EASTSIDE INTERFAITH SOCIAL CONCERNS COUNCIL MINUTES
P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
November 11, 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 Diane Richards.
OPENING REFLECTION: Elizabeth Maupin provided the opening prayer.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 24 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the October 14, 2014, meeting were approved as submitted.
TREASURER’S REPORT: The Treasurer was not present at the meeting. Diane did get a report from Kimberly in anticipation of the meeting, which indicated that we have approximately $60K in funds, most of which are restricted for use by Congregations for Kids and Backpack Meals. Approximately $6K are currently in our cash reserves.
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Elizabeth Maupin, Diane Richards, Jan Starr, Hank Myers, and Trish Rogers for providing the day’s refreshments.
BUSINESS: Diane 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 at eiscc.net.
Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs was not present and there was no report provided.
Backpack Meals: Jan Starr reported that over 3000 packs were provided for the last year at a cost of roughly $10 each. They expect that the number of packs will grow considerably for the current year, as they have already provided 1000 packs. The number of kids served has grown to 125 each week – this has doubled since the program first began. They are in every Bellevue school from 5th grade through high school. Funds are needed for food. Donations can be made through their website at www.backpackmeals.org.
They also need help packing the backpacks, which is done on Thursday mornings between 8:30 and 9:30 am. Volunteers are also needed to deliver the packs to schools. Volunteer sign-ups are currently being handled using SignUpGenius. If you prefer, you can just show up at the Bellevue School District Warehouse, 12037 NE 5th St., Bellevue, across from Home Depot. Packing bags takes only about 45 minutes and requires no special skills. You will be shown what to do, and everyone will be grateful.
Legislative Coordinator: Jean Harris had nothing to report on the legislative front, as the legislature is not currently in session. She did note, however, that Washington State is celebrating its 125th anniversary as a state.
Newport Presbyterian Church (NPC) Mission in the Kitchen: Linda Hunter reported on this project, which seeks to put the church’s new kitchen into use for service projects for the wider community. The church recently remodeled and upgraded its kitchen, and felt that the new facilities should not go to waste. They have been working with a variety of groups within the church to address hunger needs in the community. They have provided meals for the Reach Center for Hope and the Sophia Way They are encouraging teams within the church to utilize the new kitchen to support new mission projects in the community. They are urging NPC circles, men’s groups, sessions, choirs, youth groups and others to cook for a homeless shelter or other related non-profit. The kitchen is also available to external groups which include an NPC member.
To date, the project has been funded by a $10 contribution per volunteer, depending upon the number of volunteers and the food served. They have developed a manual providing instructions on kitchen care and training. Dates available are limited and arranged through the NPC office. Mission committee members are available to help with menu planning, consultation, and non-profit contacts. At least one NPC member must be present during the entire event and responsible for care of the kitchen and the building.
St. Thomas Episcopal Summer Youth Project: Brian Gregory reported on a joint project of St. Thomas and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Churches. The churches were interested in engaging in mission project that helped the participants to understand that missions are not just to people ‘over there’ but to people in our own backyard as well. This was a project planned with La Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurreccion in Mount Vernon, WA. The intent was to work with the community to serve its needs. Most of the community served were fieldworkers picking berries or other crops in the area. Most were non-immigrants.
The previous year, the project participants supported the camp with tutoring and other help, but this year there were too many volunteers for that. Instead, the spent time working with medical service providers and a local gleaning project which benefitted a local food bank. Find out more about the Summer Day Camp that this group helped to staff at this link:
PROGRAM: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Eastside
Nina Weaver reported that NAMI has been around since 1979 and has an Eastside group affiliated. She indicates that it is the foremost national advocacy agency for those affected with serious mental illness. They strive to improve the quality of life through advocacy, education, and support.
Mental illnesses are biological brain disorders. They are very common. The effects can be devastating, but they are treatable. They are not anyone’s fault. They are not preventable or curable, but they are not hopeless.
Two million Americans live with schizophrenia. Only one third receive treatment. The public familiarity with schizophrenia is low, and the public concern and fear about the illness are high. The nation is no more tolerant now of mental illness than it was 10 years ago. Other relatable disorders include anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and addiction disorders.
There are three major factors that need to be taken into consideration with mental illnesses: the biological (our own body chemistry), the psychological (the emotional factor), and the environmental (lifestyle and social aspects). These underlying factors can be aggravated by epigenetic (“second hit”) factors such as viruses, neo-natal injury, exposure to toxic substances, auto-immune processes, changes involved in aging, and variables arising from our interactions with others and the whole wide world around us.
Psychosis can be a living nightmare. It creates a bizarre state of profoundly altered thinking and behavior. Fear sets in, and a life of chaos begins for all of those involved.
Mental illness creates stigma, a mark of disgrace our reproach. It can also produce prejudice – an opinion formed without reason, knowledge, or experience.
At present, 3 million working age adults are struggling with mental illness in the United States. Roughly half of the individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse. Thirty-seven percent of alcohol abusers and fifty-three percent of drug abusers also have at least one mental illness. Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, twenty-nine percent abuse either alcohol or drugs. There are many people with mental illness in jails and prisons. There are two times as many mentally ill persons in shelters or on the streets as there are in mental hospitals. Thousands more are warehoused in squalid adult residences and nursing homes.
It is not unusual for mentally ill individuals to suffer from more than one form of mental illness. This is referred to as co-occurring disorders, dual disorders, or dual diagnoses. These people are much more likely to be homeless or incarcerated. Violent and criminal individuals, no matter how unfairly afflicted, are dangerous and costly. They have a high risk of AIDs and often cycle continuously through the healthcare and criminal justice systems.
As with other neurobiological disorders, these are diseases that affect complex behaviors. Half of all of our genes are active in the brain, and half of all biological processes in the body relate to the brain. When suffering from mental illness, individuals offer suffer a loss of self understanding and self control. Many people with serious mental illness cannot assume the same life and prospects that they once hoped for. Stress, anxiety, isolation, and stifled emotions become a permanent part of their day to day existence. They are often dogged by frustrations of reasonable demands that cannot be answered. They often find themselves in predicaments in which they must endure public scorn while they try to heal. People often are not helped by the current system unless or until they are a danger to themselves or others.
In the face of this, NAMI strives to bring to bear the community resources necessary to support recovery (never adequately funded and facing more and more cuts). They serve as a voice for those challenged by mental illness and all those affected. They urge referrals to their services from congregations and social service agencies for those that might benefit from their family-to-family support groups. Financial support for their work is always welcome. Services to those affected are thereby able to be provided to them without charge. For more information about NAMI-Eastside and its services, please visit their website at www.nami-eastside.org/.
Sandy Lewis reported that the annual Interfaith Covenant Thanksgiving Eve Service will be held Wednesday evening, November 26, at 7 pm, at St. Louise Catholic Church, 141 156th Ave SE, in Bellevue. This is jointly sponsored by Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, Temple B’nai Torah, the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles, and St. Louise. This will be an opportunity to meet the new clergy in the group: Fr. Gary Zender, Rabbi David Lipper and Pastor Dave Thomas. A collection will be taken to benefit the Hearts and Hammers project. Refreshments will follow.
Jerry Hatfield reported that the LDS Church loves doing service and has developed a website, JustServe.org, to connect volunteers of any faith to service projects and opportunities. This will include projects around the world and is not limited to use by LDS members. It is online now. Check it out at www.JustServe.org.
Jan Starr reported that the annual Thanksgiving Summit of Nourishing Networks will be held on Monday, November 17, 2014, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, at the Highland Community Center at 14224 Bel-Red Road in Bellevue.
Karen Studders reported that King County is updating its Homeless Encampment ordinance, which may provide for more options than religious properties. The ordinance will remain in effect for 10 years. It is expected to address the concerns of the Committee to End Homelessness, that finds that encampments are a necessary interim survival mechanism to help with the 9,000 to 12,000 homeless people in King County. Although the ordinance only affects unincorporated King County, as many as 30 local municipalities look to the ordinance when they consider ordinances in their own jurisdictions. The vote that was scheduled for November has now been put off untilDecember 8, 2014. The proposed ordinance is attached to this mailing, along with some proposed amendments to the ordinance. Additional material and testimony can be found at this link:
Karen’s testimony can be found there as item 41. If you have questions, please contact Karen at
KarenStudders@gmail.com or 612-386-1021.
Karen also reported that Tent City 4 is seeking a host site for next three months. Their time is up at Redwood Family Church on November 30 – less than 20 days away. They need approximately 10,000 square feet of land, suitable for tents, east of Lake Washington, south of Snohomish County and north of Renton, that is near transportation. The land cannot be in Bellevue due to the terms of the Consent Agreement. Possibilities include unincorporated King County, Issaquah, and Kirkland, and congregations around North Bend and I-90, Newport Way/Aldersgate. For more information, contact Karen as listed above or contact Share/WHEEL directly: Marvin or Scott at 206-448-7889 (office) or e-mail email@example.com.
Karen added that the annual Mass in Remembrance of the Deceased Homeless of Seattle will be held at St. James Cathedral, 804 Ninth Avenue, Seattle, on Thursday, November 13, at 5:30pm. The Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle, Presider and The Very Reverend Michael G. Ryan, Pastor of St. James Cathedral, will officiate. Mass will be said and bells tolled for the 75 deceased homeless. WHEEL and Women in Black are the sponsors.
ARCH funding for affordable housing is under consideration on the Eastside, and planning commissioners and city council need to hear that affordable housing and housing for the homeless is needed and wanted by constituents. This is the time to advocate for the ARCH Housing Trust Fund. Many councils will be making final decisions during the week of November 17, so please don’t wait to take action. You can find all ARCH resources on their webpage: http://www.housingconsortium.org/arch-housing-trust-fund/.
A representative spoke to a Council Member earlier last week who was surprised she hadn’t received more emails in support of the Housing Trust Fund, so please use these easy links to send an email to the cities where your congregation or organization works. ARCH is a critical source of affordable housing and homelessness funding on the Eastside, and decisions will be made between Monday and Thursday about cities’ contributions to the trust fund. Many of your agencies have received or will receive ARCH funding, so please, take a few minutes to do some advocacy for the future of this resource. EHAC members are the primary advocates on the ARCH Housing Trust Fund, and have been very successful in the past at getting cities to prioritize ARCH in their final budgets. Below are some easy ways for you to take action today.
Attend hearings next week and testify:
November 17 Issaquah (7 pm), Sammamish (6:30 pm), Mercer Island (7 pm), Bellevue (8 pm); November 18 Newcastle (7 pm), Redmond (7:30 pm, Kirkland (7:30 pm), Bothell (6 pm)
For a budget hearing calendar, go to
If you cannot attend, please consider writing an e-mail. Use these links to pre-drafted e-mails for your local municipality:
Allen Bolen of Camp Unity reports that the group has been going through a reorganization as part of their agreement with their current host, Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Kirkland. He believes that this step will encourage the camp to mature as a non-profit service provider and as a safe encampment. He encourages folks to visit the encampment and connect with the campers. He believes that Eastside community connection and involvement is necessary to the long-term survival of the encampment. Although the group is largely self-supporting with a monthly $30 maintenance fee, they do need help with clothing and meals. He indicated that the group has been struggling recently to provide adequate meals.
If you are interested in helping with meals, you can go to their website to check out their meals calendar. It can be accessed at www.brownbearsw.com/cal/campunitymeals. If you find an open date for which you would like to provide a meal, please contact Allen by e-mail. For more information about Camp Unity, contact Allen Bolen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-293-5901.
Karina O’Malley reported that the Kirkland Interfaith Network (KIN) will be holding its Alternative Gift Fair this weekend, November 15, from 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, November 16, from 12 pm to 2 pm, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 105 State Street, Kirkland.
She also announced that the Eastside Winter Shelters are opening on Saturday, November 15. The men’s facility will be at the former International Paper site at 1899 120th Ave. NE, Bellevue, and women and children at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church, 17222 NE 8th St., Bellevue.
Helen Christian of the Eastside Baby Corner reported that they are gearing up for the holidays. They are looking to recruit holiday helpers that can make a difference in the lives of the children and parents that they serve. You could consider having your group sponsor a Holiday Drive, which would collect high-needs things such as diapers to keep babies dry or coats and long pants to keep kids warm. You could host a Holiday Giving Tree where staff, members, customers, etc. can choose a high-needs item or special holiday item to donate to one of their 500+ weekly clients. Or you could request donations in lieu of traditional holiday gifts at an Alternative Gift Faire. If you would like help planning a drive, please contact Cori at email@example.com. They welcome your ideas on how you would like to help. Contact them at the above website, or call 425-865-0234.
You could consider donating your time to help with the holiday rush that Baby Corner will experience. You can volunteer either as an individual or as part of a group. To volunteer, visit www.babycorner.org/volunteer-time. For groups of four or more, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
End-of-year cash contributions will be used to purchase the absolute essentials (such as food, formula, diapers, car seats, and porta-cribs) that we know children need but in-kind donations cannot cover.
CLOSING REFLECTION: The meeting ended with a closing by Tony Copes.
THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, January 13, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Due to the holidays, there is no December meeting! PROGRAM: Legislative Update, by Paul Benz of Faith Action Network.