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February 2023 Newsbriefs


The Fig Tree announces four speakers for benefit

Nicole Bishop of SNAP, Oscar Harris of Spokane Public Schools, Lynn Kimball of ALTCEW and Johnny Edmundson of Growing Neighbors will describe how they use The Fig Tree's Resource Directory to connect clients, teachers, students and volunteers with resources to change their lives.

"Sharing Resources: Transforming Lives" is the theme of the Spring Benefits for The Fig Tree from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, March 3, at Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University and from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m., Wednesday, March 15, on Zoom.

Hosts will gather friends and colleagues at tables on Friday and in Zoom groups on Wednesday to hear the story of 50 years of publishing the Resource Directory. The hosts have primary responsibility for inviting guests to share in the two events.

Hamilton Studio is preparing a video describing the history and people who use the directories.

Malcolm Haworth, directory editor, will speak for the event and the video. Fig Tree editor Mary Stamp will tell of working on the directory before The Fig Tree became independent and adding it after the Spokane Council of Ecumenical Ministries and successor Interfaith Council closed.

"We are honored to carry on this vital work which has helped many people stabilize their lives and find ways to give back," said Fig Tree editor, Mary Stamp.

The Spring Benefits provide funding for The Fig Tree newspaper, the annual Resource Directory: Guide to Congregations and Community Resources, its website, social media, interfaith dialogues, legislative conference and other education events.

For information, call 535-4112, email or visit for information on how to register.

VOA receives funding for Hope House

Volunteers of America Eastern Washington (VOA) reports that it has received enough funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce to keep Hope House Women's Shelter open until June 30.

Other funds from the City of Spokane's competitive Request For Proposal process will enable it to operate to December 31.

These funds support the shelter's operations, plus housing and mental health care for women.

"VOA is grateful to the city's administration and the City Council for ensuring the women of our community have a safe sheltering option," said Fawn Schott, VOA president and CEO.

"We look forward to future conversations on the long-term plan for sustainable funding for city shelter operations," she said.

VOA has run the shelter since 2000. In 2020, VOA used federal and private dollars to build Hope House 2.0, expanding from 32 to 100 shelter beds. The new facility opened in spring of 2021. In 2022, Hope House provided emergency shelter and housing to more than 600 women.

For information, call 710-8944 or email

PJALS offers third cycle of BOLD Academy

The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) is offering its third cycle of BOLD—Building Organizing Leadership Development—Academy, beginning at 6 p.m., Monday, March 6, on Zoom.

PJALS is presenting BOLD in partnership with Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR), the Hispanic Business/Professional Association (HBPA), APIC Spokane, Spectrum Center Spokane and others to fight racism and economic injustice, said Jac Archer, PJALS organizer.

BOLD has five weekly sessions to learn how racism and economic injustice intertwine to oppress people and fracture community, while consolidating power in the hands of the reactionary rich, Jac said.

Then participants hit the streets to canvass Spokane using skills in race-class analysis to invite people to join in action.

BOLD Academy will be held Mondays, March 6, 13, 20, 27 and April 3. Canvassing dates will be announced at the beginning of the workshop series for dates in April and May.

"This year, we'll be applying our BOLD analysis to fight against a new jail and for smart justice solutions that keep our community safe through care-driven, proven strategies that invest in the people of Spokane," Jac said.

For information, visit

Regional Prayer Summit will be Feb. 20-22

Pastors, marketplace, civic, government and prayer leaders will join in the 2023 Regional Prayer Summit on Monday to Wednesday, Feb. 20 to 22, at Ross Point Baptist Camp in Post Falls.

Organizers describe it as an opportunity "to downshift from the busyness of life, making time and space to encounter God in deepening intimacy" through worship, prayer, fellowship and "collaborating for united mission."

Prayer summits for Spokane-area pastors were held annually from 1991 to 2005.

Jerry Foster of RAIN, an apostolic network of churches and pastors, Ron Hauenstein of Hauenstein and Associates, Chris Rodgers of CRU and Dan Grether of Free Indeed Ministries International decided to "re-ignite" the Prayer Summit as a multi-day retreat.

Advance registration is required. For information, email or visit

Yom HaShoah art and writing contests set

The 2023 Community Observance of the Holocaust will be in-person at Temple Beth Shalom on Thursday, April 20, on "The Dangers of Indifference: The U.S. and the Holocaust."

Information on the 8th Annual Jessica Stein Memorial Art Contest and the 17th Annual Eva Lassman Memorial Writing Contest were sent to middle and high school English, history and art teachers for them to invite student submissions.

Art winners will be decided before April 20 and winners will be displayed at the Downtown Central Library in May.

Because teachers cover the Holocaust in the second semester, essays will be judged in early June. Winners will not read their pieces for Yom HaShoah.

Instead, there will be a keynote speaker, Ray Sun, associate professor of history at Washington State University.

The contest prompt includes a 1999 quote from Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: "Indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor—never his victim."

The deadline for the art contest is Friday, March 17, and the essay deadline is Sunday, April 30.

For information, email

Fr. Spitzer talks on why God allows evil

The Gonzaga University Faith and Reason Institute presents a public talk by former Gonzaga University President Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, on "Why Would an All-Loving God Allow Evil and Suffering?" at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Cataldo Hall.

The Jesuit priest, teacher, author and lecturer on topics ranging from ethics, philosophy and the relationship between modern physics and Christian faith has degrees from the Gregorian University and the Weston School in Cambridge, Mass., and a doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America.

After teaching at Georgetown University and Seattle University, he was president of Gonzaga University from 1998 to 2009, when he founded the Gonzaga Faith and Reason Institute.

He is now president of the Magis Center and the Spitzer Center.

Fr. Robert has made many television appearances and currently appears weekly on EWTN. His books include The Soul's Upward Yearning: Clues to Our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason and The Light Shines on in The Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith.

As his talk explores "the theological problem of evil and suffering in a fresh, engaging way," David Calhoun of the institute said he will make philosophical and theological ideas clear.

For information, email

Cardinal's visit recognizes Climate Center role

Cardinal Michael Czerny, who leads Catholic efforts to be a caretaker of the planet and its creatures, will speak on "Caring for Our Common Home" at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 9 at Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center at Gonzaga University.

In 2015, Pope Francis wrote an encyclical teaching people of the need to undergo an "ecological conversion." The letter, Laudato Si'—On Care for Our Common Home—inspired the 2021 Laudato Si' Action Platform to hear and respond to "the cries of the poor and the cries of the Earth."

In 2021, Gonzaga was the first U.S. university to commit to the platform to advance ecological education and adopt sustainability practices on campus.

Czerny, as Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Human Development, leads efforts to assure humanity's ability to live in dignity, given how climate-related disasters—wildfires, hurricanes, floods, deadly heat—disproportionately affect the world's poorest.

His visit says Gonzaga and its Center for Climate, Society and the Environment "are emerging leaders, helping communities here and globally understand respond to the climate crisis," said Brian Henning, director of the center that offers a lecture series, faculty microgrants, K-12 Climate Literacy Project and extreme heat/climate resilience programs.

Since being ordained a Jesuit priest in 1973, Cardinal Czerny, a 1968 Gonzaga graduate, has worked on human rights in El Salvador, on AIDS in sub-Saharan African, and with migrants and refugees around the world.   

"The church's focus on the climate crisis and his work underscore that climate change is not only an issue of concern for scientists and environmentalists but also a priority for the global community," Brian said. "Gonzaga seeks to develop students eager to be a force for positive change in the world."

For information and free tickets, visit

Medicare-related Groups offer presentations

The Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors will hold classes on its Medicare-Related Cost Saving Program at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the Argonne Library, 4322 N. Argonne and noon, Monday, Feb. 27, on Zoom.

The presentation by Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington and SHIBA will help those enrolling or on Medicare learn about cost savings programs. They will discuss wellness and preventative benefits and durable medical equipment.

To register,

Poor People's Campaign joins FAN for advocacy

The Washington Poor People's Campaign (PPC) will partner with the Faith Action Network (FAN) for their Interfaith Advocacy Day on Thursday, Feb. 9 in Olympia. By gathering together, they will address lawmakers to urge them to pass moral policies that address poverty.

FAN, a PPC mobilizing partner, said the day includes morning workshops with information on issues and training on how to advocate and opportunities to meet with legislators.

For information, visit

Northeast WA ESD 101 hosts youth conference

New ESD 101 is hosting a Regional Youth Conference from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Talbott Center, 4202 S. Regal in Spokane. Youth who register will receive a beanie bag and be entered for prizes. For information, email or register at

Mardi Bras Parties collect items for women

With more than 600 homeless women living in Spokane, VOA Hope House and Transitions Women's Hearth are coordinating congregations, community groups and individuals to host virtual and in person MardiBras Parties to collect bras, underwear and personal hygiene items.

Donations can be delivered at the Drive-Thru Drop-Off from 2 to 4 p.m., Friday, March 3, at Hope House, 318 S. Adams St., or donors may shop for Amazon wish list items.

For information, email or, or visit or

Banquet raises funds for WHEN Network

The Annual Purple Ribbon Banquet, "Empowered to Soar" with a live auction will benefit Women's Healing and Empowerment Network and Cleone's Closet Food Pantry. It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Sunday, March 19, at CenterPlace Regional Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Pl, in Spokane Valley.

The keynote speaker is Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers, with Medical Lake Mayor Terri Cooper, Robert Leyva, Maria Leyva and Dimana Sofia.

For registration by March 3, visit

YWCA has honored 250 women over 41 years

The YWCA Spokane will host the 2023 Women of Achievement Party, "Celebrating Every Woman," from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, March 9, at the Davenport Grand Hotel, 333 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. There will be a women's history month timeline gallery and a video presentation "Celebrating 120 Years – YWCA Spokane" by Hamilton Studio.

Honorees are Maisa Abudayha in arts and culture, Heike Lake in business and industry, Virla Spencer for the Carl Maxey Racial and Social Justice Award, Amy Knapton Vega in community engagement, Mary Pat Treuthart in education, Betsy Wilkerson in government and public service, Shamerica Nakamura as the Young Woman of Achievement and Sandy Williams for a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.

In its 41 years of honoring women in the community for their achievements and commitment to the community, YWCA Spokane has recognized more than 250 women in the region.

For information, visit

Feed Spokane raises funds through Dine Out

For National Nutrition Month in March, Feed Spokane is recruiting restaurants and local businesses to participate in Dine Out to raise $75,000 for rescuing, transporting and distributing food for a coalition of meal providers to share with needy families, seniors and neighbors.

Food rescue improves nutrition, builds a healthier community and eliminates waste and greenhouse gasses as food rots in landfills, said Tami Kennedy, founding board member and past president of Feed Spokane.

In 2022, rescued food made 20,000 meals a week possible.

On March 1, a digital Google calendar listing participating businesses will be posted at

For information, email by Feb. 28.

Renovated libraries have new offerings

Spokane Public Library partners with community organizations to offer events like family-friendly activities, films, lectures and workshops on topics ranging from art to health and wellness at their new locations.

Building remodeling and new locations have created new spaces like The Hive® artist-in-residence program and an updated Inland Northwest Special Collections Room at the Central Library.

The Inland Northwest Special Collections room at Central Library houses items unique to the Pacific Northwest.

Central Library also has a video, podcast and recording studios with specialists who assist patrons. The spaces need to be booked online.

There are a variety of event spaces at Central Library that can be reserved, including two rooms that can be combined and a hall on the third floor, seating 200 people.

In addition, New Leaf Café and a computer lab are on the first floor.

Spokane Public Library Librarian Rebecca Mace estimates that 850 patrons visit Central Library daily.

The library hired social work staff with interns from Eastern Washington University to help connect library patrons with community services.

South Hill and Indian Trail locations will likely open sometime in the spring, Rebecca said. Shadle Park, Liberty Park and Hillyard branches were previously remodeled to add space and services.

For information, visit

Folk Fest seeks performers to apply

Beginning Feb. 1, organizers for the 28th Annual Spokane Fall Folk Festival are accepting applications for performers.

The two-day, free multicultural festival on Nov. 11 and 12, 2023, at the Spokane Community College Lair will have 100 individuals or groups on six stages.

Performers interested in sharing their talents in diverse genres of music, dance and stories from around the globe may apply by July 1 at

For information, call 828-3683, email or visit

'Care for Water' is 2023 theme

"Care for Water" is the theme for a second Hope for Creation Conference on Saturday, April 22, at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John. That topic is the second Expo '74 areas of focus: Land, Water and Air.

"Care of water is central to the care of creation," said organizer John Wallingford.

"The supply and purity of water in Spokane and the Columbia River watershed is a great treasure," he explained.

"Water is honored in many faith traditions," he added. "We will put faith and science together in looking at how we care for water."

The conference will include lectures, discussion groups, a street fair with music, food and exhibitors, and an Earth Day vigil.

John said they are in the process of recruiting people to give presentations.

For information, call 484-919-4782 or email

Conference addresses challenges of hate

"The Challenges of Hate in the 21st Century" is the theme for the 7th International Conference on Hate Studies, Thursday to Saturday, April 20 to 22 at Spokane Community College, 1810 N. Greene St. and virtually.

The conference is an interdisciplinary academic forum on hate, related social problems and ways to create socially just and inclusive communities.

The goal is to help educators, researchers, advocates and others better analyze and counter hatred in its various manifestations to lead to communities committed to peace, human rights and justice, said Kristine Hoover, past and continuing director.

She pointed out that hate groups and their ideologies continue to evolve and repackage old prejudices in new ways, by exploiting changing technologies and forming alliances across borders.

"These evolutions pose new challenges for those seeking to counter hate in its many forms," she said.

The conference convenes academics, journalists, law enforcement, educators, civil servants, NGOs, human rights experts and community organizers in a dialogue about hatred, community engagement and justice.

Kristine sees it as important "to name the illness and problem, because we can't address what we can't name."

As an example, she told of a video presented at the fall Kootenai County Task Force for Human Relations banquet, talking of the values of who North Idaho is and what defines it.

The point was that North Idaho is a community deeply committed to justice, equity and welcoming community. It is also a community where exclusion happens, and people have experienced harm.

"We have to name and address that as we partner with the region, nation and world," Kristine said.

On the West Coast, every even year, there is an international conference in the spring and in odd years, a U.S. conference.

Adding to that is the Global Summit to Eradicate Hate, which grew out of the 2018 extremist attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that happens in the fall on the East Coast.

"All of us are working toward a vision of a safer, more beloved community," Kristine said.

Organizers of the Spokane conference anticipate an interdisciplinary, cross-section of participants from international, national and regional audiences, engaging in sessions to analyze and counter hatred in its various manifestations and lead to greater commitments to peace, human rights and justice.

Registration fees are on a sliding scale, with a "living light" reduced rate for low-income attendees and free for college students.

Presenters are to register and submit proposals by Feb. 15.

For information, visit




Copyright@ The Fig Tree, February 2023