Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities


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Mary’s Place Families at RUMC June 11-18 – Help needed

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 tamara@weinbail.com or alyson@marysplaceseattle.org.

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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.


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2013 Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day Monday, February 11

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:

https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2685/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=76591

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 rsimon28@comcast.net


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Tikkun Olam in Action – Temple Beth Am Mitzvah Day 2012

On Sunday, May 6th, 400+ Temple Beth Am Religious School students, 50+ parents and 30+ teachers could be found hard at work on multiple mitzvah projects to serve our community. The positive energy in the classrooms was palpable and smiles were everywhere. This year, nine different grade levels from PreKindergarten (our 4 year olds) all the way up to our 7th graders learned about the many critical needs throughout our community.  Each grade level found a special way to impact those in need.

Some of the highlights of the day were: 

–         PreK children helped to make catnip toys for newly adopted kitty cats at the Seattle Animal Shelter.
–         Kindergarteners created colorful collages of happy faces which were then turned into laminated placemats for residents of Providence Elderplace.
–         Our joyful, energetic 1st grade students visited Ida Culver House and entertained the residents with songs, storybook reading, and colorful drawings.
–         The staff at Treehouse, http://www.treehouseforkids.org/ an organization that serves the needs of foster children, requested kid-created stationary.  Our 2nd graders did a fabulous job producing the requested stationary.
–         Our industrious 3rd grade students prepared a meal for homeless teens.  An excellent speaker from Teenfeed  www.teenfeed.org  helped the students understand the causes of teen homelessness.
–         Mary’s Place, http://marysplaceseattle.org/ a community center serving homeless women and their children, was the recipient of more than 100 personal hygiene kits. These kits were lovingly assembled by our 4th graders and an encouraging note was added to each kit.
–         The 5th grade students tackled the problem of hungry families. Our students converted bulk dry goods (rice, beans, sugar and rolled oats) into family-sized portions.  They also provided useful recipes for the food.
–         The Downtown Emergency Services Center http://www.desc.org/needed artwork to make apartments seem more welcoming and home-like for residents moving away from homelessness.  Our 6th graders eagerly shared their creative skills making the needed wall hangings.
–         The 7th grade students and parents tackled environmental restoration work at the Beaver Pond Natural Area under the supervision of EarthCorps http://earthcorps.org/. It was a great day to be outside repairing the world.

We would like to express a huge thank you to all who participated, all of the TBA rabbis and administrators who supported our efforts, the custodial staff who took care of many needed room modifications, and congregants who gave time and donations.  

Sandy Cobel and Peter Gruenbaum, 2012 Mitzvah Day Co-Chairs


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3/18 – TBA Tikkun Olam Teach-In: Homelessness and Economic Injustice

Exploring the Issues of Homelessness and Economic Injustice?  Still Have Questions? Frustrated by How to React as an Individual and as a Community?

Please join us on March 18th at the TempleBeth Am Tikkun Olam Teach-In:  Homelessness and Economic Injustice as we wrestle with these and other questions:

What do you think a caring community should know about homelessness?

Is this a community problem or someone else’s misfortune?

What can I do to help?

What can we do as a community to help?

By allowing tent cities, as an example, are we not addressing the problem? Or are we perpetuating a problem?

How does homelessness affect different populations such as adults, families, youth, chronically ill, mentally ill, chronic substance abusers?

The politics ­ Is this an issue for the city?  county? state? 

Schedule and Registration Info at:  http://templebetham.wufoo.com/forms/tikkun-olam-teachin/


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An Evening With Mary’s Place Families at TBA

by Ellen Koretz Whitton

My usual role with the Mary’s Place families while they are at Temple Beth Am (or Ravenna United Methodist Church, where TBA volunteers also help out) has been as an overnight host, so I often don’t really get the chance to know the families.  But this time, along with my husband and 8-year-old son,  I hosted one evening.  My son was nervous.  He asked, “what if the homeless people aren’t nice?”, but once he got there he fit right in and had a great time playing with the other kids.

One conversation I overheard really struck me.  One of the children had brought a Scholastic book order leaflet back from school.  The child’s mother sighed and said, “I don’t get my TANF until the middle of the month.”  Here is a mother who has nothing, not even a roof over her head, yet she is trying to find a way to get books for her child.

As I write this story, I reach over to pet Grace, our family’s tuxedo cat.  I know that we can have a pet because we have a home. (Grace is a shelter cat, who was homeless herself!)  The night I served as evening host, another volunteer let the children pet his dog, and they were delighted. Having a home means that a child (or a parent) who loves animals can have the simple joy of having a pet.

No matter how much you study the problem of homelessness, I don’t think you can truly understand what homelessness means until you have spent time with these brave and resourceful people.  It truly has been a privilege to help.


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Urgent need for warm clothes at Mary’s Place

We received this urgent request from our friends at Mary’s Place, a weekday drop-
in day program for homeless and formerly homeless women and their children. Donations can be dropped off at 314 Bell Street, Seattle, WA 98121.

Dear Friends,

We hope you are warm and safe on this beautiful snowy day!

When the weather is this cold, it’s hard to stay ahead of the demand for warm, dry clothes for our women and their children. We are out of coats, gloves, scarves, and we have a very urgent need for warm, heavy socks – lots of wet feet here!

Can we ask you a favor? Continue reading