Humanists Doing Good (HDG) is a young Chapter of the American Humanist Association (AHA) based in Grand Junction, Colorado. We have been busy carrying out a variety of volunteer, educational and social events on a weekly basis. This had started paving the way to an increased awareness of options for the non-religious and positive feelings about humanism in our community. However, despite our best efforts, most of the general community remained unaware of our existence or what humanism is. We knew that there were people in our community who would have an interest in both what we were doing as well as an interest in humanism, but we were rather limited in our capability to reach out and connect to these people.
We began the year with an interest in expanding our community outreach efforts. We were fortunate and grateful to receive an $800 grant from the AHA to aid us. We used the grant funds to purchase things like event booth spaces, a heavy-duty canopy, brochures and many of the little things—such as bungee cords—necessary to run an effective booth at various events. The grant enabled us to set up our booth or table at events in three different cities/towns for a total of eleven separate days. Events ranged from the Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Festival to local farmers markets and events that HDG organized, such as a series of presentations about discrimination hosted at our local university. The impact that our community outreach has had has been remarkable. We regularly started experiencing people walking up to our booth stating that they had seen or heard about us previously or that a friend had told them to come and check us out after having seen our booth at an event.
Having several opportunities to reach out to our broader community and inform people about humanism and all the wonderful things our volunteers have been doing to benefit our community has been very important. We’ve increased our membership, started a group on Meetup.com that continues to constantly grow and have witnessed a very noticeable increase in the name recognition of Humanists Doing Good due to all of our community outreach. It has also made it possible for us to make new connections with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and different organizations. We even invited our local Secular Student Alliance to share our booth at an event, which helped us further get to know each other. More and more, people in our community are gaining an understanding of humanism and interested people are provided with an opportunity to connect with an existing community of intelligent and kindhearted people. We cannot overstate how important it has been for us to have people meeting us for the first time saying, “Oh, I’ve heard of you!” or “I saw you all down at the market.” It has helped open many new doorways and also been important in further establishing our credibility amongst other organizations.
If you find yourself with an opportunity to set up, staff or support booths from your local humanist organization, we strongly encourage you to do so. The rewards are amazing and it has been great connecting with the people who were out there interested and willing to come aboard. It’s also worth noting that all the work and materials created for running booths continues to benefit our organization well into the future.
Jesse Bond is president of Humanists Doing Good, an AHA Chapter based in Grand Junction, Colorado. He is a Humanist Chaplain certified by the Humanist Society.