What’s on our Plate? (WOOP)

What’s On Our Plate? (WOOP)

Vickie Steffey

In 2008 Hugh and Jan Gillilan became aware of an idea circulating in the national UUA community that UUs spend a good deal of effort collecting money for our own budgetary needs, but not a lot of attention is given to humanitarian organizations in the wider community.  Wouldn’t it be nice for Unitarian Universalists to both learn about and donate to humanitarian organizations who provide services directly to people in the community?   

In October, 2008, a subcommittee of the Social Justice Committee, Jan Gillilan, Sharon Strong, Louise Ewing and Judy Smith, came together to discuss guidelines and goals for the program which they called “What’s On Our Plate?” or “WOOP.”   The guidelines were to identify nonprofit organizations that directly help people and have a one-time need that is difficult for the organization to fund through its regular operating budget.  Organizations should not already be funded by the First Unitarian Church or have been previously helped by the WOOP program.  The goals were to provide funds to nonprofit organizations for a one-time expense, to teach local nonprofits about UUs, to teach the congregation about local humanitarian organizations, and to encourage UU’s involvement with organizations in the wider community.  

Organizations were nominated by church members and friends and contacted by a representative of the WOOP Committee.  The congregation was educated about the organization through articles in the Torch and Order of Service, and a representative of the organization spoke at both Sunday services on the day of the collection.  The proceeds of the plate collection that Sunday were donated to the organization.  WOOP presented a nonprofit organization approximately every other month during the church year.  WOOP collections were not normally done during November and December because of other holiday donations, and March, which is UU pledge month.

The WOOP Program was active between 2008 and 2014, and over forty nonprofit organizations were helped.  Over $70,000 was collected and distributed.  Some of the organizations which received WOOP funds are:  Ingles Para Latinos, Utah Pride Center, Maliheh Free Clinic, The Sharing Place, Odyssey House of Utah, Neighborhood House, Work Activity Center, People Helping People, Ronald McDonald House, and House of Hope. 

[edited by TH, 10.4.20]