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West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church

Justice Groups & Task Forces

Social Action Committee

Grounded in our UU principles, we strive through education, advocacy, and action to make our church a force for justice on a local, state, national and global level. We maintain the Food Pantry at West Shore and are responsible for the popular Social Action Film Series, which is open to the community. We organize participants for marches like the Women’s March and Protesting Gun Violence. We support the Cleveland Food Bank (see below) and the Inter-Religious Task Force to help immigrants. We work with Urban Hope (see below) and with NEOCH, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. We promote voter registration and often provide information about ballot issues. We are beginning to work with Braver Angels, a nationwide program promoting mutual civility and understanding in our politically divisive world.

Meets the 1st Monday of the month, 7:00 p.m.
Contact: Gloria Bemer,


The Greater Cleveland Food Bank serves Northeast Ohio providing food for the many who desperately need it.  Volunteers from West Shore carpool to the Food Bank to help with sorting, repacking, or whatever needs to be done. We leave the church parking lot at 8:20 a.m. and return by 12:30 p.m.  There is no long-term commitment. You may sign up when the date suits your schedule. Please let Betsy know if you will be participating prior to showing up!

Meets the 3rd Thursday & 4th Wednesday of the month, 8:20 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Contact: Betsy Hutcheson,

Urban Hope

In 1998, Urban Hope began as a West Side inner-city community outreach program and store-front presence that was conceived by Rev. Mary Grigolia. Doris Matthey, a West Shore member, was the Chairman of the Steering Committee and a guiding force of the new movement. Members on the committee were volunteers from five local UU churches. West Shore’s Social Action Committee has volunteered and helped to support Urban Hope throughout the years. Currently, Debby Purdy, Cathy Ross, and Jillian Cook are on the Steering Committee and represent West Shore. West Shore member Jean Kosmac serves as the Steering Committee chair.

West Shore members and neighbors meet for a meal and fellowship. Members are asked to volunteer to help serve a hot meal, assist with shower coordination, hand out undergarments and toiletries. The neighbors can take showers when the storefront is open. West Shore volunteers say their one-on-one connections with the neighbors have been meaningful and even personally profound. We are always looking for new volunteers to join us in sharing and caring!

Meets the 3rd Sunday of the month, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at The Urban Hope Store Front, 4241 Lorain Avenue, Cleveland, OH
Contact: Jillian Cook,
Watch the program video: clicking here.


Urban Hope Children’s Garden

The Children’s Garden is a neighborhood program of Urban Hope, a UU outreach to low-income residents on the near west side of Cleveland. Our goal is to show urban children where our food comes from, help them discover how delicious fresh veggies can be, and nurture a love of the outdoors. We work with children from the Near West Intergenerational school across the street during spring planting and fall harvesting seasons. In the summer, we work with neighborhood children. Each session offers hands-on gardening including weeding, cooking with the veggies we grow, and a craft. The garden is located in Kentucky Community Garden at West 38th and Franklin. We meet seasonally and are always looking for extra helping hands!

Meets seasonally.
Contact: Cathy Ross,

Task Force for Reproductive Justice

Decisions about children, families, and sexuality are some of life’s most profound. Our Unitarian Universalist faith holds central the inherent worth and dignity of all people, which includes a belief in the sacredness of all bodies, and the importance of self-determination and human agency. As part of a liberatory Reproductive Justice movement, we affirm our commitment to building a world in which all people are able to make choices about their bodies, their health, and their families within safe, thriving communities. In practice, this commitment looks like working to ensure that:

  • people of all identities and experiences have access to affirming, affordable health care, including reproductive care and abortion;
  • people of every age can access comprehensive, sex-positive, fact-based sexuality education;
  • people are empowered and supported to choose when, how, and if they will have children;
  • our institutions and communities actively work to eradicate sexual violence, abuse, and coercion, and to heal the wounds of such harm;
  • that people are supported to make informed, values-aligned decisions about their sexual and reproductive health throughout their lives.

We advocate for the ability of all families and communities to realize a sense of wholeness with regard to their sexual and reproductive lives. We create safe and healthy environments for children in our faith communities and campaign publicly for just and compassionate laws for family planning, reproductive and sexual health, and gender equity.

Contact: Kelly Pinkas,

West Shore FaCT: Faith Communities Together for a Sustainable Future

West Shore FaCT promotes clean air, clean water, healthy soil, and a quick, equitable transition to renewable energy sources and just, sustainable living. We create opportunities for education, advocacy, and action. We are part of FaCT Ohio: Faith Communities Together for a Sustainable Future, collaborating with more than forty faith groups from sixteen counties in Ohio, and three in West Virginia. Locally, WS FaCT works with community groups for environmental justice.

Come and join us in confronting the problems that unsustainable practices cause for communities and families in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Your ideas and your energy are welcome to help address issues of environmental justice!

Meets the 4th Wednesday of the month, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Contact: Linda New,

Queer & Allies Task Force

Our first Principle as Unitarian Universalists states, “We affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all persons,” and so it goes without saying that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons are not only welcome at West Shore, but expected to participate fully in all church activities. West Shore’s Q&A group is composed of LGBTQ people and their Allies.

In the late 1980s, West Shore voted to become a “Welcoming Congregation” which means that the church took seriously its commitment to educate its members on LGBTQ justice concerns, and serve as active advocates for, and with, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. We advocated for marriage equality before it became a reality, celebrated the victory, and support all new efforts to achieve LGBTQ equality.

Meets the 3rd Monday of the month, October – June, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. with a special picnic during the summer.
Contact: Kathy Little,

Undoing Oppressions

Since 2001, Undoing Oppressions (under various names) has worked to educate ourselves and to provide information and resources to the congregation and the community about the devastating effects of societal and systemic racism. Affecting all of us in different ways, our knowledge of racism is a challenging, but important issue to address with courage, care, and compassion. With a willingness to learn (and unlearn), we are taking steps to undo the harm that is being done and to live our Unitarian Universalist principles more fully. We would love to have you join us!

Meets the 3rd Tuesday of the month, 7:00 p.m.
Contacts: Mary Jo Maish,
April Stoltz,


Renee Jones Empowerment Center

Renee Jones Empowerment Center (RJEC) is the only 501(c)(3) organization in Northeast Ohio dedicated to offering life coaching and aftercare assistance to individuals having the fortitude to end the cycle of human trafficking. Through cutting-edge trauma-informed programs and services, RJEC sheds light on the shadow side of humanity and offers a hopeful way to put lives back on a positive track.

Contact: Joan Clark,

Greater Cleveland Congregations

West Shore is a founding member of Greater Cleveland Congregations. GCC follows the community organizing strategies of the Industrial Areas Foundation. It includes over 30 dues-paying congregations and organizations from across Cuyahoga County. It is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular. West Shore is one of three Cuyahoga County UU congregations that are active GCC members.

Core Teams like West Shore’s listen and act in concert with our sister institutions to make social change. We support GCC in connecting individuals and organizations to multiply its power and mobilize its members by the thousands to make our voices heard to build a better community for all county residents.  A GCC staff of four paid organizers supports clergy, lay leaders, and member institutions to carry out its mission of being a catalyst for social justice.

Meets the 1st Tuesday of the month, 7:00 p.m.
Contact: Mary-Jo Maish,