Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In the News: SF Bay Times

Opera Superstar Frederica Von Stade to Sing Street Requiem in Support of Homeless Choir 

reposted from:  http://sfbaytimes.com/opera-superstar-frederica-von-stade-to-sing-street-requiem-in-support-of-homeless-choir/

operaladyFamed mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade will join with a mass chorus of singers and chamber orchestra in two California premiere performances of Street Requiem by Australian composers Dr. Kathleen McGuire, Andy Payne, and Dr. Jonathon Welch AM. Other vocal soloists include Blake Quin, Ilyas Iliya and Mark Jackson.
This week, it was also announced that Street Requiem has been selected as a semi-finalist in the professional choral composition division of The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts. (For more information, see http://theamericanprize.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/composer-semi-finalists-2015-choral.html)
McGuire, who is well known to Bay Area audiences having led the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and others from 2000 to 2013, will return from Melbourne, Australia, to conduct Street Requiem on Saturday, August 29, at 7:00pm at Old First Presbyterian Church at 1751 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, and on Sunday, August 30, at 2:00pm at the Congregational Church of San Mateo, 225 Tilton
Avenue in San Mateo.
The concert is a benefit for Singers of the Street (SOS), which McGuire founded in 2010. Now led by Ashley Moore and a project of Welcome, SOS is a choir of San Franciscans who have experienced, or are at risk of, homelessness. Its mission is to raise their voices for justice, healing and joy. SOS will open the concert and will also sing with the mass choir in Street Requiem.
opera2Street Requiem provides a musical opportunity for us to mourn not only the homeless who have passed away, but also our own frustration that there are still so many homeless individuals living in streets and shelters,” said the Rev. Megan Rohrer, Executive Director of Welcome. “Beyond a one of a kind concert experience, audience members can also celebrate that the price of admission enables homeless individuals to heal and express themselves for years to come.”
Composed in 2014, Street Requiem has already received international acclaim. Music critic Wayne Lee Gay (Dallas Magazine) said: “A remarkable, unique and beautiful work…an unfailingly engaging cantata. The religious texts were constantly questioned, but with an effect that produces transformation rather than blasphemy. The audience is never let off the hook: in the final movement, the chorus intones, as if to remind those who observe suffering are as much in need of divine intervention and guidance as those who suffer directly: ‘Given them peace. Give us peace.’”
Street Requiem is a 40-minute multi-movement cantata scored for choirs, soloists, and chamber orchestras. It aims to bring a sense of peace, remembrance, and hope to communities struggling with homelessness, poverty, war, hate-crime and street violence. The work is neither secular nor religious, but is intended to be spiritual and includes English and African lyrics, as well as traditional Latin texts. While at times deeply moving, the work is optimistic and uplifting, and employs Gospel, Celtic, neo-Romantic, neo-Baroque, and contemporary compositional styles and instrumentation to reflect the multicultural and multi-faith traditions of modern city living.
McGuire said, “Street Requiem provides an opportunity to mourn those we’ve lost—often ‘nameless’ on our streets—and to protest the tragic injustices we witness every day. These are global issues, but we can each make a difference, one by one. Ms. von Stade’s generous participation is a testament to the importance of this project and the wider cause.”
Ms. von Stade will be joined on stage by a mass choir including singers from The Choral Project (San Jose), the Chancel Choir of the Congregational Church of San Mateo, singers from CREDO (Dallas, Texas, who performed the U.S. premiere in January), and Singers of the Street (San Francisco). Accompaniment will be provided by members of the Community Women’s Orchestra, and Carl Pantle will play piano.

Rehearsals led by Stephanie Lynne Smith, Grace Renaud, Daniel Hughes, Dana Sadava, Dr. Jonathan Palant and Carl Pantle are currently underway in San Francisco and San Mateo; singers wishing to participate should visit: trybooking.com/IEJK
Tickets for Street Requiem range from $15–$50 and are available online at http://streetrequiem.blogspot.com/p/tickets.html or by calling (415) 731-1305. All proceeds benefit Singers of the Street.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Press Release: Celebrating the Release of Meagan Taylor

Meagan Taylor, a black transgender woman who was arrested in Iowa when a hotel worker called the police due to her gender identity, was released from the Polk County Jail earlier today.  Welcome, led by our Executive Director, Pastor Megan Rohrer raised over $5,500 to pay for Meagan's bond in Iowa and outstanding fees from a 2010 case in Illinois.  Additional funds will be used to safely transport Meagan home to Illinois and to pay for her name change and an ID that matches her preferred name and gender.

"My tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy when I learned that Meagan was going to be released from jail," said Pastor Rohrer.  "I want to thank the 133 people who donated funds to help us remove the financial barriers and the Transgender Law Center who expedited the legal barriers that were keeping Meagan in jail."

Pastor Rohrer has been in regular contact with Meagan and her family, offering support and pastoral care.  Welcome, whose main work is with LGBT homeless individuals in San Francisco, became involved in this case in order to lift up the issues that disproportionately affect transgender women of color and to raise awareness to the ways that compounding fees can impact vulnerable individuals.

Over the years, Welcome has taken on special projects to support to LGBTQ individuals around the country, because we believe it will help prevent homelessness in San Francisco.

"I have heard too many stories from homeless LGBT individuals who moved to San Francisco in hopes of finding safety from discrimination, only to find some of the country's highest housing costs," said Pastor Rohrer.  "I hope the overwhelming support that Meagan has received, will help other transgender people feel less alone and lead to diversity training for individuals working in hospitality, criminal justice and police departments across the country.

Contact Information:
Pastor Megan Rohrer: streetvicar@gmail.com, 415-827-2587
PGPs: They/Their

Link to the fundraising page to see funds raised and spent to date: http://sfwelcomeministry.blogspot.com/2015/07/arrested-for-being-transgender-meagan.html


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Press Release: Funds Raised to Free Meagan Taylor, a Transgender Woman Jailed in Iowa

Individuals interested in donating to free Meagan Taylor can do so here: http://sfwelcomeministry.blogspot.com/2015/07/arrested-for-being-transgender-meagan.html


Meagan Nicole Taylor, is a transgender woman who lives in St. Louis.  While on a trip with a friend, a hotel manager called the police (possibly twice), because Taylor's identification did not match the name and gender identity that Taylor has used with family and friends for years.  

"What happened to me, was definitely based on my gender.  Transgender people are being gender and racially profiled and it has to stop," Taylor said.

Woken up by a knock at the hotel door around 9 am, Taylor was taken into custody because she did not have the prescription for her hormone treatments with her and for how she spoke to the officers, whom she felt were unjustly arresting her.

Thinking back on her arrest, Taylor says: "To the woman at the hotel and police officers who arrested me, I have no ill will towards you.  I think God will take care of it and help you gain more education about transgender individuals.  LGBTQ individuals are very happy and peaceful people."

Taylor was told that she would be held without release until trial, scheduled for August 10, 2015 and was feeling frustrated that she would not be able to prove that she had a prescription for her medications for nearly a month.  On top of the $2,000 bond for Taylor's release, $500 fine from a 2010 offense had tripled due to fees and penalties and a warrant from Illinois could not be dropped until the $1,713.20 fine was paid in full.

The Welcome Ministry, led by the transgender Lutheran pastor Megan Rohrer, has raised $3,601 as of 9:12 am on July 19th and will be working with Taylor's aunt to pay both the fines in Iowa and Illinois.  Updated information on the funds to free Taylor can be found at: http://sfwelcomeministry.blogspot.com/2015/07/arrested-for-being-transgender-meagan.html

"Raised in the Midwest and a frequent traveler," Rohrer said, "I often fear that what happened to Meagan will happen to me.  I hope Meagan's story raises awareness, so that this never happens in Iowa or anywhere else in the country again."

"Think about if one of your kids was transgender.  What would you do?  And, how would you want society to treat them?" said Taylor.

Welcome's goal is to pay the fines and hopefully get Taylor release on Monday morning.  When she is released, supporters plan to have some of Taylor's favorite foods on hand (hot pickle, fried chicken and shrimp).

"I am thankful for all the support," said Taylor, who was moved to tears by the outpouring of support from over 80 donors and the transgender artists who had been forwarding information about the cause along on twitter.

Any additional funds, above the amount needed to pay for the fees for Taylor's release will be used to support LGBTQ homeless individuals in San Francisco and projects to uplift the voices of transgender individuals living in poverty.

"Meagan has a family that loves and supports her and a strong desire to support other LGBTQ individuals who are vulnerable, facing discrimination and in need of support.  After we get Meagan out of jail and she gets some rest, Welcome will continue to help her tell her story," said Pastor Rohrer.

The comments from Taylor in this press release are statements Meagan Taylor approved for sharing with the press and supporters.  They were transcribed in a web conference on July 19, 2015 from her isolation cell, by Pastor Megan Rohrer.

About Welcome:
Welcome seeks to provide a faithful response to poverty and to improve the quality of life for individuals in our community through hospitality; the arts; education; food; and referrals.  www.sfwelcome.org

Individuals interested in donating to free Meagan Taylor can do so here: http://sfwelcomeministry.blogspot.com/2015/07/arrested-for-being-transgender-meagan.html

Media Information:
  • Contact information for Pastor Megan Rohrer: 415-827-2587  pastor@gracesf.com   @mmrohrer 
  • Pastor Megan Rohrer's PGPs for news stories are: They/Their
  • Despite some of the stories published, Meagan does not want information about her private parts included in stories about her.  You can find the GLAAD guidelines on reporting about transgender individuals here.
  • Meagan would like the press to use her preferred name, pronouns and photos in stories.  Her family has been honoring this request for years.  Name: Meagan Nichole Taylor  PGP: She/Her
  • Approved photos:
    Approved screen shot from a video chat between Pastor Megan Rohrer and Meagan Taylor on 7/19/2015

Links to Media Reports about This Story:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Arrested for Being Transgender: Meagan Taylor: Fundraiser for Bail: Advocating for Change

 Thank you to everyone who has supported the effort to help pay the fees and bond needed to get Meagan out of jail.  If you would like to donate to Welcome to support our other work with LGBTQ homeless individuals you are welcome to use the donate button above. 

 Now that Meagan is Free if you would like to provide her with additional funds or support, please contact her directly. 

Funds raised and designated to Welcome to "Free Meagan": $4,719

$955 in additional undesignated donations to Welcome between 6/21 and 7/23 were approved by the Welcome Board to cover additional fees (if needed) and to ensure that Meagan is able to legally change her name and get a new ID.  We apologize for not being clearer about this earlier, but our priority was Meagan's privacy, getting Meagan out of jail and ensuring that she was able to make her own decisions without pressure.  Donations will not be deposited in to Welcome's bank account until 8/13/2015.

Total Funds expended to date: $5,381

Final Expense Accounting:
  • $88 in web conferencing fees with Meagan in jail
  • $2,276 wired funds to pay Meagan's bond at the Polk County Jail ($2,100 of this will be returned after Meagan appears in court or the charges are dropped)
  • $1,825 wired funds to Meagan's family that paid her fees in Illinois 
  • $646 funds wired to Meagan in Iowa
  • $546 Instead of actual expenses for name change and ID fees, Meagan has opted to receive $500 to get the money in advance.
Meagan Taylor was the only individual making decisions about how funds were expended.  Welcome did not reimburse or accept requests for unsolicited reimbursement. We were saddened that so many strangers, expected funds raised to pay for Meagan Taylor's legal, would be distributed to them.  

* Notice that has been on this donation page, since start of the campaign: Welcome is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Your donation will be acknowledged with a letter for your tax records.  We are committed to paying Meagan's fees.  Any remaining donations raised above the actual cost of fees will be used to support LGBTQ homeless youth and transgender individuals living in poverty.  Meagan has requested that we pay it forward to other people in need. 

Meagan Taylor was arrested in Des Moines because she was transgender and it upset hotel staff.  She is currently being held in Polk County Jail with a $2,000 bail amount. You can learn more about the case here: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/rekha-basu/2015/07/16/arrested-transgender-sex-inmate-tests-jailers/30269945/

We don't know all the information about Meagan's story, nor do we wait to help people until we learn all the details of their past.  Poverty is complicated and no one is perfect.  Deeply rooted in faith, we believe that all people deserve another chance.  If you agree, we hope you will help raise attention to this issue.

While not homeless, Meagan's story is familiar to us.  At Welcome, we have traveled the country to document the stories of LGBTQ homeless youth.  And the affects of laws targeting homeless youth and LGBT individuals of color.

Here is a video from New York to learn more about some of the issues that Meagan is experiencing.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Non-Event Fundraiser

You can donate online here.  Or send your donations to: Welcome, 1751 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94109.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Welcome's Grievance Policy

Appproved by the Welcome Board of Directors in July of 2009

Grounds for Grievance:
·         Denial of Services: A client is denied a service typically offered to guests of WELCOME
·         Unfair or Unequal Treatment: Having a complaint or concern about a service received is when a guest believes they have been treated unfairly or has received poor treatment by a service provider or by the consortium.
·         Breach of Confidentiality: If a staff or volunteer discloses personal information about a client without written consent. 
·         Allegations of misconduct: If a staff or volunteer violates WELCOME’s Professional Ethics Policy.  [See Professional Ethics Policy]

Guests Rights during the Grievance Process
·         Guests’ confidentiality and/or anonymity are protected during the filing of a grievance and, to the extent possible, during the investigative process.
·         Retaliatory or restrictive actions toward clients filing grievances are prohibited. Staff and volunteers found to be involved in such actions are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
·          Documentation of the grievance and steps taken, will be kept on file for two years.

The Grievance Process Proceeds in the following way:
1.       When possible, guests talk directly to the staff or volunteer(s) with whom there is a grievance.
2.       The Grievance form is submitted to the Executive Director who will provide a receipt of the grievance.  The Executive Director, or their designee, will follow up with the staff, volunteer(s) and guests involved in the grievance.  The Executive Director will respond to the guest who filled out the grievance within thirty (30) days.
3.    The guest may submit their grievance to the personnel committee chair when: (a) the grievance involves the Executive Director; (b) the guests believes their grievance has not been resolved by the Executive Director.  The Personnel Committee will respond to the guest who filled out the grievance within thirty (30) days.
  1. Guest completes the grievance form. The grievance must include the date, approximate time and description of incident and names of individuals involved and be submitted within thirty (30) days of the of the act or decision in question.
  2. Acknowledgment of receipt of grievance is provided to each grievance within 7 (7) working days and includes: (a) date grievance received and (b) overview of investigation process.

Guest Name:  ____________________________________________________________
Guest Mailing Address (if applicable): ____________________________________________________________
Guest Phone Number (if applicable): ____________________________________________________________
Date(s) Incident Occurred: ____________________________________________________________
Name of Staff or Volunteer: ____________________________________________________________

Brief Summary of Incident/Complaint: Please tell us what occurred, when it happened and who it involved. If the grievance involves a denial of services, include the service requested, (you may summarize on a separate piece of paper and attach, also feel free to attach and include any document that may support your complaint).

What outcome(s) are you looking for to address your grievance?

1. Have you reviewed WELCOME’s grievance policy and procedures?          Yes         No
2. Have you discussed this issue with the staff or volunteer(s) involved?     Yes          No
3. Was there a satisfactory resolution proposed?        Yes          No
In accordance with the grievance procedure adopted by WELCOME, I am submitting this grievance.   I hereby authorize a representative of WELCOME to contact the staff and/or volunteer(s) listed above and discuss my complaint.

Signature:______________________________________          Date __________
Mail original to: WELCOME, c/o Rev. Megan Rohrer, Executive Director, 3201 Ulloa St, San Francisco CA 94116. Mark both sides of the envelope confidential.

Professional Ethics for Welcome Volunteers and Staff

Passed by the Board of Directors in July of 2009

Professional Ethics for Staff and Volunteers
Maintenance of high standards of ethical conduct is a responsibility shared by all members of WELCOME staff and volunteers. WELCOME staff and volunteers agree to adhere to a standard of conduct consistent with the code of ethics established by the WELCOME. Staff and volunteers are required to sign the Accountability For Ethical Conduct Form and to promptly provide notice to the Executive Director of any complaint of unethical or felonious conduct made against them in a civil, criminal, ecclesiastical, employment, or another professional organization's forum.
Any WELCOME staff and volunteers may invoke grievance process when a staff or volunteer’s conduct, inside or outside their professional work involves an alleged abuse of power or authority, involves an alleged felony, or is the subject of civil action or discipline in another forum when any of these impinge upon the ability of a member to function effectively and credibly in their professional capacity.
  1. In relationship to those served, WELCOME staff and volunteers:
    1. affirm and respect the human dignity and individual worth of each person.
    2. do not discriminate against anyone because of perceived, expressed or actual race, gender, age, faith group, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.
    3. respect the integrity and welfare of those served or supervised, refraining from disparagement and avoiding emotional exploitation, sexual exploitation, or any other kind of exploitation.
    4. approach the religious convictions of all people with respect and sensitivity.
    5. respect confidentiality to the extent permitted by law, regulations or other applicable rules.
  2. In relation to groups and institutions, WELCOME staff and volunteers:
    1. maintain good standing in WELCOME.
    2. abide by the professional practice and/or teaching standards of the state, the community, the congregation and the institution in which they are employed. If, for any reason they are not free to practice or teach according to conscience, they shall notify the Executive Director.
    3. maintain professional relationships with other persons in WELCOME, and the faith community in which employed and/or the community.
    4. do not directly or by implication claim professional qualifications that exceed actual qualifications or misrepresent their affiliation with any institution, organization or individual; are responsible for correcting the misrepresentation or misunderstanding of their professional qualifications or affiliations.
  3. In relation to WELCOME, members:
    1. continue professional education and growth, including participation in the meetings and affairs of WELCOME.
    2. avoid using knowledge, position or professional association to secure unfair personal advantage; do not knowingly permit their services to be used by others for purposes inconsistent with the ethical standards of WELCOME; or use affiliation with WELCOME for purposes that are not consistent with WELCOME standards.
    3. speak on behalf of WELCOME or represent the official position of WELCOME only as authorized by the board of directors.
    4. do not make intentionally false, misleading or incomplete statements about their work or ethical behavior when questioned by colleagues.
  4. In collegial relationships, WELCOME staff and volunteers:
    1. respect the integrity and welfare of colleagues; maintain professional relationships on a professional basis, refraining from disparagement and avoiding emotional, sexual or any other kind of exploitation.
    2. take collegial and responsible action when concerns about incompetence, impairment or misconduct arise.
  5. In conducting business matters, WELCOME staff and volunteers members:
    1. carry out administrative responsibilities in a timely and professional manner.
    2. implement sound fiscal practices, maintain accurate financial records and protect the integrity of funds entrusted to their care.
    3. distinguish private opinions from those of WELCOME, their faith community or profession in all publicity, public announcements or publications 
    4.  accurately describe WELCOME.  All public statements, especially those in correspondence, publications, newsletters, and advertising shall be accurate.