EASTSIDE INTERFAITH SOCIAL CONCERNS COUNCIL MINUTES
P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
January 13, 2015
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: Karen Studders provided the opening prayer/reflection.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 27 representatives and guests.
Minutes of the November 11, 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 $65K in funds, most of which are restricted for use by Congregations for Kids and Backpack Meals. EISCC has $910.25 as its current, unrestricted balance.
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Elizabeth Maupin, Diane Richards, Trish Rogers, Sandy Lewis, and Jo Gartenberg for providing the day’s refreshments.
Dues: 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 organization’s dues payment for the current year by going to our website at eiscc.net.
Homeless Encampment Letter: The EISCC Board, with input from members, has drafted a letter to the Bellevue City Council encouraging them to act to provide new guidelines for homeless encampments in preparation for the expiration of their injunction at the end of 2015. Congregational representatives are urged to review the letter with their congregations and come to the February EISCC meeting prepared to vote on the letter. Individual congregations are also urged to take individual action as they feel called. Those present voted to approve sending the draft letter to the congregations for their input.
Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs reported that the number of homeless students in the district is 177 kids – up from 150 earlier in the church year. They are among the 1500 students from low-income families that Congregations for Kids is helping this year with backpacks and school supplies.
Backpack Meals: Jan Starr was not at the meeting, but Julie reported that they were serving 70 kids each week at the start of the year, but they were up to 137 as of last week. They have provided 1500 backpacks of food to date. They got a very good response to their survey of program participants. A number of participants have sent thank you letters expressing their gratitude for the program. Funds for food are always welcome. Donations can be made through their website atwww.backpackmeals.org.
Legislative Coordinator: Jean Harris reported that the state legislature had just opened their session the day before. Bills on the horizon include raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour over three years and paid sick leave for workers for themselves or to care for a sick child. For those concerned about climate issues, there will also be consideration of the Governor’s proposals related to carbon.
Georgetown University Energy Efficiency Prize: The City of Bellevue has advanced to the semi-final round of competition for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Efficiency Prize. The winner will be the city that is most effective in reducing its energy usage. Paul Andersson, from the City of Bellevue, spoke about the efforts already underway and strategies yet to implement. 90% of the City’s light bulbs have been swapped out for LEDs. There are 48 new solar installations in the city. Solar arrays have been donated to the Bellevue Boys and Girls Clubs. Eastside Energy Cops are working with schools and youth programs. The City is partnering with Puget Sound Energy to create an energy adviser hotline which is available to any Puget Sound Energy customer for doing home energy assessments. With the approval of the building owners, they will even conduct assessments on multi-family projects. For more information, go to greenwa.org. Paul’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
Winter Shelter: Steve Roberts provided an update on the winter shelter. Congregations for the Homeless is overseeing the shelter for men and Sophia Way and the Catholic Community Services are overseeing the shelter for women and families. They expect that the shelters will be open until the end of March at a minimum. The shelters get people off the streets. They were started after some deaths due to exposure in previous years.
The men’s shelter is in the Sound Transit building near Lowe’s hardware. They currently serve 70 to 80 men a night, including a meal. The focus is primarily provision of a safe overnight shelter, but many folks often transition into other Congregations for the Homeless programs. They are always looking for folks who can provide meals for their guests. To sign up, visit their website at cfhomeless.org and click on the Meals Needed link.
The North Bend shelter has also been doing well – providing 30 to 40 people with meals each night and about 20 with overnight shelter. That program is run by the Valley Renewal Center with oversight provided by Congregations for the Homeless.
PROGRAM: Faith Action Network Legislative Update
Paul Benz, the Co-Director of the Faith Action Network (FAN), provided a legislative update in preparation for the opening of the new state legislative session. As this session opens, the House is split 51 to 47 in favor of the Democrats and the Senate is split 26 to 23 in favor of the Republicans (or the so-called Majority Coalition Caucus). Paul believes that we are likely to see many of the same difficulties in moving legislation this year as we did in last year’s split legislature.
The main task of this year’s legislative session is the crafting of the 2015-2017 Biennium budget. They will have 105 days for this task, with their work scheduled to complete by April 25. June 30 is the final deadline for the current fiscal period.
The Senate began its work by voting to require a 2/3 vote for any new taxes. The Governor, on the other hand, has called for revenue: repeal of five tax loopholes (of the 600 some currently existing), a capital gains tax of 7%, and a carbon pollution accountability tax. The biggest challenge of the session will be to adequately fund education in the state (in response to the state Supreme Court contempt decree) without shredding other needed programs.
FAN has developed a legislative agenda for the session by working with four regional summits around the state. The main issues are
- Reducing wealth inequality
- Forging a sustainable biennial budget
- Dismantling the culture of violence
- Protect housing and prevent homelessness
- Sustaining Washington’s environment
You can find out more about what is entailed in each of these broad issue areas by visiting their website at
Three specific things that you can do now:
- Weigh in on the legislative hotline (1-800-52-6000). House Bill 1006 will increase and sharpen the teeth in the current laws seeking to reduce wage theft, including triple damages.
2.Help FAN locate faith leaders from the 45th legislative district (Andy Hill) to testify before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
- Sign up to receive FAN legislative alerts (see website information above).
Jack Roos of Newport Presbyterian Church reported that they will be holding a benefit performance of The Children of Eden, a two-act musical based on the Book of Genesis, performed by the First Presbyterian Church of Caldwell, NJ. The performance will be held on Sunday, February 15, 2015, at 5 pm at Newport Presbyterian Church. A free-will offering will be taken to benefit YouthCare, a local agency which provides services for homeless youth. For directions, visit newportpres.org.
Janet Farness promoted the Meaningful Movies on the Eastside program, which is co-sponsored by the Earthkeeping Team at Holy Cross Lutheran Church and the St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church Outreach Team. Movies are shown at 6:30 pm on the third Tuesday of each month at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. Suggested donation is $5 per person, but no one will be turned away. For more information, contact Janet firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janet also promoted the P-Patch and Community Garden at Holy Cross Lutheran Church which has space available for those interested in growing organic fruits and vegetables. The garden is located at the southeast corner of Factoria Blvd. and Newport Way. Excess produce is distributed to local food banks and feeding programs. Check it out on the web at http://www.hclutheran.net/ and click on Earthkeeping at the top of the page. If you are interested in more about how you can reserve a plot, call the Earthkeeping group at 425-221-8544.
Bill Kirlin-Hackett spoke favorably of the work that the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is doing to support increased revenues in the face of the current state budget issues. For more information about the group and their efforts, go to wliha.org.
Karen Studders reported that a project is underway which would document the stories of those caught in the current trends toward the criminalization of homelessness. They are trying to collect interviews of 10 to 15 minutes in length from persons who have been subject to such efforts. If you know of individuals who would volunteer for this project, call her at 612-386-1021 or e-mail her at KarenStudders@gmail.com.
CLOSING REFLECTION: The meeting ended with a Sioux prayer from Earth Prayers read by Tony Copes.
THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 12 – 1:30 p.m.
PROGRAM: Update from the City of Bellevue LOCATION: BRISTOL HALL, ST. MARGARET’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 4228 FACTORIA BOULEVARD SE, BELLEVUE (ACROSS FROM NEWPORT HIGH SCHOOL)
Dick Jacke, EISCC Secretary