Local Initiative – The Russell School

Our Approach

The Union Church set aside a percentage of funds raised through a tremendously successful capital campaign to be used to create and nurture a long term and sustained local service partnership. It is the church’s hope that these funds will provide leaven in the congregation enabling new ideas to rise within us, stirring us to new endeavors. These these funds are intended for bold, new and ambitious, signature initiatives.

For the use of these funds, the Union Church in Waban values mission/outreach endeavors that:

  • Promote relationship based involvement and engagement of our UCW community;
  • Promote sustainability by contributing to long term financial viability and the empowerment of people with whom we are, or will be engaged in ways that enhance human dignity;
  • Promote global and local high impact work — work that makes difference that can be measured; and
  • Promotes charity/justice — the overcoming of inequities and divisions in our world by working for the fullness of humanity, community, and the health and wholeness of the planet.

The Russell School: A local Initiative

Frank-at-Russell-SchoolThere can certainly be a place for YOU in the Union Church local initiative at the Russell School! So far we have joined the Russell School for Field Days, a coat drive, Teacher Appreciation, and more. This is a great easy-to-get-to elementary school on Columbia Road near U Mass Boston and the JFK Library. They have many needs as a school; and their students and families do as well. Going forward, we will help with the ambitious Literacy / Read-To-Me night in March when parents will receive bilingual books to take home and hear about strategies for improving comprehension skills for their children. And, we are supporting their brainstorming efforts for reaching underserved children with social/emotional needs. And, we may help them with small grant writing, with their February and April school vacation academic program, their wish for bus trips to places of historic and cultural significance outside of the neighborhood, and an International Night of ethnic food, music, and fun.

Literacy Night at Russell School

Rev. Stacy Swain serving at Russell School

The folks at Russell are great to partner with! Can you:

  1. join us as we implement these few ideas (we are going to need Union Church folks to partner with their staff to accomplish these big events)?
  2. help us look for more smaller things to do that match what you may want to offer this school? For example, do you love to tutor? Want to talk about your job to children? Enjoy gardening in an outdoor classroom? Sports enthusiast? Love to cook? Let us know how you would like to be a part of this partnership with Russell and we will try to figure it out.


Please let Mark Smith, Frank Laski, Brita Gil-Austern, or Nancy Zollers know of your interests and questions. This is designed to be a long-term relationship – as with our work in Zambia and Nicaragua – and it is funded by generous members of the church during the Capital Campaign.

Camp Hale

Established in 1900, Camp Hale operates on the belief that all youth, particularly those from urban environments, will benefit from challenging opportunities for physical, mental, and social growth and development. The goal of Camp Hale is for each camper to leave camp with an enhanced sense of well-being, improved social skills, and awareness of personal potential. Traditionally an all-boys camp, Camp Hale established an all-girls session in 2012 to provide inner-city girls with the chance to experience the beauty and unique opportunities that Camp Hale has to offer. Each summer, 180 young men and women ages 6 to 14 years old trade the Boston streets for lakeside cabins in the heart of the White Mountains, located on Squam Lake in New Hampshire.

Residential camping allows the campers to engage in a long list of activities including canoeing, swimming, archery and hiking, fishing, ecology, camping skills, and just enjoying the mountain air. Ultimately, we seek to ensure that these skills stay with them well into the future and benefit them in other endeavors such as school, work, sports, conflict resolution, and interpersonal relationships.

Dear Union Church folks,
Happy Summer!
And it will be a happy summer for some campers at Camp Hale this year; three of whom will be able to attend because of our relationship with the Russell School in Dorchester!

Remember your sleep away camp? Have you also invested in your own child’s camp experiences? We are investing in the experience for Sean, Davien and William.

Russell receives a drastic reduction in tuition, yet many families still cannot afford to send their children. Carmen has identified students who could most benefit from this program (described briefly below), has organized a candy sale to support some of the tuition costs, and has suggested three students for our support: Davien, Sean, and William.

If you would like to write to any of them at camp, or receive letters from them please let us know very soon.

If you would like to help fund their tuition for camp, please also let us know. Simply send a check to Luisa to made out to The Union Church in Waban with the memo line of the check marked “for Russell campers.”

Thanks, and as we said: Happy Summer!
Mark, Frank, Nancy and Brita