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The Buzz on the Streets

The 47th District: Issues, Insight & Interaction

“REPLACING THE SOCIAL NETWORK” free event For Youth & Community

May 13th, 2013 at 9:05 am by lesliehamada
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When government and school districts are facing many challenges in their budgets, are we really in critical times or are we in times that are not keeping up with new ideas and thought processes of investments that need to be challenged and perhaps changed? I have spent most of my professional career in the business sector. When I retired I began pouring more of my time in areas that I wanted to learn more about in human services and acting as Director of Emergency Services at Kent United Methodist Church, I have expanded over the last ten years my knowledge of human service issues. I joined regional organizations, committees and the last two years have served proudly on the Human Services Commission for Covington. Giving out resources directly has put me in close proximity of individuals needing those services. I have the privilege of hearing their stories and how their daily lives are going. I get to visit agencies and organizations that receive or hope to receive government funding. I also get to see the other end of Federal, State, and local government policies. How they work, what is achieved, is this really doing what it was set out to do?  This has given me valuable experience which I am sure that someone bigger than I has planned for me. I also, long before I retired have spent many hours in schools as a parent, PTA officer, mentor and tutor. My journey of tutoring in high risk elementary schools began in the 60′s in Beacon Hill at T T Minor Elementary School when as a young college student I was watching the riots on TV and was awakened in my dorm at Bellarmine Hall at Seattle University for a bomb threat and we had to clear the building. My experiences of life were just beginning and I felt overwhelmed with what was around me and on the media. But…I felt compelled to do something, so I signed up to tutor every Saturday to help children who were falling way behind in school. The children in this school came from homes that had economic challenges and were primarily children of color. That journey of mentoring and tutoring has taken me throughout my life and the experience of working with children and youth, being in their homes, sharing food often or events has given me an insight to many more human services issues.

We are in a time in history when the name of the game is change. To keep abreast with the latest technology we have to adapt, learn, and keep fine tuning skills. One thing I truly believe is that we have to look at new ideas and ways of doing things differently. I want my grandchildren to experience the same quality of life or perhaps even better than I. If we do not find a way of educating and preparing our children (future citizens and taxpayers) differently I am not so sure they will be able to do it. There are big battles going on in our own State right now in Olympia of where to put money in education-class size, testing, Charter Schools, teacher evaluations, curriculum, standard base grading and many other issues.

I spend every Monday taking care of my new granddaughter, I have two other older grandchildren also. What this has done for me is to watch this infant search for knowledge. She takes her hands and studies them, she makes screeches with her voice and is so impressed, she takes her fingers and touches an IPAD and she makes music by touching different keys and new sounds are heard. When you read books to her she studies the pages and the colors and the shapes. She is not even one year old—but her world is evolving—the things around her and who is around her and what they are doing for her and to her—are all being put in her little computer called—her brain. Articles are written by educators about all day kindergarten and how it pays off and now even finding funds for earlier learning in pre-schools funded by districts. I think all these programs and ideas are showing positive results that children can enter kindergarten ready to go at the same or close to it level and are a good investment.

The conversation that I think is being missed is infants begin learning and adapting to their environment and forming perceptions at birth. probably even in the womb. Are we not missing a real investment opportunity to maximize our dollars in not looking at the whole picture. An investment in families. When children are in the school settings for x amount of time they still spend a great deal of time in their home environment. Don’t get me wrong, I value having good early education for preschoolers and also instructional kindergartens. But what if we looked at investing in families at birth. When infants are born there are more programs at hospitals to sign up moms and dads for help with raising this child and more programs where trained individuals who are culturally competent and speak the language needed to communicate with the families walk with the parents in the early stages. They would be coming into the homes and helping to show nutritional needs for infants and children, educational needs they could begin at birth, and in the case of individuals struggling with money issues direct them to agencies that might assist wit these issues. You are probably saying this would cost tons of money or would it —in the long run? If you began to empower parents with the tools to help their children early on—would you see less need in future years? Would you see less money going into discipline issues in schools? Would you find out learning disabilities sooner and get the help early on? Would you develop a system where parents feel empowered to begin to become the first educators? Would you see less medical issues down the road? This is a pilot program that I would like to see developed and I have not seen anywhere in the country that anyone is advising to work on the whole family in the infant age for education.

In February, James Heckman, one of the nation’s top economists studying human development showed the gathered business executives a chart showing the United States’ entire approach to education should be demolished. This chart shows the real gap is prior to entering kindergarten. Yes…we are beginning in some areas to address this issue but I personally feel it needs to go back even earlier—at birth. He went on to say this is the main reason that income inequality is passed down from generation to generation. The government spends about 5.5 percent of the nation’s economic output in total from preschool to college. Now we are talking about some money there. Again, we need to start thinking in more out of the box methods to make what we are spending pay off. I welcome some dialogue on this issue. We, as a community, if we are investing in our tax dollars need to be getting the best returns for our investments.




September 29th, 2012 at 9:43 am by lesliehamada
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This is a co-sponsored event by two youth organizations—Project U(th) and Kent East Hill Boxing Club. All the proceeds of donations go to help the youth in our community. There will be boxing of youth as it is a sanctioned USA Boxing event and boxing of local celebrities: Jim Berrios, the incoming  2013 President of the Kent Chambers, Senator Joe Fain of the 47th Distirct, Representative Pat Sullivan, Mark Hargrove of the 47th District, candidates: Bud Sizemore and Andy Massagali of the 47th District, Bailey Stober Assistant to African American Wa. State Commission, Council Members Dana Ralph and Dennis Higgins, and Rev. Andrew Toeanina of Soul d’ Out Christian Ministries. Music—concessions and a good old community get together. Tickets are reasonable and it will make a great date night!!!!





August 12th, 2012 at 7:21 pm by lesliehamada
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I particularly liked that quote when I saw it as it offered Hope and healing for the future, which is the title for this article. Growing up in a small town in Montana in my early years I did not have much exposure to diversity in race, creed, or culture. We had a few Native Americans and the talk of the town was the Hutterite Village outside of town where people were isolated from modern conveniences and the men, women, and children wore black clothing —hats, long skirts, and rarely came to town unless for some special occasion. They did not attend our schools. I can remember as a child growing up in the Methodist Faith, that those Baptists on the corner beyond our church were just so extreme. I also have many memories of how my grandfather who was looked as a leader in the town, judged and accepted all people on how they acted and performed. He was responsible for speaking up and getting a Native American a job with the City when others thought he was really thinking out of the box and exhibiting risky behavior. When the Editor of the paper asked for a quote why he had done what he did. He simply said: “he is a good worker and a good man, that is all that matters to me.” When my grandfather was terribly ill toward the end of his life, many in town rallied and came by the house to offer food or help. The leader of the Hutterites came by and said to me as an adult: “Gus always helped us if we needed it, and ask us into his home when many shunned us, if there is anything I can do to help please let me know.”

Usually I use my blog for local happenings or local issues but issues around the country can be felt locally. So this issue is going to be a little different. My husband and I attended a convention in Phoenix the first of June a few years ago and we rented a car and drove to his birthplace—Poston, Arizona. We had an air conditioned car and when we got out of the car it was about 115 degrees. After hearing my mother-in-law talk about being forced to leave her home in California with her husband and all her belongings except one small suitcase and being 5 months pregnant. I envisioned and felt this as I stepped out of the car. She, getting off a train in the middle of the desert and having to live in camps and being told to do so by her government. At that time there were no air conditioners. She had been born in the United States and gone to high school here and was just starting her life as a young woman with her first child. Why was this happening to her? How horrible to live out in the desert with many families in one tent and be pregnant. My husband was born in an internment camp, he later served in the United States Marine Corp as a Corporal. He has shared with me when his family returned home—the name calling, that they could only live in a certain part of town, and the horrible discrimination and bullying.  All the atrocities that you go through when a race is discriminated against because of stereotypes or lack of understanding. It took several years of the Japanese community keeping a low key image and working hard in school and in the work place for them to be elected to positions of prestige in the government.

Why can we not learn from these horrible mistakes and move forward as a country? The big issue in the political game today is the immigration issue. How would you like to be brought here as a young infant, raised here, go to schools here and live in neighbors here and be called undocumented? What does undocumented mean? You do not exist? What? You were an infant and had absolutely no choice in what happened or control over it and you are undocumented. Words….. how they hurt or help us. Words….how they fuel anger or calm storms.

Recently in a Gurudwara in Wisconsin, a man that had fueled anger acted upon that rage in a horrific act. We do not know his mental state but we can follow his history. He belonged to organizations that promoted racism in their songs and their rhetoric. Even some of those organizations have stepped up to say this was a horrible act. We are experiencing again in history discrimination because of the way men and women dress and act and practice their Faith. A man sees something foreign and he associates it with terrorism or whatever and he is fueled with anger and acts upon that anger. History repeating itself as with the Native American, Chinese, the African Americans, and the Japanese.

My prayer is that with this horrific act that just happened and the opening up of the Sikhs to the public of their ceremony this past Saturday in Renton to learn their true beliefs and following that we can grow to know this religion and its people and all people of various religions, creed, and color and not repeat anymore the past. Let’s start really learning from past history choices that were not good choices. Today, would I as an adult, really see the Baptist religion as extreme as some of the elders in my town did? Wow!!!! I don’t think so. The Native American that my hometown hired went on to be one of its beloved citizens and in Montana today hiring a Native American would never be labeled risky business. In the State of Washington we had the leader of this State at one time proudly announce his Chinese heritage. African Americans can point to so many examples of rising to the top before our current President was elected to office. Bullying and name calling and discrimination have no place in the schools or homes or businesses. Words hurt. Words destroy. Words can also heal, my grandfather spoke up when it was not popular to do so. Silence can also speak loudly. My prayer is: “It might be stormy now—-but it can’t rain forever.” Let’s make an effort to get to know our neighbors regardless of race, creed, religion or culture. Let’s not just go to an event for one night and think our job is done. Let’s reach out for better understanding and enlightenment. Let’s see those rainbows and sunshine’s. We can all make it happen. Correcting history takes the courage to do things differently. Let’s begin each day to celebrate the beautiful diversity in SKC and learn more about each other as individuals. Let’s pledge today to learn from our mistakes and do better.    Shalom.

Kent Meridian SEA Club

Friday evening, June 8th,  the community of Covington and the friends, parents, and students of Cedar Valley Elementary were treated to a Multicultural Night at the school gym. Countries around the world were represented by tables of families sharing their heritage in design, craft, costume, and food. It was well attended by the community and has become an annual event. The event was put on by the PTSA of Cedar Valley and Jennifer Harjehausen is the current President. The committee chair Lyuda West and her co-chairs Cari Rivers and Joni Bentley planned the event well.

Lyuda West, Chair Multicultural Night

Many of the teachers in the school had their classrooms decorated  to display different countries and pictures to show the culture, land, and history. When the children arrived they were issued Passports and as they visited the various tables and countries and learned about them they were given stickers to demonstrate they had been in that country. They had also displayed from their after school Art Club–Artwork several students had done and anyone was allowed to bid on this beautifully framed and ready for hanging Art work–the proceeds will go to help their after school program continue. The evening also included live entertainment from various countries,

Bag Pipes Entertaining

The final event of the evening was a drawing for a prize. This is a great example of bringing the community and schools together and a free night of entertainment for families and kids.

Greeting the Community




May 24th, 2012 at 6:06 am by lesliehamada
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Ray Lee is honored for his work at Kent Meridian by Debbie Theisen


Wednesday afternoon many of the members of the community that had volunteered throughout the year at Kent Meridian High School with Challenge Day, Senior Project Presentations, tutoring, Career Day, music programs, and whatever else was needed were treated to a wonderful afternoon tea with cookies and some wonderful entertainment from their music department. Debbie Theisen who oversees in a staff position volunteers at KM stated she had over 300 volunteers on a list to draw from many needs at KM. A few volunteers were recognized for special work throughout the year. The symphony, jazz band, and singing groups preformed with many great and varied numbers. It is great to see such community support for our schools. That is what keeps our high schools and community thriving.


April 7th, 2012 at 6:54 am by lesliehamada
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Friday morning March 30 at 8:30 am Kent Meridian High School showcased their students culture with talent from all parts of the world. The variety of talent showcased all the wonderful diversity of the student body. It was an assembly the students really enjoyed. The audience would participate in doing their part by clapping to the music and applauding for each performance with real enthusiasm. There was dancing from all parts of the world and the costumes were also great. The teachers and the administrative staff brought down the house when toward the end many demonstrated their talents on various dance routines and they also engaged in wearing costumes. This builds school pride, it educates, and it expresses unity of students and teachers all having fun together

Students at Kent Meridian can experience a great International experience each day just by coming to class and interacting with their classmates. This allows for a great opportunity for a Global experience right here in Kent, Washington. We need to cease  all the diversity around us and grow from it. Watch for this Assembly next year and come in and see for yourself what your tax dollars are being spent on. A great learning experience for the whole community.



February 22nd, 2012 at 7:11 am by lesliehamada
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Nancy Turner has served her community in so many ways. If you are ever having a down day walk in a room and the first thing you get from Nancy is a big smile and a big hug. She is one of those unsung heroes that is there to help those in need in any way. Last night, she was honored at the Kent Food Bank Annual Business Dinner for 25 years of service. The dinner was held at the Valley View Christian Church and President of the Food Bank presided over the meeting Pat Pawlak, from the Kent Fire Department. The past board was made up of Pat, Nancy, Jeanette Ristau of the Kent School District, John Straus of the Kent Police Department, Verla Morrison (Vice-President) Kent United Methodist Church, Dave Bishop,Valley View Christian Church, Jim Renton, community member, Deanna Gratzer(Secretary) King County Fire District #37, and Sam Ray, Volunteers Representative. The staff of the Kent Food Bank consists of Jeniece Choate, Executive Director, Harriet Venables, Assistant Director, and Camico Rivon, Warehouse Coordinator.

The Kent Food Bank is one of the larger food banks in South King County. Clients may visit monthly for food, clothes, and government commodities and they can come weekly for perishable items such as: bread, produce and diary. Homeless individuals/families may visit weekly for special quick or no cook food items. There are two physical location one on 515 W. Harrison Street, Suite 107 in downtown Kent and one on the hill at 27360 129th Place SE. In 2011, they served 16, 791 people and that breaks down to 10, 171 adults and 6,620 children.

People like Nancy Turner are what make this community great. They are just quietly going about their job making the world a better place to be in. She is special and if you see her walking around Kent go up to her and give her a big hug and say–”thank you!”














January 18th, 2012 at 3:56 pm by lesliehamada
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Pat Gray--the founder of KentHope address the Council



I read an article a while ago that we have to change the way we are doing government in this State with unfunded legislation or unfunded mandates. We have all witnessed issues where great legislation and ideas are put into legislation with little or no funding to back-up the wonderful ideas or really make a difference to change the issue or the main reason why this legislation seemed important to pass in the beginning. When we were a prospering economy we seemed to sometimes work with these unfunded mandates but in more challenging times and slower growth the author was telling us the way we do business has to change. I thought the article had merit. I think when elected officials see a proposal placed in front of them that demonstrates this fiscal responsibility they need to wake up and take note that here are people in our community that have a well thought out idea to help our community and not only are they pointing out safety nets that have been removed but they have found a way to come together as a community—many organizations and non-profits and churches do make a difference in these issues. The icing on the Cake—they have a way to pay for it and it does not include raising the budget restraints of any government entity.

A month ago I attended a meeting for the South King County Human Services Alliances on the exhausting spiraling downward of our human services budgets to many agencies and the State of such a growing need in that area more than ever. A fact that they had done extensive research on was that if you put all the charities, non-profits, and church giving into a pot it will never be enough to make up the safety net that is needed in Human Services. It was around 20% with government from the beginning of time—contributing the most to the balance needed for human services. So we as a country are never going to be able to end government in the Human Service Business—to balance our budgets that are in such grave problems today. If that comes about it is a society I do not believe that would have a good future of any kind. If you study other countries the one fact that rarely comes out when they are toting their great strides in education or industry is the large amount these countries pour into human services to help get their other statistics to where they are today.

Chris Gough, Union Gospel Mission addresses the KentHope Proposal, Rev. Leslie Braxton, New Beginnings Church waits to speak

Last night at the Kent City Council, a group of churches, non-profits, and charities came together to discuss how they have been working in the last few months on a proposal to help address the great need for a Day Center for the Homeless of our Community. The Council Chambers room was full of supporters of this Day Center that came out to show the council they were there to roll up their sleeves and support this Proposal on one of the worst night’s of the year to be out in Kent. When they were asked to stand for a brief moment to show their support—it was moving to see people from many walks of life there to support all the citizens of our community even those down on their luck temporarily. We have all been there in one shape or form—where we need help emotionally, spiritually, financially, or physically. The Day Center would provide a place to help people get into the services they need such as housing, employment, medical or mental services, and much more just a place of rest for people to feel they are part of the Community. In places that are well run for a Day Center or night shelter—statistics show crime goes down and it can actually contribute over a period of time to those costs that run when the homeless issues reach a crisis. If a person gets help with a medical issue upfront the emergency room costs to us all go down.

The City has a building that they own that would work perfect for this Day Center. The Proposal costs the City nothing. The liability and staffing and maintenance are covered by KentHope. This building has sat empty for 2 years and the prospect of selling at this point in time does not seem to be a smart business venture for the City even if—they could find a buyer. This proposal seems to be a really great addition to Kent in its Human Service capability, in reducing crime, in including a model of a City that cares about all its citizens. It is a perfect model to build a Healthy Community and has already demonstrated by its widespread support that it brings the community together to do good.





Dwight Jackson, Catholic Community Services Speaks







Roland Bradley, New Beginnings Church speaks to the Council



Rev. Jimmie James speaks to the history of needed Day Center for Homeless


January 2nd, 2012 at 5:01 pm by lesliehamada
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The Tuesday evening before Christmas we scheduled a great get together for our boxing kids. We would have a special room at Roundtable and eat lots of salad  and pizza and just enjoy each others company: kids, adults, and coaches. watch the DVDs  made of our club–watch one of our coach’s pro fight and celebrate, as a community run kids after school boxing program. We struggled to start—to get a gym–facility—and equipment. we found a coach he quickly left and we scrambled to find replacements. But ….here we were, 3 1/2 months of practices, kids that came and went, kids that stayed and are beginning to develop skills and friendships. different sizes, backgrounds, schools, and races and religion, we even had 2 kids jumped and robbed walking home from practice.We have had our challenges. But here we are. When the idea first came into my head that Kent East Hill needed more activities for kids to have access to it was around a community meeting table. I had always been active in schools and with kids organizations. I was well aware of the challenges facing a diverse school district, the volunteer work in emergency assistance that I had engaged in over the years had taught me poverty, lack of jobs, government programs shutting down were all coming to a head to even make the need greater for kids that would need support.Working as a tutor(VOLUNTEER) and mentor to kids in schools taught me how families are forced to move a lot when resources are drying up. In one school year I moved with the child I tutored 3 times just so that child could have one consistent thing in their life–me. It created a lot more driving for me as I was working at the time but I saw the importance of it in her life.Spending a lot of time talking to teacher’s in the last year—it came up over and over again that kids test scores are affected by moving to different districts, different expectations, new surroundings to get used to. The list goes on and on.

Just after Christmas, I learned through e-mail one of our boxing boys had to suddenly return to the country he was born in. His father told him in 2 days they were leaving to go back home where his mom and sister’s had gone to care for the dying grandmother and they could not get back to the US so they were going back home to keep the family together. I was shocked as we were just getting to know him. He was making friends and we had hoped to help him get a SSN and some part time work. The dream of starting the club to help the kids prepare for a better future was all coming together and instantly I realized this yong man that we were just getting to know and build skills in was being whisk away in a heart beat and we may never see him again. When I talked with him I simply did not know what to say. Secretly, I was saying to myself–how did that feel to him—he just had to go–another big change–back to what—a country with little opportunities and jobs. Unlike many American kids–he did not question his father he just did as he was told. He was making good progression in school and I wondered where did that leave him now. I said to myself how could I ever (as a teacher) go over this again and again. You teach and build them up and they are whisk away in a heart beat and you start the new semester with another new student. The challenges that kids have in our schools today are so many outside the school that we can not imagine. We wish this young man well …he was with us way too little. So we put on our gloves—make sure our hand wraps are tight and enter the Ring to fight again to be there for our kids but the last round was tough….tough.


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About lesliehamada

Leslie is a wife, mother, & grandmother. She has worked in marketing, communications, & writing professionally. For the past 17 years she has resided in the Covington area and doing volunteer work in the King County Area. While her children attended University Place Schools she was actively involved in youth activities and PTA. She was in executive leadership in the organization as President in school PTA on all levels. In addition she held a District PTA leadership position. Currently her youngest child Lisa is a teacher and last year was recognized as NASPE 2009 High School Physical Education Teacher of the Nation. Her two sons are employed in Computer and engineer firms. She has two beautiful grandchildren. Leslie's pride & joy is Pee Wee Hamada her stay at home Cocker spaniel and her inspiration for her first Children's Book: "Pee Wee's Adventure In the Woods" which addresses boundaries for young children and safety issues through an exciting animal book. Leslie has been actively involved in her Community volunteering for over 40 years. She has mentored in high risk elementary schools since college. Presently she is Director for emergency services for her church Kent United Methodist. She is Chair of the Kent Ecumenical Network Board. It is her sixth year on Catholic Community Advocacy Board. She received an award last year from Governor Gregoire for work with felons. This past year she was recognized for work in social justice and poverty by the South King County Human Service Commission. Last year she received an award from the Southern Sudanese Organization in Seattle. In 2005 she received the SKC Award for the Spirit of Caring. In 2005 she traveled to San Francisco to work at the Soup Kitchen of Glide Memorial and help with immigrant Chinese pre-school students at Gum Moon Community. Her passion is working with kids and social justice issues. Presently she is working to start a Kids Boxing Program in the Kent East Hill area to give the kids a great after school program.

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