February 2016 Minutes

P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
February 9, 2016

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 Tony Copes.

OPENING REFLECTION: Susan Morrisson opened with a prayer by Henri Nouwen.

SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 28 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the January 11, 2015, meeting were reviewed. The minutes were approved as submitted.
TREASURER’S REPORT: Our new Treasurer, Rev. J. C. Mitchell is planning to be in regular attendance at our meetings.  In the future, he will have financial reports available for reviewing at the meetings.  Monies for our two projects – Backpack Meals and Congregations for Kids – are responsible for the greatest amount of funds that we receive and process.  He is trying to change procedures so that the funds for these two projects are processed more quickly so that volunteers are promptly reimbursed for their expenses on behalf of the projects.

He is trying to reconcile our records with those that he has received from the bank – the good news is that they show more funds than we do, so it is likely that we are a bit better off financially than expected.  He listed our current balance at almost $82,000 – with all but about $10,000 of that dedicated to our two projects.  Rev. Mitchell also pointed out that February is Black History Month, and he suggested that we seriously consider reading a black author.

REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Nadine Bentsen, Tony Copes, Sandy Lewis, Trish Rogers, and Gordon Wilson for providing the day’s refreshments.

Backpack Meals: Jan Starr did not make a report during this part of the meeting as Backpack Meals was the featured presentation for the day.
Congregations for Kids:  Nancy Jacobs reported that the project is gearing up for the next year.  They are seeking more congregations to support this project, as the number served is up (as is the associated cost) and the number of supporting congregations has been dropping.  They are also looking for new board members to replace some long-serving current members.  The work is relatively light and their big month is August.
Legislative Coordinator:  Jean Harris reported that legislation that would provide equal pay for equal work had passed.  She also noted that the Faith Action Network had held its lobby day the week before, and they addressed many issues of concern to EISCC.  She also noted that the Governor’s choice for Secretary of Transportation was not ratified, with the vote mostly along party lines.
Emergency Services Fund: Dave Bowlan has left Hopelink, and his case manager position has been filled by Brittany Holmes.  She hopes to provide regular reports at our future meetings.  More information on Hopelink and the Emergency Services Fund visit their website at www.hope-link.org.

First Congregational Church of Bellevue:  Jan Olin reported that the church’s move to its new location is rapidly approaching.  The discernment process began in December, 2010, and went on until June, 2012, when the decision was made to sell their current building to developers and relocate.  They had been at their current site for 120 years!

They will have their first service in their new location on Easter Sunday, and they expect the move to be completed by March 15.  They will be in the old Star Plaza building in downtown Bellevue on NE 2nd Street near Toys R Us – their downtown location is an important part of their congregational identity.  The second floor of the building will provide community service space to local agencies including the Sophia Way and Catholic Community Services.

Pacifica Institute: The expected spotlight presenter was not present, so Tony Copes filled in with his knowledge of this group.  The group is part of the Hizmet movement within the Islamic faith.  They defend human rights and promote education.  They denounce terrorism in the name of Islam.  They have a strong emphasis on interfaith work.  Their new office is located at 13219 NE 20th St, Suite 209, in Bellevue near the former Sophia Way thrift store.

PROGRAM: Backpack Meals.  
Jan Starr started with some background on hunger in Washington State.  While few people die of hunger in our state, about 20% of our population could be considered ‘food insecure’ – that is, they don’t know where their next meal will be coming from.  Jan also introduced EISCC representatives Janet Farness, Farida Hakim, and Nikki Sheriff, who have helped with this project..

Tracy Myers and Betty Takahashi of the Bellevue School District work with Backpack Meals to help coordinate their activities with the need at the various schools.  This outreach effort is needed because younger students are not always aware of these options.  They are currently serving upwards of 150 students per week.  There are 180 homeless students in the district currently.  They have already provided over 2000 bags of food for the current school year.

Ten family connection centers in the district provide human services or serve as a human services point-of-contact for families in crisis.  They can help with food, school supplies, and social services such as mental health.  The centers are always looking for volunteers to help out.  Eastside Pathways also works with the district and Backpacks and other groups.  They will soon be conducting an evaluation of this program by surveying the kids and families served.

People need to understand the scope and implications of this problem.  The program strives to interrupt the cycle of hunger in the community with the goal of improving health of students and their readiness and ability to learn in the classroom.  This need is so great that the food bank declined to take it on – they believed that it was beyond their resources.  It is worth noting that Bellevue College does have a food pantry for their students.

Their new address is Backpack Meals; 6947 Coal Creek Parkway SE; Newcastle, WA 98059.  For information on needed food items, packing opportunities, or other questions about this program, visit their website athttp://www.backpackmeals.org .  There will also be an opportunity to support the project during the Give Big event in May.  Or you could help out at the Bellevue School District fair booth at Interlake High School on March 30 at 6 pm.

Elizabeth Maupin reported that Mary Queen of Peace parish in Sammamish will be hosting Tent City 4 in February.  They could use help in hosting (as will other congregations who will be hosting in the future).  Linda Benson of Nourishing Networks will be putting together a Community Action Planning gathering to help coordinate and provide additional support to host congregations and their supporters.  If you would like to help, contact Linda atlinda@nourishingnetworks.net.

Sandy Lewis alerted us to Resurrection Episcopal Church’s annual Hearts and Hammers project, in which volunteers provide services to local neighbors in need.  They can help with repairs, yard work, and other similar tasks. If you would like to suggest a neighbor to benefit from this project, contact Sandy at 425-562-1228.

Anne St. Germain indicated that the Eastside Friends Meeting is too small to host a tent city, but they would happily volunteer to assist a congregation that is hosting a tent city on the Eastside.  If you are interested in finding out more, contact Anne at 425-869-1479.

Karen Studders reported that Tent City IV will be hosted by Mary Queen of Peace in Sammamish.  Camp Unity needs to move this week, but so far has no host identified.  They are also facing approximately $3000 in expenses for the move, including permitting fees.  Any help that you could provide would be gratefully received. Karen also reported that this year’s annual one-night count of homeless identified an almost 100% increase in the homeless population on the Eastside and in the South End.

Tony Copes also recommended a series of programs entitled Standing Together which is co-sponsored by the Muslim Association of Puget Sound and the Church Council of Greater Seattle.  The purpose is, among other things, to promote interfaith dialogue and cooperation.  See attached poster for details.

CLOSING REFLECTION:  Gordon Wilson provided the closing prayer.

THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 12:00 – 1:30 pm 
Dick Jacke, EISCC Secretary

Together we are building a caring community