Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities


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Voices: Reflections on Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day

Reposted from the Faith and Family Homelessness Project

Voices: Reflections on Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day

Posted on 02/21/2013 by 

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.

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Gun Violence Legislative Update

(2/19/13)

Legislative Hotline:  1-800-562-6000

Last week the House heard legislation requiring a background check for every sale of a gun in Washington. Rabbi Danny Weiner testified as well as Cheryl Stumbo (one of the survivors from the Jewish Federation). House members are focusing much of their attention on the background check legislation. Another important piece of legislation is getting less attention, however. HB 1676 sponsored by Ruth Kagi would require a dealer to offer to sell or give a locked box or gun lock when a gun is sold. It also adds to the crime of reckless endangerment when a gun is left unlocked and the child gains access to the unlocked gun. Finally, it requires gun dealers and shops to post warnings about gun storage.

This bill is an important step in preventing child deaths and injuries when a gun is stored incorrectly. Without an immediate effort of people emailing Rep. Pedersen and Rep Frank Chopp and calling Representatives on the Legislative Hotline this bill will likely die this week when the first policy committee cut-off strikes on Friday. Don’t wait. Get the word out on this important piece of legislation.

Update:  2/20/13

We received word from the lobbyist for the Jewish Federation  that in addition to sending our support to Jamie Pederson and Frank Chopp,  it is very important to put pressure on the legislators that do not want these bills to be heard or to come up for a vote. 

Emails:
frank.chopp@leg.wa.gov
jamie.pedersen@leg.wa.gov

Legislative Hotline:
1-800-562-6000

Pressure these legislators:
We Want a Vote!
CALL CALL CALL.
Legislative Hotline:  1-800-562-6000

Rep. Steve Kirby (D) 29th L.D.
(360) 786-7996
steve.kirby@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Jay Rodne (R)
5th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT
(360) 786-7852
jay.rodne@leg.wa.gov

Brad Klippert (R)
brad.klippert@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7882
Toll-free: (800) 562-6000

Terry Nealy (R)
terry.nealey@leg.wa.gov
Phone: (360) 786-7828
Toll-free: (800) 562-6000

Matt Shea (R)


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What’s Next for Gun Control? YOU ARE!

The Come Home Alive Initiative (CHAI), formed by TBA members Jessica Trupin, Shelly Cohen, Randy Simon, and many others, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, is delighted that Council member Tim Burgess, Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz and others will be joining us at our next meeting, which we’re co-hosting with the amazing One Million Moms for Gun Control.Nick Federici, advocate for nonprofit causes in Olympia, will be leading an advocacy training after the speakers. Other prominent leaders are also signing up to join us!We hope that each of you is in this struggle for the long haul. Come to share, learn, lobby, or just listen.

Next Sunday, 2/24, 3-4:30 at First United Methodist, 180 Denny. We’ll have you out in time for the Oscars. Childcare available.

RSVP to february24rsvp@gmail.com – but don’t let a lack of RSVP keep you away.


First Church (First United Methodist Church, Seattle)
180 Denny Way, Seattle, Washington 98109
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2013 Interfaith Advocacy Day

  • Wednesday, February 20th
  • Sponsored by Faith Action Network(FAN)
  • Do No Harm: Invest in People

Temple Beth Am members will join advocates from faith communities across the state in Olympia at FAN’s 2013 Interfaith Advocacy Day (IFAD).  Temple Beth Am is one of the ‘advocating congregation’ members of the FAN network.

Starting in Olympia at 9AM, registration from 8-9, participants convene at United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th SE.  Teachings from diverse faith traditions will be followed by a legislative update by FAN Co-Director Paul Benz.  Workshops will focus on Budget and Revenue, Environment, Housing and Homelessness, Gun Violence Prevention, and Wage Theft.

At 10 AM Governor Inslee will speak to the group.

Legislative district caucuses  will convene to discuss issues and develop an advocacy plan for speaking to their legislators at the scheduled meetings arranged by FAN.

The day will end at 3PM on the Capital Campus with briefings beginning at 1:15pm by key officials including TBA member Rep. Reuven Carlyle,LD36 who will speak about budget and revenue and Liz Smith from Labor and Industries who will address the issue of ‘Wage Theft’, a priority of FAN.

Interfaith Advocacy Day is an opportunity for diverse faith groups to come together and speak to legislators with one voice about issues of common concern.  It is also an opportunity for people of faith to meet one another and connect with possibilities for future work together beyond Feb. 20.

To sign up go to fanwa.org and follow the menu to register.

Contact for Temple Beth Am contingent and carpool information are Dina Burstein, dinaburstein@gmail.com or Tom Buchanan, clrtom@earthlink.net


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Petition to Encourage Elected Officials to Act on Gun Control

We  encourage you to sign this petition against gun violence.

Jewish Petition to End Gun Violence

December 14, 2012’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has reminded us that the issue of gun violence in our nation must be dealt with immediately.

Please sign this petition to encourage our elected officials in Washington State to support comprehensive action, including legislation requiring background checks (closing the gun show loophole), mandating guns be stored safely around children and robust efforts to ensure that every person in need has access to quality mental health care.

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5165/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12385


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Health Care for All – L’dor v’dor

Temple Beth Am’s Health Care for All Committee will continue to advocate for health care in the important, upcoming 2013 Washington Legislative session.  The Supreme Court’s 2012 decision upholding the Affordable Care Act – and recent election results – assure that major health care changes are coming.  This makes 2013 an historic opportunity to shape implementation of the health insurance exchange, Medicaid expansion, and Basic Health Option.

The TBA Health Care for All Committee will participate with other organizations in the Healthy Washington Coalition on important efforts to make health care more widely available to families and individuals in Washington.

  • Take advantage of federal funding to expand Medicaid to cover individuals and families earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level.  This will be funded 100% by the federal government in 2014-2016, then 95% in 2017 and 90% in 2020.
  •  Spread the cost of implementing the Insurance Exchange among all health insurers in the state to provide more stable and predictable funding.
  •  Create a program to help low wage workers and families not eligible for Medicaid and who cannot otherwise afford insurance,
  • Support new revenue to help fund vital safety net programs. Throughout the recession, health care and safety net programs have been cut.  There is no more room for additional cuts. Health care programs must be protected and preserved by raising revenue.

On February 20, we will join with Faith Action Network’s 2013 Interfaith Advocacy Day in Olympia.  We will focus on implementing health care reform.

We will provide more information about pending health care legislation at a Sunday Morning Forum on Sunday March 3, 2013 at 10 am at Beth Am.  Theresa Mosqueda,  currently the chair of  the Healthy Washington Coalition and a member of the Board of the Washington Health Benefits Exchange, will talk about the latest news from Olympia.

The March 3rd forum will also share information about a national campaign called Caring Across Generations. This coalition effort to develop and implement policies addresses the increasing demand for home health and other home based services. As the boomer generation retires and as more people of all ages with disabilities live in the community, all generations face new needs and demands on how we care for one another.  Robby Stern, a Beth Am member, President of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action – and a member of the steering committee of the Washington Caring Across Generations Campaign – will talk about this national effort.


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Everyone Counts: Count Us In 2013

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 rsimon28@comcast.net.

Repost: Everyone Counts: Homeless Youth & Young Adult 2013 Count Us In

http://firesteelwa.org/blog/open/title/everyone-counts-homeless-youth-and-young-adult-2013-count-us-in

Posted on 01/29/2013 by 

Firesteel / Blog / 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 ResourcesFriends 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:

Volunteer Erin Maguire works on youth programs for Catholic Community Services.  She said that the Youth Count provides important information that she uses all the time.

“The more than we understand the issue from young people that we’re hearing from tonight, the more we can improve our programs and increase our services to them,” Erin said.

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.