrast, a lighter side to the composer’s character is evident in the boisterous Waltzes, Op. 39. Read on for programming details.

Prelude: Adam Kent, piano
Waltzes, Op. 39, Nos. 1-4
Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118, No. 2

Opening Music:
Intermezzo in B Minor, Op. 119, No. 1

Offertory:
Intermezzo in Eb Major, Op. 117, No. 1

Interlude:
Ballade in D Minor, Op. 10, No. 1 “Edward”

2018-09-14

From the MInister, Fri Sep 14

I voted on Thursday, which I always find a moving and spiritual experience. We don't vote to "make a difference," but to be a part of something larger than ourselves. (See my post HERE.)

As not uncommonly happens, I voted for some candidates who lost. In fact, it was my eighth Presidential election before, for the first time, I voted for the candidate who won.

A friend of mine sent a text: "I love siding with losers."

I get this. For most of my young adulthood I took a certain perverse comfort in the thought that whatever craziness our elected officials might do, it couldn't be blamed on me.

But somewhere in there, I grew up. I texted back, "I'd rather the candidates I voted for won. I'm ready to take that responsiblity."

My friend then asked, "How will you take it?"

"I'm ready to be in a relationship of accountability with my fellow citizens," I answered, "and accept the flaws of the candidates for whom I voted as my very own flaws -- offer stalwart defense fo what is defensible and humble apology for what is not -- hold it as my solemn duty to join, and not retreat from, the conversation of democracy. Openness to new learning and to revision of my judgment is essential -- there will always be much I don't know and a duty to keep learning more -- but I believe the world also calls us to act with the best judgment we have at any given time, to manifest a firm, albeit respectful, righteousness."

May it be so. Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit / New this week:
Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE. Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE
Practice of the Week: Create Sacred Moments / I can’t be fully focused on the present moment every waking moment, so I can create sacred moments. At these moments the preciousness of immediate experience and living-in-the-now unite. For example, I make a sacred moment each morning, when I stop at a small pond on my way to the office. To better remember each phase of these “S moments,” I use six words that begins with S: Sight, Sky, Stance, Smell, Sense, Sound. READ MORE.
Your Moment of Zen: Perspective / Woodpecker said, "You've told us how Jackrabbit Roshi said that when the Buddha Macaw looked up and saw the morning star, she realized the truth of mutually dependent arising. I hear that the Roshi is now saying that the Buddha realized, 'Just this!'" Raven said, "Something's still missing." "But isn't that what the Buddha realized?" asked Woodpecker, "'Just this morning star'?" Raven ruffled her feathers and said, "No." READ MORE
Zen at CUUC: Sat Sep 15

Create Sacred Moments

Practice of the Week
Create Sacred Moments

Category: Slogans to Live By. Carry these reminders at all times. These practices don't require setting aside a separate substantial chunk of time -- but they will slow you down a bit (and that's a good thing.) Resolve to get stronger at living by these maxims, day by day. Sometimes make one of them the focus of your daily journaling.

from Edwin Lynn, "The Sacred Moment" in Everyday Spiritual Practice, abridged and adapted.

Life is precious. Every day is blessed, and I want to live that day fully. I can’t be fully focused on the present moment every waking moment, so I can create sacred moments. At these moments the preciousness of immediate experience and living-in-the-now unite. For example, I make a sacred moment each morning, when I stop at a small pond on my way to the office.

To better remember each phase of these “S moments,” I use six words that begin with S.

1. SIGHT: I look out at the surrounding trees and distant shore. I try to notice new discoveries and to be aware of subtle daily changes in the blossoms, leaves, shadows, and colors. The water changes moment by moment, depending upon the wind and sun. Water is especially sensitive to light, and the breeze creates a ballet of changing reflections.

Don’t just look. Let the sights sink in. Let them integrate in awareness with your other senses. When I visited Chartres Cathedral outside Paris, we arrived at 4:00; the church closed at 5:00. For the others in the group, this was no problem. They went inside, looked, walked around, and were in the gift shop well before 5:00. I couldn’t get enough of the building in that short time. I wanted to meditate on the mandala-like rose windows, luxuriate in the colors of the stained glass, marvel at the magnificence of the space, feel the roughness of the stone floors, and touch the soaring stone columns. For a deeper sense of being, I needed a more complete involvement of my senses.

2. SKY: Often, we see only what is at eye level, without being aware of the sky. Whether it is cloudy or bright, I find that when I am aware of the sky, I am more aware of the day. The sky gives context to the day and reminds us of our physical and spiritual presence in the world.

3. STANCE: As I look out at my surroundings and the sky, I become aware of my stance on the ground, my rootedness and connectedness with the earth. I feel this relationship through my legs and feet. Whether standing, sitting, or walking, I notice the ways that I am centered and grounded.

4. SMELL: Smell is the most fundamental of our senses, strongly associated with deep memories. When I returned to New England after a ten-year absence, it was not the landscape or the sky that I remembered most vividly, but the distinctive smell of the dampened leaves nestled in the woods. A delicate sniff can catch the subtle aromas of a pond’s misty moisture of natural flowers or of local vegetation. Attention to aroma heightens the reality of the moment.

5. SENSE: I say “sense” to refer to all the sensations other than sights, sounds, and smells: the feel of the temperature, the breeze, or if eating, the taste. Like most people, I used to pay little attention to the wind unless it was very brisk. As I have become more attuned to my senses, I find that most of the time there is a slight breeze, and when I’m particularly aware, I feel it on different parts of my face. Warmth and cold expand my sense of the moment. The feeling of warmth from the sun or the damp chill of penetrating cold is a part of the moment.

6. SOUND: Sound is the crucial focus of a sacred moment: listening is its theme and its essence. Listening keeps us in the moment so our minds don’t wander. The sacred moment intensifies and lengthens our time of seeing into a time of being. To reach a sacred moment, I find I need to look relatively straight ahead and not be distracted by any moving sights. I listen to the wind, the leaves, the water, and the birds. With these outer sounds, the chatter of my inner thoughts is kept from intruding upon the moment. If I am not listening, I know I am not in the experience, but still trapped in my head, thinking of the past or the future. Standing at the pond, I see the landscape and sky, feel the ground and the breeze, and smell the water. Mostly I listen.

My day includes other times for sacred moments. In the morning while showering, I don’t just get clean, but use the time to create a sacred moment. The sights are obviously limited, and I cannot see the sky, but stance, sense, and smell are particularly acute. Listening to the water as it splashes on my body throughout the shower is the key. It makes the shower more enjoyable. It also connects me to the larger waters of the pond, the ocean, and the skies.

To make breakfast another sacred moment, I avoid watching television or reading the newspaper; I have time for those connections later. In the morning, I want to let my heightened awareness engage the glory of the day. I leave for the office a few minutes early to stop at the pond. The difficult part is allowing the extra time. It is very easy to rationalize that I don’t have the time. But I do stop, and I’m always glad I have.

At the end of the day, I take the time to go for a walk. This is not just a walk for exercise, with the usual daydreaming; I apply the principles of the sacred moment to create a walking meditation. The sights and sounds are richer, though the distractions are more plentiful. I am especially aware of the sky and of the variation in smells from place to place—even of the wind changing direction along the way. Again: listening is key to staying in the moment.

The preciousness of the day is enhanced in direct proportion to its number of sacred moments. Through sacred moments, we can quiet our mind’s inner chatter, and transform our experience of merely seeing into one of being.

* * *

2018-09-12

Vote on Thu Sep 13

Primary Elections in Westchester County
Thu Sep 13, 2018

Democratic Party: 
Registered Dems Vote for 1 & your State Senate District

Governor
  • Andrew M. Cuomo, incumbent
  • Cynthia E. Nixon, education activist
Lieutenant Governor
  • Kathy C. Hochul, incumbent
  • Jumaane Williams, NYC Councilman, 45th District - Brooklyn
Attorney General
  • Leecia R. Eve, former top aide to Hillary Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo
  • Letitia A. James, NYC Public Advocate
  • Sean Patrick Maloney, US Congressman, 18th district, Orange & Putnam counties, some of Dutchess and Westchester counties
  • Zephyr Teachout, Associate Professor of Law, Fordham University
State Senator – 34th District – Parts Pelham, Eastchester, Bronxville
  • Jeffrey D. Klein, incumbent
  • Alessandra Biaggi, attorney, worked for Hillary Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo
State Senator – 35th District –Parts Yonkers, Greenburgh, White Plains& New Rochelle
  • Andrea Stewart-Cousins, incumbent
  • Virginia Perez, Westchester County Legislator, District 17
State Senator – 38th District – Ossining, Briarcliff Manor, Crotonville
  • David Carlucci, incumbent
  • Julie Goldberg, educational media specialist, librarian, writer
State Senator – 40th District – Sleepy Hollow, Valhalla, Mt. Pleasant, Chappaqua, Mt. Kisco, Croton, Peekskill, Yorktown, Shrub Oak, Pound Ridge, South and North Salem
  • Peter B. Harckham, former county legislator, media company owner, Gov. Cuomo admin
  • Robert Kesten, non-profit organization consultant- incl. international human rights educ.
Reform Party: 
Non-affiliated, registered Independent or Reform can vote for 1

Attorney General
  • Michael Diederich, Jr., civil rights attorney, retired army officer, Iraq/Afghan War Veteran
  • Christopher Garvey, attorney, Libertarian party candidate
  • Nancy Sliwa, attorney, real estate broker, Guardian Angels Advisor & animal rts activist
Republican Party: 
Registered Republicans in Mt. Pleasant vote for 1

Town Justice
  • Mark A. Rubeo, Jr. interim incumbent
  • Mike Duffy, attorney, former White Plains police officer, County DA Chief Investigator

Absentee Ballots for the Sept. 13 Primary
registered voters can send Absentee Ballots in through Wednesday, Sept 12 or have someone other than the voter drop the ballot off through Thursday, Sept. 13 to the County Board of Elections.
General Election: Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Still Time to Register to Vote for Nov.6 Election- by Fri Oct.12
Drop off or postmark voter registration forms to the Westchester County Board of Elections by Friday, Oct. 12. Register to vote online with your NYS driver’s license https://voterreg.dmv.ny.gov/MotorVoter/. Re-register if your address has changed.

Absentee Ballots for November 6 General Election: by Nov. 5/Nov.6
Postmark/mail by Monday, November 5, 2018 or
Drop off by someone other than the voter by Nov 6, 2018 to county Bd of Elections

Vote by Absentee Ballot (early voting instead of voting in person on Election Day) if:
You have a temporary illness or physical disability
You have a permanent illness or physical disability
You have duties related to primary care of one or more people who are ill or physically disabled
You’re a patient or inmate in a Veteran’s Administration Hospital or
You’re in jail/prison awaiting trial, action by a grand jury or in prison for a conviction of a crime that was not a felony

To register to vote:
• Be a U.S. Citizen
• Be 18 years of age by the date of the general, primary or other election in which you want to vote.
• Live at your present address at least 30 days before an election (October 5, 2018 or before).
• Not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.
• Not claim the right to vote elsewhere.
• Register at least 25 days prior to an election to be eligible to vote in that election.
• Re-register to vote to update your name and/or address.
• Enroll in a political party
• Change your enrollment: All changes of party enrollment go into effect once a year. They must be filed 25 days prior to the general election and will go into effect seven days after the general election of that year.

Westchester County Board of Elections http://citizenparticipation.westchestergov.com/
25 Quarropas Street
White Plains, NY 10601
Open to the public Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm
Main Number 914-995-5700 Absentee Ballots 914-995-5285 Registrations 914-995-5713

FIND WHERE TO VOTE / YOUR POLLING PLACE IS BASED ON YOUR HOME ADDRESS
http://citizenparticipation.westchestergov.com/find-polling-place use their street abbreviations
or https://www.vote411.org/

WHO ARE MY POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVES NOW – County, State & Federal, not Local
https://www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative/

Voter registration forms
English http://citizenparticipation.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/voterReg.pdf
Spanish http://citizenparticipation.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/voterRegSpan.pdf

Online voter registration / re-register address changes with your NY State driver’s license
https://voterreg.dmv.ny.gov/MotorVoter/

Absentee ballot forms
English http://citizenparticipation.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/2015absenteer.pdf
Spanish http://citizenparticipation.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/2015absenteespanish.pdf
Military/Federal https://www.fvap.gov/

CAN YOU ASSIST THE DISABLED IN VOTING?


The disabled community is severely marginalized economically, socially and politically despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, and things like the Special Olympics. See the Voter Turnout Request from Disabled on the Move below - please assist as you can:

Westchester Disabled On The Move is working with other agencies on a campaign called Rev Up The Vote to increase voter turnout among Westchester residents with disabilities. The campaign includes a voter registration push and reminding people to vote.

We are looking for volunteers to help with both outreach opportunities. If anyone is interested please contact Laura Case at LauraC@WDOM.org or 914-968-4717 ext 104. Thank you

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS 

League of Women Voters of Westerchester: www.lwvw.org

Stephen Cohen, President of the White Plains chapter of the League of Women Voters reminds us that that www.Vote411.org is a massive election resource where you can for example see which races are on your ballot; plus information on the Thu Sep 13 primary election is also found at www.VOTE.org.

The LWV also sends out 1,000s of Voter Guides to people's homes at election time. Consider joining your local LWV and/or donating to their efforts and the national LWV as well.

OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

Consider joining / supporting your local chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Join online in the Contact section at:
https://wpgbnaacporg.wordpress.com/contact/