Tag Archives: SMUM

New Web Site for Santa Maria Urban Ministry

After months of work, the new Santa Maria Urban Ministry (SMUM) web site was posted yesterday. My daughter Jessica did much of the design and transition work with many suggestions and testing by SMUM teachers, staff, and the Board. John Plocher provided technical support and last night moved in the website so the new design and content are now visible to the public.

Since 1983, SMUM has provided emergency food to the residents of San José’s inner city. In addition to continuing to serve the needs of our clients and promote their self-sufficiency, SMUM has developed transformative programs to serve the needs of and promote self-sufficiency within our community.  These programs include:

  • ABC Playtime (preschool)
  • Christmas gifts and food
  • Food Pantry
  • School Backpacks
  • Studio (after-school)
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

You will find old and new material on http://smum.org (which resolves to http://smum.org/blogs automatically), including:

  • All Canticle newsletters from 2008-2009-2010
  • The Studio kids’ games page – http://smum.org/blogs/programs/studio-games-2/
  • A link to the diocesan donation page – http://www.edecr.org/donation.php
  • A way to sign up for the SMUM email distribution list (under SUBSCRIBE on the right-hand side)
  • A new SMUM Donor page is available for the first time
  • Many new pictures (mostly by me!)
  • Updated and corrected content

This has been one of those projects for which the last 20% of work seemed to take 80% of the time… Edits, corrections, and comments are welcome.

Katy Dickinson
SMUM Board Member
SMUM Studio Teacher

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Stolen Purse

My purse was stolen yesterday night – keys and checkbook and everything. I filed a San Jose police report but I don’t expect much to come of that. For the last three years, my husband John and I have volunteered as teachers for 2 hours a week at an after school program about a mile from our house. Yesterday, toward the end of the session, we left the front door unlocked so that parents could pick up their kids. Someone walked in and took my purse plus a 4th grade boy’s backpack – probably to hide my purse in. The boy lost school books, his reading book, and a library book that he has to pay for. What a depressing experience.

I spent last night calling our bank and credit card companies to put holds on our accounts.  I am entirely sick of telling phone customer service staff the last four digits of my Social Security Number, my birth date, mother’s maiden name, zip code, etc. to get them to talk with me.   I got up early this morning to go to the California Department of Motor Vehicles to request a replacement driver’s license. $25 and one hour in line later, I went to the bank for two hours to open up new accounts and sign up for an identity theft watch service. I am using an old purse, spare comb, and John’s keys to my car. John, sweet man that he is, bought me a new iPhone today so I don’t go into technology withdrawal. Costing out everything that was in my purse, my phone, camera, and surprisingly, replacement smart keys for our cars came out most expensive. It will take weeks to get everything replaced. Trying to remember what was actually in my purse has been a challenge.

I am more than ever a fan of mSecure, an “ultra-secure 256bit blowfish encryption” software application that keeps all of my private information. I bought mSecure for both my iPhone and my MacBook. Over the last year, I typed all of my codes and passwords and identifications into mSecure then backed it up by synchronizing with my MacBook. Since I ran sync just a few days ago, very little information was lost with my iPhone. My iPhone had a password and AT&T disabled that account last night.

My husband has pointed out that my carrying around three Apple computers (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook) plus my Dell work laptop while calling myself a technology minimalist is perhaps inconsistent. I really love technology that works well and for me that means Apple products. (I think I just came out of the closet as a Apple Geek.)

The other volunteers last night were wonderful. Luis and Roberto came home with us to be sure no thieves were in our house (a real and scary possibility). I am glad we have two big dogs. I sent email to our neighborhood list to ask everyone to keep an eye on our home just in case. We have received many supportive and encouraging emails and suggestions.

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Volunteer Thanksgiving Lunch

Over 100 people volunteer every month at Santa Maria Urban Ministry, distributing food to the hungry, teaching preschool, helping with homework and computers, giving family counseling, and (in due season) helping with taxes, along with other programs, as well as management and administrative duties. Last Saturday, after a dozen of us met at Britannia Arms to help move 700 Turkeys for the needy, all of the SMUM volunteers were invited to Thanksgiving lunch at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in San Jose. We had chow mein noodles and fried rice and turkey and ham and beans and green salad and fruit salad, and our favorite tres leches cake.

Most of the teams were represented and we enjoyed talking with people who work different shifts. John and I have been after-school homework and computer teachers for the last three years, Thursdays 4-6 pm with the Studio program. We know the Tuesday afternoon Studio teachers but we rarely see the food warehouse workers or the registration desk team or the ABC Playtime teachers.

Rev. Lawrence Robles (SMUM Executive Director) and his wife Carmen (Manager of the warehouse) and Alfonso Mendez (Office Manager) gave each volunteer a bookmark remembrance with their thanks for our service. Some people volunteer in so many roles at SMUM that they had trouble picking which group picture to join. SMUM is blessed by the support of the many generous people who donate money and food but most valuable of all, their time and talents, to support the transformation of our community.

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Pictures from Brittania Arms’ “Brit Turkey Drive”:

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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson

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Homework Club Party

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Communications got messed up, so John and Rev. Stephenie Cooper and Rev. Lawrence Robles and I held the Halloween party for the SMUM Studio after school program a week late. The kids wore their costumes on 28 October but we did not have the pizza celebration until 4 November. Twenty kids and two moms came – everyone had a good time and enjoyed their special treat.

I took the shells and sea glass all of the kids gathered during our Lover’s Cove field trip last summer and glued them to a frame. On the day of the party, I gave the Studio kids the frame with a picture of themselves standing in front of the ocean. It is now on the wall of the SMUM computer room.

We had planned to take the kids on three field trips last summer but the final trip had to be canceled.  When I had to go to China on a business trip, there weren’t enough adults to supervise a swim trip to Raging Waters. After much discussion and voting by kids and teachers, we decided either to go ice skating in San Jose or on a trip to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. We held the final vote on Thursday and we are going to Alcatraz! We are still working details but we want to go before the new year.


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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson

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Gilroy Gardens Visit

We visited Gilroy Gardens with nine inner city San Jose kids from the after school program at Santa Maria Urban Ministry yesterday. This was the second of our three summer field trips – we went to the beach with them last month. Lewis and John and I drove the kids to the theme park at Hecker Pass and had a good time going on rides, getting wet, and admiring the gardens and Axel Erlandson’s fascinating circus trees. Next month, we take the kids to Raging Waters water park.


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Images Copyright 2010 Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

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Lover’s Cove with ten kids

Yesterday, my husband John and I went to Lover’s Cove in Pacific Grove (on Monterey Bay) with ten kids from the SMUM (Santa Maria Urban Ministry) Studio after school program. We have been weekly tutors for these kids (and their brothers and sisters and cousins and friends) for three school years. During the summers, we and the other teachers take them on field trips. Last year, we went with the Studio kids to The Tech Museum of Innovation, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the San Francisco Zoo. This year, they voted for the beach, Gilroy Gardens, and Raging Waters water park.

We had a great time at the beach. John and I brought our wet suits and showed the kids the tidal animals: anemones, crabs, barnacles, chitons, and snails. Then, we rented a kayak and I took them on individual tours of the cove so they could see seaweed, starfish and seagulls on the rocks. Lewis and Lawrence and the kids and we had a wonderful time. On the way home, we were held up by a family of Canada Geese which decided to walk down the middle of the road in front of us.

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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher


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Two Deacons Ordained by Bishop, All Women

Yesterday, the Right Reverend Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, ordained two women to the Sacred Order of Deacons.  If this is not the first time that a woman Bishop has ordained two women Deacons at the same time, it is certainly a very rare event.  Stephenie Cooper and Judith Sato were ordained at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in San Jose, California. That Bishop Mary was herself in 2007 the first woman Bishop ordained by Presiding Bishop The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is the first woman primate elected by the worldwide Anglican Communion, makes yesterday’s ordination even more notable.

Note from 29 June 2010: Bishop Mary kindly sent in a correction to this blog entry that Bishop Laura Ahrens was the first woman for whom Bishop Jefferts Schori was the chief consecrator. Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves was the first woman diocesan bishop, but Bishop Laura Ahrens the actual first in 2007.

I have known and worked with Stephenie Cooper for many years both on the diocesan web site and on Santa Maria Urban Ministry. We are both teachers for the after-school Studio program and on the SMUM Board. I have also worked with Judy Sato. I have great respect for both of these women and am delighted to see them ordained. Stephenie is a vocational deacon (meaning that she will continue in that service). Judy is a transitional deacon (meaning that she will be ordained as a priest after six months to a year). After yesterday’s service, the women deacons who joined the service from the Episcopal dioceses of Northern California, California, and El Camino Real stood with Bishop Mary in front of the altar for pictures.

What is a Deacon?
From Phoebe (a woman deacon mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Romans in the first century) to Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), deacons have been called to be servant ministers. From yesterday’s service booklet notes:

“Deacons are called to be representative of the Church to the world and the world to the Church, a prophetic voice and servant to those in need. The ministry of deacon is pastoral, charitable, and liturgical.”

During The Examination part of the service, Bishop Mary addressed Stephenie and Judy:

My sisters, every Christian is called to follow Jesus Christ, serving God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit. God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood directly under your bishop. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.

As deacons in the Church, you are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them, and to model your life upon them. You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word and example, to those among whom you live, and work, and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. You are to assist the bishop and priests in public worship and in the ministration of God’s Word and Sacraments, and you are to carry out other duties assigned to you from time to time. At all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself.

As comedian Robin Williams said in his Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian: “Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.”

I look forward to great work from both Stephenie and Judy.

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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher

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