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December 2021 Newsbriefs


Fr. Pat Conroy is keynote for Legislative Conference

For the 2022 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference on Saturday, Jan. 22, the keynote speaker is Fr. Pat Conroy, S.J., who has been working with Gonzaga University's Office for Mission and Ministry since he retired as the 60th chaplain of the U.S.  House of Representatives, serving from 2011 to 2021.

Fr. Pat, along with participants on an interfaith panel and workshop leaders will address the theme, "Mobilizing for Our Future."  The conference will be from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., on Zoom as a way to involve more people from faith communities in the Inland Northwest.

An interfaith panel with people from various faiths will tell how their faith communities mobilize for action, what their priority issues are, what challenges they face and how they need solidarity.

Workshops will address the climate crisis, housing and homelessness, food security, refugees, human trafficking, racism and securing democracy.

Advocacy leaders from the Faith Action Network of Washington, the Washington State Catholic Conference and Earth Ministry-Interfaith Power and Light will present issues coming before the 2022 Washington State Legislature of concern to members of faith communities.

The event is organized with by The Fig Tree, Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington, Faith Action Network, Earth Ministry, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and NAACP Spokane.

For information, call 535-4112, email or register at

'Spreading Seeds of Hope' is theme for Fig Tree Benefits

In a time when justice, peace, health, climate integrity, human dignity and even love seem impossible, The Fig Tree has chosen the theme for its 2022 Benefit Events on Friday, March 4, and Wednesday, March 9, to be "Spreading Seeds of Hope."

Our image is seeds of figs, the fruit of a fig tree.

"We will be celebrating people whose stories we have shared, everyday heroes who make a difference in lives of people, our communities, our region and the world," said Mary Stamp, editor. "We will be celebrating our 38th year of publishing."

She noted changes over those years—beginning with pasting galleys of copy on layout pages with wax, typing with a manual, then an electric typewriter.

"I resisted entering the computer age—only the first three years—and since then I spend many hours at a screen, and since COVID even more hours.  Not only do I write and edit on the computer and do all the planning and bookkeeping, but also I now do interviews on Zoom," she said.

Planners are still waiting to see what COVID safety protocols will be and may do one event in person. Part will be online. Organizers seek a videographer and volunteers.

For information, call 535-1813 or email

German American Christmas service set

The annual German American Christmas service will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19, at St. Mark's Lutheran, 316 E. 24th Ave. St. Mark's pastors Lori Cornell and Kate Leppard will officiate for the service.

The Concordia Choir will perform traditional German Christmas carols for the ecumenical service, which will be in German and English.

After the service, there will be coffee and Christmas cookies at the Deutsches Haus, W. 25 3rd Ave.

For information, call 230-5017 or email

PJALS hires new organizer on staff

Jac Archer has joined the staff of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane as an organizer.

A graduate of PJALS' Young Activist Leaders Program, Jac has served on the PJALS Steering Committee and been active in the Spokane Community Against Racism, Platform for Change coalition and Smart Justice Spokane.

As a student at Eastern Washington University (EWU), Jac served on the Multicultural Coalition from 2015 to 2017, representing the Black Student Union and Scary Feminist Club.

Now, Jac is on the board of Spectrum Center, the City of Spokane Human Rights Commission and the Washington State LGBTQ Commission, along with being the 2021 Activist in Residence at EWU.

For information, call 838-7870.

Winterfest displays celebrate cultures

To brighten up the holiday season, the annual Northwest Winterfest runs this year at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center from 5 to 9 p.m., seven days a week Nov. 26 to Jan. 2.

It offers a space where people can wander through the ADA-accessible, outdoor path of lighted holiday lantern displays to celebrate the magical holiday season.

It includes a holiday lantern display and a cultural celebration, representing holiday traditions from around the world.

For information, email

Climate Resiliency Academy begins

The Spokane Climate Resiliency Academy, a four-month, interactive learning environment, is designed to help Spokane community members become active leaders in the sustainability issues and initiatives that shape the city and region.

Through sessions on topics like environmental justice, water, energy and waste, participants will learn sustainability practices and bring this knowledge back to their workplace and peers.

This experience will give community members tools to be agents of change that will serve the community and advance the goals of social justice, be in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, and care for the planet, said Pat McCormick of 350 Spokane.

The Spokane Climate Resiliency Academy will meet Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m., Jan. 18 to April 26.  

The academy is offering a $500 honorarium for the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community to participate as a way to acknowledge their sharing their time and energy.

"The hope is to have a pool of participants representing different career focuses and knowledge areas," said Pat. "This would allow for fruitful discussions with different insights and experiences, giving participants a holistic view of what sustainability looks like in Spokane."

He invites people to register and to nominate other people to participate as well.

For information, email

Volunteers of America sets up new location for young adult shelter near SCC

Volunteers of America (VOA) will move their overnight young adult shelter from their temporary location downtown to the former Spokane County Clean Air Building located at 3104 E. Augusta Ave.

The shelter will operate from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week with a 44 bed capacity.

"The placement of this shelter is strategic in our service model," said VOA CEO/president Fawn Schott. "We are moving the youth we serve out of the downtown core and closer to educational resources. The proximity to Spokane Community Colleges is ideal as we provide wrap-around case management to overcome homelessness for the youth in our community."

VOA opened the shelter in May, operating at a 15-bed capacity at Women's Hearth until the building purchase was completed. In the past few weeks, VOA has seen an increase in need and staff had to turn away people each night. The move will help provide more beds ahead of the winter months.

A few building renovations are scheduled for next spring that will allow the shelter to operate 24/7 with onsite case management. In addition, VOA's Crosswalk youth shelter is scheduled to move to a new building in fall of 2023 on land purchased off Mission Ave.

"Focusing on early interventions and the unique needs of young adults takes us upstream in efforts to prevent the next generation of homelessness," stated city of Spokane Mayor Woodward. "This resource expands the capacity to provide young adults with wrap-around services and technical training, and is another example of what can be accomplished with a plan that is executed through partnership and collaboration. Volunteers of America is perfectly suited with the right expertise to make a difference at a critical stage in life."

For information, call 624-2378 or visit

Young Activists program series begins

Young Activist Leaders Program (YALP) begins on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

It's a program of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) for young people interested in social justice and community organizing.

YALP is a cohort-based program for young people aged 12 to 20, both experienced and new to PJALS, from around the region.

It will be a four month long intensive session, running from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays through March 2022.

Youth organizers Sarah Hegde and Ivy Pete will collaborate and teach alongside youth in the community for workshops, speakers, projects, connections, activism, change-making, strategizing, art, snacks, games and good times.

Participants may come every week or once in a while, they said.

The Young Activist Leaders Program within the PJALS engages young, change-minded individuals in grassroots organizing through workshops, networking and collaboration, Sarah and Ivy said.

Participants will abide by COVID guidelines and operate based on guidance from the Spokane Regional Health District meaning an online or hybrid model with Zoom is likely for the year.

"We are working to accommodate our ever-growing participation from geographically diverse populations of young people," they said.

For information, call 838-7870, email or visit and click link for YALP.

Fall Festival of Sharing passes goal of $7,500

The Fig Tree's 2021 Fall Festival of Sharing from Oct. 21 to Nov. 30, inviting support from new and renewing sponsors raised more than its goal of $7,500 as of Giving Tuesday, Nov. 30.

"We have already passed our goal of $7,500 for the campaign," said editor Mary Stamp. "The year-end appeal will help us reach our budget goal of $15,000 for sponsors."

In addition, The Fig Tree has sent its appeal for renewal of sponsors due in December and its year-end giving appeal.

For information, call 535-1813, or visit

Conservatory sets events

In December, Coeur d'Alene's Music Conservatory plans Holiday Joy Festivities and a Concert, 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, with tours of the Historic Hamilton House.

Northwest Brass performs 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 14 in the with conservatory instructor MariAnn Flynn.

For information, call 208-901-8190.

NAACP seeks to change the narrative

The Spokane NAACP has presented eight episodes of "Challenging the Narrative," an online series highlighting what is happening behind the scenes and the issues facing the Black, Indigenous, People of Color community in Spokane.

Episodes are presented at 2 p.m. on the last Sunday of each month on Facebook Live.

Speakers examine prevailing mindsets about issues that impact people of color in Spokane They examine facts and stories behind what has occurred and what needs to be done to shift  the narrative around civil rights and social justice.

For information, visit

Tree display benefits Symphony

The 39th annual Christmas Tree Elegance was postponed in 2020, so the 2021 event with a display of 15 decorated trees and gifts includes 11 trees from the 2020 event and four more for this year. It will be held Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 at the Historic Davenport Hotel at 10 S. Post.

The Spokane Symphony Associates will raise funds to support the Spokane Symphony through a raffle for trees and prizes. The event draws more than 400,000 visitors.

For information, call 998-2262 or email 

Walk-through funds UGM camps

At a Contemplative Christmas through Trees, guests reflect on the meaning of Christmas as they walk through Undercliff House mansion at 703 W. 7th Ave.

They view 25 Bible-themed trees that tell the story of humankind and God through the Christmas story to Revelation. 

The event, from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, to Sunday, Dec. 19, raises funds for Union Gospel Mission Youth Camps.

For information, call 994-6305 or visit

IHRC invites people for retreats

 Immaculate Heart Retreat Center offers one-, two-, and three-day individual Advent Silent Retreats through Dec. 21.

The center at 6910 S. Ben Burr Rd. provides opportunities for people to pray and reflect.

Advent means "Coming." The mystery of Christmas invites silence to remember what's important in life, said Kristen Parker, administrative assistant.

For information, call 448-1224 or visit




Copyright@ The Fig Tree, December, 2021