WHO WE ARE
We foster a thriving non-religious community that welcomes those who promote rational, ethical lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity and nurture the world around us. We are dedicated to raising awareness of Secular Humanism, constitutional separation of government and religion, and ending discrimination against the non-religious.
WHAT WE STAND FOR
A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMTC
by Joe Beck, co-founder
In 2009, Joe Beck and Donna Kasprzak founded Humanists of the Treasure Coast (HUMTC). Our goal was to develop a Humanist organization that would serve as a home base for those attempting to live ethical lives free of gods and religion, provide members with presentations on issues of the day, promote separation of government from religion, and support causes that promote the welfare of those sharing our planet.
In 2010, with the help of HUMTC members, we became a Florida not-for-profit organization. In 2012, HUMTC attained status as a 501(c)(3) federally tax-exempt organization, which made donations to HUMTC tax-deductible.
Our first two HUMTC meetings were in the meeting room of Joe and Donna’s condo association until the association’s president declared: “We don’t like your group meeting here and will develop policies to prevent your group from meeting here.” Joe was gratified to learn that a majority of the condo association’s religious members disagreed with their president’s position, yet the condo association amended its charter to bar non-residents from attending meetings there.
As HUMTC’s membership and meeting attendance grew, monthly meetings in Vero Beach were added at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. We also held occasional meetings in restaurants in the West Palm Beach area.
In 2016, HUMTC began weekly meetings at the Nexus building, which provides us office/storage space, a physical address required for a 501(c)(3) tax -exempt organization, and use of a Smart TV we use to show PowerPoint presentations and videos. When the pandemic impacted our meeting attendance, we continued to meet regularly while other organizations were not so fortunate. When we resumed live meetings at the Nexus, that TV equipment was quite handy, with some members still attending via Zoom.
In 2020, Jo Anne Gillespie accepted the presidency of HUMTC and Joe transitioned to vice president and co-chair of the Program Committee. Throughout the Covid pandemic, Jo Anne worked tirelessly to improve our Humanist programs, increase advertising to attract new members and raise our profile in the community. She has applied her organizational skills to encourage more member input into decision-making, reinstitute Vero Beach meetings, organize social gatherings and participate at public fairs. In addition, Jo Anne successfully concluded our first appeal drive, raising more than $20,000 to help meet expenses for the year recently ended. We are concurrently conducting hybrid meetings on Sunday mornings via Zoom and in person at the Nexus Building, and see our membership numbers gradually increasing.
Some more wins for HUMTC:
We have provided secular invocations at meetings of the Vero Beach City Commission, Indian River County Commission, Indian River County School Board, Martin County Commission, Stuart City Commission and Martin County School Board.
In 2018, Martin County Commissioners granted our request to designate a week in February as Humanist Manifesto Reading Week in the same way they previously proclaimed a Bible Reading Week. HUMTC was the first organization in the U.S. to be so recognized by a county.
In December 2023, we embarked on a digital ad campaign using Facebook to reach those who consider themselves Humanists, agnostics, atheists or freethinkers, replacing our print ads that seemed to have diminishing impact. Our newest board member, Gregory Jarrett, recently redesigned our website. HUMTC now feels full of momentum, and all of us look forward to further growth for the like-minded community on the Treasure Coast.
Donna and Joe have been working hard since 2009 to keep HUMTC alive and well, and plan to step back from their labors to become advisors to the board on an as-needed basis. This organization will always be a part of them, and vice versa. With members’ support, HUMTC will continue to improve and build a long-sustaining Humanist community during a time when it is more important than ever.