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The past year’s work to be a good neighbor in our church neighborhood and in Spartanburg was led by Pam and Fred Stoll, and summarized it in this part of the social justice annual report. This effort was somewhat restrained this year by the pandemic and associated distancing. The South Converse Neighborhood Association (SCNA) cancelled several of its monthly meetings, and others were virtual or hybrid, but face-to-face interaction has been infrequent, although most meetings have been “attended” by UUCS members. There were a number of other connections to note:
- Grimke Mural: In August, UUCS and the League of Women Voters hosted a dedication of our new Grimke Mural, which was attended by a number of South Converse leaders and neighbors.
- Neighborhood Cleanup: UUCS members continue to participate in the monthly litter pickups in the South Converse neighborhood.
- Masks: UUCS Masks were provided to Tony Sutton, SCNA President, for distribution within the neighborhood;.to people awaiting Covid-19 testing at a South Side church; and at an event of Upstate NAACP.
- Drive-throughs: UUCS organized an MLK-Day drive-through event to benefit Total Ministries and provide masks to donors. We held a total of five drive-throughs collecting food and other items between Aug. and April, collecting 2724 lbs. of food in addition to other items (ie. Winter clothes in Dec., Period products in March, etc).
- Little Library: BaGN members are working with Councilwoman Littlejohn on a location for a “Little Library,” sponsored by UUCS, to be placed in the South Converse neighborhood, replacing one in S. Converse Park that had been removed by vandals.
- New Supermarket: BaGN members attended a briefing by the city on progress toward opening a new supermarket on Church St.
- Mary H. Wright House: Pam Stoll is tracking on-again and off-again discussions of creating a museum house honoring Black educator Mary H. Wright.
- Concerned Citizens: BaGN members attended two virtual meetings of “Concerned Citizens for Renovation of the South Side,” an effort centered around improving the south side community, growing out of discussion at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church under Rev. Benjamin Snoddy, with support of a $75,000 grant from the Mary Black Foundation, and incorporating the foundation’s Health Equity Framework of : (i) High Quality Education and Employment; (ii) Safe and Supportive Neighborhoods, and (iii) Accessible, Affordable & Culturally Relevant Health Care.
- Divinity Care: Through an SCNA connection, UUCS provided masks, used cookware, and other supplies to Divinity Care, a shelter for homeless men run by Rev. Richard Johnson.
- Southside Heritage Committee: Pam has been made an honorary Board Member of the Southside Heritage Committee, and was asked to present the Mission Statement at a recent event honoring six Southside women as a part of Women’s History Month.
- Southside Youth Development: We are in conversation with Mr. Luther Norman, a neighborhood leader and volunteer with the Youth Sports Bureau, about possible collaboration in enrichment activities (sports, mentoring, apprenticeships, tutoring) for youth living in the Southside