As we prepare for the holiday season and the New Year we are reaffirming the ways we show our love and compassion to this community.
We also are aware of the Tridemic (Covid, RSV, and Flu) and how it is already impacting our community. We want to ensure all those who come through our doors feel safe in this space. With that in mind, we are planning to keep our mask requirements inside buildings into the new year. We recognize not every place is requiring masks, and we hope you can respect this one hour a week request.
We encourage all of you to get your Omicron booster and flu shot this year.
If You Are Sick, Please Stay Home
In an effort to be proactive, we are asking if you or anyone in your household exhibit the following symptoms, please stay home:
Sneezing, excessive mucus
If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID, the flu or RSV, please stay home.
Coffee Hour in the New Year
While we have loved the outdoor coffee hour in the warmer weather, we know many of you don’t like to be cold. We are offering two options for coffee hour in the new year! One option is to grab your coffee in the Sanctuary foyer, and head outside. The North Room patio is equipped with some electric heaters and is a great option for those who still feel more comfortable in a space with good airflow. The other option is to grab your beverage and head into the North Room, this area will be designated as mask optional. One thing to keep an eye on… on the wall by the kitchen we have a CO2 monitor. The monitor will be green when there is still fresh air, but will turn red if it gets too high. We hope this will help those in the room self monitor.
Why Do We Still Require Masks?
While many places are lifting this requirement, we will continue to require masks inside buildings. This is partly because of a lack of airflow in our Sanctuary, but more importantly it is because we are a beloved community. The CDC’s guidance is about individuals. As congregations, our decisions about masking or un-masking need to include the needs of our whole community. We are in covenant with one another to act not just as a collection of individuals, but as a body that works for the good of all.
Because our Unitarian Universalist faith is grounded in values that call us to care about one another and our interdependence, we must continue to make our decisions by centering the needs of the most vulnerable among us. The UUA encourages congregations to maintain a culture of indoor masking when they gather in person.
Practicing Consent and Compassion
Part of being a beloved community is respecting others and showing compassion. When making decisions, always practice covenantal consent—taking time to listen deeply to one another’s concerns and fears before making any decisions that might put members of the community at risk, either physically or mentally.
We need to acknowledge everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to risk. Please remember, these are your fellow East Shorians and we want to respect people’s decisions on how they participate in worship.
We also want to talk about hugging, handshakes, high fives, etc. As we teach our youngest children in Our Whole Lives (OWL), consent is very important. Even those friends who you may have always shared a hug with before may not feel up to it yet. Let’s show our children and each other we understand consent. Before hugging, please ask… AND be prepared to hear “no.” This includes members of the staff. We all love you… and we want to stay safe too.
This year the congregation showed up in force, giving generously to the annual East Shore Auction 2020 Fund-A-Need: The COVID Food Relief Project. This was a project envisioned to get East Shore responding to the ongoing pandemic crisis and acting as one. We collected over $20,000 to support this innovative community ministry. The project was envisioned from the get go to be accountable and accessible to everyone in our community from kids through adults. It was designed to be hands-on with donors, and has reported regularly with opportunities to volunteer and with updates on spending.
Infinite thanks to the committed steering committee of Grace Colton, Karen Ramsahai, new member Tina Hays, friend Colleen Lamb, youth Libby Myers, Carrie Bowman, and Laurie Wick who have been steadfast in the project’s implementation. The team met weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on the demands of the project to plan, delegate, and make decisions. Each member of the steering team took on regular responsibilities and helped to fill several essential roles. Each member of the team was able to self-select these roles based on their own interest and skillset, and the team was enthusiastic, welcoming, and supportive toward one another.
With such a high demand for resources, the team navigated partnership building and a variety of assessments of needs to help determine the best use of our time and money. We were able to navigate these complex conversations with ease and genuine listening. We also were mindful of our own limitations and capacities, and readily welcomed the yeses and “no’s” we could each contribute. We want to especially thank the innumerable children, youth, and adults who gave of their hands, hearts, and treasures during this project, and to the community partner organizations Jubilee Reach, the Food Bank Farm, and Backpack Meals for Kids who welcomed our community into theirs!
In June we were able to make an additional financial donation to Good Start Back to School, a program we’ve supported for many years. With COVID-19, school children in the Bellevue School District have shown an increase in need for access to basic supplies. Our donation to this program goes directly to purchasing items for the new school year in September. In our graphs, this donation is combined with its parent organization, Backpack Meals for Kids. Special thanks to Lori Saccardi for helping us connect with them this year, and to all the members of the congregations whose work in the community lifts us all up and keeps us closer together.
The COVID Food Relief Fund-a-Need continues to provide much needed financial, volunteer, and supplies donations to our partner organizations. In April 2021, we donated an additional $2,000 to Backpack Meals for Kids. Along with Holy Cross Lutheran, St. Louise Catholic church, St. Madeleine Sophie, Aldersgate Methodist, St. Margaret Episcopal, St. Andrew’s Lutheran, and Cross of Christ Lutheran, we gave generously to help our neighbors get the food they need.
There are many ways to get involved! The Food Relief Project will continue running through the end of June, the church’s financial year. If you’ve enjoyed this project as much as we have, we plan to continue modeling our robust social justice and ministry week in this style, with hands-on, all-ages opportunities to contribute directly to the wellbeing of our beloved, local community.
The each Monday of the month, East Shore volunteers take 15 well-stocked bags of groceries to add to the more than 700 bags of groceries distributed by and to our neighbors via Jubilee Reach.
Seed Sowing at Food Bank Farm
On a warm and sunny Saturday, April 17, two East Shorians visited Food Bank Farm to see how seeds are sown! These pictures and video will give you the whole story. We started with putting flats together, filled them with Farm made soil, pressed the seeds into the flats (see video), topped them with soil, and placed them in the greenhouse where they germinate and grow until they are ready for planting. We sowed pumpkin and squash seeds. Fun fact: the seeds in the video are coated with a fungicide that turns them blue!
Planting at Food Bank Farm, Saturday, May 15
Join together planting at the Food Bank. It’s a chance to get outside, and off the screen, enjoying the fresh air, learning about food growing and how far generosity can go! Planting is done standing up by using a tool that makes a hole in the ground and drops the plant into the hole. No bending down required! Farmer Jim says this work is suitable for children with supervision, youth, families, adults….everyone! We have a chance to work and learn outside at The Food Bank Farm in Snohomish. Please RSVP by emailing Grace Colton.
East Shore’s COVID 19 Food Relief team could use your help with coordinating Food Bank Farm events for East Shore. It’s building community. You and I would split hosting events at the Farm and the writing of notices for church communications. Email Grace.
by Grace Colton & amanda alice uluhan, Director of Religious Education
Back in September, we realized East Shore needed to respond to the ongoing pandemic-exacerbated crisis happening in our community. In November, we raised $21,000 during the annual East Shore Auction’s Fund-A-Need, a radical approach to a project that has typically contributed funds to much needed campus improvement projects. Rev. Steve Furrer also deposited $3,000 from the Minister’s Discretionary Fund, knowing this money will serve families and individuals in need.
Since December, we’ve continued to work as a collective steering team, administering funds and volunteers to our partner organizations. We’ve worked with intention with each of our partners to craft the relationships and conversations needed to learn more about their work and to see how this project can support it directly. As you can see from the graphs, each organization has a different combination of needs from organizations like East Shore. The steering team is proud to report our financial and volunteer results to you. We set out the with the goals of providing monetary, in-person, remote, and multi-age opportunities for the congregation, and we’ve accomplished many of those goals, over and over. The group will continue to keep you up to speed with opportunities to be involved in this work. Thank you for your contributions, and we look forward to continuing this work and other future projects with you all!
East Shore’s Covid 19 Food Relief team could use your help with coordinating Food Bank Farm events for East Shore. Working with Grace Colton you would share hosting events at the Farm and writing notices for church communications to sign up volunteers. Next up is planting seeds, transplanting seedling plants and, perhaps, one time projects like driving a tractor! Get closer to the earth and learn about growing food. Email Grace Colton.
With the rising temperatures of spring, food boxes need to be insulated. Jubilee needs ice gel packs to help keep food cold. The larger sizes are preferred. If you have any just lying around, you can bring them directly to Jubilee Reach- 14200 SE 13th Pl, Bellevue, WA 98007. Do not bring them to East Shore.
Members Karen Ramsahai and high school sophomore, Libby, brought some much needed “pantry” items, including hundreds of size 6 diapers, to Jubilee Reach, one of East Shore’s community COVID Food Relief Partners. Jubilee Reach has been serving the community in their “Groceries for Families” programs for nearly one year now, a program launched to support Jubilee’s, and East Shore’s, local community during the pandemic. Jubilee Reach has also recognized the high need, and is helping to provide diapers to families. They distribute 10-12 boxes of size 6 diapers a day, three days a week! They have been operating in a deficit on this size for a while.
Without federal aid, diaper banks struggle to keep up with skyrocketing need and fewer donations. The National Diaper Bank highlights than a family’s need for diapers is often a window into poverty the pandemic is further stressing the deep inequity of our American economic system and its fragile social support structures. Before the pandemic, diapers were hard to afford, and diaper banks, such as Issaquah’s Eastside Baby Corner and Seattle’s Westside Baby Corner, helped meet family’s needs. Now, Jubilee Reach has been helping to fill in the gap as well.
Our November 2020 Fund-A-Need raised nearly $21,000, and that money is being used to get products to families in need directly. Thank you Karen and Libby for bringing diapers to babies!
by the COVID Food Relief Steering Team: Tina Hays, Karen Ramsahai, Carrie Bowman, Colleen Lamb, Libby Myers, Laurie Wick, Grace Colton, and amanda alice uluhan
‘When you feed the hungry, you feed your own soul.’
As the beet season winds down, and Farmer Jim is updating his list of spring chores, we thought it was time for some reflections about beet picking.
Farmer Jim Eichner started the Food Bank Farm in 2011 with 12 volunteers. That year, they harvested 3,750 lbs, or about 5,000 servings, all sold at farm stands in Seattle’s urban food deserts, distributed free to families in need, and donated to local food banks. Fast forward to December 2020, when Farmer Jim reports, “We have been so blessed by your generosity this fall. Many people donated, as well as volunteered their time. We’re almost to the end of 2020 and we’ve harvested 270,000 lbs of food for food banks, thanks to all that you’ve given of yourselves. It’s a beautiful thing. Our motto is, ‘When you feed the hungry, you feed your own soul.’”
Raised on a farm in Wisconsin, Farmer Jim combines passion for cultivating the earth with commitment to community at the Food Bank Farm. He told me that the thousands of hours people give to the farm mean more to him than money. He thrives on the diverse community of people who come together to harvest, wash, and pack produce, each offering what they are able to give.
“Farming is not the work of rugged individualists. Farming, in general, is a deeply communitarian endeavor and for the common good. Serendipity also plays a big part. The sun shines, Chinook Farms arranges for lime and the lime truck just so happens to be at the neighbor’s farm with a little extra lime. Liberty Mutual sends a check out of the blue, and Skagit Farmer’s Supply expedites a fertilizer order. And our neighbor Bob Ricci stands in the breach when “the other Bob” is home convalescing from surgery. Bob Ricci discs and grooms the fields on top of his already 10-hour day. It takes a village to plant a field.”
More than 65 people from East Shore gave nearly 300 hours to the Food Bank Farm harvesting beets this winter. Many families came out to the farm more than once. This is what they had to say:
“I so enjoyed my day picking beets!….We had about a 5 minute lesson from Farmer Jim and were then invited to ‘have at it’ in the rows and rows of ripe, deep red, beets. We got to pull, shake, twist and throw all those wonderful veggies and were amazed at what we accomplished in a few hours. The rain held off and the sky was striking in its billowing, cloud formations as we all sat on buckets and visited with friends….In the meantime, my hubby Peter, became a beet washer. He and Carrie loaded all the beets that were collected in the big bags onto the conveyor belt where they were washed and then fell into a big bin, ready for distribution to Food Banks all over the State. We took home some of the huge ‘discards’ left in the fields and had beet soup for days. YUM! Such a delightful way to do a good deed. Hooray for Farmer Jim!” – Kirstie Lewis
“My two kids (ages 7 and 6) and I thoroughly enjoyed our time picking beets together….The time we spent also inspired many beet related questions that we pondered for weeks and ultimately we decided to embark on a beet science experiment in our home school that is continuing to this day! We can’t wait to go back out to the farm and get good and dirty soon.” -Tina Velazquez Hays
“I totally loved playing in the mud. Haven’t been that dirty since I was 9! Got to sit on a bucket and exercise my arms while having a great conversation….Best of all was contributing to the food bank! And – I was encouraged to take a few beets home and they were delicious!” -Louise Wilkinson
“Eowyn and Orson both loved connecting with their UU RE friends in real life even if it was socially distanced. It was great to help the community and get out of the house and reunite with friends all in one!” -Signe, Trev, Eowyn and Orson Lalish-Menagh
“I loved being outside in a huge open field and watching the sun go down, all the while pulling up gorgeous beets, seeing old friends, and meeting new ones! The teamwork and friendliness filling the fresh air was just lovely in these COVID times.” -Barb Clagett
“We dressed in our grubbies
We drove to the field
We pulled and pulled until we had 35 bags full
Grateful for the opportunity to help others.”
-Karen Ramsahai and Levi
“When I was a kid, and we had to stop for a train, we would always count the cars…out in the beet field, trains would occasionally pass out to the east and you could see twenty-five or thirty cars at once…I didn’t try to count, but bringing back memories of over fifty years brought a sweet, deep smile.”-Mike Radow
“.…It was a way to get my teenagers to engage with our church community. It was a great way to get the family away from screens for a few hours.” -Leta Hamilton
“What blew me away about picking beets was everything! The generosity of the land owner, farmers, seed supplier, Farmer Jim, the volunteers. The abundance of the soil, the different types and sizes of beet roots, the greens. The difference between what is edible and what is marketable. The blessing of sunny days in the field.” -Doug Strombom
Your COVID Food Relief Team is very proud to be partnering with Jubilee Reach to help provide weekly groceries for approximately 725 families representing over 3,000 people. This is an amazing ministry. East Shore is contributing groceries for 15 families, which equals around $1,800-$2,000/month. This letter captures the heart of this ‘Groceries for Families’ program. Liz works at Jubilee and has served on the grocery crews from the beginning.
Today I was staring out my office window as I zoned out for a minute from monotonously entering donations into our database. I have a second-floor view of the Groceries for Families. I saw two women talking on the lawn and families loading cars with fresh food. I saw Ken in his neon vest balancing two boxes and a grocery bag on the way to someone’s car. I saw feet shuffling in line under the carport. I saw vehicles pulling in and out of the parking lot – coming and going from the rest of their complex, busy, beautiful lives.
Then it dawned on me just how incredible it is that I get to be at this intersection of real community. One person comes in the morning with their groceries. In the afternoon, it’s their neighbors, co-workers, fellow parents of Bellevue School District students who receive these groceries. But it’s not a one-way transaction.
I’ve seen our neighbors’ art work on cards going into bags of groceries. And I’ve seen the art work of kids who eat those groceries line our walls in the center. I’ve eaten the delicious rice pudding that afternoon families have made. And I’ve eaten one too many donuts that families have dropped off for us staff in the morning. Families on both sides of the program have shared how they loved talking with people when they come to Jubilee – they have a sense of community here.
I’m not just entering numbers into a database. I’m standing at this intersection of community. I get to connect the generosity of our community with the lives of real people around me. And I get to witness and partake in the various forms of gratitude and generosity families reciprocate. It’s a beautiful thing to have a job like this, and I’m thankful to work with you all and thankful for the joy and diligence each of you brings to the table. Keep up the good work in whatever you are doing – it matters.