Humanists of West Florida

January 2015 Newsletter

Humanist Meet & Greet Jan. 9!, Volunteer to distribute Food, Volunteer to help at Women's Shelter in Pensacola with Father Nathan Monk, Build a Garden for Homeless, Support Separation of Church and State, Get to know the HWF Board!

In This Issue...

• From the President

• First Friday FreeUp! NOT ON THE FIRST FRIDAY! :)

• Opportunity is knocking! Women's weather shelter needs, Satoshi Forest gardens, Separation of church & state issues

• Get Involved! HWF Committee Action

• Meet Your Board Members

• Your Board of Directors

• Partners for Secular Activism: Upcoming Classes Available


From the President...

Hello members, associates, and friends, and Happy New Year!

2015 is looking to be a very fun and exciting year for our chapter.

We are doing our monthly FreeUp on the 2nd Friday, January 9th as our Reality Revival after the holidays, and as a social meet and greet of we Humanists of West Florida for any new folks who have discovered us from the launch.

The board has been planning a number of new year activities. In just over two weeks we will be partaking in the MLK National Day of Service by distributing 10,000 pounds of food at the Woodland Heights Community Center next to Pensacola Villages, a federal housing project with many needy and hungry Americans. Please join us on Monday, January 19th-8 am to help with this community service.

We are also moving forward with the construction of raised bed organic gardens this February at Satoshi Forest on Massachusetts Ave. where a number of homeless folk have settled. If you are interested in gardening and want to help build these please let me know.

The board just created a Mentoring Team led by Suren Shah. We hope there are a number of you that are interested in helping our youth. Please let Suren know if you are willing or have questions.

We are talking about the FreeUps and providing subject matters farther out in time so you can see what's coming. And, we will begin plans for a spring picnic in early May, so please watch for these announcements.

See you at one of these events, and again, Happy New Year!

Buz Ryland, President
Humanists of West Florida


Humanist Meet & Greet

First Friday FreeUp:

New Year Revival!

Humanist Meet & Greet

Friday, January 9, 5:45-7:00 pm 

Longhollow Meeting Room

1040 North Guillemard Street, Pensacola, FL 32501

(Behind Open Books Bookstore)

The Topic: New Year Revival!--Humanist Meet & Greet

Come meet your fellow humanists! This is a casual freeup, no topic, just come an meet the HWF board, other humanists--or those that are curious.

Water and light snacks will be provided—you're welcome to bring snacks and beverages of your choosing--alcohol is permitted, please drink responsibly--PLEASE PLAN TO TAKE LEFTOVERS WHEN YOU LEAVE! Thank you!


Join us, January 19 to distribute food!

ATTENTION! Volunteers needed Monday, January 19th, ­8 am to distribute 10,000 pounds of food at the Woodland Heights Community Center next to Pensacola Villages, a federal housing project with many needy and hungry Americans.

To participate in this project, please contact Buz Ryland.


Working together to create a brighter future...Women's weather shelter needs your help

Nathan Monk has become a local celebrity of sorts, to those whose hearts are broken for the homeless that are seen on every street in our area. Monk gained his celebrity while serving as an Orthodox Catholic priest about seven years ago after he stopped to help a man who was asking for money on the street. Monk wanted to take him and his family to a restaurant and feed them, but the man told Monk he had to stay on the street corner and try to get enough money to pay for their hotel room, or his family would be on the streets.

"It was the first time I had ever seen a man with his family out holding a sign asking for help. I knew I needed to respond to that," said Monk.

“[The man] explained to me how dangerous it was for families to sleep in cars or on the streets. I really wanted for the father to enjoy a meal with his family, so I offered to hold the sign for him.”

Since then, Monk has held his "Feed The Poor" sign, literally, and figuratively, for many, many people in need.

Monk is no longer serving as a priest. Perhaps his religion is Love and not just religion itself. Many of us humanists can relate to Monk's work simply because we have that in common--doing good, for the sake of doing good. Doing good for the love of humanity.

After a leave of absence from the NW Florida area, Monk returned to Pensacola and picked up pretty much where he left off, caring for the homeless and those in need. His latest endeavor is to provide temporary shelter for women who find themselves in a desperate situation, needing a place to lay their heads at night.

"We have numerous facilities in the community that help men in homelessness, no questions asked. But for women, they either need to be coming from an immediate domestic violence situation, or have a substance problem. If you don’t meet that criteria, there is nowhere for you to go," said Monk.

Here's the part where YOU come in!

So many of us want to do something, anything, to help others who are experiencing a difficult time in their life. I, for one, am grateful for the work that Nathan Monk has been doing. I often wish there was more I could do to help. Just imagine if you, or someone you care about, were in a situation, for whatever reason, where they didn't have shelter. I'm betting that you would want to do something.

Monk desperately needs volunteers to stay at the shelter during the time his shelter is open, from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. There are two primary shifts, 6 p.m. - 12 a.m., and 12 a.m. - 8 a.m. If you are interested and able to stay at the shelter during this time frame, please contact Nathan Monk directly.

Another issue is feeding those who are staying at the shelter. There are several ways in which you could help in this capacity.

The shelter needs:

• Eggs

• Breakfast meats

• Frozen breakfast sandwiches

• Pizzas

• Family sized meals

• Hot dogs

• Hamburger patties

If you would like to make a meal, get the large aluminum casserole dishes with the aluminum lids, fill them to the top, cover them completely in cling wrap and label them. This will feed about 20 people.

If you don't know what to buy or cook, Visa gift cards to buy supplies are also helpful. Please contact Monk by phone (850-454-9910) to schedule an appointment to drop off supplies, or come when the shelter is open from 6PM-8AM.

Some may wonder whether Monk requires recipients of his care to observe any religious ritual considering the fact that he comes from a Christian viewpoint and is still known by the moniker of "Father Nathan." This Women's weather shelter is the only only non-religiously affiliated shelter in the area. "We do not require anything of our guests, there is no chapel, or prayer before meals," said Monk.

If you have heard of Nathan Monk's work while he was still a priest, you'd know that it wasn't leaving the priesthood that allowed him to work with non-theists in doing his good works. Monk has been open to working with whomever is willing to lend a hand, and he's never required volunteers or recipients to make a claim of faith, or any attempt at proselytizing.

"I was a priest for ten years, and that has been a major part of my identity. I have a masters degree in theology, and so clearly religious studies has been important to me throughout my life." Perhaps the title of “Father” is even more fitting for someone such as Nathan Monk in his role as caretaker of so many in need.


Satoshi Forest-Gardens

When the city of Pensacola made it illegal for people to camp on public land, Sean’s Outpost decided to buy 9 acres to create a camp for the homeless. That parcel of land is now known as Satoshi Forest and can have up to 15 camp sites on the premises. 

A friend of the homeless community contacted HWF last spring to see if the organization would be interested in planting a garden for the residents of the forest. Several members of the board have visited Satoshi Forest and located a spot that could be used to create several raised beds.

The board of directors will be voting in January to approve a financial contribution to this project and if approved, help will be needed to build these beds in February.

If you are interested in donating funds and/or your building skills to this project, please contact us at


Support Separation of Church & State

Thank you to David Suhor for lighting a fire under us! We're working on getting some names on the list for non-religious convocations. Here's a clip of David speaking at an Escambia School Board open forum:

David's latest edition of a non-Christian invocation. Enjoy!

NOTICE: This will continue to run in the newsletter to keep members and friends updated about this opportunity.

Here's your chance to get involved and make a difference, right here in Pensacola!

Old News: The City Council and County Commission still offer invocations (almost exclusively Xtian prayers) before every meeting.

Good News: Anyone can deliver an invocation! You just have to ask. From what I can tell, they need volunteers. I've done it three times, offering non-prayers and mocking pan/non-theist prayers. We need more! PLEASE PARTICIPATE. Here's how.

CITY: Contact Ericka Burnett ( and ask to be included on the list. Don't accept no for an answer. You don't have to be a clergyman, nor should you be put off for months. Currently, they have a list of local churches they ask and they have a hard time finding speakers. Why not fill that list with free thinkers?

COUNTY: Contact a commissioner. They choose who will speak. Yes, they mostly pick Xtians too. Here is the rotation: 

December 11, 2014 District 5 – Commissioner Barry
January 8, 2015 District 1 – Commissioner Robertson

PLEASE, let's get some diversity into this archaic, religion-dominated practice. 

Here's some information about giving a secular invocation.

If you'd like to know more about getting involved in offering a humanist/secular invocation at a meeting, or discuss this more, contact David Suhor at 850 512-2220.



Get Involved!



Want to get involved in some of our activities and help build our humanist community? Contact the committee chairs and find out how you can help!

You can find a brief outline of our committee structure HERE.


• FFM Chair/Contact Person: Buz Ryland - Email:

• Committee Members: Suren Shah, Sedona Strong


• CCP Chair/Contact Person: Kay Rudolph - Email:

• Committee Members: Michael Kimball, Rose Jansen, Amanda Kondrat'yev


• PPE Chair/Contact Person: Charles Stauffer - Email:

• Committee Members: Suren Shah, Kay Rudolph

Committee member emails:

Charles Stauffer:

Michael Kimball


Meet your HWF Board Members

Do you wonder what your board members are up to? Check here every month to hear about one of the HWF Board Members, why they're here, or what projects they are currently working on.

Suren Shah

Suren is serving second term as the Vice President of Humanists of West Florida. He is one of the founding members that got together to form this chapter.

In professional life, Suren works as VP of Operations for Wind Turbine Energy Cables in Milton, FL. Suren lives in Gulf Breeze.

When asked, ‘Why you enjoy being a member of BOD, HWF?’, he replied: ‘It has afforded me an opportunity to be friends with a wonderful group of individuals that thinks alike and believes in its ability to lead ethical lives while undertaking activities for greater good of humanity.

Humanists and Free-thinkers have a high percentage of educated, intellectual individuals. I enjoy socializing with them. We are indifferent to differences among us; we are more enthused about the similarities of interests and human potential.

As a larger mission, we want to make a small and possibly a larger positive difference in the communities where we live. There are many needy families, and individuals to include the children. Hence, we have undertaken activities in areas of food distribution to needy, packets for homeless, and are now organizing support of mentoring and tutoring for children in needy school districts.

Please join us.

HWF Board of Directors

President/Treasurer: Buz Ryland,

Vice President: Suren Shah,

Secretary: Kay Rudolf,


Charles Stauffer,

Sedona Strong,

Amanda Kondrat'yev,

Michael Kimball,

Become an HWF Member!

Here's a list of some of the things we've done so far:

• Gave out Personal Care Packets for the Homeless

• Adopted 2 miles of Nine Mile Road for beautification

• Purchased and gave out 5000 pounds of food to families in need

• Began monthly FreeUps to build social community and spark discussion

• Received $1500 grant from AHA

• Received several generous donations from local businesses and individuals

• We'd like to do so much more, but we need YOUR help! Come join us!


Partners for Secular Activism

Partners for Secular Activism is a new nonprofit educational organization based in the Washington DC area. The PSA President is John Shook, PhD., and you can email him at

The mission of Partners for Secular Activism is to facilitate education about secular, scientific, and civic issues and activities for the public. By bringing knowledgeable scholars and expert communicators together with audiences wanting more information about issues that matter to their lives, we will elevate the general understanding of reasoning, science, civics, ethics, and topical issues affecting the public. Courses announced by PSA are open to anyone, and they deliver educational value for everyone. (

Online classes for December/January:

Online classes for December and January are announced at and MindfulPathsFor.Us

Discounts are available for forums and workshops! Use the discount code 123645 to get $10 off when registering.

January workshop – Become a Humanist Celebrant, with Han Hills, Professional Celebrant – $59

January workshop – Why Create Humanist Community, and How To Do It – Jen Hancock and Ann Fuller – $59

These one-month classes are accessible online 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when you have some time. There's nothing 'live' to be missed, and you aren’t using video, just text-based forums. Instructors respond individually to all questions and love extended conversations. Sign up for email alerts about coming classes at

-- Partners for Secular Activism is a 501c3 nonprofit educational organization, founded in January 2014.

Know someone interested in earning a master’s degree? The ‘Science and the Public’ program from the University at Buffalo, NY, is a part-time and completely online Masters of Education degree. This is America's only entirely online program for the secular promotion of science and science-based policy - go to


Would you like to guest post in our newsletter or our blog?

We want to keep our newsletter informative, and local. If you are interested in writing about local events and activities, inform readers about local personalities activities in our greater communities, or even have photos or artwork related to humanism you'd like to share, please submit your 500 words or less article by the 20th of each month for consideration. (Not all submissions will be published, depending on the space available.)

HWF Facebook Page

How are we using Social Media?

We now have a Facebook group!

If you hang out on Facebook, please come join us for conversation!

We also have a Meetup group to schedule our community service projects so please join it and choose to receive emails from that group if you'd like to participate! 

Also, please "like" our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, circle us on Google+ (follow links below)!


Please share this newsletter with anyone you think might be interested! If you look at the top of this newsletter in your email box, you should see a link that says, "Display problems? View this newsletter in your browser." Click that link and when it opens in your browser, copy and paste it into an email or on Facebook or other favorite social media.

Not a member yet? Join us today!

Like what we're doing and want to help HWF out financially? We're a 501c3 organization so your donations are tax deductible! Thank you!


The Mission of the Humanists of West Florida... to facilitate the advancement of humanist thought and action in Pensacola and surrounding areas by interconnecting groups of humanists, atheists, agnostics and non-religious. We will strive for equal participation in government and societal life through building strategic partnerships with other humanist and freethought organizations and with our religious neighbors to advance the greater good of humanity.