Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Minutes of Your Time = $1,000 for a Wonderful Organization!

Go on Facebook and VOTE for Sharehouse to win a $1,000 donation and make a huge difference for people who are transitioning out of homelessness! 

Sharehouse is a part of The Church Council of Greater Seattle (my placement site)- they collect still useful household furniture and other items and distributes them to families and individuals who have been homeless.  This is beneficial in two ways- individuals and families get to choose the items that will help make their new houses into homes and this means that quality items don't end up in landfills!

Check out the Sharehouse website here and then go onto Facebook and vote here. 


Faith and the Federal Budget

Below is an action alert that I worked on at The Church Council of greater Seattle- it outlines the fiscal cliff and provides a letter that you can adapt and send to your representatives in Congress. 

The Fiscal Cliff Background:

The "fiscal cliff" is a term that is used to describe a series of expiring tax policies and spending cuts set to take effect in January 2013. The Budget Control Act of 2011 requires that, because Congress has failed to pass a bill reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion dollars, across-the-board budget cuts for that amount will occur for mandatory and discretionary spending in the years 2013-2021. This will begin with $110 billion of automatic cuts starting on January 2nd 2013. Significant impacts will be felt after the first few months of 2013 if a bill is not passed.  The Church Council of Greater Seattle calls upon faith communities to stand together to ensure that our voices will be heard on this issue.

As people of faith, we must recognize both the reality of the situation, as well as the foundational principles that we are called to act upon. We know that God is especially concerned with the plight of poor and vulnerable people - and that a key moral measure of the federal budget is how it treats those Jesus called "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45). The voices of those most affected need to be lifted up. Any deficit reduction agreement should maintain a circle of protection around poor and vulnerable people, reducing federal deficits without increasing poverty. 

As Washingtonians, we have a unique role to play in this national issue. As a current member, and expected to be the new Chair, of the Senate Budget Committee, our Senator Patty Murray plays a key leadership role in these negotiations. While Senator Murray has been a strong ally in addressing hunger and poverty, she needs to hear about the core values that her constituents want to see reflected in her decisions; she needs to hear that we are expecting a deal that offers explicit protection for individuals who are relying on federal monies for basic needs, includinghousing and food.

At this critical juncture, deficit reduction is important. However,a balanced approach is necessary: one that does not further the suffering of people who are struggling to feed their families. Progressive taxation ought to assist in minimizing the growinginequality in our country and ensure that a fair share of the tax burden is carried by those who can most afford it. Curbing defense spending also should be part of a moral budget that prioritizes people in need and all working families.

The Church Council of Greater Seattle urges you to write letters to your representatives in Congress, including Senator Patty Murray, and ask for their commitment to creating a budget solution that is not balanced on the backs of people experiencing poverty. 

Please write your letters as soon as possible so that your voice can be factored into the decision making process.

To find your representatives in Congress go here.

To email Senator Patty Murray, click here.

To email Senator Maria Cantwell, click here.

LetterThe Letter:  

Below is a letter to which you can add your own story and send to your federal representatives. Please note the red section of the letter must be either replaced or deleted.


As our nation faces a great decision regarding our financial future, I urge you to consider the principles that guide us and to act for the common good. The "fiscal cliff" that we face has caused extensive debate on where we can afford to spend less and how revenue can be increased, both of which are necessary in order to ensure long-term stability. We know that God is especially concerned with the plight of poor and vulnerable people - and that a key moral measure of the federal budget is how it treats those Jesus called "the least of these" (Matthew 25:45). I can see the way that many people in my community are struggling. The federal government plays an essential role along with local government and non-profits, including the faith community, in the survival of many. 

As a person of faith, I urge you to protect the vital services that many rely on to sustain their basic needs or keep them from slipping into poverty.

Please share your own story of how you, your congregation, or your community is working to address poverty. Explain that the efforts you are making are not enough, and you are looking to your elected officials to work with you by passing legislation that ensures this circle of protection.

We cannot accept a budget that is balanced on the backs of those who are already struggling. We must care for our neighbors in need and re-draw our nation's priorities.  Defense spending should not take priority over caring for the most vulnerable among us.  Budget cuts should be done in a way that allows us to live into our values of a fair, progressive tax system that reduces inequality, while establishing a circle of protection around households facing economic instability.   

I appreciate your leadership through these challenging decisions, and I pray that people from both sides of the aisle can respectively reach across so that a collaborative solution can be found. Just as the Good Samaritan did, this must be an action that will protect and serve those we are called to walk with, instead of leaving them further behind for reasons of political expediency.

In Faith,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ted Talks to the Interns

During our community time last Friday Lauren had us watch a Ted Talks (you can find it here http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html), which highlighted the theme of courage; something that I have thinking about a lot in the last few weeks. BrenĂ© Brown explains that the definition of courage when it first entered the English language was to tell the story of yourself with your whole heart. This kind of vulnerability is scary, and so instead we choose to numb, make things certain, and perfect as a way of dealing with this fear. Living a full life, however, means opening up to that experience of letting ourselves be seen.
One of the things that I am loving most about this program is how many incredible people I have had the opportunity to meet. The category of people that have excited me most recently, however, are the people who have decided to try something new that they suspected will be incredibly challenging. Whether it’s taking up an instrument (anytime after 6th grade seems too daunting to me), moving across the country, or starting a totally different career path that you’re completely passionate about, but unsure exactly how to do; I am truly amazed by people’s ability to step outside their comfort zones and be vulnerable. In hearing all of these stories, people say that they didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into, but it was a choice to stick it out. This is no small thing, and I think this ability to say “yes” to this type of challenge is something that must be practiced in order to be able to let your ego take that hit and keep going.
The struggle as I learn something new is a particularly noticeable area of vulnerability for me. But of course, with that is the growth and reward that only comes from the uncomfortable and frustrating stretch. This was very real and present during my time in Ghana, but it is easier to avoid challenge now that I'm back at home. Avoiding it isn't really what I want to be doing. While the last few months have offered some areas of challenge and growth (both planned and some unplanned) I am struck with the desire to ensure that I will always being willing to be bad at something for a while, so I can experience whatever follows.
Kudos to the courageous. 


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Can You Do to Help Protect Food Stamps?

I just recently posted a blog post for the organization I am working for, the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, and since this is so important I wanted to share it with all of you. Please call your legislators ASAP - this is SO important for SO many Washington families! 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, otherwise known as food stamps, is on the cutting block in the fiscal cliff discussion. This is a crucial time and your legislators need to hear from YOU about how important this program is to sustaining the lives of many Washingtonians. The Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition states that over 1 million Washingtonians rely on food stamps and that if the Farm Bill passes in its current state, then the monthly food budget of at least 234,000 homes in WA will decrease by $90 and 80,000 homes will be ineligible for the program.
The Food Resource and Action Center (FRAC) commented that it is very important to contact your legislators NOW because if the Farm Bill, which includes our nation’s food stamp program, becomes part of a larger legislative package, it will be much harder to convince legislators to vote against it.  To contact your legislators, simply call the Legislative Hotline and they will connect you to your legislator’s office: (202) 224-3121.  You can also write your legislator an email. If you are not sure who your legislators are,  you can find out on the Washington State Legislature Page.
Here are some sample messages you can use from FRAC when contacting your legislators. Make sure to educate your representatives on the impact this bill would have on WA families (see above details).
“Over time, spending money to reduce hunger in America is a good investment. It more than pays for itself because it reduces long-term social costs such as the problems hungry children have in school and the health problems of people who don’t eat properly.”
“The food stamp program is working for the most vulnerable people in our nation. It is the country’s first line of defense against hunger, and cutting help for this most basic human need would be immoral.”
Make the call today, your representatives want to hear from YOU!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Seattle YASC Interns

Many people have been asking us to post a picture 
of the four of us so here it is, a picture from our 
very first week in the YASC program!

What is Intentional Community?

What is intentional community? Well, that's a GREAT question and one that we have been trying to figure out for the past few weeks. Even though we haven't entirely figured it out, I can say at least one thing, we are much closer to figuring it out than we were 3 weeks ago!

Part of the Young Adult Service Community program requires us interns to live in intentional community but it is left to us to decide what that means so how did we go about deciding it...some very intense, VERY late-night discussions with the aid of our friends wine and beer. We had one of these discussions a few weeks ago where we really tried to understand why some of us were having such a hard time understanding what intentional community meant...this involved a lot of talking back and forth but in the end it went like every good discussion should go, everyone was heard and we were able to end it on a positive note and even ended with a sporadic midnight run. While what started off as an intense discussion turned into a really fun night, it then turned into quite a rough morning because we didn't go to bed until 2am and had to get up for work the next day...OOPS!

Like I said, we haven't figured out intentional community completely yet but we are muddling our way through it with conversations, bonding, and spur of the moment housemate late-night adventures!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

SeaTac, Macklemore, and Economic Justice

I want to update everyone on a few of the things that have been happening with our sites in the last few weeks. It's been exciting!

Alaska Airline Fuelers:

SeaTac Fuelers, who work for one of Alaska Airline's contract companies (ASIG), may be going on strike because of public safety concerns, despite being non-unionized. One of the fuelers, Alex Popescu was indefinitely suspended for speaking out about the safety concerns, which include “everything from trucks with soft or no brakes, leaking fuel hoses, trucks that spark when they're being driven when they're hauling fuel.” After Alex’s suspension the workers took a vote and unanimously decided that they would be striking if the safety concerns were not addressed.  Marianne, Stephen and I (in addition to our site placements and our UCC pastors Lauren Cannon and Mike Denton) participated in a march on ASIG offices at SeaTac, which was covered by a lot of the major news channels. Even though a little time has passed, the issue isn’t going away and it is still unclear what will happen. Below is some of the media coverage of the event- you can even see the three of us holding a large sign and walking in the Q13 coverage!

Kiro TV

King 5



Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - SAME LOVE

This is an awesome music video supporting marriage equality. I’m guessing that a lot of people have seen this music video but did you know that it was filmed (in part) at All Pilgrims Church (the church we live in)?! We were all pretty excited when it came out earlier this month. All four of the interns are in the background of the scene with sparklers- you might just have to believe us on that though because we can’t quite be sure if we recognize ourselves in the crowd. Maybe Stephen though. He’s tall.

Economic Justice Presentation:

One of my main projects in the last few weeks has been getting in touch with congregations to see if they would be interested in hosting a training on economic justice. It is a very cool program provided by Rev. David Bloom that can run from a single, one hour session, to multiple sessions and provides a new way to read both the bible and the newspaper. It leaves individuals and congregations with specific actions that they can take based on what they learned in the class.

If this sounds interesting to you please let me know! I would be happy to coordinate with anyone who wants to bring this to a congregation in King County- and you’d be helping me out.


Friday, September 28, 2012

The joys of direct service

With my internship at the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, we are not able to do direct service very often because our primary focus is on advocacy. This week, however, I came to understand more fully the joys of direct service and how inspiring it really can be. Both this week and next, our organization is focusing on getting as many individuals who are living on low incomes or who are homeless registered to vote. I organized the voter registration drive and was able to go to Ballard Food Bank this past week and help some of the people there register to vote. It was an amazing experience and I could tell many stories about it but one story particularly stood out to me:

One man came through the line to get a sandwich for lunch and we asked if he was registered to vote and he told us he was not registered because he couldn't register to vote. We asked him why and he said he was a felon. Now many people do not know this, but the law changed in 2009, and felons can vote as long as they are no longer under the Department of Corrections (i.e. parole). So because of this law, we asked him if we could ask him one more question and he said sure. We asked when he had committed a felony and he answered over thirty years ago.  We then told him that he could ABSOLUTELY register to vote. At first, he was skeptical, but we explained the new law to him and told him that as long as he was no longer on parole he had the right to vote. Seeing the joy on his face once he found out he could vote was amazing. He told us that he had wanted to vote all his life but he had thought once he committed a felony his voting rights were stripped away for life. We helped him register, and as he completed the form, his face began to light up; he realized that voting was finally becoming a reality for him and that he would have a voice.  He told us as he was leaving that we had made his day and that he couldn't wait to vote and would definitely be casting his ballot in November.

These are the kinds of stories that make you want to get up in the morning and continue working in non-profits, even when you are exhausted and worn out. This experience warmed my heart more than I ever thought possible and I am so excited to continue to register voters this week in an effort to make sure that every voter counts and is able to have the opportunity to register!

- Kathryn

A Splendid Torch

"A Splendid Torch"
George Bernard Shaw

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible 
before handing it on to future generations.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Meditatin' and Stuff

     Yesterday was such a cool day, minus my parking ticket. And since it’s unhealthy to vent excessively over little things that are insignificant in the grand scheme of my life, I’ll focus on the meditation.
All 4 of us interns headed down the street to a compline service at an Episcopal church down the street. It’s supposed to serve as a reverent end to your week, and boy oh boy it did the trick for me. The one thing that I thought was awesome was the sheer number of people in attendance. Here I was, sitting on a pew with strangers on both sides of me, some that may not even be Christian, but we’re sharing this moment of reflection together, and I thought that was a really sacred thing. Then, mid-reflection, I was reminded of one of my friends back home attending Notre Dame. He once talked to me about the goosebumps he got thinking about all of the people who shared their thoughts with God in the famous Basilica of the Sacred Heart, past and present, and the same phenomenon certainly struck me on that peaceful Sunday night.

     Then, the choirs started singing, and I just sunk into an even deeper state of peace. It was truly a serene place, both outside, and those who shared the place with me. Part of the experience that made it extra special was the informality of it all. People were laying on the ground around the pulpit, and curled up with blankets all around the sanctuary. It was a nice change from the normal, rigid structure of worship.
Finally, the organist performed, and he blew me away. Apparently he’s one of the best organists in the country, and doesn’t perform very often, but we had the pleasure of listening that night, and it was a great thing to share that presence with everyone.

     This was an amazing start to the week (and the other interns, too, I think), and really got my mind in the right place to engage in another week of tedious, yet rewarding, work. The more time I spend within this city, the more I enjoy it, and I really do feel blessed to be able to share it with three awesome Washingtonian friends and roommates. You guys rock.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The first two weeks

"We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light." -Hillary Clinton

These were the words posted on our church bulletin today and I felt like they were the perfect words to start off my blog post. For me I felt like they defined what this year is and hopefully the rest of my life will be all about - working to make the world a better place.  While this may seem like a loft goal for one year, I think it is achievable because even just by changing one policy to help one group, we have helped make the world a better place than we found it.

We have now been in this Young Adult Service Community Program for two weeks and at our work sites for one week and it has felt like we have already been here a month because so much has happened. I don't want to bore you with all of the details so I will just touch on some of the highlights. One of the big highlights of the program so far has been something that took place our very first day here. On move-in day, I was walking into the church, trying to find our apartment and all of the sudden I was pulled in as an extra into a music video for Macklemore's song "Same Love". It was being filmed in All Pilgrims, the church we are living in, and it was quite the exciting introduction into the program and our new living space. We were then extras in the night reception scene as well. They will have to cut a lot of footage so we will see if we end up in the final video but we will be sure to post it on the blog once it comes out.

Another highlight of the program was the march for the airport worker's rights that Jenn talked about in the previous post. I learned the hard way not to wear heals for a 1/2 mile long march but other than that it was a really powerful experience.  I hope that eventually we are able to help the workers get medical benefits, safe working conditions, and a living wage so that they are able to support their families.

All of that took place during orientation plus site visits and get-to-know-you happy hours and much more. However, the last week we have spent getting "oriented" at our work sites, though I would say mine has been less orientation and more just experiencing everything about my placement site, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, which has been really exciting! My favorite part of the past week at work was the first two days which were a Youth Summit. On the first day of the Youth Summit we sat down with youth and young adults who had either previously been homeless or are still homeless and we talked with them about issues that are important to their daily survival and what they think should be changed. Then on the second day we took the youth and young adults to City Hall to meet with Seattle City Council Members to express their concerns and what they thought should be done. I went with a group who talked to Council Member Sally Bagshaw about shelters and it was a very positive and inspirational experience for everyone involved. She listened to the youth and was very supportive of the ideas that they brought to the table. It was so amazing to see the energy and passion of these youth and also to see advocacy at work for the first time! It made me really excited for our advocacy day in Olympia in the winter!

As you can see the past two weeks have been pretty busy with a lot of "newness" but we've also been having a great time and I'm really excited to see where this program takes me!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

March on Alaska Airlines

So much has happened since the four of us moved in a little under two weeks ago! Orientation week involved quite a bit more than the traditional team builders and visiting of internship sites. Don’t get me wrong- we did that too and there is no better team builder than moving bunk beds and couches around tight corners- but we also ended up doing some pretty unconventional introductory activities as well. One of the most exciting things we did was participate in a march on the headquarters of Alaska Airlines, which is located in SeaTac. Alaska Airlines contracts out its employees so that they do not have to take responsibility for their wellbeing and so they can save money. These contract employees work under harsh and demanding conditions making barely above minimum wage, which doesn’t allow most to pay for health insurance, and still not making enough to keep their family above the poverty level.  The CEO made a promise last May that he would meet with workers to hear their stories, but failed to do so within the 60 day window that he set. We were told that we were “meeting” with CEO Brad Tilden, but the meeting actually was a march with 500 workers and union representatives, as well as 50 clergy to the office of Brad Tilden and ask to speak with him. Not surprisingly, we didn’t get to speak directly to him but he did send down two of his executives to respond to the faith leaders and workers who had come to see him. It was so incredible to be a part of that movement and see how much the workers appreciated having so many people, and especially people from the faith community, there to support them and validate that their concerns were heard. One of the executives even had a tremble in his voice as he spoke and I don’t know if it was because he saw the flaws in the system he is a part of or was just wondering how he was going to go to church on Sunday morning, but it was a big step forward. I was able to talk to a lot of the workers and hear about how long and hard they work for so little, and while it was great to be doing something about it, the depth and breadth of social justice issues in my backyard was still striking.

This is the type of event that takes a lot of planning and preparation and some of the key players were our internship sites- including Puget Sound SAGE (where Marianne is), The Church Council of Greater Seattle (my site), and Faith Action Network (where Stephen is). This means that these are the types of events that we will be a part of planning in the coming year and that is what I am so excited for!

This is a link to the article that was written about the event!

Week One: The Ultimate Covenant

Week One: The Beast Named Time Has Consumed and Devoured Me.

I Have Met So Many People Ranging From Mike to Genevieve. I Have Read More Books on Public Policy & Community Benfits Agreements Then The Mayor. This Week Has Been So Long & Exhausting. As My Roommates Sleep (It's 3:02 in the Morning) I Think About The Fact That It Will All Begin On Monday. I Cannot Even Fathom Going To School At This Point. From Early Bike Rides to the Office, To Being Apart of a Protest...This Has Been A Long Week. I Am Doing My Best To Remain Optimistic & Appreciative. The Church People Are So Kind and Loving to Me. The Funny Things About Blogs Are The Fact That You Think of Something You Really Want To Write...But Then It Takes You 48 Hours to Come Around To It. Story of my Life. Well I Guess I Feel Accomplished In Knowing That I Wasn't Planning On Doing This but I Have at Least One Entry. It's Nights Like These...When You Are Restless Because Your Exhausted..That Reminds Me That I Am Actually Doing Something Beneficial To My Life & Others.

Marianne Haney

Monday, September 10, 2012


So here's the deal- you've found the blog of the interns participating in Young Adult Service Communities for the next eleven months! We're all living together in community in All Pilgrims Church (that's right- we live in a church apartment!) and working in four different social justice organizations. We are also working a few hours each week in a different United Church of Christ (UCC) Church and taking a social justice leadership class. We've only just finished orientation and have been extras in a Macklemore music video and participated in a march for workers rights- it's going to be an exciting year!

This will be a collaborative blog so you'll have a chance to get to know all of us as we grow, learn, and lead on this adventure together. Thank you for journeying with us.