Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jenn's YouTube Debut!

The Church Council of Greater Seattle took a short video of me talking about some of the work I've been doing and how it connects to my faith. It's being used as a part of their fundraising as well, with the theme of wingspan. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Multifaith Conversation on Homelessness

This is an article that Phil (one of the other Plymouth interns) and I wrote about an event that we organized at Plymouth Church last month. 

Where does our call to work on the issue of homelessness come from? This was the main question that a group of Christians and Muslims wrestled with on Saturday, April 20th in a program that focused on the way that an understanding of the roots of our passion can keep us inspired and hopeful. We listened as Tarek Dawoud from the Muslim Association of Puget Sound wove together teachings from the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad, wisdom about the nature of work and wealth, and the comparison of poverty in his native country of Egypt with Seattle. Rick Reynolds (Executive Director of Operation Nightwatch) spoke about the teachings of Jesus, the boundaries that we create to make ourselves more comfortable, and the great love that he has seen the homelessness share with others. Both men’s testimony revolved around relationship; it is because of broken relationships and a broken society that people find themselves homeless. Consequently, it is through relationships that we can most compassionately and effectively work to end homelessness.
A majority of our time was spent in small groups discussing our own faith journeys and the themes we saw within and across faith boundaries. We also looked for opportunities to partner in this work and have already seen this emerge out of the discussion.
Carol Mooney wrote:
"I was fortunate to be in a small group with Amira from the Muslim Association of Puget Sound. She expressed a desire to work with older homeless women. Both Jessie Attri and I volunteer at Mary's Place and shared a bit with our group about what happens there. I invited Amira to join me on Tuesday when Jessie and I attend the Hour of Power with Pastor Linda at Mary's Place. She came and was very enthusiastically received by the pastor, who believes that there is tremendous potential for connecting Amira with homeless Muslim women and children. Amira was eager to share what she learned with her group. It feels to me like something wonderful will come from this. The topic discussed among the women today was grace - and indeed it felt like grace to me to have attended the workshop, met Amira, and see a connection made which touched all of us present at Mary's Place today and hopefully will touch many more in the future."
--Phil Vestal and Jennifer Hagedorn

May Day March

May Day was such an incredible day! Especially with all of the news coverage that focused on the small (and separate) groups of people who were confrontational with the police officers and destructive of property, I wanted to make sure that people who weren't able to attend would still get a sense of the May Day that I experienced.

Marianne and I, along with the rest of the Puget Sound Sage staff, joined up with the march that left from Judkins Park, down S. Jackson, around downtown, and ending at the Federal Building. What struck me most about the marchers (left), were how many different types of groups were represented: labor unions, community groups, worker’s rights groups, faith groups, immigrant rights groups, and even the Seattle Superheroes (below) were out in full force. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the energy was infectious.

Marianne and I moved up and down the mass of people in order to fully appreciate all that the marchers had to offer; there were small bands, enthusiastic mega-phone wielders, noise makers, clever signs, and of course the powerful “Si se puede!” chanters! We were joined by Rev. Brandon Duran (from Plymouth Church) and ended up spending a lot of our time with Pin@y because they had the most exciting chants, which included some choreography! My favorite was the “Get up (put your hands up), get down (squat down), there’s a people’s movement in this town!” So much fun!

These types of actions make me hopeful because it allows me to see what is possible. All the people who were there had different priorities for change based on their own experiences and the experiences of their communities. Despite this, there was recognition that we are stronger when we are working together. Solidarity is a powerful and necessary tool in creating change and I was proud to be a part of it on May Day.

-Jenn Hagedorn

Sunday, May 5, 2013

More than just a backpack....

We have all been really busy which is why we haven't posted in such a long time. We've been out of town two weekends in a row - our first weekend was at the Annual Meeting of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the UCC and our second weekend away was for a retreat at Fox Island, a beautiful island just south of Seattle.

I could probably write a post on each of the weekends listed above but I wanted to share with you a little update of what I've been working on at my agency. In April,  I began coordinating on a project that will take up the rest of my internship at the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, Project Cool for Back-to-School.  Project Cool is a program that gives brand-new backpacks stuffed with school supplies to homeless students in pre-K - 12 grade who are in shelters and transitional housing programs.  I've only just started working on Project Cool, but I know that I'm going to love it.

One of the most important things I've learned so far is that Project Cool is about so much more than just the backpacks; it's about making sure that a child who is facing the daily chaos of homelessness gets to start school on even footing with his classmates.  It's making sure that a child who has an unstable living situation, is able to enter school in September with the same tools for success as any other child in her class.  And finally, it's about making sure that a homeless child doesn't have to worry about whether they are going to face the stigma of not having enough money to buy school supplies or a backpack at school.  This is what Project Cool is about for the almost 1,300 kids we serve in King County, and this is why I am so excited to have the chance to coordinate the project this year.

If you want to learn more about Project Cool, please feel free to visit our website: