EASTSIDE INTERFAITH SOCIAL CONCERNS COUNCIL MINUTES
P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
October 14, 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: Jerry Hatfield provided the opening reading and prayer.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 32 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the September 9, 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. You can find out the status of your organizations dues payment for the current year by going to our website (see address above).
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Anne St. Germain, Jerry Hatfield, Kaylie Fiedler, Nina Weaver, and Betty Spohn for providing the day’s refreshments.
Candidate Forum: EISCC was a co-sponsor with the Faith Action Network (FAN) of a recent bi-partisan candidates’ forum which was held October 12 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Bellevue. There was a good exchange of ideas from the candidates and audience members had an opportunity to ask questions. Although this seemed an appropriate and worthwhile effort, there were only about 25 people in attendance.
Nominating Committee: The committee put forward its slate for the Board. It has nominated
Diane Richards – President
Tony Copes – President-Elect
Warren Marquardson – Past President
Secretary – Dick Jacke
Treasurer – Kimberly Kibby
New, at-large board member – Linda Hillesheim
Continuing at-large board members are Steve Baber, Steve Roberts, and Anne St. Germain. The new Board was elected by acclamation.
Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs was able to provide a final report for the last school year and the start of the new school year. Once again the project is a success, although we have fewer students that we will be helping this year – we are not sure why, as the district’s demographic report on free and reduced price lunches is not yet out. The district liaison expects that the number of homeless students this year will be at least the same as last year – over 200.
This year, students from 28 different schools were helped, ranging from a high of 181 students to a low of 4. As of August, we had helped 1458 kids (compared to 1586 last year). We project that we will help at least 1505 students this year (compared to 1622 last year). This year, we gave backpacks with supplies only to students in kindergarten, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, and 11th grades and bags of supplies to the rest. This resulted in 690 backpacks with supplies and 815 bags of supplies being contributed. This compares to 1300 backpacks and 350 bags of supplies the previous year.
The value of this year’s project based on the value of what went into each backpack or bag of supplies is estimated at $48,000. Last year, the value was estimated at $64,000 – reflecting the higher number of backpacks given. Expenses were very similar to last year, with more money spent on fewer – but sturdier – backpacks.
This year, the donations came from 27 congregations, 1 corporation, 1 foundation, and 1 university program.
Over the last 19 years, the program has filled over 19,950 requests from the school district. The program thanks EISCC for its ongoing support!
Backpack Meals: Jan Starr was unable to attend our meeting. Julie Foster arrived later in the meeting to provide an update. She indicated that the program was off to a good start and that it had provided 450 packs so far – about 100 each week. She thanked participants for their support of the program. They do need help packing the backpacks, which is done on Thursday mornings between 8:30 and 9:30 am. Volunteer sign-ups are currently being handled using SignUpGenius.
Legislative Coordinator: Jean Harris was not present. It was noted that items on the legislative horizon include Initiatives 591 and 594 relating to gun sales, funding education in response to the McCleary decision, a class size initiative, and transportation funding.
Washington State Unitarian Universalist Voices for Justice and the Northwest Unitarian Universalist Justice Network: Rev. Susan Morrisson, president of the Washington State UU Voices for Justice, reported on the work that her organization does to promote justice in the state. The group is a state-wide legislative network which brings together individual Unitarian Universalists and UU congregations to work for social change. The group provides activism, mobilization, resources, training, and networking for just public process and policies including, especially, economic justice, climate change and environmental justice, criminal justice reform, migrant justice, and the preservation of the democratic process in elections and public policy. UU Voices collaborates with grassroots groups and advocacy allies on these issues. For more information, visit their website at www.uuvoiceswa.org.
Dick Jacke, president of the Northwest UU Justice Network was also a founder of UU Voices. While realizing the continuing importance of advocacy work in the legislature, the Network determined that there was an interest in UU congregations for more collaborative efforts across congregational boundaries. Such cooperation promised to enable activists to do more with less effort through such collaborative work. The Network does not itself advocate on issues, but provides resources to enable congregations and individuals to work more closely on social justice issues. It holds an annual conference, provides a website with access to issue groups, and sends regular alerts on justice events and issues needing timely response. For more information, visit their website at www.nwuujn.org.
Both Susan and Dick would welcome your questions about how such organizational structures might benefit your own religious communities.
Eastside Friends of Seniors: Hank Myers reported on the work of this organization, which serves the elderly population that needs some help to remain independent. Some of their clients are married, but most live alone. The average age is 82. Many depend on a cane or walker. Some are blind or deaf, while others are restricted by medical conditions or the natural results of growing old. Their service area includes Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, and Snoqualmie Valley communities.
They are seeking volunteers to provide transportation to medical appointments, shopping, or errands. Transportation needs are especially critical in light of the recent Metro cuts. They also need help with home chores such as housekeeping, handyman projects, and yard work. They are also looking for folks to just spend time with their clients to help end their social isolation. If you would like to volunteer of find out more about this organization, you may visit their website at www.EastsideFriendsOfSeniors.org or give them a call at 425-369-9120.
PROGRAM: The Sophia Way
Karina O’Malley introduced the new Interim Director of the Sophia Way, Rae Levine. Karina then provided some historical reflections on the growth of the organization over the years. Started under the guidance of Helen Leuzzi, it began as a Day Center for women. It soon became clear that an emergency shelter for women was also a high priority.
They now have a 21 unit apartment which was developed with St. Luke’s. They have also overseen the Winter Shelter for women. They have a group home for six on the campus of East Shore Unitarian Church. Women in the two housing units are expected to contribute 30% of their income toward rent in the units.
Rae has been with the Sophia Way since July. As her title suggests, she is concerned with assessing the state of the organization and assisting in developing a plan which can carry it into the future. She has found that there is wide and deep support in the community for the Sophia Way. She also understands that improvements are needed which will bring greater stability to the organization. There is a need to tackle the problem of leadership turnover and to meet the financial challenges that the organization faces.
She believes that there needs to be greater focus on the core programs of the Sophia Way. There will be cost cutting and some staff reductions – particularly of administrative staff. There will be restructuring. The work with the Winter Shelter will no longer be solely the work of the Sophia Way but will be done in partnership with Catholic Community Services. The shelter is expected to open this year on November 15 at St. Peter’s and will spend February through mid-April at Redmond United Methodist. She also hopes to further strengthen the partnership with the community.
Carrie DeVault, who is currently overseeing the Day Center, reports that attendance at the center falls off during summer but begins to pick up again with the approach of cooler and more inclement weather in the Fall and Winter. The program provides meals and a place to gather during the day, with access to showers and laundry facilities. The people served can get support in their job searches and can get job-ready clothes for interviews. A variety of unemployment services are provided. They welcome volunteers – especially those who are willing to spend time to connect with the women personally.
Desired donations, in addition to financial support, include unopened makeup, socks, women’s underwear, winter undergarments, coats, hats, and gloves. Their website has a full list of needed items. Their thrift store has been closed to allow them to focus more closely on their core mission, but donations of furniture to support their programs can be donated through Jubilee Reach. Donations in support of the Winter Shelter can be given to either the Sophia Way or Catholic Community Services.
If you would like to support the Sophia Way financially, consider attending their annual benefit lunch on October 30, 2014, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, at the Red Lion Hotel in Bellevue, 11211 Main Street. Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen will emcee, and Rex Hohlbein, creator of the Homeless in Seattle Community, will be the keynote speaker. The event is free, but donations will be requested.
The Sophia Way is looking for office volunteers at its space at Bradford Center. Their old building was sold, and they are looking for new space. For more information about the Sophia Way, visit their website at www.SophiaWay.org or call 425-463-6285.
Jerry Hatfield reported that the LDS Church loves doing service and has begun to develop a website, JustServe.org, to connect volunteers of any faith to service projects and opportunities. This will include projects around the world. Check it out!
Linda Hillesheim reports that a steering committee for the City of Bellevue is developing an energy efficiency program which it hopes to enter in a 2-year competition searching for effective energy efficiency programs and which would provide the winning entry with a $5 million dollar award. Contact the city for more information about this effort.
Christopher South of Hero House reports that their 9th annual Harvest Luncheon, their largest fundraiser of the year, will be held on Thursday, November 6, 2014, at the Lake Sammamish Foursquare Church at 14434 NE 8th Street in Bellevue. Check-in begins at 11:00 am, with lunch at noon. The raffle will be held before the lunch. News anchor Dennis Bounds with KING TV will be emcee. Members of Hero House will speak about how work can change the lives of those with mental illness. Donations are requested. Your reservations can be sent to email@example.com. For more information, visit their website atwww.herohouse.org or call 425-614-1282.
Karen Studders reported there are currently three tent cities in the area – Tent City 3, Tent City 4, and Camp Unity – and they struggle to find places to locate. Tent City 3 has just moved but was unable to find a new congregationally based home – they are currently on city land and potentially at risk of being evicted. All of this is as a result of the increasingly tight requirements for encampments in communities around the county. King County will be updating its encampment ordinance, which may provide for more options than religious properties. Public comments are due mid-November. The Committee to End Homelessness is also looking to update its strategic plan. The 14th Annual Creating the Political Will to End Homelessness event will be held on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, from 10 am to 3 pm, at Bloedel Hall at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. A $25 donation is requested, but no one will be turned away.
Steve Roberts of Congregations for the Homeless reported that their Winter Shelter will be opening soon at the Sound Transit facility in Bellevue, and they will be looking for help with meals and transportation. You can check their food calendar at their website. Because the shelter is located in a transit-free area, they are looking for the donation of a van that could be used to transport clients from the shelter to downtown where they can access bus services. Their website can be accessed at cfhomeless.org.
Nina Weaver of the Eastside Legal Assistance Program reported on their upcoming lineup of workshops. On Wednesday, October 22, from 3 – 4:45 pm, they will offer a workshop on Tenant Rights and Responsibilities at the Mercer Island Community Center. The presenter, Allyson O’Malley-Jones, is an attorney and employee of the Northwest Justice Project, a publicly funded legal aid program. Her practice focuses exclusively on residential landlord-tenant matters. On Thursday, November 13, from 12 noon to 1 pm, they will have a workshop on Long Term Care and Estate Planning. For further information, contact Esperanza Barboa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Maupin reported that both Tent City 4 and Camp Unity have been struggling recently to provide adequate meals. For more information about Camp Unity, contact Allen Bolen at email@example.com or call 206-293-5901. For more information on Tent City IV, visit their website atwww.sharewheel.org/tent-city-4.
Anne St. Germain reported that the Eastside Friends wished to thank all that attended its interfaith event in recognition of the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2014. The event was co-sponsored by F.I.R.E. (Fostering Interfaith Relationships on the Eastside) and provided options and training for how to deal with violent behavior non-violently.
CLOSING REFLECTION: The meeting ended with a closing by Warren Marquardson.
THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, November 11, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
PROGRAM: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Eastside.
LOCATION: BRISTOL HALL, ST. MARGARET’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 4228 FACTORIA BOULEVARD SE, BELLEVUE (ACROSS FROM NEWPORT HIGH SCHOOL)