October 2015 Minutes

P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
October 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: Khizer Sheriff provided the opening prayer from the Koran.

SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 30 representatives and guests.

MINUTES of the September 8, 2015, meeting were approved as submitted.

TREASURER’S REPORT: The Treasurer was not present at the meeting, but reported no significant changes since our last meeting.  Although Kimberly’s name is on the ballot for Treasurer this year, she is planning to serve only until a qualified replacement can be found.  Due to her other commitments, she has found it difficult to attend our membership and board meetings, and it is desired that officers be present at those meetings.

NOMINATING COMMITTEE: The Nominating Committee’s slate for the next year was reported at the last meeting and included in the minutes thereof.  Nominees for next year’s officers include:
President                       Tony Copes
President Elect              Linda Hillesheim
Past President               Diane Richards
Secretary                       Dick Jacke
Treasurer                       Kimberly Delcuore

Nominees for the at-large board positions include:
Rev. Steve Baber
Warren Marquardson
Rev. J. C. Mitchell
Steve Roberts
Anne St. Germain

There were no nominations from the floor.  Representatives present voted to elect the slate as proposed.

REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Jean Harris, Warren Marquardson, Elizabeth Maupin, Betty Spohn, and Nina Weaver for providing the day’s refreshments.

Backpack Meals: Jan Starr reported that approximately 100 kids are being served each week at present.  The number is likely to grow.  They do need help with the weekly packing of the backpacks at the warehouse.  For information on packing or other questions about this program, visit their website at http://www.backpackmeals.org .

Congregations for Kids:  Nancy Jacobs reported that they have helped many more kids this year than  last year.  The exact totals are still being calculated, and the final report is not yet in.  They believe that the percentage of kids needing help is likely to have increased again this year.  Nancy shared several very appreciative letters of thank you that the project has received from grateful parents.  Because of increased expenses (especially for the backpacks) and the participation of fewer congregations this year, they will need to be thinking about how to sustain this program over the long run.

Legislative Coordinator:  The GEO contract to house suspected undocumented immigrants requires that they be assured at least 34,000 beds filled on a nightly basis.  It has been suggested that the contract should be modified to reduce or eliminate the minimum requirement and that other, more humane and less costly alternatives be employed.  Release into the community while awaiting review of their cases has been an effective and much less expensive alternative that has been tested in some communities.  If you would like to weigh in on the matter, contact your congressperson.

Initiative I-735 to support overturning the Citizens United decision by way of a constitutional amendment is reaching the homestretch in its signature gathering.  To date, they have gathered approximately 167,000 toward the approximately 330,000 that they feel they will need to collect by the end of the year to reach the minimum number of signatures required (after allowing for invalid or illegible signature entries).  If you are interested in supporting this effort either by gathering signatures or contributing funds, visit their website at wamend.org.

Emergency Services Fund: Dave Bowlan spoke briefly about the Emergency Services Fund that Hopelink oversees.  Sixteen EISCC congregations are currently supporting this fund.  They contributed almost $10,000 last year to help provide emergency funding for water/electric/gas service, prescriptions, or eviction prevention.  40 households were served.  In fact, less than $40 was spent on prescriptions, and over two-thirds of the remainder was spent on eviction prevention.  Overall, this program distributed approximately $100,000.  They are always looking for support from additional groups.

Their annual Hopelink luncheon will be held October 19.  On that same date, the gift room and Thanksgiving program registrations begin.  For information on donating or volunteering, call 425-943-7555.

Winter Shelters:  Steve Roberts was not able to be present, but Karina O’Malley was able to report on both the Men’s and Women and Family Shelters.  On September 17, the center at the old Transit Center property opened for men and women.  After October 31, that shelter will accommodate men only.  They are always in need of blankets and meals.

The shelter for women and families will open on October 15 at the Redmond United Methodist Church.  On January 1, it will move to St. Peters United Methodist Church in Bellevue where it will remain open through March.  If additional support can be found, the shelter may remain open beyond March.  Nominally under the direction of the Sophia Way, they have contracted with Catholic Community Services to provide the daily staffing for the shelter.  They expect that they will serve approximately 50 persons each night.

They always need blankets, hygiene items (shampoo, toothpaste, soap), diapers, and milk.  They are not able to accept donations of clothing on-site.  They need meals for 30 or more.  If you would like to sign up to provide meals, go totinyurl.com/wintershelter15-16.  If you have other questions on meals, contact Andrea at andrea@hfkparish.org or 425-822-0291 ext 110 (during the work week).

PROGRAM: The Future of EISCC.  Vice President Tony Copes introduced this program with a short history of the organization (visit our website at http://eiscc.net for the history), a reading of our mission (from the bylaws), and a review of goals adopted for the organization in 1985.  We were invited to reflect on how the mission and goals reflected our current activity and, more importantly, how we saw the organization moving into the future.  The body of representatives was divided into 6 groups and each group charged with discussing the matter and then reporting back to the body at the end of the session.  The following items emerged from those discussions.

Our Name and Geographic and Faith Reach:  We are named the Eastside Interfaith Social Concerns Council.  Actual attendance and participation centers primarily in Bellevue.  Is the broader reach suggested by our name really possible for us?  Should we make a more concerted effort to reach out to include groups from the greater Eastside or should we adopt a tighter focus and become the Bellevue Interfaith Social Concerns Council?  Whether Bellevue or Eastside, we would also like to do more to expand the participation of a wider variety of faith communities.

One representative was also concerned that EISCC is a homophone for ICE, used by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Our Mission:  Is it time to update our mission statement to bring it more in line with current practice or with our current aspirations?  Several groups believed that the current mission statement is, unfortunately, still all too current. Homelessness, in particular, seems to have gotten worse.

Membership:  What can be done to increase membership and active participation?  Should we have a packet of materials available for new members?  Should we have a covenant for member organizations that invites broader participation and goes beyond the payment of membership dues?  Would celebrations and/or social events help to boost involvement?

Public Relations and Communications:  One important aspect of attracting and retaining members is active public relations and communications.  We could upgrade our website to be more attractive and usable and make wider use of social media – probably requiring a paid or volunteer webmaster.  We could make handouts available in a DropBox.  We could have special PR task forces for those areas which most need focus – such as homelessness, affordable housing, food security, economic stability, fair wages, and others.

A Seat at the Table:  Many of the issues that we hope to address are affected by decisions of governmental bodies at different levels.  Policies that are being made now that we should be aware of and could help to shape.  Should we be more active participants in government by showing up at council and other meetings?  What else can be done to get greater recognition for our group and its work?

Services Being/Not Being Provided:  We are not aware of a current listing of organizations providing social services within the various communities that we profess to serve.  Do we need to do an inventory of the groups and services they provide so that we are more prepared to refer for services as well as understand what services are inadequately provided?  Could we do a better job matching congregations, groups, neighborhoods, and individuals to programs that are addressing human needs?

Issues of Interest for Increased Focus and Involvement:
Homelessness and related issues
Income inequality, a growing problem aggravated further by the rising costs of living in our area
Year-round emergency center
Mental illness, especially how it intersects with some of the other issues

Revisit Our Mission and Goals on a More Regular Basis:  We might wish to consider doing a regular review of our mission and activities, perhaps on an annual basis.

Diane announced the new policy for inclusion of announcements in our monthly minutes.  As many announcements deal with events that will happen even before representatives receive a copy of the minutes of the meeting at which they were announced, we will not plan to include every announcement in the minutes.  It is also true that the announcements are often rushed at the end of the meeting, and the secretary often finds it difficult to capture all of the pertinent information.  Therefore, the board has approved a new policy that those wishing to have their event or notice included in the minutes should provide the secretary with text (a flyer would be great) from which the notice may be made.  It is best if the text be provided at the time of the meeting, but an electronic copy of the text can be provided to the secretary up to two days following the meeting.  Announcements which do not meet these criteria may not be included in our minutes.

Susan Morrisson reported that the Faith Action Network would be offering a program on October 21 at 6:30 pm to learn about and discuss Washington State’s regressive tax structure and what might be done about correcting that situation.  The event will be held at East Shore Unitarian Church, 12700 SE 32nd Street in Bellevue.  For more information, visit the FAN website at fanwa.org.

Allen Bolen of Camp Unity was pleased to report that their search for a new site for their encampment had been fruitful, and they are relocating to Bear Creek United Methodist Church.  Although their immediate situation has been secured, there is still a long term problem with siting tent encampments and providing them adequate support.  They urged that congregations seriously consider making a commitment to help in addressing this situation.  In addition to new sites, Camp Unity is always in need of meals support.  Visit their website at campunityeastside.com to see how you might volunteer.

Sandy Lewis reported that on Friday, October 16, Temple B’nai Torah would be installing its new rabbi.  Sandy will be coordinating food for their Thanksgiving Eve service at 7 pm.  If you would like to participate, be sure to provide her with your contact information.

Karina O’Malley reported that there will be a special Community Action-Plan Gathering to address the needs of the homeless and, especially, those in tent encampments on the Eastside.  This event will be held at the Peter Kirk Community Center in Kirkland on Thursday, November 12, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm.  An event page will be available for registrations on October 15.  Please RSVP to linda@nourishingnetworks.net if you would like to help make this happen.

CLOSING REFLECTION:  Jean Harris provided a closing prayer.

THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 12:00 – 1:30 pm 
PROGRAM: Congregations for the Homeless

Together we are building a caring community