Sunday, January 31, 2010

UPDATE on Cancer Patient Kate

Within hours of sending out the e-mail about Kate today, we had five responses with offers of a place to stay for Kate.  I ran the offers by Kate and she was able to choose the option that best fits her needs. 

We have also had an outpouring of support with transportation offers and other offers of donations to help Kate and her family.  If you can make a donation to help Kate, please e-mail us and let us know!

We'll be having a gathering on Wednesday, February 10th from 7-9pm so that Kate can meet the Houston secular community and so that we can meet her!  If you're in Houston, please come on by!  Details will be up on our website calendar within the week.

Thanks for all you do, and thanks to the Houston community for their generosity!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Freethinking Cancer Patient Needs Help!

This information will also be sent out shortly to the SECULAR Center's mailing list. 

Yesterday I received an e-mail message from Megan, a member of Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers. Megan's best friend, Kate, is battling a brain tumor and will be evaluated for an experimental treatment at MD Anderson's Brain and Spine Center from February 7th to the 11th. The Lance Armstrong Foundation is sponsoring her plane fare, but Kate needs a place to stay and transportation while she's here. Kate and her husband are also atheists. Today I spoke with Megan on the phone at length about Kate's situation.

In Megan's words, "Kate is a marvelous woman who volunteers tirelessly to help others in her community. She is witty, smart, and fantastically creative. Her medical care has exhausted her family’s savings, so a hotel room is not affordable. She will be traveling alone, as her husband and three young children will be staying in Iowa. Kate is able-bodied and needs no special assistance. Most people have no idea she has a brain tumor. But after five spinal surgeries, spinal radiation and gamma-knife radiation to her brain (the tumors started in her spinal cord and climbed to her brain), she is running out of treatment options. We are crossing our fingers for MD Anderson’s treatment."

The SECULAR Center is working to find Kate somewhere to stay from February 7th to 11th while she's in Houston. She will be evaluated for the treatment at 1515 Holcombe Blvd, near the Medical Center and it would be great if she could stay somewhere close to there. If not, perhaps someone would be willing to drive Kate to and from her evaluations? We're also hoping to find someone who can pick Kate up at the airport on Sunday and drop her off again on Thursday. If you can't help with lodging or driving, perhaps you would be willing to make a donation towards Kate's medical expenses or toward her travel/food expenses while she's here in Houston? If you're willing to help in any of these ways, please e-mail us!

I have personally checked this out and verified that Kate is a real person, a member of the Freethought community, who needs our help. I would offer my own guest room, but I will be out of town for work that week. Kate's situation is one of the reasons that I founded the SECULAR Center - to help people in need. Kate is in need of our support. Please help us help Kate.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SECULAR Center Volunteer Discussion

We had a great time at our volunteer discussion event in Houston last Sunday!  About 20 people showed up to learn more about the SECULAR Center and discuss secular volunteering.  People had some great ideas and contributions and we spent about two hours chatting before everyone headed home.

One of our Houston volunteers, Sally, made a great poster board with information about the SECULAR Center: 

One item discussed during the event is a special campaign for Planned Parenthood.  Pro-lifers are planning a 40-day protest at a Planned Parenthood location in Houston this February and March.  The SECULAR Center is going to organize volunteers to escort patients into and out of this Planned Parenthood location.  The first day we'll volunteer is February 20th with a number of follow-up events.  Optional training will occur on February 18th, so mark your calendars for these dates!

Thanks for your support!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

SECULAR Center Volunteer Discussion & Other Events

Tomorrow at 2:30 pm the SECULAR Center will be gathering together volunteers in the Houston area to discuss our events calendar for this year and encourage people to get involved in volunteerism.  The event will be from 2:30-4:00 at the Cafe Express in Uptown Park.  We will have information about the SECULAR Center, show our 'About SECULAR Center' Video, and have SECULAR Center personnel on hand to answer questions and hear feedback. 

In February we're sponsoring Darrel Ray, the author of The God Virus, as well as holding a volunteer event at Planned Parenthood.  Look for our monthly e-mail on February 1st with more details.  If you're not signed up for our e-mails, please go to our website and sign up!

Please join us at these exciting and fun events if you can!  Feel free to e-mail us for more information!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jesus Saves and Table Manners in Mississippi

So, I just got back to Houston from traveling for two days through Mississippi for my new engineering job.  I went to some pretty rural places, including Lumberton, Tylertown (population about 2000), and Liberty.  I stayed overnight in Hattiesburg (population 45,000).  You might think over a two day trip for work that religion didn't come up, but you'd be sadly mistaken.  First of all, we couldn't drive a mile without seeing a church or a sign saying 'Praise Jesus!'  or 'Jesus saves!'  and so on. 

Last night when I was at the hotel, I went down to the lounge for a free drink and ended up talking to some really nice folks.  Of course, religion came up - it is the south after all!  So, I gritted my teeth and said that I am an Atheist.  Oh my goodness did I regret that!  One guy got so mad he had to get up and leave the table.  He kept saying, 'How can you believe that nothing happens after you die!  You've never known nothingness!'  I kept starting to say things back to him, but then he would interrupt me and say the same thing again.  Then he said, 'That just pisses me off' and he left for a while.  At least I didn't get the 'How can you be a moral person without God?'  That one is really annoying.  Other than during the religion talk, I really enjoyed talking with these two guys, but I hope someday that telling someone I'm an Atheist will not scare them or make them so mad that they have to leave the table.

Today at lunch, we ate at a home cooking place that has big tables with a lazy susan in the middle.  The tables seat about 15 people and you sit with whoever comes into the restaurant at the same time as you.  There are large dishes of food, and everyone turns the lazy susan to the dish they want and serves themselves.  This was at McComb, MS, population about 13,500.  I guess it's not so strange in a small town where everyone knows each other, but can you imagine eating at a big table with a bunch of strangers in New York, Los Angeles or even Houston?  Needless to say, it was a little uncomfortable for this big city girl.  It didn't help that as we all sat down, one older gentleman asked who was going to 'thank the Lord' for our meal.  At least no one offered to do so, and thus I avoided an even more uncomfortable situation than eating at a table with strangers. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

"About SECULAR Center" Video Up!

The "About SECULAR Center" video is now up on our YouTube account and on the front page of our website!  We made the video for people who are wondering why they should volunteer with the SECULAR Center, and to let you know how you can get involved!  Please check it out and let us know your thoughts!

Friday, January 15, 2010

SCUSA Submits its First Grant!

Last night at 10:30 pm CST, the SECULAR Center submitted its first federal grant on behalf of SMART Recovery, a secular addiction recovery program, and Atheist Alliance International (AAI).  The grant proposal is titled: The SMART Recovery/AAI Substance Abuse Treatment (SASAT) Project.

The grant was almost 75 pages long and detailed the SASAT Project's plan to expand SMART Recovery meetings into 15 areas in the United States over three years, reaching an additional 500 participants per year.  The non-religious community has offered its overwhelming support of this program through letters of assistance from SCUSA, AAI, and the American Humanist Association.  Year one target expansion areas are Los Angeles, Houston, Washington DC, Kansas City, and Madison, WI. 

As part of the SASAT Project, SCUSA has agreed to help recruit volunteer Meeting Facilitators and several paid positions including Program Facilitators for each year one target area, as well as a Project Manager based out of one of the five target areas.  So, if you're interested in learning more about this exciting project, please e-mail