Dedicated Offerings provide a way for our Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst community to recognize and financially support worthy organizations engaged in projects that reflect our guiding Unitarian-Universalist principles.

On one Sunday every month (except for June, July, and August) we schedule a Dedicated Offering (DO), recognizing that our Society needs our support on the other Sundays of the month. Dedicated Offerings are suggested by both individuals and committees of the Society, and the program is managed by the Minister and the Dedicated Offering Committee. Our goal is to cover a wide range of areas of need in our area and in the larger world, including these categories: local, regional, national, international, environmental, medical, educational, animal rights, arts/music/culture, and different ages and genders.

The Dedicated Offering on October 21 will be for The Care Center in Holyoke.

If you have dropped out of school, had a baby, live in poverty and the world tells you you’ve failed – college and the opportunities that come with it seem impossible. So how do we change this? In short, The Care Center in Holyoke reignites a passion for learning through photography, Shakespeare, yoga and rowing. Rigorous HiSET prep, college exposure, and endless encouragement prepare students for college. With Bard College, The Care Center runs Bard Microcollege Holyoke, where low-income women can earn a college degree while being bolstered by its proven supports: daycare, transportation and counseling.

The result? Women who never imagined they would go to college are earning associate degrees from Bard College and completing bachelors’ degrees at Smith and Trinity. They are reading the latest translation of Homer’s Odyssey and envisioning themselves writing for The New York Times. They have internships at the Mayor’s Office and plans to become architects. Executive Director Anne Teschner explains, “People living in poverty and people of means need the same things – intellectually, emotionally, physically – to succeed. This understanding has defined our work.”

The Care Center serves young mothers in poverty, a population whose personal circumstances present consistent challenges to traditional higher education. Each student’s situation is unique, but the myriad of issues students deal with include poverty, hunger, unstable housing, and domestic violence. In the long run, The Care Center aims to eliminate some of these challenges by helping women earn college degrees that will lead to competitive, living-wage careers. However, in the short term, poverty and the issues that it perpetuates shape the reality within which it operates. The Care Center’s built-in supports (daycare, transportation, counseling, camaraderie, persistent encouragement) are essential.

The Care Center is also working with Wayfinders, the largest developer of affordable housing in Western Massachusetts, to develop housing in downtown Holyoke for young parents in college.  The program has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Thank you for showing your support for the Dedicated Offering program, not only with your contributions to the DO recipients themselves, but also with your contributions to the Society on other Sundays when our budget counts on those receipts. Remember that no one is required to contribute to our Dedicated Offering recipients – this is a voluntary initiative.