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June -August 2018 News Reports

Fig Tree prepares to publish Directory

During June, The Fig Tree is completing ad sales and designs, gathering final updates for listings, preparing the layouts for printing the 2018-19 Resource Directory in early July and arranging for deliveries over the summer.

“We will continue to recruit community partners to help with sponsorship and continue to make calls to finalize numbers for printing,” said Malcolm Haworth, directory editor.  “We invite agencies and congregations to let us know how many copies they would like to have available to distribute.”

On page 10, The Fig Tree expresses its gratitude for the many years Marilyn Stedman contributed to the life of our ecumenical endeavor.

“We value our volunteers and continually reach out to recruit new volunteers to help with mailings, deliveries, writing, editing, displays, planning, benefits and our board,” said Mary Stamp, editor.

The Fig Tree’s Annual Board Meeting to review its production year, elect board members and officers, and make future plans will be from noon to 3 p.m., Thursday, June 7, at Emmanuel Family Life Center, 631 S. Richard Allen Ct., where The Fig Tree has its office.

Board members are Pat Millen OSF, moderator; John Wang, vice moderator; Lauri Clark-Strait, secretary; Kathy Sandusky, treasurer; and board members Nick Beamer, Barb Borgens, Mary Ann Farley SNJM, Malcolm Haworth, Kaye Hult, Kimmie Meinecke, Roger Ross, Wade Schwartz, Mary Stamp and Anastasia Wendlinder.

For information, call 535-1813, email or visit

World Refugee Day will be on June 16

To celebrate refugees in Spokane, Refugee Connections Spokane, World Relief and Lutheran Community Services are hosting the United Nations World Refugee Day in Spokane from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, June 16, in Nevada Park, 800 E. Joseph.

This year the focus is on celebrating the refugee child. Refugee children were invited to write about their experiences in an essay competition.  The winner will read his/her entry at the event.

Refugee children also have designed World Refugee Day T-shirts that will be available for purchase.

“We will also be adding youth activities and games,” said Marijke Fakasiieiki, executive director of Refugee Connections.

The event also includes an international marketplace with items refugees have made, a naturalization ceremony, a community agency fair, and performances by the Neema Youth Choir with children from Africa and Bhutanese dancers.

Refugee Connections Spokane was founded in 2011 to advocate for refugees’ and immigrants’ self-empowerment, to foster community bonds, and to celebrate talents and traditions across cultures.

For information, call 209-2384 or email

Spokane Alliance, WSU identify gaps in care

The Spokane Alliance recently partnered with Washington State University’s medical school to identify gaps in the region’s health care system.

The alliance, representing 20,000 people from Spokane churches, unions and nonprofits, will conduct meetings within its member organizations to help WSU determine how the Elson S. Floyd School of Medicine should use its new Mobile Medicine program to address some of the health coverage gaps in the region. 

The WSU medical school, the state’s second, was founded in 2015.

Two WSU medical school leaders and some current students serve on the Spokane Alliance’s healthcare research team.

The Spokane Alliance’s feasibility study will be completed this summer, with action to follow from WSU.

For information, call 360-477-2438 or email

Faith Partners plans August workshop

Faith Partners will present a workshop on “Moving Beyond Toxic Gender Roles” from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 13, at Jepson’s Wolff Auditorium at Gonzaga University.

Participants will explore how gender expectations and expression contribute to domestic violence and sexual assault.

It will include discussions with community and faith leaders on how to raise and be welcoming to healthy children regardless of their biological sex and/or gender identification, said Debbie DuPey, Washington certified sexual assault victim advocate with Lutheran Community Services.

Featured presenter Deborah Svoboda is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work and faculty with Women’s and Gender Studies at Eastern Washington University. She has a master’s in social work from Rutgers University in New Jersey and a doctorate in social work from the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

Deborah has worked 20 years in domestic violence and rape crisis centers. Her teaching and research revolve around community building, feminist teaching structures, building women’s leadership, organizational development, and justice-seeking policy construction related to gender-based violence and economic disparity. 

There will be a participatory session with an interfaith panel.

Faith Partners provides education, resources and support for faith communities so they can facilitate advocacy, sanctuary, and healing for people affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

It is a collaborative effort of several Spokane agencies, including Women’s Healing and Empowerment Network, Lutheran Community Services Northwest and other Spokane organizations.

For information, call 343-5032 or email

Cyclist raises funds for Habitat-Spokane in cross country bike race

Starting June 2, Jason Oestreicher of Spokane is spending two weeks competing with 136 other bicyclists from 23 countries in the 10-state, 4,200-mile Trans Am Bike Race to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity-Spokane.

 It is a self-supported race—meaning no outside assistance is allowed. Jason said nearly half the competitors drop out from the race. 

 He will start his cross-country journey in Astoria, Ore., with the hopes of finishing at the Victory Monument in Yorktown, Va.

“I’m captivated by the race because it will push my boundaries—mentally, emotionally, and physically—and likely change my perspective on life and what I am capable of,” he said.

 Jason chose to ride for Habitat for Humanity-Spokane knowing that the Spokane community has an affordable housing crisis.

“Habitat inspires me because of the selfless work they do to provide the opportunity for people to realize their dream of homeownership, in turn building a better community with each home that they build,” he said.

 Jason has had a bicycle since he was in kindergarten in Wyoming.   He and friends rode on a homemade track in a field by his house.

“Bicycling gives me freedom to explore the world and experience it with my senses,” he said.

With his first mountain bike, he explored dirt roads outside town.  After moving to Spokane, he began riding singletrack through forests on Mica Peak, Canfield Mountain, Riverside State Park and Beacon Hill.

Eight years ago, he bought his first road bike and discovered the rural Inland Northwest—Palouse farms, West Plains hills, little lakes and the Vista House on top of Mount Spokane.

Jason long wanted to tour across the country on his bike and in 2016 learned about the Trans Am Bike Race. He has been inspired by reading past racers’ blogs about their experiences with “the thrill, misery, elation, monotony, adventure and accomplishment.”

Jason’s progress and an opportunity to donate are posted at or by following Habitat-Spokane on Facebook @HabitatSpokane.

Habitat for Humanity-Spokane partners with qualified home buyers based on need, ability to pay and willingness to partner.

Participants complete 500 hours of sweat equity, pay closing costs, attend home-buyer workshops and help to build their own homes. They receive a new or rehabbed home, an affordable mortgage and stability, said Colleen Weedman, executive assistant.

Since 1987, Habitat-Spokane has built or renovated more than 300 homes in Spokane County, she reported.

For information, call 534-2552, visit or follow @HFHSpokane on Twitter.

Unity in the Community on Aug. 18 celebrates diversity of area

For the second year, there will be a Unity Parade at 9 a.m. before Unity in the Community starts at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Clocktower Meadow and Lilac Bowl at Riverfront Park in Spokane. 

The Unity Parade will follow the same route—a few blocks through downtown Spokane—as last year to demonstrate the region’s respect, support and honoring of its diverse communities.  Last year, 300 participated.

“It is meant to be a time of celebration and joy for how our similarities and differences make us a stronger and better community,” said April Anderson, co-organizer of the 24th annual Unity in the Community with Mareesa Henderson.

Parade participants are asked to register at

April said that they are adding toothbrushes and dental floss to the 1,400 school bags with school supplies such as paper, binders, crayons, glue, folders and more.

They are also preparing 300 senior bags for people 65 and older with 15 pages of discount coupons, water bottles, jar openers, stress balls, puzzles and more.

Last year, there were more than 100 vendors as part of the Career and Education Fair, Cultural Village, Health Fair, Youth Fair and general nonprofits. 

The vendor booths will be in the Clocktower Meadow, where the entertainment will be.  The Cultural Village will be in the Lilac Bowl.

April estimates that about 5,000 attended in 2017.

She has helped organize Unity in the Community for 10 years, and Mareesa has helped 12 years.

“It’s a labor of love, the best thing in my life,” said April.  “It connects people, celebrates diversity and provides access to resources.

“In today’s political climate, it’s more important than ever that we show our unity,” she said.

“I recently heard a quote that there is a difference between diversity, which is about being invited to the table, and inclusiveness, which is being asked to dance,” she said.  “Unity in the Community is about dancing together.”

For information, call 599-6669 or visit

Disaster recovery groups report on flooding

Representatives from the Inland Northwest and the Idaho Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), the Kootenai County and Idaho Office of Emergency Management (OEM), United Methodist Disaster Response, the Red Cross and Salvation Army met May 23 by phone to share concerns and needs related to flooding in the region.

Some of the region’s flooding has been handled by sandbagging, but some Okanogan and Ferry County buildings have been flooded.  As of the May, there were no requests for help. Another call is planned on June 21.

• Pend Oreille County said “several homes” were affected by flooding, but there were no damage assessments. Spirit Lake Baptist Church fed Red Cross and INW-VOAD volunteers who filled sandbags.

• Ferry County OEM had about 10 uninsured homes affected.  Most flooding was north of Republic.  The Red Cross opened a shelter there.

• An email asked 11 counties of North Idaho and Eastern Washington and tribal emergency managers to report unmet needs.  

For information, call 208-659-2491 or