November 2020 Update

Before We Get to Mars…We Are Getting to Know the Community of Summit!

The little matter of the global coronavirus pandemic has slowed us down this year, but we are moving well again!

Remember how before the pandemic hit you had travel plans and then…they were changed? The original plans for our Before We Get to Mars project have changed as well. After some good research and initial relationship building with people in the Willowbrook Corners community, we decided it wasn’t a great match for our BWGTM project. We are now carefully considering another community that we hope will be a good match for our long term BWGTM commitment.

Summit, seven miles (or about 20 minutes) to the southeast of Union Church, looks to be a community where we can form long-term relationships and partner with the community in promising ways. Summit’s population of 11,000 is 63% Latinx and 24% (non-Latinx) White. Pre-coronavirus, the unemployment rate was very low, but per capita income was still also very low at just $19,000, about 60% of the average for Illinois. Many work hard at one, two or three minimum wage jobs to support their families. There is a small UCC congregation along with several other active churches.

Through the process of study and discernment, our congregation chose to work in the area of education, with the particular focus being early childhood education. The early years of a child’s life are when quality engagement can make the most impact. To begin a relationship with this community, we would initially explore the possibility of setting up a preschool to serve the 0-3 year old population, which is currently greatly underserved. We plan to work side-by-side with community members and initially establish this connection which could open the door to broader opportunities. A community that is working to care for their families at the poverty level also has needs in the areas of unemployment, food insecurity, English language learning, and more.

The BWGTM team is very enthusiastic about this new focus. Would you like to join in this life-changing effort? Meetings are currently held via Zoom. Many skills are needed! Especially fluency in Spanish! This is a great group and this is a perfect time to become involved, as our congregation moves forward to make a real impact in the lives of others as well as our own…before we get to Mars. Please contact Mary Sue Honigschmidt (marysue at red-works dot com), chair of BWGTM, if you would like to join us. Thanks!

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