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Search The Fig Tree's stories of people who make a difference:

‘Tapping into the abundance,’ we make connections

The Fig Tree is about windfall and fruitfulness

Lena Lopez Schindler – St. John’s Episcopal Women’s League and Windfall Thrift Shop

Lena Lopez Schindler
Lena Lopez Schindler

I have learned about windfall and fruitfulness from working with Windfall, an outreach of the Cathedral of St. John.  

A windfall is the fruit a fruit-bearing tree or plant had dropped because of the wind.  People can go pick it up for free or at a reduced cost.  It was considered a boon, a bonus, like the Old Testament instruction for farmers to leave margins of their fields for gleaners.  It’s about abundance and gracefulness.

Windfall is a store on South Perry started by St. John’s women, who were tired of raising money with monthly rummage sales and five-cent luncheons. In 1958, they opened a thrift store as an easy way to make money. We quickly outgrew the little windmill building and moved into our current space.  The service league’s history records cycles of boom and bust as Windfall has gone from all-volunteer run, to having some employees, to now being 75 percent volunteer run.

Last year when I was service league president, Spencer Grainger of Liberty Park Child Development Center called and offered a partnership. The clothing program for their pre-school and after-school families was hard to handle. He suggested giving us the clothing.  I thought, that’s a windfall, but it didn’t feel good just to take the clothing, so I said, “Why don’t we form a voucher system so families can come and shop with dignity, using vouchers as money.

Two weeks after we formed the partnership, I saw Mary Stamp at the South Perry Farmers’ Market and said ‘I have a great idea for an article.” She agreed.  

The Fig Tree embodies the fruitfulness apparent in the world’s great religious traditions. If we pay attention, even in the busiest moments of our lives when we feel overwhelmed, there’s the grace of abundance we didn’t ask for or earn.  If we tap into that, we make incredible connections and have an incredible gift. 

Every time I pick up The Fig Tree, I have that experience. It’s a windfall of grace, a windfall of knowledge.  I am humbled to be in this room with people who have been in pages of the windfall (Fig Tree) who work for the windfall (Fig Tree).  Mary is someone who opens the gate and says “come in and take the abundance, come on in.”


Guild School Director is a long time Fig Tree reader

Dick Boysen - executive director of the Spokane Guild’s School

Dick Boysen
Dick Boysen


I’ve been reading The Fig Tree a long time, as I have served as director of the Spokane Guild’s School for 35 years.  By the time it fully circulates at the school, it has many fingerprints on it.  That’s a testament to The Fig Tree, because there’s so much important and positive information in it.

The internet has affected newspaper sales but probably some of the bad news reported has also had an effect, because there’s little good reporting in most U.S. newspapers today.  The Fig Tree is a tribute to the people who have supported it all along.

The Guild’s School, a regional diagnostic and treatment center for children from birth to three with developmental disabilities, works with children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, hearing or vision impairments, rare syndromes, autism and children hurt through violence.

The school is 53 years old.  For the first 22 years it was in the Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ, which considered the school part of their outreach.

Recently Deidre Jacobson interviewed me for The Fig Tree and asked why I do this work.   For a long time, I would just say to people, “We’re doing God’s work,” with no further explanation.  Everyone understood it in their own way.  That’s what The Fig Tree is about. There’s room for interpretation.

I’ve always felt that given the right information, people want to do good.  Sometimes we just have to lead them to do good. 

The Fig Tree promotes social justice in the region

Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Task Force for Human Relations

Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart


The Fig Tree provides an outstanding contribution to understanding and promoting social justice in our region.

Social justice encompasses the historical idea of creating a society based on the principles of equality, freedom, justice and fairness for all human beings. Social justice is part of secular philosophy, as well as the religious tenets of the world’s great religions.

The secular realm in democracy uses law to enshrine principles, while theologians and religious sects have not only embraced the constitutional principles, but also taken the next step onto the importance of economic justice, and the idea that God demands each of us to help the poor and needy among us.

At the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama spoke of social justice from the theological perspective, saying, “It is a command from God to love thy neighbor as thyself.” He added that Proverbs says it is our responsibility “to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute,” and that Jewish belief considers that “the highest form of charity is to do our part to help others stand on their own.”

I see that long-standing mission every time I read The Fig Tree.  As I’ve observed over the years while reading this inspiring publication, it has eloquently covered the words and deeds of the interfaith community for many years, informing us of the theology, good works, partnership and ways each of us can be part of those efforts.  The stories inspire us about individuals and organizations, especially civil rights groups.

I thank The Fig Tree for the many times it has covered the work of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, and the Human Rights Education Institute as we over time faced challenges.  We are so appreciative of how The Fig Tree sends out word of what we believe in relationship to democracy and social justice.

The Fig Tree has carved a path that covers the broadest definition of what it means to be a social justice activist.  Thank you for your enduring determination to meet a mission that fills the vacuum in other publications and the media in general.

Mary has stayed on course and focused on what social justice is about, for individuals, institutions and organizations, not only here but throughout the world.

Copyright © May 2013 - The Fig Tree