Ravenna United Methodist Church has graciously agreed to host Mary’s Place Families an extra week when they had nowhere else to go. This small congregation right around the corner really needs our help! If you are a trained Mary’s Place Volunteer available to stay with families in the evening or overnight or bring dinner, please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yasher koach to Lauren Feiges for this d’var from her bat mitzvah on Feb. 9, 2013.
How do you feel when you are stopped at a red light, and a person who is homeless asks you for money? Do you get annoyed? Do you feel guilty? Do you feel indifferent? Or are you just numb?
Unlike many other torah portions, my portion Mishpatim did not have a story. It listed many laws, such as you are not to take bribes, you are not to spread rumors, you shall respect your parents, and the ever so famous eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But one particular law stood out to me. It stated, “You shall not wrong nor oppress the stranger, for you were once slaves in the land of Egypt.” My interpretation of this law is that we are not to look down or turn our backs on the stranger, because we can easily be in their place. A stranger is someone you think you have no connection with; although deep down inside the person you may consider a stranger is just like you. Put another way, the stranger is us.
Great commentator Rashi once said; “You know the feelings of a stranger- How painful it is for him when you oppress him” What I think Rashi means is that we shouldn’t label people, or prejudge them. This year my mitzvah project brought me face to face with people in need. Some people needed food, some people needed a roof over their heads, and some people just needed company. My experience made me realize that children living in a shelter are just regular kids. That a person who is homeless is still gracious and thankful for a meal I have just given them. That the people in nursing homes, who need assistance with simple everyday tasks, can still tell a good joke. And through all of these experiences, I really wanted to help these people as much as possible, but I had a fear of reaching out to them and opening myself up to them because I thought they were strangers. Through my contact with them, I quickly learned they weren’t, and I found myself feeling less sorry for them and more connected to the people they were on inside.
Everyone has a purpose in life, and we should recognize a purpose in everyone. This brings me back to my point of not forgetting the so called “stranger”. We all have to remember to reach out and make the stranger once again recognizable, even though it is true that there are a lot of people that need our help; more than any one person can provide. But the next time you are stopped at a red light and see someone asking for help, try this. See them as people without a label. Take out the word homeless. When we do this, we are making our community once again whole by eliminating the stranger. We are all becoming stronger and better people from the inside out. Shabbat Shalom everyone.
Reposted from the Faith and Family Homelessness Project
Voices: Reflections on Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day
Published in the Mukilteo Beacon | By Glen Pickus | Feb 20, 2013
It’s our obligation to advocate an end to homelessness
As the world’s first ethical monotheistic religion, Judaism is more than a means for individuals to fulfill their spiritual needs.
Many of us believe it is incumbent on Jews to introduce our ethical values outside of our community. Photo Courtesy of: Glen Pickus More than 650 housing and homeless advocates were given a red scarf to wear at a rally on the steps of the capitol on Feb. 11. The advocates represented 43 out of the 49 legislative districts, which made this Advocacy Day the largest ever.
Because our core ethics are similar, if not identical to those of other faiths, it was logical that Temple Beth Or would partner with the Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project.
Which is why last week, on Feb. 11, 11 Temple Beth Or members were on a bus with 25 other people of faith from Everett First Presbyterian, Arlington United Church and Temple Beth Am on our way to Olympia to take part in Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day, organized by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.
In Olympia we joined more than 650 other advocates whose goal was the same as ours – to call for an end to homelessness. We learned about the connection between housing and education needs and the importance to advocate for revenue dedicated to housing programs. We also attended a workshop on how to be effective advocates.
At noon we rallied on the north steps of the Capitol Building with the hope our state legislators would take notice of our numbers.
After lunch it was time to do some face-to-face advocacy. We grouped together by legislative district and met in three separate meetings with our state representatives and senator. As a Mukilteo resident I live in the 21st District, so I joined about 15 others to meet with Rep. Marko Liias, Rep. Mary Helen Roberts and Sen. Paull Shin. Nearly half of us were Temple Beth Or members.
We are fortunate in the 21st District in that all three of our elected representatives are very supportive of the call to end homelessness.
In our meetings we urged them to fund the Housing Trust Fund at $175 million, vote in favor of the “Fair Tenant Screening Act” to eliminate unfair barriers to housing and to fully fund the “Housing and Essential Needs” and the “Aged, Blind and Disabled” programs which ensure people with disabilities can meet their basic needs.
We pointed out it was not about choosing between education or housing programs because children who don’t have safe and secure housing are not going to be good learners. So we asked them to pursue new, smart and innovative revenues to allow both housing and education programs to be properly funded. (See this HTF Education Factsheet 2013 to learn more.)
As I mentioned in this space last September, for Jews, helping those in need is not simply a matter of charity, but of responsibility, righteousness and justice. We are not to just give to the poor, but we are instructed to advocate on their behalf – to “speak up, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9).
On Feb. 11 that’s exactly what my fellow Temple Beth Or members and I were doing.
I was lucky enough to be asked to be the Meal Team Leader last Thursday at the Teen Feed Count Us In site. During the extended two hour meal we served over 80 youth and young adults ages 13-25, and the many volunteers who came to help out. Following is an excellent summary of Count Us In and the importance of counting a population that has until very recently been “hidden” in our plain sight.
If you are interested in joining me in Olympia at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on February 11th please contact me at email@example.com.
Repost: Everyone Counts: Homeless Youth & Young Adult 2013 Count Us In
Homeless counts will have taken place in every county across the country by the end of January. In this series, “Everyone Counts,” our partners at Firesteel explore the importance of these counts and hear what impact they had on some of the thousands of volunteers in Western Washington. In this post, Ashwin from Seattle University shares insights from the Count Us In homeless youth and young adult count–a population which has only recently been counted!
By Ashwin Warrior, Project Assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness; Senior, Seattle University.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, the doors to the basement of University Congregational Church in Seattle’s University District swing open, and the youth flow in out of the cold.
They are greeted by warmth and smiles, offered dry clothes and small sets of toiletries, and —perhaps most importantly—fed a warm meal.
Since 1987, the non-profit organization Teen Feed has been providing regular meals to the University District’s homeless youth population. In 2011, the organization served more than 13,200 meals to 690 individual youths in need.
Tonight, however, is about more than food. As the youth sit down to an enchilada dinner, volunteers disperse among the crowd, clipboards and pens in hand.
Teen Feed is one of the providers at the center of King County’s third annual Count Us In initiative, an effort started in 2011 to better count youth and young adults who are unstably housed or homeless. This is the first time that Count Us In has been aligned with the One Night Count in King County.
The effort is led by a steering committee that comprises of United Way of King County, the City of Seattle, King County and youth & young adult providers. The goal is to end homelessness among youth and young adults – “unaccompanied youth” ages 12-24 – by 2020.
Volunteers and staff interviewed youth and young adults at centralized sites around the county, including libraries, drop-in centers and meal programs. Some providers also went into the community to do outreach and find the young people. The survey they used includes questions such as where the young person slept the night before, but also gets into some of the major causes of homelessness among this group, including whether the young person has ever been in foster care.
The U.S. Interagency Council (USICH) selected King County and Washington state as one of nine locations to participate in a national pilot to collect data on youth homelessness.
Data gathered from Teen Feed and numerous other youth agencies across King County, including Auburn Youth Resources, Friends of Youth and YouthCare’s Orion Center, will be added to the One Night Count estimates and reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It will also be used to better tailor youth services across the county.
As one worker of the night, Alex Okerman of the YMCA’s Young Adult Services, explains, “It’s really essential to understanding homelessness. If we’re going to try and do something to stop it, by asking questions about these young adults and what their past experiences are like…we can get to the root of some of the issues.” Hear more of his thoughts below:
Many locations also hosted a sleepover for the youth who participated in the Count.
Skateboards lined the wall at Teen Feed’s Count Us In sleepover. Photo tweeted by @teenfeedseattle, Jan. 25, 2013.
The second Count Us In, in 2012, recorded a conservative number of 685 unstably housed youth and young adults in King County. Preliminary results from Count Us In will be available soon; watch for more here on Firesteel.
The One Night Count of homeless people in King County took place early this morning. We are incredibly grateful to the many volunteers and supporters that worked to make the Count safe, respectful, and accurate.
At least 2,736 men, women, and children were found sleeping on the streets, under bridges, in their cars, on public transit, in temporary shelters and in makeshift campsites. This is 142 more people without shelter than volunteers counted one year ago.
The One Night Count is just the beginning. It sets in motion a full year of education, engagement, and action for all of us who care about this crisis. This morning we are especially reminded that everyone should have a place to call home.
When we see our neighbors sleeping on cardboard or riding buses to keep warm, we are shocked and saddened. We are also inspired to urge local and state officials to address these needs with resources. With our State Legislators in session debating funding for key housing and homelessness programs at this very moment, we need people to speak up and take action to make sure the One Night Count is more than just a number.
How can you help?
- Attend a free “Homelessness Advocacy 101” workshop on Feb. 9 in Seattle or Bellevue; learn about the issues and speak up ~ register at www.homelessinfo.org
- Join Coalition members in educating lawmakers in Olympia on February 11 for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day ~ register here.
- Support the Coalition’s work through a financial donation. Donations made through February 28 will be matched, up to $7,000, providing a unique opportunity to double the impact of your gift. Donate online today.
The Coalition has helped to effect many positive impacts on the crisis of homelessness. Today, thousands of people who once experienced homelessness live in safe, healthy homes, thanks to efforts of our members, supporters, and volunteers. Together we’ve raised our voices. And, it has worked. This morning we are reminded there is still much to do.
After seeing what volunteers and supporters pulled off in a few short hours this morning, I’m confident that together, we can ensure safety for people who are homeless today and end the crisis of homelessness once and for all.
By Sally Kinney, Temple Beth Am
We hope to have a vocal contingent of Temple Beth Am members join the Housing Alliance on February 11 in Olympia for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day.
Are you passionate about ensuring that everyone in Washington has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, and affordable home? Do you want to unite with others to end homelessness in our state? Are you ready to join over 500 other advocates from around Washington to tell your elected officials how you feel?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then please join the Housing Alliance on February 11 in Olympia for our annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day!
The day includes:
- Inside information and timely updates on affordable housing and homelessness legislation.
- Workshops on how to talk to your elected officials and be the most effective advocate possible.
- Meetings with your lawmakers for which you’ll be armed with key messages, supporting documents and facts to help share your story.
- And an opportunity to feel the power of a strong and growing movement for affordable housing and an end to homelessness.
This year’s theme is “2-11: Hear the Call for Housing and an End to Homelessness.” HHAD will help connect powerful advocates to elected officials in order to make the call to increase access to affordable housing and services and programs that prevent and end homelessness. This year’s theme was chosen in recognition that our date (2-11) is the same phone number (2-1-1) that struggling individuals and families call when trying to get connected to critical resources. This year lets all come out to Olympia and make the call together to ensure our message is heard loud and strong!
For more information:
Together we can make our voices heard!
If you are interested in joining other Temple Beth Am members or in receiving additional information as plans are made please contact: Randy Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from Washington Low Income Housing Alliance -http://www.wliha.org
Please join hundreds of your fellow advocates from all corners of the state for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day 2013 on Monday, February 11.
Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD) is an opportunity for you to show our elected officials the strength of this statewide movement. It demonstrates the collective power of our community and brings a unified message of support for affordable housing and ending homelessness to Olympia!
Last year your advocacy helped us to accomplish everything we set out for, including the passage of Part I of the Fair Tenant Screening Act, a healthy investment in the Housing Trust Fund, the preservation of the Housing and Essential Needs Program and much more. This session brings another budget deficit and a tough political environment, so we must again stand strong for our priorities. We’ll need to join together to make a united call for the elimination of barriers to housing, a new investment in the Housing Trust Fund and a continued push for new revenue to protect safety-net services from further cuts.
This year’s theme is “2-11: Hear the Call for Housing and an End to Homelessness.” Our advocacy day will help connect powerful advocates to elected officials in order to make the call to increase access to affordable housing and services and programs that prevent and end homelessness. This year’s theme was chosen in recognition that our date (2-11) is the same phone number (2-1-1) that struggling individuals and families call when trying to get connected to critical resources. This year lets all come out to Olympia and make the call together to ensure our message is heard loud and strong!
|Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day
Monday February 11, 2013
“2-11: Hear the Call for Housing and an End to Homelessness“
8am – 3pm
110 Eleventh Ave SE,
Register today and reserve your spot!
Prepare for HHAD
You can also now register to reserve your spot for a web-based pre-HHAD training on either Thursday, January 31 at 11am or Tuesday, February 5 at 11am. These web-based advocacy trainings will help to prepare you for HHAD and for meeting your elected officials. Space is limited, so please register in advance. Interested in hosting a training at your organization? Contact Kevin at the Housing Alliance. Below is a preview of what the day will look like, but please stay tuned for more details on the guest speakers and workshops.
8:00am – 9:00
Check-in and grab a coffee and light breakfast at United Churches located at 110 Eleventh Ave SE, Olympia
Get fired-up to advocate and hear an explanation of the 2013 Legislative Agenda.
Learn more about your powers of persuasion with our advocacy workshops.
The afternoon program will offer you several opportunities including lunch with advocates from your legislative district, a meeting with your elected official, and even a rally on the steps of the capitol building.
2:30 – 3:00pm
Before you head home, join us back at United Churches for a debrief session.
Volunteer for HHAD
It takes support from across the affordable housing and homelessness community to make HHAD happen every year. We have a range of ways you can get involved as a volunteer for that day and in the days leading up to it. It you are interested contact Alouise at The Housing Alliance.
Thank you for registering today!
Kevin Solarte, Mobilization and Outreach Associate