Testify! A trip to Olympia and the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee

Here’s the testimony I provided today (this is similar to the testimony):

Hi! I’m Rev. Terri Stewart of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, representing the Church Council of Greater Seattle and the Faith Action Network.

On this evening of Rev. Dr. King’s 86th birthday. Let us remember his desire to create a beloved community where all people have the supports and opportunities they need to thrive. Let us remember, the lost, the least, and the lonely.

The kids I work with are these kids. Kids affected by incarceration. These are kids with a trauma problem, not a crime problem and they need us to increase investment in their lives and the structures that support them – JRA, education, health, mental health, and other vital services.

You have a tough job. But these kid’s lives are tougher.

I spent Christmas Day in detention. Each youth got three items. Shoes, hoodie, and a ball or a purse. For many kids, this was the best Christmas they have ever had.

One kid said, “This was only my second Christmas ever.”

Another said, “I have not had Christmas in five years.”

And another said, “I cannot begin to tell you the overwhelming joy and happiness that came over me.”

Then the buzzer went off and I had to stop talking. I wanted to say…

By investing in JRA, YOU did that. YOU changed lives that morning. We can see YOUR priorities by how you prioritize spending for these kids.

FAN and the Church Council of Greater Seattle ask you to invest in our kid’s future by funding and increasing revenue in the vital service areas that affect youth.

The Capitol Building in Olympia, WA by Josh at flickr.com CC (BY-NC)

Christmas Thank You Note Excerpts

This afternoon, I was handed a pile of thank you notes for my small part in helping the youth in detention have a better Christmas. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed at the honesty of the youth. I’d like to share a few excerpts.

“You gave us a better Christmas and more hope.”

“This was my second time having Christmas in my 14 years of life. And it was one of the best ones.”

“You don’t know how happy it makes me to know someone has taken the time out of their life to make me a happy person on Christmas.”

“It was so touching to know someone cares about the ones that sometime feel forgotten.”

“I have not had a Christmas in 5 years. You guys made my day with the gifts you got. I really am thankful.”

“Growing up Christmas never meant much to me. It was just another day of another month of another year. I’ve found that I don’t look forward to this time of year. Being in jail I thought this time of year could not get much worse but yet waking up on Christmas morning I still had hope. Hope because I had heard what Christmas is like in here but I did not want to let myself believe it…I cannot begin to describe to you the overwhelming joy and happiness that came over me. Because of you my Christmas was made and to me it did not matter what gifts I got, it was more meaningful to me that someone cared enough to help someone else out.”

That’ll preach.