Project Update: Advocacy Days & No Child Sleeps Outside

Written by Hannah Crivello
February 26, 2014

The school'sFaith & Family Homelessness Project has been active in the greater Seattle area over the past two months with a few highlights from staff and students' work here.

In the state of Washington, several communities gather around advocacy issues annually in January and February, in the form of three "Advocacy Days". Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day, Interfaith Advocacy Day, and Catholic Advocacy Day gather community members around the pivotal issues affecting individuals and groups locally, like that of homelessness.
Here pictured, Faith & Family Homelessness Project staff and students engaged both Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day and the innovative #HHAD2014 Social Media Day of Action for the Washington Low Income Housing Aliance--joining with others in some of the biggest annual advocacy events in Washington State. More than 600 people from across the state who believe every person should have the opportunity to live in a safe, health, affordable home. Pictured left: Liz Fenn (MA in Transformational Leadership student) Hannah Hunthausen (Seattle University student and staff).
As a part of Interfaith Advocacy Day, Program Manager for the school's Interfaith Initiative, Rabbi Anson Laytner, helped to moderate the Interfaith Panel on Housing and Homeless Advocacy. Panelists included Rev. Dr. Linda Smith of the SKY Center for Spiritual Living, Rabbi Bruce Kadden of Temple Beth El Tacoma (also a Faith & Family Homelessness Project site), Rev. Alan Dorway of First Presbyterian Church Everett (another Project site), and Theresa Hobman of All Pilgrims Christian Church in Seattle.

Questions covered included:
How does your religious tradition encourage political advocacy, especially around the issue of homelessness? Are there specific religious passages that guide you or others in your?faith? Why is it critical for communities of?faith?to be involved in advocacy? How do you combine?faith?and advocacy when talking with or writing to your elected officials? What is the biggest barrier to getting more people of?faith?to participate in advocacy efforts? What holds people back? Should people of?faith?be approached about advocacy in a different way than the general public (of which they are, of course, a part)? How can we get more young adults from the?faith?communities engaged?

Project staff and students joined local community collaborators like the Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center and Catholic Community Services in honoring Catholic Advocacy Day, framed as "Dialogue for Justice." As shared leading up to the day, the goal of the Dialogue for Justice is to partner with parishes and Catholic organizations to effectively advocate to reduce poverty in our communities. Advocacy occurs through a variety of means, including through educating grassroots advocates, coordinating and supporting in-district meetings with legislators, providing advocacy resources to parishes and groups, and more.
The Project additionally hosted faith community and social service leaders at Seattle University on the afternoon of January 26th, alongside fellow co-sponsors Catholic Community Services of King County, the Church Council of Greater Seattle, and United Way of King County. Faith-based leaders joined together with advocates, funders and policy makers around the shared vision that "no child should have to sleep outside" in King County. Diverse conversations occurred throughout the afternoon including collaborative networking and brainstorming around work for the greater good of families within the greater Seattle area.