Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Two Examples of the Spirit of Art, Compassion, and Resistance Thrives at Tree of Life UU

Sisters Blossom (left) and Willow (right) and their friend Tory made and sold hand crafted hair clips and bracelets to raise the money to buy these supplies for the homeless participating in Compassion4Campers this summer.  (Note: For the girls’ personal safety and security their parents prefer not to use their last names.)

Girls’ Homemade Jewelry Raised Money for Supplies for the Homeless
Sisters Blossom and Willow heard about Compassion4Campers at the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 West Bull Valley Road in McHenry, which they attend with their parents.  Since 2012 the congregation has sponsored the program to lend support to the homeless who are left without reliable shelter every year when the PADS church shelters close May through September.  When the congregation began collecting supplies for the homeless, the girls decided to earn their own money to purchase needed items.
Blossom and Willow enlisted their friend, Tory and the three of them made hand crafted hair clips and bracelets to sell.  Together in a few weeks they sold enough of their jewelry at Crystal Lake Montessori School—$186 worth—to buy an impressive array that included bug spray, sun screen, clean new socks, and a variety of non-perishable snacks.

On Monday, June 8 they were on hand at the PADS office at 14411 Kishwaukee Valley Road near Woodstock for the weekly lunch provided by Compassion4Campers volunteers.  They got to see their contributions distributed and accepted by folks who needed it.  The girls also got to meet and spend time getting to know the recipients on a personal basis.  There was joy and a few tears.
Sue Rekenthaler, who helps coordinate the program, wrote on a Tree of Life Facebook group page, “It was truly art, compassion, and resistance to a world that often turns its back on those different from us. We should all be very proud of these young women. They even got an order for a bracelet from one of the guys! It was truly heartwarming and spiritually uplifting.”

The Frothy Boys perform at a Halloween event at Tree of Life UU Congregation

The lunch this week was provided by, cooked, and served by the Frothy Boys, the Congregation’s a cappella male singing group noted for their doo-wop, barbershop, and other close harmony performances which help raise money for a number of local organizations.  At the end of the lunch they serenaded the girls with three numbers, including their signature Let Me Call You Sweetheart.
The lunches, served every Monday of the season at noon, are provided by various groups of volunteers recruited from within the congregation and from the wider community.  There are still open dates available this summer for groups to volunteer to provide and prepare lunches. Clubs, churches, or families are welcome to volunteer to purchase and prepare nourishing and tasty meals.  Individuals can also volunteer to help serve and clean up, as well as just to eat and converse with the guests.  Tree of Life will also continue to accept donations of supplies for the campers.
For information, to volunteer, or for a list of items needed for donations, contact Sue Rekenthaler at or visit .

Tree of Life UU Church to Host Illini 4000 Bike Team on Cross Country Cancer Ride

The Illini 4000 2014 team in San Francisco after completing their cross country ride.

On the evening of Sunday, June 14 the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, in McHenry, will host 29 members of the Illini 4000 Bike America Team for an overnight stay.  The bicyclists will be on a cross country ride from New York City to San Francisco on a mission to raise funds for cancer research and patient support, to increase awareness, and document the personal stories of individuals with cancer who they encounter on the trip.
The Illini 4000 was formed in 2006 by University of Illinois students Anish Thakkar and Jonathan Schlesinger, who saw a lack of funding for cancer research. The two organized and participated in the inaugural ride in the summer of 2007, and have completed a ride every summer since.  The Illini 4000 has raised over $650,000 for cancer research and patient support services, and has annually raised over $100,000 since 2010.
“We are honored to be asked to host the group,” said Judy Stettner who is coordinating the visit for the congregation. “We have several members who have battled or are battling cancer so it is a cause near and dear to us.”  It is the second year in a row that the church has hosted the team.
The bicyclists are expected to roll into McHenry sometime after 6 pm Sunday night.  Church volunteers will be on hand to greet them and provide a delicious supper.  After a good night’s sleep and breakfast the team will be back on the road for the next leg of their journey around 7 am Monday morning.
The Illini 4000 supports the work of the American Cancer Society and the Illinois chapter of Camp Kesem which serves children with cancer.  Tax deductible donations can be sent to the Illini 4000, P.O. Box 2431, Champaign, Illinois 61825.
For more information contact the church at 815 322-2464 or visit

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