First Humanist Community Center Opens in Phoenix

By Susan Sackett

The Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix (HSGP) held its first meeting in our newly renovated building in Mesa, Ariz. on December 19.  About 125 members of HSGP assembled for our annual HumanLight and Winter Solstice party.  In addition to a pot luck luncheon, members and friends enjoyed silent and live auctions, tag sale, installation of new officers for 2011, and the seventh annual presentation of the Helen Goldsmith Awards, recognizing contributions of outstanding members.

It has been five long years of ups and downs since we were first given a grant by our very generous members, Doreen and Hal Saferstein, enabling us to purchase this 3000+ square foot building.  Originally an adobe residential house, the beautiful new Humanist Community Center (HCC) is located on close to an acre of land.  During renovation and expansion, plans had to be redrawn several times in order to comply with the City of Mesa requirements for fire safety, drainage, handicap facilities and many other things that no one had anticipated when we acquired the property.  But we surmounted everything, thanks to our generous members and friends who, over the years, donated the necessary funds to complete the project.  We still have a bit of work to do until the building is completely finished, but we are nearly done and now have the all-important Certificate of Occupancy.    

At the December auction/tag sale, we were able to raise close to our goal of $13,000.  Dozens of generously donated auction items included art work, private dinners cooked and served by members, hundreds of hours of college lectures on computer disks, handmade crafts, lessons, spa treatments, weekends in the mountains at a private cabin and so much more.

HCC’s future is tremendously exciting!  We will soon be opening our library, with close to 500 donated books, tapes and DVDs, and we are constantly adding more items to our collection.  The parking lot is close to being finished, and the landscaping will be going in shortly.  Before we had our building, we met at a local restaurant only twice a month, but now we can hold meetings and activities whenever we want.  We will also be renting out the facilities for weddings and other social events

It is our understanding that this is the first group-owned Humanist Community Center in the country, and we hope to serve as a shining inspiration to other groups to work towards getting their own centers.

The Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix was founded in 1970 by a small group of like-minded people and today has expanded to well over 300 members.  Our mission is “to nurture and inspire the Humanist community; and to be the leading advocate for Humanist values and ethics in Greater Phoenix.”  More information may be found at

Susan Sackett is the immediate past president of the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix and a board member of the American Humanist Association.