This has been a big year for the Justice and Witness Committee. As First Congregational Church traditions like Peace Village, Summer Fun Camp and Sierra Service Project trips were cancelled because of COVID, and the needs in our community grew, the J&W committee was charged with the responsibility of donating unspent funds to the programs that could best help those in need.

On the eve of December 23rd, the committee met via Zoom to make year-end decisions on where the unspent funds would go. We are pleased to announce that First Congregational Church was able to donate $3,400 towards the needs of youth and the most vulnerable in our community.

$1,000 was sent to CORE, or Coordinated Outreach through Radical Empowerment, https://coreeugene.org. CORE is dedicated to supporting and empowering young people who are experiencing poverty. They are providing warm clothing, food, and outreach and support to young people 16-24 years old.

$1,000 was donated to 15th Night, whose goal is to keep youth off the street and in school. This creative program serves youth as young as 13 years old. Last year there were 482 students in the Eugene-Springfield-Bethel school districts who were experiencing homelessness. Research shows that youth who are new to the streets are more likely to become chronically homeless if help is not provided within 15 days. Learn more about this organization at https://www.15thnight.org/.

$1,400 was donated to Carry it Forward, a local non-profit that delivers donated goods directly to unhoused individuals in the Eugene-Springfield area and supports organizations that work with this population (like Egan Warming Center, Occupy Medical, Family First Shelter and others). Their website is https://www.carryitforward.net.

Also in December, the committee worked with the FCC Housing Initiative and staff from Lane County to establish three family-size pallet shelter homes in the top parking lot. Families, who without these shelters would be sleeping in tents and cars, are expected to move in soon and will remain potentially through June.

To see all the activity in the last year, see the list at Justice and Witness Actions in 2020.

2021 will bring a new focus on social justice needs and the work needed to create a more just world for all. The committee is exploring a range of activities, including a plastic recycling event, creating a food pantry outside the church, designing and commissioning a mural on the side of the church that shows our commitment to justice, and much more.

Please, come join our committee! New members are warmly welcomed! Contact Val Close at justiceandwitness@fcceugene.org