Secular Service in the Appalachians

The Humanist Graduate Community at Harvard is fundraising for our fourth annual Spring Break Service Trip. We are looking for help to reduce flight costs and to enable us to take a full group of students to engage in environmental work. If you are able to help out, please donate here!

At the Humanist Graduate Community at Harvard we believe that atheists, agnostics, and Humanists can do as much good for the world as religious people. That’s why for the past three years we have organized Secular Service Trips for atheist and Humanist students, visiting New Orleans (post-Katrina rebuilding), South Dakota (teaching and playing with underserved Lakota youth in the poorest district in America), and Los Angeles (working with homeless youth, particularly homeless LGBTQ youth).

This year, for our fourth annual Spring Break trip, a group of 8 students will venture to the mountaintops of Kentucky to learn about mountaintop removal and other environmental issues related to the coal mining industry. In a week of service we will plant trees in an abandoned strip mine, weatherize low-income homes, and speak to miners and residents affected by mountaintop removal.

We believe that climate change and environmental protection is one of the most pressing challenges faced by our society today, and we know that too often attempts to address our climate change challenges are stymied by those who refuse, sometimes for religious reasons, to accept climate science. That makes this a particularly important issue for secular students to tackle – and we need your help!

We have already secured funds to pay for the basic costs of the trip, including accommodation and food for the week, and have reached out to our own community for funding. Now we need assistance with flight costs (flights cost anywhere from $500-$800), van rental (we’ll be driving from the airport to the service location and to mines, through forests, and to local communities), and incidental expenses. Your donation will go directly to funding this trip, and you will receive a report of our progress through blogging during (if there’s time!) and after the trip. We’ll also send you a copy of our Spring Break Trip Planning Guide, which offers some tips and considerations for planning a Spring Break Trip with your own secular group. We’ll close the fundraising link once we’ve reached our goal, and any funds we don’t use will go toward future Values in Action service projects – so nothing is wasted.

Your donation not only helps the environment but also burnishes the image of secular students everywhere: the more visible we are living out our values, the more we break down prejudice against nonreligious people. We’re grateful for your support!

About James Croft

James Croft is the Leader in Training at the Ethical Culture Society of St. Louis - one of the largest Humanist congregations in the world. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is currently writing his Doctoral dissertation as a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book "The Godless Congregation", co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.


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