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Social Action

B-SAFE Week at St. Mary's in Dorchester

An intrepid team of Grace volunteers prepared and served lunch, and then stayed to read to and with the children. Check out the steel drums under the stained glass windows!

B-SAFE 2015

July 13-17
Happy Summer! Grace Church is once again partnering with the St. Mary’s site in Dorchester in our 9th year as a parish sponsor of B-SAFE (Bishop’s Summer Academic & Fun Enrichment). This amazing program offers engaging activities, field trips, and academic enrichment for grade school aged children and provides jobs for young adults as junior and senior staff, contributing to a full, safe and active summer for all! . B-SAFE could not exist without the support of volunteers from parishes like ours who prepare and serve lunches and snacks, read with children, and plan and participate in a full day Friday field trip. We hope you will consider joining us in B-SAFE the week of July 13-17 by volunteering in one or more of the many options available:
Lunches: Mon 7/13— Wed 7/15:  Our lunch captains (Jenny Rosser, Mary Swezy, Lisa Tieszen, Carolyn Blanks) need 4-5 volunteers each day to help prepare, transport, set up and clean up after lunches for 60 children and counselors at St. Mary’s. Lunches are prepared at Grace Church.
Timing: Approximately 9:30am -1:30pm
Note: B-SAFE is hosting a gathering for ALL of the B-SAFE sites on Thursday 7/16  at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline.  We will be making bag lunches that day to bring to the park for the St. Mary’s group.  More details forthcoming from B-SAFE…  
New Event: Friday Field Day and Barbeque 7/17: This year, instead of going to Drumlin Farm, our “Field Trip” will be a fun Field Day at Grace Church. More details to come, but plans include music, barbeque, book fair/book bag decorating, face painting and other games and activities. Volunteers may help with any activity or portion of the day – including set up and clean up.   
 Timing: Day will last approximately 9:30am-2pm, and folks can participate for any block/length of time or activity. Margaret Crook has graciously taken the lead in planning the day’s activities.  
Can’t participate during work hours but would like to contribute? We can use help with picking up fruits/vegetables or other supplies as needed over the course of the week. Bill Bruins is overseeing the annual children’s book drive for the St. Mary’s group that day. To that end, DONATIONS OF NEW OR GENTLY USED CHILDRENS BOOKS WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED- Please bring your books to Grace and leave them in the boxes in the office.
 For more information or to volunteer, please contact Lisa Tieszen or Carolyn Blanks:    
 Lisa Tieszen   617.965.9831,
Carolyn Blanks. 617.969.6805, 
April 26th at Grace

Grace children and youth gather around the display that tracked the Social Action Committee's progress in raising funds for Episcopal Relief and Development's (ERD) global efforts to promote clean water access in developing nations. The Social Action Committee met its goal of raising $4,000 for these efforts. A check was presented to Tinka Perry of ERD following her sermon about clean water campaigns in Ghana and other nations. The display includes children's written reflections about water. 

For more pictures from the presentation visit our facebook page:


Give the gift of clean water

We are just $349 short of our fundraising goal!

Some of the things we take for granted, like brushing our teeth, washing our hands with warm water and even using a toilet are not a daily routine for many people in the world. According to WHO, 35% of the world’s population do not have a toilet and as a result use rivers as latrines which in turn leads to water borne diseases that kill over 400,000 children a year.

For Advent giving, please consider a water related Gift for Life on the Episcopal Relief and Development website in place of a usual gift for friends and relatives. These gifts will be sent to the person of your choosing with a holiday card. They can be accessed at the following link.

There are three water related options:
1 Clean Water, where a $35 donation provides clean water for one individual and $215 for a family
2) Rainwater Harvesting, where a $400 donation provides a rainwater collection tank for an entire community
3) Wells and Water Systems, where a $750 donation provides a well for a community

The Social Action Committee has now raised over $3,651 toward our goal of $4,000 for ERD’s clean water efforts. We are tracking the progress on a large display that children and adults helped to create. If you do make a donation on the ERD website, please let Leslie Lockhart or me know so we can add to the total. Thanks to all who have already contributed!

David Adams


Social Action Update

Myrtle Baptist March

It was heartening and invigorating to see the many, many Newtonites who gathered at Myrtle Baptist Church on late Sunday afternoon, then silently marched to First Unitarian Society of Newton (FUSN).  We gathered at FUSN, prayed, and sang together, hoping for a future where there can be justice for all and where young black men can live their lives without fear.  We had a small but hardy crew from Grace Church!

This coming week, there is a Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance and Resolve at First Church, Boston,  66 Marlborough Street, Boston, sponsored by the MA Coalition to End Gun Violence, “We Are All Touched By Gun Violence”, 7:30 PM.

Please feel free to contact Lisa Tieszen at 617-965-9831 if you want to coordinate rides downtown.

Social Action Update, November 12, 2014

Join us in supporting the Food Pantry at  St. Mary’s, Dorchester, by contributing toward their Thanksgiving holiday distribution.

A $20 donation will  provide a Stop & Shop gift card so that families can purchase holiday food.
  • Please make checks payable to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Food Pantry and leave them in the Grace Church office.  We will mail them to St. Mary’s Church the week of November 17.
St. Mary’s is our B-SAFE Partner church and we appreciate your support of their work.  For more information, see

Supporting clean water access around the world

Water is essential for life.  But the quality of the world’s fresh water resources is threatened by improper sanitation, agricultural runoff and lack of treatment facilities, as well as, disasters and environmental changes.  Every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. 

In parts of the world where women and girls bear the primary responsibility for finding and collecting water, degradation and scarcity of this precious resource is an even greater challenge.  Often, young girls can’t go to school because they have to walk for miles to find fresh water for cooking, bathing, drinking and other critical needs.

This description from the Episcopal Relief and Development’s (ERD) website inspires the Social Action Committee to launch a water awareness campaign that will also raise support for ERD’s efforts to build wells and piping systems, install water stations, and to provide education that integrates water systems with proper sanitation and hygiene. Over the next four months, Social Action will coordinate the following activities:

October 12: Adult education discussion on clean water

Learn about the Charles River:
A Guided Tour with Eric Olson, Ph.D.
October 19, 2014

Lunch after the Service, Walk from 1:00-2:00 PM.

Please join Social Action, along with Eric Olson in a fun afternoon! After church we will share a light lunch and then head over to the Charles River. We will hear Eric speak about life and restoration at the river. Eric is a trained ecologist who teaches at Brandeis University and was one of the founders of Green Decade Newton. This fun and educational event is intended for all ages of our community to learn more about the importance of clean water and ways that we can keep our rivers and other water sources clean. Please speak to Peter Malagodi at or Lisa Tieszen at for further details or to RSVP.  This event is free of charge. Raindate is Oct. 26.

November 23: Troubled Waters: a performance to empower struggling communities to create safe and water sources. Following a light lunch, this performance will feature music and comedy by Grace members.The performance will take place after a light lunch at Grace. Details to follow.

December and January: Social Action will invite Grace members to make donations though the holiday season in support of ERD’s efforts. Throughout, Grace youth will be invited to participate in creating visual displays to help track our fundraising progress.
David Adams and Leslie Lockhart



July 14-18th – Join us!
Grace Church is entering its 8th year as a parish sponsor for the Bishop’s Summer Academic & Fun Enrichment program (B-SAFE), which this summer will serve and employ 625 youth and teen counselors in 6 Boston-area locations. The program could not run without the support of parishes like ours, who prepare and serve lunches and snacks, read with children, and plan and participate in a full day Friday field trip. This summer, we are returning to sponsor and support our friends at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church site in Dorchester the week of July 14-18th.  
What can you do?  There are great volunteer opportunities for Grace church parishioners (and friends) of ALL ages and talents!  Our Grace Church B-SAFE “lunch captains” need 4-5 helpers each day from Monday – Thursday to help prepare and/or set up and serve lunch for the 60 campers and staff at St. Mary’s. (and/or read with the kids after lunch 12:30-1pm during Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) time).  On Friday, July 18th, we  are seeking several helping hands to prepare, set up, grill, and serve lunch  and oversee “make your own sundaes” for the barbeque at Grace Church for campers and counselors after they return from their field trip from Drumlin Farm at noon…We would love to find a Grace parishinor who would like to help coordinate and oversee the barbeque set up, prep and clean up. Teens (and others) can help with games and a book fair for campers after lunch before they leave at 2pm.  “Shoppers” who would be willing to help pick up items during the week are also welcome.  We hope that every Grace Church family can participate by donating one or more new or gently used books for kids and young adults to distribute to campers and counselors at the book fair.  
Why do it? It’s fun! (ask Patrick Aquilina who has served as a B-SAFE counselor, or Libby Gerlach, who was instrumental in getting the water-to-powdered lemonade ratio perfect for 60 thirsty campers). It feels great to make connections with kids and teens whom we might not otherwise have the chance to get to know! It’s watching campers marvel at the size of the mother pig at Drumlin Farm…and the appreciation of kids and counselors selecting their books to bring back home, sometimes to younger siblings. It’s supporting kids to help them keep up with their academic skills and have fun in a safe environment and providing much needed jobs for teenagers. Watch the video to see the 2013 B-SAFE counselors in training in action…or to hear about the impact B-SAFE  from Bishop Hunt, campers and others.  For more information, or to volunteer please contact Lisa Tieszen or Carolyn Blanks below:    
Lisa Tieszen   617.965.9831,
Carolyn Blanks. 617.969.6805,

Walking for Change!
Join with us in two upcoming walks that are raising awareness & funds for two important issues:
hunger & homicide.

This Sunday, May 4, marks the 46th annual Walk for Hunger, sponsored by Project Bread.  Join Team Grace:, and meet the team at the Newton Centre T-Stop by 7:30 AM on Sunday.  We will walk part, if not all, of the 20-mile route together.  
Next Sunday, May 11, marks the 18th Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.  This walk, sponsored by the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, is a 3.6 mile route around Dorchester, drawing attention to the tragedy of gun violence & homicide in our city.  We will walk with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Team, lead by the Center for Violence Prevention & Recovery which works closely with the Peace Institute.  Join the BIDMC Team:   We will leave Grace by 7:30 AM to get to Town Field, Field’s Corner, for the opening remarks at 8:00 AM.
Please contact Lisa Tieszen at 617-875-9047 or to confirm participation in either walk, by Saturday, May 3 or 10.

Social Action/Clean Water Update, February 12, 2014

The Clean Water Project continues!  We are grateful to Jim Hyde for meeting with parishioner of all ages last Sunday to provide a better understanding of the importance of clean water and well-digging around the world.  Stay tuned to more information on the bulletin board in the Small Hall. 

We are raising funds to help Episcopal Relief & Development in their clean water initiatives in Latin America and Africa, in digging wells as well as educating communities about hygiene.  Please consider donating to the Social Action Clean Water Project by putting a check into the offering plate on Sunday or dropping it off at the church.  The check should be made out to Grace Church with ER&D Clean Water Project in the memo line.  Thank you for your support!

Lisa Tieszen


Social Action Update, January 2014

Clean Water for the World
Tinka Perry for Episcopal Relief & Development helped to kick off the Clean Water Project with her presentations at GDG and Sunday School on Jan. 12.  The Social Action Committee welcomes you to join in our Epiphany focus on clean water and, particularly, in raising $5,000 to help build a well in Haiti or Nicaragua.  Our efforts will include Green Tips (see this week’s); Sunday School classes; reflections & facts distributed; and a movie night, and other ideas as they flow in. 
We invite you to consider water over the coming weeks:  how you use it, how you value it (or not), its meaning for you.  We see its uses in cleansing and healing in all faith traditions; consider the baptism last Sunday.  
Please join us as we explore water and work to raise funds for Episcopal Relief and Development's work.  More details to come.

Lisa Tieszen 

Social Action Update, December 2013
As we enter this season of Advent, please consider joining with Social Action in our community outreach in some way.  There will be opportunities for service throughout the month.
We will be collecting extra items for the Newton Food Pantry, especially toiletries & jam/preserves, as treats for the families coming through.  The Pantry has been quite busy, both with organizing the space and with more families needing assistance.  We were able to distribute turkeys this year, along with grocery gift cards so that families could supplement what they received at the Pantry.
Please consider joining us for one of the upcoming service days:
Saturday, December 21:  10:00 AM - 12:00 PM at Waban Library.  Come help sort food, stock shelves, and distribute groceries to individuals and families.
Friday, December 27th:  9:00 AM into afternoon,  at City Hall to help unload food and set up for sorting/boxing on Dec. 31st.  Drivers are also wanted to pick up the food from the donation locations and bring it to City Hall
Tuesday, December 31st, 8:30 am, at City Hall to help supervise and/or sort /box/ deliver the donated food to our Pantry and to the other 2 pantries.  We will also need people at the Pantry later that morning, to help unload the boxes that will be delivered to us from City Hall.
Please let Lisa Tieszen know whether you can help with any of these days and she can provide further instructions: or 617-875-9047.

Stay tuned for Episcopal Relief & Development special water project beginning on Epiphany & for upcoming information on B-Peace!

Lisa Tieszen


Newton Food Pantry
November 16th,
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

On the third Saturday of every month, from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, join us in the basement of the Waban Library.  Volunteers (middle school youth and older) will sort food, stock shelves, and assist consumers around the pantry.  It is an important initiative, serving those, young and old, who are unable to buy all of the food that  they need each month.

Lisa Tieszen


Newsletter Article, October 23, 2013

Social Action Update
& Service ALERT!

As our community knows, we have been partnering with St. Stephen's Church in the South End for many years, through tutoring in their after school program, bringing turkeys and other offerings at Thanksgiving, and sponsoring the B-SAFE program at St. Mary's in Dorchester in the summer.  St. Stephen's after school and summer programs have expanded into multiple churches and schools throughout Boston, including Chelsea.  Last September 2012, a beloved young adult member of the B-SAFE family, Jorge Fuentes, was murdered, and the church, and now Diocese, began to mobilize in a new way around issues of gun violence and church partnerships to educate, protect, and enrich the lives of all.

I attended the "kick-off" for the B-PEACE campaign, the B-Peace Diocesan Resource Day for parishes on Saturday, September 28 at Roxbury Community College.  There I joined a few hundred clergy and parishioners from throughout the Diocese to hear about this campaign that has been developing over the past year.  Focused on reducing gun violence, increasing opportunities for inner city young adults and children, and preparing for ongoing (& potential) violence in our communities.  We heard from our bishops, as well as clergy and volunteers, speaking about the parish-community partnerships they are initiating.  The Rev.  Kathleen Adams-Shepard, priest in Newtown, CT, opened the day with a moving account of the experience of the tragic murders of children and teachers in their town last year.  She reminded us that between Jan. 1, 2013 and Aug. 26, 2013 there had already been 25 homicides and 160 non-fatal shootings in Boston, and that there have been over 10,000 gun violence deaths in the U.S. since the December 2012 Newtown homicides.  She spoke of the ways that the parish reached out to all members of the Newtown community and those coming to help, including leaving the church doors open 24 hours/7 days week, holding house and street blessings, increasing the interfaith work (that continues today), utilizing the known mental health services available within the parish and community, to name a few.  She was powerful and encouraged our own outreach and creative thinking, reminding us that violence does not know only particular communities.

Workshop opportunities followed, including trauma awareness, school-parish partnerships, gun violence reduction efforts, liturgy.  I am happy to discuss any of this work in more detail and look forward to helping Grace to join in these efforts, beginning with an upcoming work day.

On Saturday, October 26th, B-PEACE is hosting a day of action at the Edison K-8 School, located in Brighton. They are working to support the school and build stakeholder collaboration -- like the one developed at the Blackstone Elementary School.  We will join in from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00, helping by winterizing their outdoor classroom, painting hallways, organizing supplies, and cleaning the auditorium.  Grace will also be preparing sandwiches, joining Church of the Redeemer in providing lunch for the workers.  (You can come to Grace at 8:00 AM to help with this effort.)  Please consider joining in for an hour or for as long as you are able.  This is our first step in learning more how to join the Diocese in this important initiative.  

Contact Lisa Tieszen at 617-965-9831 or by Friday afternoon to confirm participation or ask questions. 


Please join the Social Action Committee in these upcoming activities!

Newton Food Pantry the third Saturday of every month, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, in the basement of the Waban Library.  Please join us (middle school youth and older) in sorting food, stocking shelves, and assisting consumers around the pantry.  It is an important initiative, serving those, young and old, who are unable to buy all of the food that they need each month.

Congregational Resource Day, Saturday, September 28, 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM, at Roxbury Community College.  Please join this Diocesan effort at helping congregations learn how to respond to community violence.  Clergy from Newtown, CT will open the morning, followed by workshops throughout the day. For more detail, go to:

Please contact Lisa Tieszen at or 617-965-9831 for more info.

Social Action Committee Survey Results

B-SAFE 2013, Join Us!
Make a difference this summer! Grace Church is now in its 7th year as a partner in the Bishop’s Summer Academic & Fun Enrichment (B-SAFE), program, a 5-week “camp-like” experience through which inner-city Boston kids and teens participate in academics, sports and enrichment activities, including a weekly field trip. The program could not run without the support of parishes like ours, who prepare and serve lunches and snacks, read with children, and plan and participate in a full day Friday field trip. This year we are excited to return to the St. Mary’s Episcopal church site in Dorchester from July 15- 19th.
There are ample opportunities for Grace church parishioners (and friends) of ALL ages to participate.  From Monday � Thursday, we will need 5-6 volunteers per day to help prepare lunches at Grace, and/or  deliver, serve and clear lunches at St. Mary’s.  We can also use help with shopping for food and supplies. On Friday, July 19th, we will accompany kids and counselors to Drumlin Farm in the morning, followed by a barbecue and field day back at Grace.   We especially would love to have teens join us that day to help prepare for lunch, and/or plan and help with activities (games, crafts, etc.) for the kids in the afternoon.  
There will be a general sign up sheet in the Parish Hall, with more specific information to follow.   Please contact either of us if you have any questions.
Lisa Tieszen   617.965.9831,
Carolyn Blanks. 617.969.6805,

2012 was a great year for the Social Action Committee! We expanded our membership as well as our collaboration with social action initiatives by Grace youth. We also actively promoted many social justice activities in which the entire congregation was involved, as well as the wide range of local and international social change organizations that we financially support. The year culminated with the raising of over $3,700 for mosquito nets for ERD’s anti malaria campaign in Africa. With active promotion of this campaign, as well as donations by over 50 Grace members, this was truly an entire Grace community effort. We are also proud of the Grace community’s generosity in donating a record number of turkeys to St. Mary’s Church for Thanksgiving! Meanwhile, a record number of Grace members, both youth and adults, volunteered at the Newton Food Pantry this year, as Grace continued its proud tradition of helping to coordinate Saturday mornings at the Pantry, under Lisa Tieszen’s able leadership.

We look forward to 2013 with increased efforts to promote greater awareness and work towards more systemic social change, along with all of our other activities. Since the Social Action Committee is merely one element of the collective social justice actions undertaken by the entire Grace community, one priority of 2013 will be to survey Grace members so that these activities can be better documented.

Community Ministry
This is the third year that volunteers from Grace Church have participated at monthly Saturday morning service at the Newton Food Pantry, located in the basement of the Waban Library. Over 30 members have joined in to sort food, stock shelves, and help shoppers gather groceries and toiletries. The need has continued to grow over the past year, with an increasing number of individuals and families coming for help at the Pantry, which also provides fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and meats provided by A. Russo and Sons. A special thanks to”regulars” Lisa Tieszen, Connie Conn, Libby Gerlach (who also takes charge of recycling all of the cardboard boxes and crates), Ellen Sheehy and Scott Aquilina, Nancy Wilson, Jean Kennedy, and Carolyn Blanks, who make it almost every month. Thanks to others who worked at the pantry, Madeleine & Patrick Aquilina; David Barbrow & Wendy Sheehan; 

Carolyn & Derek Wong; Julia Talcott; Kris Kiehn, and Mary Swezy; Cecilia & Nicholas Johnson as well as Grace church members who have donated and/or helped distribute food and goods at the pantry.

We joined with St. Mary’s Church, Dorchester, in their Turkey Drive this Thanksgiving with unprecedented success. We donated over $ 1100 or approximately 55 turkeys! Thank you all!!

Social Action organized a Christmas carol sing, requesting that those attending donate an item for the food pantry, especially toiletries, or donate to ERD to buy a mosquito net. Many thanks to John Ficarelli who led the singing and to Nancy O'Brien who played the piano.

Outreach and Education 
July 2012 marked the 7th year of Grace’s participation in the Bishop’s Summer Academic and Fun Enrichment Program (B-SAFE). This summer, with support from 50 parishes throughout the Diocese, B-SAFE provided 6 weeks of fun, learning and activities for over 550 children and teens at 6 Boston area locations. We were thrilled to return to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Dorchester for the week of July 16th. Our partnership included preparing and serving lunch for approximately 80 children, teens and adult staff each day, and reading to the campers after lunch.

On Friday morning of that week, we hosted a field trip at Drumlin Farm, followed by a barbeque, “make your own sundaes” and afternoon crafts and games at Grace Church. Carolyn Blanks and Lisa Tieszen took the lead in planning and purchasing supplies for the week, with tremendous support from fellow “lunch co-captains”

Margaret Crook and Ellen Sheehy, who also helped reach out to fellow members of the Grace community to help with lunches, the Drumlin Farm tour, barbeque, activities and clean-upon Friday. Thanks to Sally Dunning who again organized the 3rd year of the Book Drive & Distribution, where members of the parish donated new and gently used books that the campers (and counselors) excitedly selected and stashed in their newly-decorated book bags at the end of their visit to Grace before heading back on the bus to Boston. The week was exhausting, fun and an amazing success! In addition to those named above, many, many thanks to fellow volunteers Libby Gerlach,
Connie Conn, Jean Kennedy, Diane and Bella Sakakini-Rao, Scott Aquilina, Sarah Blanks, David Adams, Josephine and Stephanie Loh, Jenny Rosser, Margaret Schwarzer, Carol Kirtz, Carolyn Sprich, grill master Doug Lloyd, 
Richie Vanderwarker, Yvonne Gomez-Carrion, Ross and Bailey Richins, Jennifer Mellen, and Becky Barbrow, as well those who donated books and financial support. 
We look forward to B-SAFE 2013! 

Overall Financial Contributions 
We continued supporting local and international organizations working in education, health, development, and the environment, through our grants, the Penny Jar and food donations. For the second year, we continued our support of the work of the Episcopal Relief and Development through donations. This year, we exceeded our goal of raising $3,000 for 250 mosquito nets by raising $3,700 for 308 nets. Grace Youth were a major part of the campaign’s success, through their development of visual displays as well as their education about the campaign to their own families. All told, donations were made by over 50 individuals at Grace!

Adult Education Discussions on Social Justice 
Social Action organized several Adult Education Group discussions that revolved around the issues of immigration and food insufficiency. The Immigration Rights discussion centered on the Dream Act which provides a pathway to citizenship for children and young adults of immigrant families. The discussion about food insufficiency included a presentation about programs that promote a more just and equitable distribution of food for lower income Americans as well as providing better nutrition in our school systems. Finally, Social Action led a discussion about malaria in Africa and ERD’s campaign to combat it through public education as well as the providing of mosquito nets.

Environmental Efforts
David Adams continues with his weekly Green Tips, which have evolved to include discussions about how we can all be more observant of our natural environment. He is our liaison to Green Decade Coalition and has brought his knowledge and commitment to helping Grace Church to become more energy conserving.

Watch the Announcements page for news of upcoming activities!

David and Leslie

in apropos,
Oct 11, 2013, 5:41 AM