UUCC Selected for Community Impact Project

UUCC Selected for Community Impact Project

UUCC has been selected to serve as a host site for a Leadership Essentials Community Impact Project in 2024!  

Starting in January 2024, a team of Leadership Essentials participants—business, non-profit, and government leaders from across the region—will be helping UUCC with a special project.  

What is Leadership Essentials? What is a Community Impact Project (CIP)? 

From the Leadership Essentials website:  

Leadership Essentials is a six-month leadership development program for emerging leaders offered through Loyola University Maryland, in collaboration with Leadership Howard County. From December – June each year, a diverse cohort of approximately 30 individuals from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors strengthen their leadership skills through full-day sessions, one-on-one coaching, and a community service project.   

Community Impact Projects: Teams from the cohort will support a local nonprofit* and further develop their teamwork, project management, and communication skills. 

* that’s us!

What is UUCC’s project?  

There’s so much happening at UUCC that we want people and organizations in the community around us to know about and participate in. This sort of community outreach and engagement isn’t about a killer marketing campaign or public spotlights—it’s about relationships.  

Our CIP team will be working with UUCC volunteers to train our volunteers in effective community-centered engagement, strategize community organizations and institutions to reach out to, and coach and mentor our volunteers in the work of partnership-building. 

We’ll be using our nourishing garden as our case study. Last year, we fundraised together to build a “nourishing garden,” an ecologically beneficial growing space, at OBIC. The Community Ecology Institute designed and assisted with the garden build, but the ongoing management, planting, and activities of the garden are responsibilities of UUCC.  

Our vision is to turn the space into a vibrant learning garden utilized by neighborhood children, families, school groups, congregations, and other groups. The garden presents opportunities for individuals to reconnect with nature and learn about sustainable planting practices that are beneficial to people and the earth and more specifically, gain deeper understanding of the native plant-pollinator-bird health nexus.  Our nourishing garden could be a learning and activity site for the library, the 50+ center, and Scouts troops.

Since spring 2023, the garden has been tended and cared for by three UUCC volunteers (Mary Rodgers, Trish Steinhilber, and Ann Wing), who have invited UUCC families and children enrolled in our children’s programs to learn and explore in the garden. But so far, the garden has only been utilized and enjoyed by UUCC congregants and the Cradlerock Children’s Center, and we are falling short of our original vision for the garden.  

That’s why we’re inviting our CIP team to train, guide, and coach our powerhouse team of volunteers in the work of relationship building until everybody in the Owen Brown community knows the opportunities of the nourishing garden. We’ll brainstorm existing relationships we want to deepen (including internally at UUCC and OBIC, Cradlerock Children’s Center, Cradlerock Elementary) and identify new connections we want to make (ie. the library, the 50+ center, and all the Scouts troops, businesses, daycare centers, and churches around us). Our CIP team will help us with project management timelines and goals to keep us moving forward.  

Why does this project matter?  

The skills and strategies of internal and external relationship-building are relevant for every single ministry at UUCC, including food insecurity, Seasoned Souls, the youth group, the pledge drive—all of them! The skills we gain and the relationships we build through this CIP will continue long after our six months with the cohort are done, and we want to see them translated across all of our ministry areas. 

By learning and practicing the tools of listening and engagement internally at UUCC, we fulfill our congregational end #3: Strengthen relationships and cultivate an ever-wider, multigenerational circle of participation and leadership at UUCC. By reaching out and building partnerships with other organizations and individuals in our neighborhood, we fulfill our congregational end #6: Foster engagement and strengthen relationships within the Owen Brown Interfaith Center, Owen Brown community, and Howard County community.  

Can I get involved even if I haven’t been part of the nourishing garden work?  

 Yes! We welcome any UUCC congregant who wants to participate in this project. Email Valerie at valerie@uucolumbia.net and let her know of your interest in being part of our UUCC project team.  

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