Many paths. One welcoming and diverse community.

Community Outreach

helpinghandsThe Mission of the Community Outreach Committee is to promote Unitarian Universalist values by leading the UUCOV congregation in social service outreach to the local community. We do this by:

      • Educating the congregation about social service needs in the local community,
      • Communicating social service volunteer opportunities to the congregation,
      • Coordinating congregational social service projects,
      • Working in collaboration with Interfaith Outreach, Inc., and other community organizations to serve local social service needs,
      • Raising funds for local social service needs.

Our current activities focus on improving the lives of children and adults in South Sarasota County who are homeless, hungry, or economically deprived.

Community Outreach News

Important Message from Family Promise

Family PromiseBut first: Family Promise Volunteers you rock! Another successful week of hosting 2 single mothers with 3 children each, making them feel welcome in our home!

About Volunteering
A Family Promise hosting week requires about 300-500 hours of volunteer time. We generally host 2 families with 3 or 4 children, but we must be prepared for, and have hosted, 3 families with a total of 14 persons. Volunteers sleep overnight in ALH; help with breakfast; and we clean ALH each morning the families are with us.

We need a pool of 50-70 volunteers to ensure the Family Promise program functions smoothly and is sustainable for the long haul. We need to add to our present pool of volunteers. In addition to those who serve when families are being housed, we also need others with a variety of skills: handy man skills, scheduling or PR skills, liaison skills, bookkeeping or budgeting skills, and data input skills to maintain an e-mail distribution list and to track the training required of volunteers. Interested? Please contact Cindy O’Dell-317-370-6705.

And if you are asking yourself why do this? How about a hug from a child who needed some needed attention? Or being able to give a pat on the back to a mother who needs encouragement? Or the fun of a quick game of chess with rules that are wild and crazy? Or to know that you fixed the squeaking door that used to wake the families up in the middle of the night? or you were integral to coordinating the schedule that made the hosting week a success.

Every family is different, has different needs, and requires different solutions. Flexibility, patience and love are what our volunteers give these families.

A New Venture
The Steering Committee recommendation, to use ALH for an additional 4 weeks a year was endorsed by the Community Outreach Leader, Trudy Jacoby, the Social Justice Team Leader, Marty King, and by the Coordinating Council. Our Board of Trustees approved the recommendations.

The Venice United Church of Christ (VUCC) will join us as a co-hosting congregation using our Asta Linder. We will co-host for two weeks back-to-back 4 times a year. Cindy and Paul O’Dell, UUCOV’s coordinators, and Sandy McHenry, VUCC Family Promise coordinator, will be recruiting over the next several months, visiting our fellow churches and civic organizations to add 25 to 30 volunteers for a two-week summer hosting as a part of the additional 4 weeks

Steering Committee
Essential to the sustainability of our Family Program is the Steering Committee; we have a critical need to add 3 or 4 volunteers. When everyone is healthy and is in town, hosting families runs smoothly. But that never happens. We get sick and have emergencies. We had a 90+ percent turnover in the past year on the Steering Committee, which has been disruptive to the Program, and more importantly to the families.

Two Committee members ensure ALH is prepared to host the new family’s arrival: storing 40 to 50 chairs; rearranging of all the furniture; hanging 8 drapery panels to provide privacy to a family; create night stands out of plastic drawer containers; cover book cases, TV, etc. that Family Promise families are forbidden to use. And, one week later, they undo all of this for ARE and YRE’s Sunday programs. One Committee person coordinates the 7 to 10 dinner providers, ensuring that providers know of food allergies and favorite foods, and tries to ensure some variety in their meals. They also find substitutes when necessary. A third Committee member ensures staples are stocked at ALH and replenishes these items as needed. Fourth member coordinates volunteers who launder the towels, wash clothes, sheets, and mattress pads. Currently the UUCOV Family Promise coordinators recruit, schedule and coordinate the schedule for hosting the families; liaison with SSCFP; VUCC; and UUCOV’s RE; Physical Plant; Community Outreach; Social Justice: Coordinating Council and to the Board of Trustees. We are reaching out to various churches, civic organizations (whoever will listen to our story) for more volunteers and assistance to host families for an additional 4 weeks.

Mats for the Homeless

plastic bagsPlease save clean, used plastic grocery bags (Public, Walmart, Target, etc.) and put them in the designated container in the corner of the lanai. We will begin collecting them on Jan 1.

From January through May, the mat-makers will meet, 10am-noon, on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays in Waters Hall. Newcomers are welcome to come learn and help. For further information contact Carol Wight () or Judy Heipel () 813-924-3387.

Family Promise

FamilyPromiseIn February 2015, UUCOV joined the Family Promise Program to help temporarily homeless families in South Sarasota County get back on their feet; this month, January 2017 we start our third year with the program, committed to hosting families in Asta Linder House 4 weeks each year. “Hosting” requires a team of volunteers, trained by the Family Promise staff, to provide food, shelter, help and hope and we’re always seeking more UUCOVers to join that team, making the task lighter for each of us. To learn more, contact Cindy O’Dell, 317-370-6705 or

Did you realize that our Asta Linder House offers a much-needed home-like atmosphere for the families in the Program? Because of this, we offered its space for the entire Christmas season to a single mother with three delightful children ages 5, 6 and 8; possibly another single mom with three young precious ones under the age of 4; and grandparents with their 3 darling girls under 13. Christmas and the week following was hosted by another church and we UUCOV will host January 1st- 8th. This year, we’ll host 5 weeks; January plus March 5th -12th; April 2nd -9th; October 15th -22nd; and December 24th-31st .

The Family Promise Steering Committee appreciates the donations of items that have been made to make each family’s stay comfortable; currently the program has ALL the supplies it needs and storage is an issue. Additionally, unwanted donations makes unnecessary work for all as we then have to get rid of it. Please call Cindy or Paul O’Dell, 317-370-6705 or if you have a donation you think we could use.