EASTSIDE INTERFAITH SOCIAL CONCERNS COUNCIL MINUTES
P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
The meeting was held in Bristol Hall of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, July 14, 2015, beginning at 12:00 noon.
WELCOME: The meeting was called to order and conducted by EISCC President Diane Richards.
OPENING REFLECTION: Dick Jacke provided the opening reflection.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 22 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the June 9, 2015, meeting were approved with the following correction: in the report on Backpack Meals, it indicated that the project had received gift cards from Safeway. In fact, the gift cards had been donated by Subway.
TREASURER’S REPORT: The Treasurer was not present at the meeting, but she did provide an update to our president. There has not been much change since last month. As we have been successful at trimming expenses and increasing dues contributions, we have accumulated a modest surplus. As a result, we will have an opportunity at our October meeting to give serious thought to the work that we are called to do and to whether there are initiatives in the community that might benefit from our support. Come to that meeting with your ideas.
NOMINATING COMMITTEE: As required by our Bylaws, the Board has appointed a nominating committee to propose officers and at large board members for EISCC. The proposed slate will be presented at the September EISCC meeting and voted on in October. If you would like to suggest nominees, please contact Jean Harris, Steve Roberts, or Betty Spohn.
BELLEVUE CITY COUNCIL MEETING: Diane Richards and Tony Copes attended the most recent Bellevue City Council meeting to speak in favor of Bellevue renewing its commitment to homeless encampments as we requested in the letter that we approved at our February meeting. They were joined by several other EISCC members who were there to show their support. Diane indicated that she has already been approached by a reporter who was at the meeting and wanted to learn more about the issue and our concerns.
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Jean Harris, Sandy Lewis, Susan Morrisson, and Betty Spohn for providing the day’s refreshments.
Backpack Meals: Jan Starr was not present and did not send a report.
Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs reported that preparations were well underway for the new school year. Good Start Back to School drives are getting underway all around the area. There will be approximately 125 additional kids this year, bringing the total to roughly 1650. Five congregations that participated last year will not be participating in this year’s program, so they will be challenged to meet the need – particularly as things are more expensive this year. She reminded us that Congregations for Kids is the only group in the Bellevue School District that does this work for schools throughout the district.
Legislative Coordinator: Jean Harris reported that the legislature has finished its work for the year. They did pass a budget and a transportation package – although there is still a concern that the courts may find that the minimum school funding mandate has still not been met.
There have been big celebrations about recent Supreme Court decisions which upheld the Affordable Care Act and expanded marriage equality to all 50 states. The US, Iran, and other concerned parties have just agreed to limitations on the Iranian nuclear programs which could also begin the easing of economic sanctions against Iran, although the agreement may face serious challenges in Congress.
Congressman Adam Smith is accepting applications for legislative interns. Interested parties should contact one of their offices for more information.
Eastside Legal Assistance Program: Nguc Nguyen, the new Program Director for the program, spoke to us about her organization and its work. They provide free civil legal aid to low income residents of East and Northeast King County and domestic violence legal aid throughout King County. They are especially active in immigration issues, general law, bankruptcy. The provide regular workshops and lectures on these issues for the residents and those who provide services for them.
Office intake hours are 10 am to 1 pm, Monday through Friday. Volunteers can also sign up on their website – although they look for a minimum commitment of half a year. For more information, call 425-747-7274.
PROGRAM: The Sophia Way Angela Murray, the new Executive Director of the Sophia Way, spoke with us about recent changes in their organization.
As background, she reported that studies show that roughly 30% of the homeless population are women. In 2015, this meant that were approximately 200 women and children in shelters on the Eastside. There are a wide variety of reasons for this homelessness: job loss, divorce, domestic violence, rising rents and costs of living, and limited affordable housing. Many homeless are seniors who suffer from mental or physical disabilities. About 19% are migrants.
The Sophia Way started in 2008. It provided housing, food, counseling, and case work. Their concern was to provide ‘shelter tonight and housing tomorrow‘ – their plan was always to work with clients to move them into stable housing situations. They also have a day center which provides referrals. The center is open 8 am to 12:30 pm Monday throughFriday. They serve about 25 women a day, but could probably serve more – funding is a limiting factor. They can accommodate 21 women in their night shelter.
Last year, they were able to place 23 women in permanent housing, and they are on track to do even better this year. Unfortunately, there are about 70 women seeking shelter, so they are not able to meet all of the demand.
They have also overseen the Women’s Emergency Winter Shelter for several years, which has usually been open from mid-October through May. They have been working with Catholic Community Services to provide this service. They served 316 women and families this last year.
They are able to provide 6 units of transitional housing at Holly House on the grounds of East Shore Unitarian Church. They also subsidize rental housing for 30 additional women. They have been able to increase the number of women that they have been able to serve in this way.
Under their recent interim Executive Director, they began a process of refocusing their efforts, with the intent to keep as much as possible to their original core programs and quality – although they have found it helpful to be able to address other needs (such as clothing) when dealing with their clients. They are always looking to expand their corps of volunteers, as that allows them to stretch the rare dollars even more.
Their goals for 2015:
Develop a long-term, sustainable business model
Build relationships within the community
Provide quality programs (what is being done well, and what should change)
Move to more adequate office space
Complete upgrade of accounting and IT systems.
She did note that Wimmer Technologies had just donated some tech equipment for their use.
The Sophia Way will be the beneficiary of the Movie in the Park at the Hidden Valley Sports Park on August 25 at dusk. They are requesting that you bring grocery gift certificates to donate. October 1 will be their Annual Luncheon, which will be held at the Red Lion Hotel again this year.
Diane Richards visited Tent City 4 on Monday. It is currently in Snoqualmie at Exit 25. She provided a rather extensive list of their current needs which was made available for pickup at the information table.
Sandy Lewis reported that the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection will hold its 4th annual Neighborhood Festival on Saturday, August 29. There will be food and exhibits, and this year’s event will be especially geared to kids. Information is not yet available at the church website, but if you would like more information you can call Sandy at425-562-1228.
Jean Harris reported that the Starfire Singers will be performing the musical Justix at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church on Tuesday evening, July 28. For more information, contact the church at 425-746-9800 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Karen Studders reported that the Coordinating Board of Committee to End Homelessness will need more representation from area faith communities to help it move its work forward the next few years. If you are interested in serving, please contact them for an application. For more information, visit their website at http://www.cehkc.org/.
Tiane Hulet reported on the Days for Girls project, which provides hygiene kits to help girls stay in school in over 75 countries around the world. Each kit requires about $10 in materials to make. Although international in scope, a new Eastside group is forming to participate in this work. They will have a fundraiser on July 25, 2015. If you would like to find out more about this group or the upcoming fundraiser, contact Tiane at 206-659-8375 or reach her by e-mail at email@example.com .
Mary Leal reported that St. Vincent de Paul needs money to support its work. 95% goes to assist those in the community. Their newest store is located on Rainier Ave in Renton – currently the only store on the Eastside.
Dave Bowlan from Hopelink reminded us of their program to end summer hunger for kids. For information, visit their website at https://www.hope-link.org/take_action/end_summer_hunger/.
Elizabeth Maupin was not able to be at our meeting, but sent some information to be shared about the No New Jim Crow group in the Seattle area. They will be meeting on Sunday, July 19, from 2:30 to 4:30 pm at the Douglass-Truth Library at 23rd and Yesler. She also included a flyer (attached) promoting several related events organized by the City of Seattle. For more information on No New Jim Crow, contact them by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
CLOSING REFLECTION: Gordon Wilson provided a closing prayer.
THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, September 8, 2015, 12:00 – 1:30 pm. Note that EISCC does not have a regular meeting in August! PROGRAM: Worker Cooperative ProgramLOCATION: BRISTOL HALL, ST. MARGARET’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 4228 FACTORIA BOULEVARD SE, BELLEVUE (ACROSS FROM NEWPORT HIGH SCHOOL)