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!