Neighbors in Need (NIN) is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry(CAIM). Two-thirds of this offering is used by the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. Neighbors in Need grants are awarded to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. These grants fund projects whose work ranges from direct service to community organizing and advocacy to address systemic injustice. This year, special consideration will be given to projects focusing on serving our immigrant neighbors and communities.
“Please, Won’t You Be My Neighbor”
There used to be a program which aired on PBS; Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Fred Rogers was a friendly, non-threatening-presence, who helped children, as well as adults, cope with things that they experienced in the world; many of which they found frightening. At the opening of each episode, he sang a little ditty, inviting all to be his neighbor, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?” In similar fashion, Altadena Community Church in Altadena, CA wanted to know their neighbors better as well as tackle the sensitive subject matter of mental illness. So, in October 2017, they offered a free Mental Health First Aid Training for community leaders and first responders, sponsored in part with a Neighbors in Need Grant. 25 people registered. The church’s leadership wanted to raise the community’s awareness of mental health with the hope of reducing the stigma associated with it. Issues of public safety were to be addressed; hence the leadership at Altadena Community Church believed that providing mental health first aid training could prove beneficial for all. “Awareness of mental health as a justice issue has grown in the congregation,” said Associate Pastor, Kelli Parrish Lucas. Furthermore, she stated “there is a growing awareness in the church that there is need to distinguish between actual danger and acute mental health symptoms which some may perceive as potential dangers or something to fear. The Mental Health First Aid Trainings have prompted congregational awareness that there are safe ways to engage in situations that involve mental health crises.” Many participating agreed. One participant who attended the free two-half day training sessions had this to say about it, “Thank you so much for this training. I have already told others about it and I think it is a very essential training to do and partake in.” When asked whether the discussion on disability awareness and justice added or detracted from the topic of mental health, another attendee replied, “This was my favorite discussion. Because I deal with this on a daily basis, it was easy for me to provide my input on the subject. With relation to mental health, I think it was a good conversation to have.” “PLEASE, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?”
Because of the generosity of UCC members across the US, programs, such as this can be supported and communities are strengthened. Please join us in supporting the 2018 Neighbors In Need Special Mission Offering. Thank you! Two-thirds of your donations to NIN support advocacy programming and grants. One-third of your generous gifts directly support CAIM. www.ucc.org/nin.