$800K Loan To Help Hesed House Winterize Shelter During Pandemic

The Daily Beast

Who Actually Declares the Winner of This Election?

By Amy Dacey, The ConversationWith the U.S. presidential election rapidly approaching at a time of extraordinary political and social disruption, the possibility of an unclear or contested result is coming under scrutiny.Unlike many other countries, where the president or prime minister is chosen by direct popular vote, in the U.S., a candidate may win the popular vote and still not be elected to the nation’s highest office. The U.S. also differs from most other democracies in that it has no independent electoral commission to certify the final vote count.So who actually confirms the winner? Step 1: Before Election DayAmerican democracy has many elected officials—state, local and national—and many processes for getting into office.I have been working on election campaigns since I was 8 years old, when my dad ran for school board and I went door to door asking people to vote for him. I’ve also worked on local, congressional, senate and presidential races and now direct an academic research center on politics.What’s striking is that every race is different, from deadlines and filing process to certification. Here, I’ll focus here on the presidential race.The unusual and complicated presidential election certification process in the U.S. entwines all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Senate, House of Representatives, the National Archives and the Office of the Federal Register. It also involves the Electoral College—a uniquely American institution that convenes in 51 separate locations once every four years to pick the president.This four-month process was custom designed as a compromise by the Founding Fathers, who did not believe the American people should directly choose the president and vice president but did not want to give Congress the power of selection, either.What if Trump Won’t Leave the White House?The Constitution declares that American presidential elections occur on the first Tuesday in November, every four years. But the federal election process actually begins in October, when the Archivist of the United States—a presidential appointee responsible for maintaining the government’s most important official documents—sends a letter to the governor of each state.The document outlines their responsibilities regarding the Electoral College, which is not a place but a process by which electors—people who are chosen by their party—vote for their party’s presidential candidate.The machinery of the Electoral College is complicated, but in short Americans vote for electors and the electors vote for the president. Then, the winner is  Step 2: After Election DayNot quite.Once a final tally of voters’ in-person, mail-in and provisional ballots has been concluded, all 50 governors prepare their state’s Certificate of Ascertainment, a document listing their electors for the competing candidates.Each state completes that process at its own rate. This year, because of the pandemic, finalizing the electoral vote count will likely take a lot longer. Once completed, copies of the Certificate of Ascertainment are then submitted to the U.S. Archivist.After the governor submits names to the Archivist, each state’s Electoral College electors meet in the state capital—D.C.‘s meet

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‘Our kitchen helps heal’: Bridgewater domestic violence shelter wins kitchen reno contest

At Harbour House, a 15-bed haven for women and children escaping domestic violence in Bridgewater, N.S., the kitchen is more than a room for cooking.

It’s where body and spirit are nourished, laughter erupts, and sadly, tears are shed.

“I think a lot of women and kids come into the shelter and their spirits and their bodies are pretty broken, and our kitchen helps heal that,” said Jennifer Gagnon, the shelter’s executive director.

But in this 160-year-old home that’s been a shelter for more than three decades, the kitchen needed a lot of TLC — especially the countertop. The laminate had seen better days.

Jennifer Gagnon is the executive director of South Shore Transition House Association. (Linked In)

“We did a little internal renovations a couple of years ago and tried to brighten it up that way, but it certainly didn’t shine,” Gagnon said.

So when the chance to win a new countertop appeared on Gagnon’s Facebook feed in late May, she started typing a nomination for Harbour House. The contest was put on by a local company, Stonewrights, as a way to show appreciation to customers for keeping their business afloat during the pandemic.

Of the five community groups in the running, Harbour House had the most votes, hands down, said Martina Groeger, co-owner of Stonewrights.

She’s glad the shelter was the winner because its work is close to her heart. Groeger is a former teacher and the past chair of the Lunenburg County Community Health Board. She said the shelter’s work was vital during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

“Part of my concern was what is going to happen to women and children that are actually at home with an abusive partner or parent because we know that exists,” she said.

The old kitchen had tired laminate countertops and electrical outlets in areas that made them less functional. (Martina Groeger)

A couple of days ago, Stonewrights finished sprucing up the large kitchen. Workers installed 66 square feet of shiny granite, a high-end, durable countertop worth $6,000. That gift kick-started a bigger act of charity and transformation.

Stonewrights added a new backsplash. It also paid for a new sink, while a local plumber contributed a new faucet and installation work. An electrician volunteered to move the outlets to create a more functional kitchen.

Groeger has heard the residents want to take care of the finishing touches — painting the room.

“The women and children who are at the house, they especially deserve something that makes them feel good,” she said. “If they feel good, I feel good.”

Gagnon says Stonewrights’s workers minimized disruption at the shelter during the kitchen overhaul. (Martina Groeger)

It’s hoped a donor will come forward with new flooring to replace the checkered vinyl tiles to complete the kitchen makeover. The big reveal is planned later this month.

Gagnon said it’s wonderful to have a new, gorgeous space that reflects the beautiful things that happen inside it.

“It’s pretty absolutely incredible,” she said, her voice trembling a bit. 

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