Community garden provides refugees with support and comfort through pandemic

A community garden in Seattle, Washington is providing a place for immigrants and refugees to come together and find community while growing food from their home countries.

Once a neglected parking lot, the garden, known as Paradise Parking Plots, is now a place for people to gather and tend to their plants.

Community members bond while growing their own food in the garden. (Hannah Letinich)
Community members bond while growing their own food in the garden. (Hannah Letinich)

“We have de-paved over 50,000 square feet of asphalt and put in garden beds,” said Tahmina Martelly, a program manager for World Relief Seattle, which founded the garden. “We have 44 in-ground beds and six handicap access beds. We have people from 23 countries growing culturally appropriate foods and making friends with each other.”

Martelly, who immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh and has worked in refugee resettlement for more than two decades, said that the space has only become more important amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Signs show the different regions that plants and their growers come from. (Adam Kaufman)
Signs show the different regions that plants and their growers come from. (Adam Kaufman)

“We see gardeners in this garden who are coming in the middle of a pandemic and growing their food,” Martelly said. “Often, I’ll have gardeners tell me, ‘My plants don’t know there’s a pandemic. We expect to have food, because we put the work in.’ Having the power to grow your own food, a virus can’t take that away.”

Gardeners include Prem Adhikari, a Bhutanese refugee who grows mustard greens and long sod beans and has been working in the garden for over three years.

“It’s very difficult to go to market and buy the vegetable … (but) we have a garden, like a life to meet other people,” Adhikari said. “… It’s a lot of fresh, green, without chemical vegetables.”

Immigrants and refugees grow foods from their home countries that might be unavailable in the United States. (Hannah Letinich)
Immigrants and refugees grow foods from their home countries that might be unavailable in the United States. (Hannah Letinich)

In recent years, the garden’s mission has grown. Martelly said the organization now offers a summer academy where children learn about science in the garden. Even amid the pandemic, children have been able to get outside and learn about the world around them. Those classes are taught by interns like Risa Suho, who immigrated from the Philippines in 2008.

“As an immigrant, it’s super important, especially for these younger children, to see someone who kind of looks like them and can relate to their experience,” said Suho, who primarily teachers kindergarten and first grade-age students. “… Not to make my head sound super big, but I think it’s slightly inspirational if kids look up to teachers. They are leaders to kids. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for me if I was younger, if I saw someone who was like me in a leadership position.”

Children learn at a community summer camp in Paradise Parking Plots. (Hannah Letinich)
Children learn at a community summer camp in Paradise Parking Plots. (Hannah Letinich)

Martelly said that the garden is a place for immigrants to form friendships and other close connections.

“Many of these countries are in conflict with each other, and people will say, ‘Our

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Brookshire brings community kitchen to Acadiana to help feed those affected by Hurricane Delta | News

Brookshire Grocery Co., the company that owns Super 1 Foods, is deploying a community kitchen and a team of employee-partners to serve free hot meals to people who have been affected by Hurricane Delta in Acadiana, according to a statement from the company.

Starting Sunday, a team will serve sausage biscuits for breakfast and hamburgers and hotdogs for lunch and dinner in the Super 1 Foods parking lots listed below, while supplies last at each location.

Sunday

11:30 a.m. — 215 W. Willow St. in Lafayette

5 p.m. — 924 Rees St. in Breaux Bridge

Monday

8 a.m. — 939 S. Lewis St. in New Iberia

11:30 a.m. — 939 S. Lewis St. in New Iberia

5 p.m. — 2210 Veterans Memorial Drive in Abbeville

Tuesday 

11:30 a.m. — 1800 W. Laurel St. in Eunice

5 p.m. — 2418 S. Union St. in Opelousas

Wednesday

8 a.m. — 2418 S. Union St. in Opelousas

Despite widespread damage and outages, a sigh of relief that Delta wasn’t worse in Acadiana

Hundreds of thousands still without power in Louisiana, more than 20k in East Baton Rouge

Lafayette, Vermilion school districts opt to cancel school early next week after Hurricane Delta damage

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Ashland Community Kitchen provides help to those in need

ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — Judith Little stood outside The Neighborhood in Ashland on Thursday, waiting for a ride back to her apartment. She had come specifically to the Ashland Community Kitchen, with the hope of getting one of the boxes of food it gives out once a month. She was not disappointed, and said that all of the people she has met at The Neighborhood are good people and very helpful.

“I get their food boxes every time I can,” Little said. “They are real good about it, and they have a thing going on about seniors. If you are a senior, they have senior boxes with a lot of food in them. They have helped me a lot,” Little said. “And I come over here and eat during the week when they serve food, too,” she said.


Little said the food boxes go a long way for her toward helping ends meet. She has lived in Ashland for five years, and for the first six months of that time she was homeless, she said. But the network of organizations at The Neighborhood has helped her overcome that.

“Without them I would be on the streets,” she said. “But they helped me get an apartment, and helped with other things. They have been really good for me,” Little said. “God works in mysterious ways, and you have to have faith.”

Dr. Desmond Barrett, executive director of the kitchen, said the community box program was born from a desire to help families and those who are struggling to help make ends meet at the end of the month.

“In our program, we have been serving nearly 40 years in the soup kitchen, where we have been helping the homeless and anyone truly in need,” Barrett said. “And we have been serving three meals a day, five days a week. And recently, in September, we kicked off our senior box program.”

The senior box program is intended to help seniors in the community who are living in poverty, Barrett said.

“But in evaluating the needs in the community, we realized that there is a middle group. This group isn’t homeless, and they aren’t seniors living in poverty. This group is made up of single mothers, and families who are on limited income, and even individuals who have lost their jobs during the pandemic and are just struggling to get by,” Barrett said. “And they are those who are living on food stamps, but it just isn’t enough to get them through the month.”

“And so, the community box program is to help them secure food for families that might not necessarily be living in poverty, but they don’t have enough resources to purchase a meal,” Barrett said. “These boxes are supplemental in nature, so they are not going to feed a family for a whole month, but they are going to help them through those lean times,” Barrett said.

The difference between the community boxes and the senior boxes are, as Barrett

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St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen in Skowhegan creatively continues to serve the community

SKOWHEGAN — The cars continue to line up and roll through, while others walk up wearing masks.

The images of this weekly labor of love look different than they did just eight months ago, but it’s Thursday night, which means a free dinner is available to all who need one thanks to the volunteers at St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen in Skowhegan.

“It’s going well. Our numbers increase every week,” said Aldea LeBlanc, coordinator of the kitchen.

St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen, located in the parish hall of Notre Dame de Lourdes Church on Water Street, offered a free, sit-down, hot meal for anyone in need every Thursday night prior to the start of the pandemic in March. The ministry is entirely volunteer run.

“The meals were suspended until early June when the soup kitchen resumed again,” said Nora Natale, office manager at Christ the King Parish, of which the soup kitchen is a part. “Most of the crew was more than ready to see our guests again.”

“The need is so great here,” said Fr. James Nadeau, pastor of Christ the King Parish.

The diners are currently not allowed in the parish hall due to the pandemic, but nobody involved was willing to give up this important ministry that has helped thousands of community members through the years.

Now, volunteers wear masks and practice social distancing, the meals are served in a drive-thru format in the parking lot of the church and other recipients participate through take-out service.

While the delivery methods have changed, what has not is the appeal of the meals, which have included pork chops, barbecue chicken, and many other delectable choices.

“We also provide a vegetable and fruit of some kind, as well as donated desserts and bread,” said Aldea. “The meals are served from 4:30 to 5 p.m. to anyone who comes.”

Established in 1991, the soup kitchen shut down briefly in 2017 while the parish sought funding and someone to lead it. 

Aldea stepped forward, along with Steve Watrous, and the kitchen began serving meals again in November 2018.

Patrons not only come from Skowhegan but from surrounding communities such as Athens, Bingham and Canaan.

The soup kitchen is funded through several sources, including donors as well as partners like the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Additionally, Walmart provides a $50 gift card each month, which is used to buy food or supplies, and Hannaford donates food for the meals, as well as bread for the guests to take home.

“If there is any food left over, it gets donated to a homeless shelter in Skowhegan,” said Aldea.

Like many ministries, St. Anthony’s has been diligently planning for the colder months ahead.

“There are two separate doors to the kitchen. One of our ideas is to have people come one at a time to pick up their food from one door and exit the other door,” said Aldea. “They could tell the volunteers what items they want

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Garden oasis in downtown Omaha grows food and community | Home & Garden

A once-empty plot of land at 13th and Leavenworth Streets is growing food, flowers and community.

Amy Walstrom, who works downtown, has watched the transformation of the Sacred Seed Pop-up Garden on her daily walks. After the Warren Distribution building there was torn down in 2017, the lot has changed from a weedy patch to a haven for pollinators and birds — and people.

“It’s lovely,’’ Walstrom said. “The colors, the variety of plants. The fact that they have labeled what all the different plants are, so if I wanted to duplicate them in my own yard it won’t be so difficult.’’

Janis Regier of Natural Therapy first had the idea for a garden after the Warren building was demolished and approached Polina Schlott, whose husband, Bob, owns the property. The Schlotts liked the idea, with the caveat that the land could someday be sold or developed. Hence the reason it’s called a pop-up garden.

The first year was rough, but then the community started to build. The Nature Conservancy became involved, as did people at Kaneko, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and No More Empty Pots. Kinghorn Gardens helped with the layout as well as Taylor Keen, founder of Sacred Seed. Many others have come on board, including Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim.

The vegetables grown there are feeding multiple pantries, with 1,539 pounds donated so far, and it’s become a learning center for children, teaching them about sustainable gardening and monarch butterflies. Clients at Mosaic get a chance to enjoy nature by helping with the upkeep.

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Bill to expand support for community addiction treatment passes House

A bill that would establish a $25 million fund to support organizations specializing in addiction treatment and support for family members of those suffering from addiction is heading to the Senate after passing the House last week.

The Family Support Services for Addiction Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMeeting Trump Supreme Court pick a bridge too far for some Democrats Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE (D-N.Y.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoHillicon Valley: Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives | Amazon says over 19,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 | Democrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference GOP senators call on Trump to oppose nationalizing 5G Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out MORE (R-WV) in the Senate as well as Reps. David TroneDavid John TroneUS Chamber of Commerce set to endorse 23 House freshman Democrats Preventing the opioid epidemic from getting worse requires attacking it at the source Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers MORE (D-Md.) and Dan MeuserDaniel (Dan) MeuserMORE (R-Pa.) in the House, passed the lower chamber via voice vote on Thursday.

Under the bill, local and national groups under a wide umbrella of addiction-related services would be allowed to apply for grants under a fund established to provide $25 million in grants over half a decade. Applicable groups include addiction support groups for both those with addictions and their families, education and training organizations, as well as “systems navigation” services which help families find addiction treatment centers.

“Addressing the addiction crisis in our state requires supporting families who are impacted by the crisis every day. Families are often quickly thrown into a world of addiction and substance use disorder that they know little about, without the resources they need to support their loved ones,” Gillibrand said in a news release in February.

“This key step will support people living with substance use disorder and will encourage their recovery,” she added.

Rates of addiction and substance misuse have risen across the U.S. amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced millions out of work and deepened economic woes for many Americans. A survey earlier this year by the Addiction Policy Forum found that 20 percent of Americans reported themselves or a family member increasing their use of recreational drugs or alcohol since the pandemic began.

A separate study last year before COVID-19 reached the U.S. found that nearly half of U.S. adults knew a family member with substance abuse issues.

The lawmakers’ bill is supported by a number of national and local groups focused on battling stigmas around addiction treatment, including the Center on Addiction and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, which operates Drugfree.org.

One supporter of the bill pointed to the expansion of family support services as a key step in battling the

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Lowe’s NFL “Home Team Roster” Is Doing Amazing Community Service Projects Across the Country

Lowe’s

During these tough times of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been amazed at how many people—celebrities and regular folks alike—have devoted themselves to helping those in need. Now, we’re happy to hear this piece of feel-good news from Lowe’s, the home improvement store, which has just launched the “Home Team Roster,” a lineup of players from all 32 NFL teams working on various community impact projects in their respective NFL hometowns.

For the partnership, each player will volunteer on a project ranging from affordable housing repairs and small business support to veterans’ outreach and disaster recovery. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback and 2019 NFL MVP, is serving as “captain” for Lowe’s Home Team, and is very much looking forward to making a difference in Charm City.

For his specific project, the star quarterback will work with Lowe’s and Baltimore’s Southwest Partnership to help with the opening of the United Way Family Center in Poppleton at Excel Academy. The center provides quality early childhood education and daycare, as well as support for student parents. The United Way Family Center is part of Lowe’s broader commitment to support housing and workforce needs in Southwest Baltimore.

“It’s important for me to be able to give back to the community and support the people that have supported me,” Jackson said in a Lowe’s press release. “Being a part of the Lowe’s Home Team is special for me because it gives me the chance to bring people together and give back.” The soon-to-open family center is pictured below, and we’re hopeful it will be a very special addition to the community.

Julie Filderman (United Way of Central Maryland)

Julie Filderman (United Way of Central Maryland)

The Home Team roster also includes fellow ‘co-captain’ Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey, Pittsburgh Steelers’ James Conner, Atlanta Falcons’ Calvin Ridley, New York Giants’ Will Hernandez, and Dallas Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb.

WATCH: Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins Has a Sweet Tradition With his Mom at Football Games

Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins Has a Sweet Tradition With his Mom at Football Games

Sabrina Greenlee sits as close as she can to the field where her son DeAndre Hopkins plays football.

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A plot of land given to Denver Urban Gardens for $1 to house a community garden will be sold to duplex developers for $1.2 million

Alan Olds is more accustomed to nurturing things than fighting them. As a former garden leader and member at El Oasis Community Garden for the last five years, he has helped dozens of Lower Highland residents find and cultivate plots at the roughly 22,000-square-foot green space at 1847 W. 35th Ave.

That changed when he got a surprise call from Violeta Garcia, then-executive director of Denver Urban Gardens, earlier this month.

“She informed us that most of the garden was being sold, and she expressed her regret that it was necessary,” said Olds, who resigned as a garden leader last week after meeting with Garcia in person. “She also had some explanation of DUG’s financial situation — and why the board of directors felt that selling it was essential for their survival.”

Many El Oasis gardeners were shocked by the announcement, which amounted to 30 days’ notice to vacate El Oasis in advance of a sale that won’t be finalized until December. Despite past financial challenges, the nonprofit had always been able — every other year — to pay down the line of credit it used to operate its gardens.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Jacob Peitzer sits on a swing under a large tree with his six month old son Theodore on his plot in the El Oasis Community Garden in Denver on Sept. 21, 2020.

But starting in 2018, weak fundraising totals, expiring national grants (including $100,000 for DUG’s Healthy Seedlings program) and an ever-expanding number of gardens rendered them unable to do that, said Ramonna Robinson, chairwoman of DUG’s board. Once the pandemic arrived, she said, they had no other choice but to raise cash through a property sale.

“Nobody wants to see even part of that garden go away,” she said of El Oasis. “But it became the best option for us.”

Out of the 180 gardens that DUG manages in the metro area — including 120 community gardens and 70 school gardens — only three are owned by the nonprofit, while the rest are owned by schools, churches, private groups and others. Two of them aren’t profitable: DUG’s Shoshone garden is too small to develop, while its Pecos garden is too complicated from a zoning standpoint, Robinson said. That left El Oasis, the sale of which would give DUG cash to pay down its $500,000-plus in debt, as well as provide reserves for an uncertain future.

The problem is that El Oasis, one of the biggest community gardens in Denver, hosts about 40 shared garden plots and has often acted as the flagship for a nonprofit that boasts 17,500 volunteer gardeners. The fact that DUG is under contract with developer Caliber Construction to sell two-thirds of El Oasis for $1.2 million is a desertion of the nonprofit’s mission to secure and support community green spaces, gardeners said.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Gardeners placed caution tape around the main pergola covered with grapevines on Sept. 21, 2020, at the center of the El

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Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.



a person sitting at a table in front of a sign: Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments


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Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

THE IC GETS A LESS THAN STELLAR REVIEW: A House committee warned Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence community is not equipped to handle evolving threats from China in the fields of technology and politics.

The House Intelligence Committee detailed its findings in an unclassified summary of a report, approved for release by the panel by voice vote, that delves into the intelligence community’s (IC) capabilities to respond to Chinese threats.

“The United States’ intelligence community has not sufficiently adapted to a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China and the growing importance of interlocking non-military transnational threats, such as global health, economic security, and climate change,” the committee wrote in its summary.

“Absent a significant realignment of resources, the U.S. government and intelligence community will fail to achieve the outcomes required to enable continued U.S. competition with China on the global stage for decades to come, and to protect the U.S. health and security,” the committee added.

The report said the IC places “insufficient emphasis and focus” on “soft threats,” such as viral pandemics and climate change, and that if the IC did not modernize systems to increase focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence, national security could be undermined.

On the technological front, “China’s continued advancements in cyber and space-based systems also introduce the likelihood of entirely new domains of conflict in the event of a contingency,” which could serve to “extend the battlefield to our political discourse, mobile devices, and the very infrastructure that modern digital communication and communities rely upon,” the lawmakers wrote.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) acknowledged the shortcomings laid bare by the report, saying in a statement that “our nation’s intelligence agencies have a lot of work to do to fully address the challenge posed by China.”

Read more here.

MORE CHINA CONCERNS: The House GOP’s China task force unveiled its full report laying out hundreds of recommendations and legislative suggestions to combat threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday.

The report includes more than 400 policy recommendations to address issues ranging from national security concerns, human rights violations, problems with the supply chain, Beijing’s missteps in its handling of the pandemic and China’s overall expanding influence on the world stage.

The task force – which is made up of 15 GOP lawmakers who sit on 11 different committees – was initially slated to be bipartisan before Democrats ultimately opted out before its launch in May.

Read more here.

DRIVERS TO

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House panel says US intelligence community not equipped to address evolving Chinese threats

A House committee warned Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence community is not equipped to handle evolving threats from China in the fields of technology and politics.

The House Intelligence Committee detailed its findings in an unclassified summary of a report, approved for release by the panel by voice vote, that delves into the intelligence community’s (IC) capabilities to respond to Chinese threats.

“The United States’ intelligence community has not sufficiently adapted to a changing geopolitical and technological environment increasingly shaped by a rising China and the growing importance of interlocking non-military transnational threats, such as global health, economic security, and climate change,” the committee wrote in its summary.

“Absent a significant realignment of resources, the U.S. government and intelligence community will fail to achieve the outcomes required to enable continued U.S. competition with China on the global stage for decades to come, and to protect the U.S. health and security,” the committee added.

The report said the IC places “insufficient emphasis and focus” on “soft threats,” such as viral pandemics and climate change, and that if the IC did not modernize systems to increase focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence, national security could be undermined. 

On the technological front, “China’s continued advancements in cyber and space-based systems also introduce the likelihood of entirely new domains of conflict in the event of a contingency,” which could serve to “extend the battlefield to our political discourse, mobile devices, and the very infrastructure that modern digital communication and communities rely upon,” the lawmakers wrote.

Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump official releases unverified Russian intel on Clinton previously rejected by Senate panel Schiff subpoenas Homeland Security, charges ‘unlawful obstruction’ Schiff to subpoena top DHS official, alleges whistleblower deposition is being stonewalled MORE (D-Calif.) acknowledged the shortcomings laid bare by the report, saying in a statement that “our nation’s intelligence agencies have a lot of work to do to fully address the challenge posed by China.”

“After 9/11, we reoriented towards a mission to protect the homeland, and were very successful. But after two decades, the IC’s capacity to address hard targets like China has waned,” Schiff said. “Absent a significant and immediate reprioritization and realignment of resources, we will be ill-prepared to compete with China — diplomatically, economically, and militarily — on the global stage for decades to come.”

Committee staff reviewed thousands of assessments and conducted hours of interviews with intelligence community officials in compiling the report, which recommended a series of steps to ensure the IC can keep up with evolving Chinese threats.

Those recommendations include the White House conducting a review of the IC’s budget, the IC prioritizing its training of employees on China-focused issues and the formation of a “bipartisan, bicameral congressional study group” to evaluate if changes need to be made.

“It’s my hope that the Intelligence Community will work hand-in-hand with the congressional oversight committees to make these necessary changes quickly. We should all have the same goal — ensuring the U.S. and its intelligence

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