Project Harvest Hope grew out of a partnership between two congregations: Oakland, California and Oklánd, Transylvania. In the early 1990s—post-Communist Romania—these congregations dreamed of promoting self-determination, sustainable agriculture and social renewal in our Unitarian homelands. The dream was realized in several tangible economic development projects:
When Romania joined the European Union (EU) in January 2007, the economic landscape in Transylvania shifted dramatically, as did the mission of Project Harvest Hope.
In twenty-first century Transylvania, we are engaged in community organizing and economic development. We work with NGOs and other Transylvanian organizations to promote local initiatives and provide resources not available locally. Our model is one of service, agility and humility. Our relationship is between equals, mutual and reciprocal.
In 2006, Project Harvest Hope partnered with the Transylvanian organization, CIVITAS: Foundation for a Civil Society, to bring development tools to Unitarian villages. These rural communities—ethnic Hungarians with rich cultural traditions—suffered persecution and deprivation under communism and continue to struggle today.
Working with CIVITAS, we funded a network of community organizers known as Local Development Agents (LDAs)—young residents of rural villages who are taking on the task of moving their communities forward. Project Harvest Hope provided funds for training, technology, planning and supervision, as well as matching grants for projects that are having dramatic impacts on the lives of people.
In 2011, Project Harvest Hope entered into a new partnership with Székelyudvarhely Community Foundation, a community-driven grant maker with an impressive record of work with youth and young adults, of environmental activism, and of renewing philanthropic culture in the Homorod valleys.
With SzKA, Project Harvest Hope established the Unitarian Community Fund, a donor-advised fund that provided matching grants for projects designed to promote community and economic development in our Unitarian homelands. Between 2011 and 2013, 45 projects received matching grants through the Unitarian Community Fund.
Beginning in 2015, PHH launched a new crowdfunding initiative called Unitarian Kaláka, which enables donors in North America to engage more directly in the process of raising matching funds for projects in the Unitarian villages of Transylvania. Kaláka (“working together”) is a village tradition of achieving community goals through volunteer cooperation. We invite you to join our kaláka and connect, care and share with Unitarians in Transylvania by visiting UnitarianKalaka.org.