Reinventing Yourself To Get The Most Out Of Retirement

Are you newly or long-time retired? Do you find yourself missing parts of your old job, and/or parts of yourself, now that you’re retired? The Greater Niles Village is starting a weekly peer group for people like you (and me). As a group we will provide suggestions, support, and a testing place for new ideas. We will explore things like: What would you like more/less of in your retired life? The first informational meeting will be held at Niles Discovery Church in the fellowship hall, Thursday, October 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. We will decide as a group the best time for future meetings. For more information, please call John Zlatnik (510) 378-1162.

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Maintaining Our Facilities

As we get ready to renew our pledges for the coming year, the Ministry of Property (MOP) and the Finance Committee (FC) thought you might be interested in how much it takes just to maintain our properties. Here are some figures broken down to monthly averages for the last three years.

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Jeff’s Jottings

Peter, a colleague, shared a story with us. He and his wife were not long married when they attended the wedding of some friends. They decided to give their friends a lovely picnic basket – one of the three identical picnic baskets they received when they were married. They didn’t realize that at the bottom of the picnic basket they gave was the tag that had been on the gift when they unwrapped it: “To Peter and Susan.”


Peter and Susan’s relationship with their friends changed forever on that day, and not for the better. Regifting, Peter said, can be risky.

I think that’s true most of the time, but definitely not always. In fact, there is one whole category of gifts we are called to regift: the gifts we receive from God.

As we approach our annual fall pledge campaign (sometimes called our stewardship drive), I am thinking about money. We can think of our financial resources as “earned,” and while that is true in some ways, they are also a gift. God blesses our lives with all kinds of bounty including financial, with the idea that we can and should share it, that we can and should regift it.

Of course, this is true about all God’s gifts, not just financial. God gives us 24 hours each day, hoping that we’ll use about a third of them for renewing our bodies and minds as we sleep. The other 16 are to use in relationship – with our families, with our neighbors, and with God. That makes sense when you remember that Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with your whole being and your neighbor as yourself.

At various stages of our lives, we receive various talents and skills that we are called to share in some way or another, empowering that sharing with love. I was in the Post Office the other day and in front of me in line was an eight-month old in her mother’s arms. The way she watched the world around her and smiled when we caught each other’s eyes what a gift to me, drawing me into her wonder and joy. It was completely natural for her to share her talent with the group in the line.

There’s no shortage of reasons for why we give. Sometimes it’s for the sake of reputation, or as part of a competition, or out of loyalty, or out of a sense of guilt. Sometimes it’s a tax deduction, or a sense of solidarity, or a passion for a cause, or some inner satisfaction that inspires us.

I look forward to hearing from our five church members about their motivations, about what encourages them to be devoted to generosity. I hope you do, too.

In addition to the four sermon/conversations, our pledge campaign will include an introductory letter about the campaign and a letter in late October with a pledge form. For those of you on our email lists, there will be some emails during the month.

It all culminates on November 3 – All Saints Sunday and Pledge Sunday. Worship will be followed by a lunch (a baked potato bar; watch for details).

I hope you will learn and grow from this new approach to our pledge campaign.

Pastor Jeff

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Congregation adopts “Just Peace Covenant”

At a brief Special Congregational Meeting on Sunday, September 15, adopted a Just Peace Covenant, making Niles Discovery Church the newest Just Peace congregation in the United Church of Christ. September 15 happened to be Just Peace Sunday in the United Church of Christ’s worship calendar.

You can read the final text of the covenant on our church website at

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All About M.E.

By Jim Thomas

Getting through the project of setting up a Housing Navigation Center was brutal. I knew there would be pushback, but the intensity of the emotional outcry was immense. While I recognized that the opposition was fearful of what might happen, many of them stooped to vilifying the homeless as violent predatory criminals. Working with the homeless for over 10 years, I have never met anyone who gave me cause to be worried, so hearing how some people think of our homeless neighbors was heartbreaking.

If nothing else, this project made me even more sensitive to the plight of the homeless. Last Friday, I went to Kentucky Fried Chicken to get dinner for my family because it was too hot to cook. When I got there, there was a homeless person laying on the sidewalk nearby. As I passed him, I said hello and asked how he was doing. He didn’t respond. Once inside, I decided that I would add to my order a two-piece meal for him. When I came out, he was gone. Then I remembered the lady who takes her cart and sets up a lean-to by Denny’s on Mowry (and when rousted, she will set up across the street, or around the corner). I decided to see if she was there and give her the meal. I have been meaning to stop by to say hello, and now was my chance. I found her across the street with two other homeless people. I apologized to them for not bringing more food, but they seemed happy that I brought something for at least one of them. It was apparent that I wasn’t the only person to bring food (which lifted my spirits).

Despite not bringing enough food for all three, they were friendly and appreciative. After bidding them farewell and setting forth for home, I hoped that the people that were passing by had noticed me (or anyone who brought food and fellowship). I hoped that I was a role model to the onlookers.

My daughter, when she was attending Culinary Academy in San Francisco some time ago, she had to walk past several homeless people to get to class. She would always smile and say hello. She says she got that from me. I hadn’t realized how much influence my casual actions towards the homeless shaped her perspective, and I came to realize how powerful it is to be a role-model. I now believe giving food to this homeless woman will have a positive impact on those who witnessed it. What a wonderful and positive way to affect change in attitudes this small action has become. Still, that’s all about M.E., so how about we make it all about you?

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Lies, Damned Lies and the Internet

Melanie Eldredge, of Salt Lake City, asks:

Donald Trump recently claimed that noise from wind turbines causes cancer. In this era of fake news and misinformation about climate change, what can EDF members do to ensure the truth prevails?

Eric Pooley, EDF senior VP for strategy and communication responds:

Thanks for asking; this is just so important – and everyone really can play a role.

The first thing we can all do is make sure we’re not contributing to the problem. I think most of us have probably shared something on social media that turned out to be false. The key is to verify before you share. If it’s a news item consider the source – if it didn’t come from a place you know and trust, do a quick Google search. If it’s a video, be extra careful, because it could be edited or digitally manipulated to “show” something that simply didn’t happen. These days, we literally cannot believe our eyes.

Next, learn the difference between misinformation, disinformation and malinformation. Misinformation is simply false, sometimes by mistake. Disinformation is false on purpose – intended to deceive and do harm. And malinformation includes materials that may be partially true (leaked emails, for example) but are spread to damage reputations and sway public opinion.

According to the watchdog organization First Draft News, all three categories are deployed by bad actors who use social media and other digital channels to spread lies, doubt and confusion on environmental and other issues. At first, it may be hard to tell which category any given piece of fake news falls into. But the key to digital literacy is understanding that the wild, outrageous, super-sharable story that just popped up in your feed likely didn’t get there by accident. Someone with any ugly agenda … put it there.

As digital strategist Melissa Ryan has written, “Trolls look to sow division. They win by dividing us against one another.” Presenting a united front by Refusing to spread fake news is our best defense.

“Solidarity with one another,” says Ryan, “makes it more difficult for the attacks to succeed.”

Copyright © 2019 Environmental Defense Fund. Used by permission. The original material is available at on page 19.

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Mobile Hygiene Unit

The Clean Start program began September 17, 2019. This is the program that takes a mobile hygiene unit to different places in Fremont to provide the homeless a place to shower and do laundry. It consists of three sets of washer/dryers for laundry, and two shower stations, one of which is ADA compliant. This unit is self-contained, with its own generator, a 500-gallon water tank, and a 500-gallon waste tank. The facility will be brought to a site for a morning session, then move to a second site for an afternoon session. There are five sites targeted for this, so each site will host two sessions on different days each week. Insurance will be covered by the City.

Each session can provide laundry service for up to nine people and enable up to 12 people to take showers. Wednesday and Friday afternoons (12:00-5:00 p.m.) have been selescted for our sessions. Those dates have either no facility use or being used by a small group of people. Volunteers to manage this program will be selected via

The unit will take up 16 parking spaces on the north side of the main parking lot, just past the handicapped parking. Please adjust your parking accordingly to accommodate the space needed.

            After this program has been operational for a couple of months, the plan is to roll out other services for the homeless. A partial list of these programs includes:

  1.  “Sidewalk Talk” ministry table operated by Joy Barnitz
  2. Hair Cuts
  3. Physical check-up
  4. Dental check-up
  5. Vision check-up
  6. Counselling
  7. Clothing Exchange
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