Steve Cooper, DRE, DuPage UU ChurchThe Central Midwest District’s first annual Living Our Faith Together award was granted to Steve Cooper, Religious Educator at DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, IL, for the coordination and providing the primary motivational push behind the No More Turning Away project. Steve inspired congregations across our district to participate in this project designed to educate members of all ages about the tragedy of homelessness.

He spearheaded the creation of a website with resources on homelessness, including religious education session plans, movie ideas and stories. The year long, multi-congregation social action project culminated with the Cardboard City Sleepout in which over 300 Unitarian Universalists from more than a dozen UU congregations in the Central Midwest District slept outside in cardboard boxes on the night of March 21. The goal of the project was raising awareness of the problem of homelessness but it also raised more than $9,000 which was donated to homeless shelters and food pantries in the local communities of the congregations which participated.

The Living Our Faith Together award was created by the Central Midwest District's Boad to recognize the significance of social action in our Unitarian Universalist heritage. This award will be granted each year to an individual or congregation in our district who has created and conducted a social justice project involving people of all ages or brought congregations together in a mutual effort to make a difference in their community, across our district, or in the world. This award will be presented each year at District Assembly.