Unity Partnership Events & News
At Unity Partnership, one of our goals is community engagement. Our members often participate in events sponsored by other organizations which promote greater cultural awareness and social change. On occasion, we will also include links to these events as well.
The DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church shares its commitment to social justice with and interfaith potlucks to immerse the culture of DuPage UU Church in the myriad racially-based injustices that exist in our community. We translated our passion into action by developing the SMILE (Students, Mentors, Internships with Local Employers) project from a model we learned about from a group of Proviso Township African-American ministers.
Our SMILE project engages high school students with mentors in workplace environments. Students intern with their mentor for 16 hours per week for a total of 4 weeks, learning aspects of a business they are interested in, at no cost to the mentor. Students are paid an honorarium by the Social Justice Committee with funds raised by the DuPage UU Church congregation. Contributions came directly from members and from a variety of fundraisers.
Unity Partnership actively supported the SMILE project by offering two internships with local police departments. The student interns accompanied officers on “ride alongs,” and observed basic police procedures. The officers also modeled appropriate dress and demeanor in the workplace. Both the students and the officers reported that the experience was positive.
In keeping with the local departments and Unity Partnership’s goal of increasing diversity, all the SMILE project interns were young people of color. We hope to add additional departments next year, and again match students who express an interest in policing. We hope that other churches and groups will follow our lead and set up their own SMILE projects. We know that a positive relationship with a committed mentor at a critical point in a teen’s development can truly be transformative.
Co-Chair DUUC Social Justice Committee
Second Vice President, Unity Partnership
Change begins with ordinary people...