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January 2018 News Reports

Youth are focus of Yakima Advocacy Day

“How are the Children? Advocating for Youth and Families” is the theme for the 2018 Yakima Advocacy Day, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, at Central Lutheran Church, 1604 W. Yakima Ave.

Breakout and report-back sessions are set on various topics, with the focus on youth including, youth and immigration, youth homelessness, issues facing LGBTQ youth and indigenous youth, and community violence. 

“Speakers will provide a framework on resilience and hope in advocacy,” said the Rev. David Hacker of Christ Church in Zillah.

The event is sponsored by the Yakima Association of Churches and Faith Communities and the Faith Action Network of Washington.

For information, call 509-961-4692, email or visit

The Fig Tree recruits for directory, benefits

The Fig Tree still seeks funds to reprint more of the 2017-18 Resource Directory, while beginning work on the 2018-19 edition.  After meeting immediate orders,  few copies will be left.

Staff are also reaching out to recruit community partners to sponsor the copies, said Malcolm Haworth, directory editor.

Fig Tree editor Mary Stamp and planners for the 2018 Benefit Lunch buffet on Friday, March 9, and the Benefit Breakfast buffet on Wednesday, March 14, are recruiting people to host tables and people to speak.

Both events are in Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University. Speakers will discuss “Including Everyone: We Need Each Other” as the theme for the 2018 benefits.

The Fig Tree is also recruiting volunteers to help with deliveries, mailings, displays and at events.
For information, call 535-1813 or email

Our Place raises funds to serve people

Our Place reported recently that it served 11,500 people in 2016, including 1,872 people over 55 years of age, an increase of 893 from the previous year, said Tracie Swanson, who has been part-time director for nearly 10 years.

“It’s because seniors live on fixed incomes, and the costs in food, rent, utilities and medical care are going up,” she said.  “When they have no options left, they come to us.”

To meet those needs, Our Place plans a benefit performance of “Coming Home: A Soldier’s Project.” It opens with a 6 p.m. reception and silent auction on Thursday, Feb. 1, at Gonzaga University’s Magnuson Theatre. “Our Soldiers Project” is an original work exploring experiences of students returning from war to study at Gonzaga, in transition from base to basketball, service to civilian.

Limited mobility affects seniors’ ability to go to medical appointments and food banks, so Our Place, at 1509 W. College, provided 1,245 bus passes in 2016-2017.

“Lack of transportation prevents access to programs, services, medical/substance treatment, employment, child care and educational opportunities,” she said.

The number of people with disabilities, experiencing homelessness and children in poverty also rose in 2017. They are two-thirds of the people Our Place serves.

Tracie wants to give back because there is so much need.

“Poverty does not affect people and families once a year but often lasts multiple years,” she said.
Most affordable housing in the area is rental houses built before 1939 and partitioned into apartments with poor insulation leading to high utility bills, she added.

For information, call 326-7267, email or visit

Civil rights organizer is keynoter for event

The ninth annual Peace & Justice Action Conference will focus on the theme, “Building Beyond the Moment,” Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23 and 24, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, 4340 W. Fort Wright Dr.

Eric Ward, a long-time civil rights strategist and director at Western States Center, will give a keynote address.

There will be an opening reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday with food and performances.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, will be the Action Conference with three workshop sessions, a keynote address and opportunities to connect with like-minded folks who are putting their values into action, said Liz Moore, co-director of the Peace and Justice Action League (PJALS), which is organizing the event.

Eric has worked in community, regional and national organizing and philanthropy.  From 2011 to 2017, he was a Ford Foundation program officer for gender, racial and ethnic justice and a program executive for The Atlantic Philanthropies U.S. Reconciliation and Human Rights Program.

He began his civil rights career when white nationalists were engaged in violent paramilitary activity that sought to undermine democratic government. 

As an organizer with Community Alliance of Lane County, field director of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment and a national field director of the Center for New Community, Eric designed campaigns to expose and counter hate groups and their violence. He was one of a few leaders of color working to counter organized hate.

For information, call 838-7870 or visit

Community forum set on mental health care

Eastern Washington University and Providence Health Care are presenting a community health forum, “Making Mental Health Essential Health” beginning at 5 p.m., with a keynote and panel from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 31, at the Spokane Convention Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

The keynote speaker is Patrick Kennedy, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and founder of the Kennedy Forum, which connects the mental health community, and co-founder of One Mind, a global leader in collaboration on brain research.

He is also co-author of A Common Struggle, which outlines his personal story and a plan for the future of mental health care. 

The advocate for health care reform related to preventive care and treatment of mental illnesses will discuss why the health-care system needs to improve mental health care, why public policy needs to establish parity and why the nation needs to invest in innovative care.

For information, call 279-7000,

‘Faith over Fear’ Tour seeks sponsors in Eastern Washington

Lutheran pastor Terry Kyllo and Faith Action Network board colleague Aneelah Afzali seek sponsors and hosts to bring their anti-Islamophobia workshop, “Faith over Fear: Standing with Our Muslim Neighbors Roadshow,” to Yakima, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Pullman, Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Moses Lake, Ellensburg and Wenatchee in March.

 “Each year the Islamophobia industry spends more than $30 million dollars to make people afraid of Islam and American Muslims,” said Terry, “turning people against each other toward a divided, fearful future.

“We don’t have to live in that future. Together we can build a future based on our shared values and vision for America,” he said.

He seeks faith leaders from all churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, as well as civic, education and community leaders, to join in learning about the threat the Islamophobia industry poses to the nation and civil liberties, and what communities of faith together can do about it.

Aneelah, a Muslim woman who wears a hijab and has a Harvard law degree, is the founder and executive director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN), an initiative of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS). 

Terry is director of Neighbors in Faith, an interfaith effort to recognize Muslims as neighbors and partners in building a more peaceful world, authorized by the Episcopal and Lutheran churches in western Washington.

Their event includes time for questions and interaction with faith, political and education leaders in the communities. 

For information, call 360-770-2774, email or visit