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Speakers at benefits tell impact of Fig Tree’s coverage of diversity


Speakers for The Fig Tree’s 2016 Benefit Lunch on March 11 and Benefit Breakfast on March 16 will tell how the newspaper, resource directory and online media play a role in the region in “Reflecting Diversity.”

The Fig Tree is celebrating its 32nd year of publication, covering stories of people who make a difference because of their faith and values.  Its print and online media connect people to work together to serve individuals in need and to promote justice. 

It is marking its 10th year of producing the 43-year-old annual Resource Directory: Guide to Congregations and Community Resources.  The directory helps people network and find services they need.

The lunch buffet begins at 11:30 a.m. and the program at noon, Friday, March 11, in Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University.

The breakfast buffet begins at 7 a.m. and the program at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 16, also in Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga.  Previously the breakfast was a week earlier during Gonzaga University’s spring break, so the Gonzaga community has not been able to participate as easily.

The lunch speakers will be Marilee Roloff, executive director of Volunteers of America of the Inland Northwest; Edie Rice-Sauer, executive director of Transitions; John Sirois, committee coordinator of Upper Columbia United Tribes, and Naima Quarles-Burnley, president of NAACP Spokane, each sharing about three minutes on how The Fig Tree’s focus on diversity has impact on their efforts.

Breakfast speakers include Terri Schibel, director of quality assurance and training of Spokane County Headstart, Early Headstart and ECEAP, which partners with The Fig Tree on the Resource Directory;  Bishop Jim Waggoner, Jr. of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane; the Rev. Mike Bullard of Coeur d’Alene, who is chair of the Inland Northwest Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, and the Rev. Alan Eschenbacher, pastor at All Saints Lutheran Church and coordinator of outreach ministries to feed homeless people, companion people who summre mental illness and provide space for a community garden and community center on its property and in its building.

The 2016 video, “Reflecting Diversity,” was prepared by Ceila del Rosaria, a recent graduate of Gonzaga University and member of Life Center, working with The Fig Tree editor, Mary Stamp. 

It features Cameron Conner and Grant Gallaher of Conscious Connections; Sandra Williams of The Black Lens; Skyler Oberst, Ayesha Malik and Admir Rasic of the Interfaith Council; Elizabeth Goldstein of Gonzaga University; Dale Soden of Whitworth University; Mark Kadel of World Relief, and Freda Gandy of the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center.

Board members who are featured on the program include Mary Ann Farley, SNJM, chair; the Rev. Darrel Lundby, vice chair; Anastasia Wendlinder and the Rev. Happy Watkins.

“Like public broadcasting, The Fig Tree is available free but is supported by the sponsorships of readers and by the advertisers and underwriters,” Mary said.  “Our benefits are like public broadcasting pledge drives, opportunities to celebrate our model of journalism and invite support.

“As part of our effort to build understanding and collaboration in the community, we cover stories of people who are part of the region’s diversity racially, ethnically, economically, religiously, spiritually, culturally and in global ties,” she said. 

“While other media may focus attention on what divides to create fear and build audiences, we cover what we have in common so we build respect.  We celebrate the region’s diversity and seek to build dialogue and promote human rights,” she said.

“We tell stories of how faith and nonprofit communities work over the long term to restore lives, reach out in creative ways and overcome divisions to bring reconciliation,” said Mary.  “People who live their faith and values provide a myriad of stories to share.”

The Sisters of Providence Mother Joseph Province in Renton and Thrivent Financial each recently donated $500 to help underwrite the events.  The Fig Tree seeks other underwriters to help cover the costs, along with table hosts, who donate to cover the costs of meals for seven guests, so what guests donate goes to The Fig Tree media.

“Last year, we raised $28,143.  Our basic goal to meet expenses is for $30,000 and to move into the future, we need to raise $50,000 at these events,” said Mary.

There are still tables available for people who would like to be hosts and invite guests.

For information or to reserve by March 7 for the lunch and March 10 for the breakfast, call 535-1813, email or visit

Copyright © March 2016 - The Fig Tree