June 2014 Minutes

P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
June 10, 2014

The meeting was held in Bristol Hall of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church beginning at 12:00 noon.
WELCOME: The meeting was called to order and conducted by EISCC President Warren Marquardson.
OPENING REFLECTION: Sandy Lewis provided the opening reflection.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 25 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the May 13, 2014, meeting were approved as submitted.
TREASURER’S REPORT: The Treasurer was not present at the meeting.  Warren reminded our member organizations to forward their dues payments for the current year – if they have not already done so.
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Sandy Lewis, Elizabeth Maupin, Danielle Prince, and Nina Weaver for providing the day’s refreshments.
Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs was not present but reported by e-mail that Congregations for Kids is moving right along with this summer’s project and is having a meeting Friday to finalize plans.  They welcome more congregations who would like to become involved.  Interested parties can e-mail her at bnjacobs@frontier.com.

Backpack Meals: Jan Starr offered thanks for all of the support that has been given to this project over the last year and enabled them to provide over 3000 meals to Bellevue school children.  They are in the process of gearing up for the school year ahead.  This year, they will be looking to provide food that can be prepared by the kids themselves.  Lightweight items are especially welcome (as they travel lightly in the backpacks).

Legislative Coordinator:  Jean Harris reported that Sen. Elizabeth Warren was promoting a national bill that would enable students to refinance their student loan debt.  For more information, visit her website.  A petition is available there if you wish to show your support for the measure.

There will likely be two competing initiatives on the Washington State ballot this year dealing with gun control issues.  Initiative I-594 calls for background checks on all gun transfers, whereas I-591 would limit such checks to those required nationally – which do not require background checks for private transfers such as sales at gun shows or over the internet.

Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church:  Suzanne Grogan and Fran Wessling provided an update on the work that they are doing at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.  The center is the third largest such facility in the country and is run by a private, for-profit corporation under contract to the US government.  The contract guarantees them $43 million per year at 90% occupancy of their 1575 beds.  If the facility is full, they are guaranteed $52 million per year.
A total of 400,000 immigrants were deported in 2010, the most recent year for which we have available statistics.  Over 2 million have been deported during the Obama administration.  Many of these are parents who have been here 10 to 20 years and have US citizen children  who only know life in America.
Until Congress is willing to change our current immigration laws, many human beings who have been productive members of our communities will continue to live in fear and tremendous stress.  Some very good people that want a second chance for a better life for their children and families are suffering greatly.
Since July, 2012, volunteers from churches in Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond have set up tables at the center on a monthly basis to provide coffee, cookies, hot chocolate, printed information, and a caring ear for those visitors coming to see family members detained there.  They have designated themselves the 4th Saturday Eastside Interfaith Vigil.  There are usually vigils on other Saturdays featuring other local groups protesting the US immigrant detention policies.  The vigils are present at the center from noon to 3 pm most Saturdays, with the 4th Saturday group staying until 4 pm.

The 4th Saturday Eastside Interfaith Vigil enthusiastically welcomes others to join them, whether for a one-time event or an on-going basis.   They carpool from the front of Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church in Kirkland, gathering at 10:45 am. They arrive back in Kirkland at 5:30 pm, tired but feeling very fulfilled.   Individuals may also drive their own cars and create their own schedule for arrival and departure at the Detention Center.  Driving directions to the church or to the Detention Center are available on request from SuzanneGrogan99@yahoo.com – 425-803-9570

The group also welcomes donations of food (soft drinks, bottled water, cookies, fruit, protein bars, etc.) for the vigils.  They request that gluten-free items and recipes with nuts& dairy be labeled. A church in Monroe sometimes sends handmade baby quilts via a member who attends our vigils. Inexpensive toys, pencils, stickers, and other thoughtful gifts always delight the many children who come to visit persons in detention.   There is also an opportunity to provide more direct support through visitations with a detainee with the AID (Assistance to Immigrants in Detention) program, if you would like to be more involved in this issue.  They also welcome financial donations to help cover the cost of gas, ice, and printing costs.

If you would like more information please contact Suzanne Grogan by phone at 425-803-9570 or by e-mail at SuzanneGrogan99@yahoo.com.  Checks can be made payable to Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church with ‘Immigration Vigil’ in the memo line.  Checks can be mailed to the church at 308 4th Ave. S; Kirkland, WA 98033-6612.

St. Louise de Marillac Catholic Church Jackie Rial reported on some of the current outreach programs at her church, which is located at Main St. and 156th Ave SE in Bellevue.  The parish has about 8000 members and is currently in transition – they will be getting a new pastor on July 1.

The church serves those in need through various parish and local organizations such as Senior Lunch, Congregations for the Homeless, Congregations for Kids, Crossroads Meal Program, Eastside Interfaith Social Concerns Council, Friend to Friend, Giving Tree, Housing at the Crossroads, Holiday Food, Kids at the Crossroads, and St. Vincent de Paul.  They support local, regional, national and international service organizations with parish donations.  The church fosters a closer relationship with other churches, synagogues and mosques through interfaith dialogue and cooperative action, such as Hearts and Hammers.

Hearts and Hammers is an annual one-day community work blitz to repair and rehabilitate homes of the infirm, the elderly, the disabled and those with limited resources, in our community. It began in 1994, as a pilot project under the sponsorship of the Langley United Methodist Church. The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in joined in 1996. St. Louise and Cross of Christ joined the program in 2006.  They do whatever repairs and renovations are possible within the scope of a one-day work party, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, painting, plastering, weatherization, heavy cleaning, roofing, and trash removal.  There is no charge to the homeowners for labor or materials. Local fundraising and donations of labor and materials cover costs.

St. Louise Parish Conference of St Vincent De Paul Society is a volunteer organization inspired by Gospel values to live and grow in faith through prayer and personal involvement in charitable works. It provides assistance to those in need that live within the St. Louise Parish boundaries, regardless of creed. They supply food, rent and utility assistance and give referrals to other agencies for further assistance. At the Parish office, Team members meet face-to-face with “clients” in need of help with rent, energy bills, food, clothing, or other issues. They review each situation with the client and, as appropriate, provide funding and/or referrals to other organizations. Teams rotate weekly. Training is provided.
One weekend each year a St. Vincent de Paul truck is available after all Masses for receiving usable household items and clothing.  Donate food to the St. Vincent de Paul bins located in the Church vestibule. Food is stored in a food pantry in the Parish office and dispersed to the many that come to them for food help. Food drives at St Louise School, initiated by teachers and/or students are also a wonderful source of support.  To donate your useable household items or clothing, call St. Vincent de Paul dispatch at 206-767-9975 option 1 to schedule a pick up.

For more information, visit the church website at http://www.stlouise.org.  For information about specific projects, try the following contacts:
1)  Social Concerns: Jackie Rial, Chairperson, 425-649-8643 or jackearlrial@q.com2)  Senior Lunch:  Jeanne Duncan, 206-552-4202 or jeanne.duncan130@yahoo.com3)  Saint Vincent de Paul:  Carole Cote, 425-747-4450 or caroleandbill@frontier.com4)  Hearts & Hammers:  Gary Makowskie (St. Louise), 425-641-8303 or gamakowski@aol.comVee Drummond (Church of the Resurrection Episcopal), 253-929-6310 or durvee@aol.com

PROGRAM: Social Services and Humanitarian Aid from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Jerry Hatfield, the Public Affairs Director of the Bellevue stake, provided an overview of the social service work and humanitarian aid provided by the Mormon church.  Jerry also works for the church with Deseret Industries, the thrift store and training center associated with the church.

Jerry began his presentation with a short film, ‘You Have Done Unto Me,’ that provided background on the international humanitarian aid projects run by the church. These international aid projects are generally run in partnership with other organizations with active presence in the target area, such as the Red Cross or Red Crescent. They have approximately 12,000 humanitarian missionaries in the field serving communities all over the globe.  He will be going on a humanitarian mission himself when he retires from his current job.
Local welfare efforts center around Deseret Industries, which was introduced with another short film.  They have thrift shop locations in Federal Way and North Seattle.  Through the local employment center in Renton, they are able to place roughly 50 people per year into new jobs.

The church has a Community Partnership program which works with local non-profit organizations to reach those most in need.  They provide approximately $250,000 worth of vouchers that can be redeemed at the Deseret Industries thrift shop for clothing, furniture, household good, etc..  Bishops of the church provide orders for such goods and even family services.  Potential recipients are screened by the partner organizations.  Goods beyond what can be distributed locally are sent to the Welfare Center in Utah for broader distribution.  They have shipped about 50,000 pounds of clothes as well as computer supplies and equipment to the Welfare Center this last year.

If your organization would like to partner with this program, contact Jerry Hatfield for a Community Partner application.  He can be reached by phone at 425-392-2651 or by e-mail at jerryjhatfield@comcast.net.  For more information about Deseret Industries, visit their website at http://deseretindustries.org.

Diane Richards reminded all representatives and guests of EISCC that we have a table near the entrance of our meeting space in Bristol Hall where flyers and other information sheets about social concerns issues in our area may be displayed and distributed.  This space is there for you!  Feel free to use this space – no prior approval required.  And check the table for interesting resources when you arrive or leave our meeting.

Karina O’Malley had to leave the meeting early, but Warren Marquardson related that Karina had once again been appointed to serve as the Interim Director of the Sophia Way while the search for a new Executive Director continues.

Elizabeth Maupin of the Issaquah-Sammamish Interfaith Coalition reported that the Sammamish Council is considering a restrictive ordinance that would limit homeless encampments in their city.  She welcomes any input and resources that people could provide to her dealing with similar ordinances proposed and passed or rejected in other Eastside cities.

Sandy Lewis reported that the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection will not be closing its doors soon as had been reported at our March meeting.  Their Fourth Annual Neighborhood Faire will be held on Saturday, September 6.  Watch for details.

Hero House will benefit from a special promotional event with the Seattle Storm basketball team.  Flyers for the event will be available at our next EISCC meeting.
CLOSING REFLECTION:  The meeting ended with a closing reflection by Jean Harris.

THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, July 8, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. PROGRAM: Camp Unity. 

Together we are building a caring community