Jim CastroLang, coordinator for The Fig Tree's census project to reach hard-to-count communities, reported that the efforts are still underway to connect with congregations and to invite them to reach out to neighbors to encourage participation in the 2020 census.
Working through the contacts with congregations that have food banks and meal distribution, The Fig Tree has made connections and is distributing fliers in the May issue to locations that agree to give them out to people who come for food.
The Fig Tree is also connecting with the regional leaders and bishops of denominational and faith community networks to ask them what they have done to promote participation in the census, to include reminders in their newsletters and to host Zoom meetings with area clergy and laity.
The Fig Tree will email a letter to congregations asking them to encourage members to fill out the census and connect with neighbors to invite participation.
Jim is preparing a phone list to make contacts and offering to hold Zoom events with pastors and congregational leaders to build energy for how they can reach out to their neighbors and members.
"On recent calls, including with the Faith Action Network, Washington Nonprofits and the Census Bureau, I have realized how many are struggling in the COVID-19 environment to make connections with faith communities," Jim said. "Many are not responding to phone calls or don't have the 'bandwidth' to do much right now.
"Our strategy with food banks is happening in other areas of the state," he said, pointing to a recent Second Harvest food distribution event that included census information in census tote bags.
Contacts Jim is making in the upcoming weeks will seek to identify what faith leaders have done and are doing to promote the census, encourage those faith leaders to be trusted messengers on the importance of the census, provide resources to promote it and ask them to record a short video with their comments on the census or quotes to share with others.
"We will use the maps we have and the census has of congregations in vulnerable areas to target them with phone calls," said Jim, "and we will connect with ethnic congregations and nonprofits relating to ethnic communities and refugees.
"Some pastors are doing livestream and Zoom worship and may be able to make announcements to invite and remind people to fill out census forms online or request paper copies," he said.
Jim will also ask faith communities what they have done and invite them to share comments on video to invite other faith leaders to participate.
Given the COVID-19 crisis, the deadline for the census has been extended, but April 1 is the reference date for reporting how many people are living in a home then.
For information, call 998-7203 or email email@example.com.
PJALS meetings, webinars are now online
Along with holding meetings on Zoom, the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) plans in May and June to hold Webinar Wednesdays twice a month.
The first one, on April 22, featured Zach Norris, who was to speak at the cancelled Peace Justice Action Conference in March. He spoke on "We Keep Us Safe," about investing in communities experiencing systemic racism and oppression to create thriving, inclusive communities.
PJALS will offer a second "Anti-Asian Racism: Bystander Intervention Training" at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 6, on Zoom to address the upsurge in racist attacks on Asian Americans.
Another Wednesday Webinar will be at 7 p.m., May 13 on Zoom on "Understanding and Preventing Online Recruitment of Youth into Hate Movements." Because children and youth spend hours a day online, especially under quarantine, many are exposed to neo-Nazi propaganda presented as "edgy humor" or to adults forming friendships to help them with isolation, loneliness and trauma.
A panel will discuss tactics, support for youth and mental health challenges. Panelists are Joan Braune, lecturer in philosophy at Gonzaga University; Eric Warwick, an autistic/disabled paraeducator in Spokane, and Lupe Wolfe, a social worker at Spokane Valley Elementary School.
The Showing Up for Racial Justice group meets from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on second and fourth Thursdays for a book discussion on Zach Norrris' book, We Keep Us Safe.
PJALS is working with Smart Justice Spokane on release of incarcerated people to avoid spread of COVID-19 in jail.
It is working with the Spokane Immigrant Rights Coalition to raise funds to support families of undocumented or mixed documented families who are excluded from the federal stimulus support.
For information, call 838-7870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jewish Family Services holds virtual benefit
The Spokane Area Jewish Family Service's annual benefit will be virtual this spring.
They are busy providing food to clients, calling to schedule a drop off, delivering it to their doorsteps but not having contact and calling right after they leave it.
"We're accepting food donations at the temple," said director Neal Schindler.
Drop-off can be arranged with him and happens outside the building, but with no contact.
"We're helping clients negotiate the landscape of ongoing and emerging resources, and we're doing reassurance calls to vulnerable clients. We have disbursed some emergency funds but are running low and awaiting possible financial aid from the Small Business Association Paycheck Protection Plan," Neal said.
The Virtual Benefit Event 2020:
"Our Attitude is Gratitude," is from 2 to 3 p.m., Sunday, May 17, on Zoom Video.
The guest speaker is Karen Treiger, author of the memoir, My Soul Is Filled with Joy: A Holocaust Story, who will share how discovering the Holocaust story of her in-laws, Sam and Esther Goldberg, compelled her "to live a life of conviction, kindness, and gratitude."
Jewish Family Services will honor Carla Peperzak and Drs. Bill and Berdine Bender with the Outstanding Service Award.
"Our goal for this campaign is $30,000," said Neal. "Our suggested donation to attend the virtual event is $54 per person, but contributions of any size will be appreciated and will help us meet our goal."
While the pandemic required JFS to suspend home visits with seniors and nonessential transportation services, the program continues its work. Community support ensures that JFS can continue to do so.
For information, call 737-7394 or 413-8254, email email@example.com or visit http://sajfs.org/virtualbenefitevent/.
Immigrant groups raise funds for those left out
A partnership of the Spokane Immigrants' Rights Coalition (SIRC), Hispanic Business and Professional Association (HBPA), Latinos en Spokane (LES), Mujeres in Action (M.i.A.) and Raiz will provide undocumented families grants for rent.
This effort seeks to minimize a housing and domestic violence crisis in the LatinX community in Spokane, said Hanncel Sanchez, director of M.i.A. Priority is given to families with children under 18, with COVID-19 positive members, with victims of domestic violence or with no other options for relief.
"Even though undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes and file tax returns," she said, "they are left out of the stimulus package. Undocumented immigrants in the state pay more than $300 million in state and local taxes a year."
Some serve as essential workers in health care, the food industry, meat processing and crop production.
"We especially need to help survivors of intimate partner violence," she said.
Donations can be made to the Spokane Relief Fund For Undocumented Families. Grant applications are at: en Espanol- https://bit.ly/3aMf5xw or in English- https://bit.ly/3cXdsOT. .
SIRC, HBPA, LES, M.i.A., and Raiz have worked together to provide culturally responsive information to the Latinx community since 2019. Each organization shares similar goals relating to immigration issues and the empowerment of the Latinx community.
For information, call 869-00876 or visit miaspokane.org.