Past Programs

HOI 3rd Monday Meetings and other events:


Karen Lowe of Simpatico was the featured speaker at our March 2017 meeting. Simpatico is a community minded business, for the purpose of providing life skills correlated within Emotional Intelligence, key to mental health awareness and understanding. For more information, visit their website – SIMPATICO

Jamie Hansen of Family Advocates was our featured speaker at our April 2016 meeting. Family Advocates is a a private, independent 501 (c)(3) non-profit agency founded in 1978 and serving 10 counties in southwest Idaho. They work to strengthen families and keep kids safe by empowering everyday people to protect and enrich the lives of youth. Programs include Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Home Visiting, Parents Anonymous, and Baby Steps. For more info on this program, visit their website: Family Advocates

The featured speakers at HOI’s March 2016 meeting were a Public defender from Canyon County and a former inmate, both talking about the need for criminal justice reform in Idaho. The former inmate detailed his experience in being tagged with multiple charges, many of crimes he didn’t commit, and then being pressured to accept a plea deal on at least some of the charges, to get a break. The public defender talked about how common this practice – piling on charges – is in Idaho, resulting in prison overcrowding, as minor offenders are often pushed into the prison system. After prison, the probation/parole system is designed to often hinder any sense of rehabilitation and reintegration, resulting in repeat incarcerations, which are too often for mere technical violations. Also after prison, former inmates become burdened with insurmountable debt, as they must pay for the supervision, and for any court required, tests, classes, or other legal requirements. Unnecessary felony charges attached to minor, non-violent offenses further diminish a former inmates chances of settling into a productive life. Public defenders do what they can to advocate, but unfortunately they are under-funded and understaffed – another common problem in Idaho. As a result, those who cannot afford a private attorney are far more likely to end up with a felony conviction and a prison sentence for a minor, nonviolent crime. Idaho needs to start looking at ways to help minor offenders stay out of prison, rather than creating rules and practices that fill jails and prisons to capacity. Partly to blame is the concept of for-profit prisons, like what Idaho had until just recently, because a for-profit system needs inmates as their means of generating profit. Each inmate is money in the bank. Minor offenders and taxpayers both pay dearly for this type of Justice system. Instead, Idaho should pursue a model that reduces prison population, lowers the tax burden, and doesn’t encourage a hopeless cycle of re-incarceration.

New Approach Idaho presented at HOI’s November, 2015 meeting. Their purpose is to promote the legalization of cannabis in Idaho, especially oils used in medical treatments. Given that polls show a majority of Idahoans favor legalizing medical Marijuana, it is difficult to understand why our legislature, and governor, are so opposed. Another goal of New Approach is to at least decriminalize recreational use, so that we can stop filling our prisons with non-violent marijuana users. For more information on their efforts, visit their website at: New Approach Idaho

The featured speaker at our July HOI meeting was Jessie Berner of the International Rescue Committee.  Jessie is a medical case worker for IRC, helping refugees meet their medical needs.  The IRC in Boise provides newly arrived refugees with social services, medical case management, job readiness classes and job placement, women and youth programs and a host of other activities to support refugee well-being and integration into the Boise community.  To date, the IRC in Boise has resettled nearly 1,000 refugees into Boise coming from Afghanistan, Burma, Bhutan, Burundi, Iraq, Sudan, Congo, Uzbekistan, Russia, Somalia and a host of other countries. Refugees bring with them a desire to build a new life along with a wealth of cultural and linguistic diversity that adds to the richness of the Boise community.  The IRC is looking for both volunteers and donations to help refugees integrate into the community.  For more info on IRC Boise, and how you can help out, visit their website at:

The featured speaker at our June 2015 meeting was Karen Ellis of Boise Farmer’s Market.  BFM is a Community Marketplace where local food and agricultural products are available year round, and where the community can learn about, and become engaged in, food system issues.  BFM is a catalyst and incubator for local, food related activities in the region, and works to build community self reliance. This outdoor marketplace can be found at 10th and Grove on Saturdays, from 9 AM to 1 PM.  Their magazine, “Edible Idaho”, is a feature of the local farmers and food artisans that vend at BFM.  Businesses that rely almost entirely on local products, like Bittercreek Ale House and Red Feather Lounge, are promoted by BFM.  To encourage, educate, and inspire children toward healthier eating, BFM has a program called “Kid’s Sprouts Club”, for ages 5-12, to the ultimate purpose of creating an interactive better understanding of where food comes from.  Kids receive a “Passport to Health”, a Sprouts tote bag, and tokens that they can use to purchase their own choices of fruits, vegetables, or food bearing plants to grow themselves.  For more information on The Boise Farmer’s Market, visit their website at

The featured speaker at our May 2015 meeting was Sue Philley of Transform Idaho.  TransForm Idaho is a nonprofit educational organization united to inform, support, and promote effective communication between voters and elected officials through direct contact and social media.  They sponsors forums, seminars, and other events, and promote progressive synergy with like-minded individuals and organizations.  They believe accurate information and active engagement about issues better prepare us all for more effective communication with our elected representatives and encourage more responsive, more responsible government at all levels.  They encourage programs and policies that improve the quality of life at all levels, for all people in Idaho.   Transform Idaho, acting as a legislative watchdog, has many goals which parallel the efforts of Humanists of Idaho.  For more information about this group, visit

Sabra Haney, a death investigator with the Ada County Coroner’s office, was our featured speaker in April 2015.  She gave a very enlightening talk, not only about death investigation (real CSI stuff), but also about how we, as humans, deal with death – unspoken rules, roles, and cultural inhibitions – especially how we view death of humans so very differently than we view death of all other animals, often wrapping something so very natural up in a package of mysticism and wishful thinking.  Why is it so hard for humans to accept human death for what it is: A natural, and inevitable, consequence of life itself.

Linda Martin was the featured speaker at our January 2015 meeting. She is pressing for legislation that would remove the religious shield laws that protect parents who, for religious reasons, deny their children any and all medical care, and often allow their children to die of easily treatable/curable diseases. The death rate among children in these households is frighteningly high, and parents cannot be prosecuted for preventing their children from receiving urgent and necessary, life saving, medical treatment. For more information on this legislative effort, go to Idaho Children .

Dr Martin Seidenfeld, Ph.D., from Final Exit Network, was our featured speaker at our November 2014 meeting. Final exit counsels the terminally ill on a range of relevant issues, the most important being suicide for those wishing to end their own life, on their own terms, rather than endure an extended period of suffering and pointless existence. Their guiding principle is: “We hold that mentally competent adults who suffer from a fatal or irreversible physical illness, from intractable physical pain, or from a constellation of chronic, progressive physical disabilities have a basic human right to choose to end their lives when they judge the quality of their life to be unacceptable.” For more information on this crucial service, you can go to their website: Final Exit Network

Samantha Parrish of the Idaho Humane Society was the featured speaker at our August 2014 meeting. She told us about the many services offered by IHS, including veterinary services, spay and neuter clinics, animal adoptions, and the pet food pantry, which works like a food bank, providing pet food to owners who are struggling financially. In the near future, IHS will be building a new shelter on Overland near Maple Grove, complete with enclosed play area for shelter animals and a public dog park for the community to use. If you are interested in donating time or money, or would like more information on their services, drop in at their website: Idaho Humane Society

The featured speaker for July, 2014 was Evelyn Johnson, executive director of the Lee Pesky Learning Center. Their mission is to help people with learning disabilities through prevention, evaluation, treatment and research. They also help with teacher training, early childhood education, and parent outreach. For more information about the Lee Pesky Learning Center, drop by their website: Lee Pesky Learning Center

Our featured speaker for March, 2014 was Jimmy Hallyburton of the Boise Bicycle Project. BBP is a community oriented, non-profit, bicycle cooperative that promotes the personal, social, and environmental benefits of bicycling. BBP is a bicycle recycling center, as well as an educational workspace in a diverse and non-threatening atmosphere. Through education and access to inexpensive, reliable bicycles, they hope to build a stronger bicycling community. As part of their service, they provide tools and workspace to members, so that bicyclists can learn to service and maintain their bikes themselves. For more info on BBP, visit their website at: Boise Bicycle Project

Carolyn Failla of Time Bank Idaho was our featured speaker at our August meeting. Time Bank is similar to an old fashioned barter system, but with a modern twist. A person “banks” or “deposits” their hours by providing services to others. When they need something, they essentially “withdraw” time through others providing them services. Hours “banked” are considered equal, regardless of service performed. An hour of weeding a garden is equal to an hour of plumbing repair or physics tutoring. For more information on Time Bank Idaho, visit their website at TIME BANK IDAHO

Yasmin Aguilar of Agency for New Americans was the featured speaker at our July, 2013 meeting.  She gave us an overview of the process of relocating, helping, educating, and normalizing refugees as they make the transition from a world of despair and death to a world of hope and possibility.  Primary goals include teaching them English, helping them secure housing and community services, and guiding them toward self-sufficiency.  For more information on ANA, visit their website at ANA Idaho .

Matthew Van Kirk of Boise Pride addressed HOI at our May 2013 meeting.  Pride’s main purpose is promoting acceptance and equality through community building events, like the annual PRIDE festival.  Matthew spoke about the gains of the last two decades, and also of the work still needing done.  Eleven states now recognize gay marriage, so the dominoes are starting to fall.  Much like the Civil rights movement of the 1960s, the move toward acceptance and equality, of this often maligned minority, is a slow process requiring great measures of persistence and political action.   For more information on Boise Pride, check out their website at:

Our March 2013 speaker was Greg Kaltenecker of the Idaho Bird Observatory.  IBO is a non-profit research unit of Boise State University. Their mission is to contribute to the conservation of western migratory landbirds through cooperative research and public education.  For more information visit their website at

Alea Sando, a registered Nurse with 30 years in the field, spoke to our group in January 2013 about the history of Hospice care, how it has developed and improved over the decades, and the challenges hospice care faces in the current economy and unavoidable government cutbacks.  For more info on Hospice or pallative care:

Judy Gabert from SPAN Idaho spoke at HOI’s October 2012 meeting.  SPAN (Suicide Prevention Action Network) has taken on the daunting task of suicide intervention and prevention in a state that grossly underfunds programs for suicide prevention.  Idaho has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, while funding for prevention is in the bottom five.  SPAN is in need of both donations and volunteers.   To donate, volunteer, or get more information, visit their website at:

Our June 2012 meeting featured Jim Williams of Alternatives to Violence . This project, begun as a training and reeducation tool for prison inmates, is being expanded to reach out to at risk peoples and groups in the community. Most recently, they are looking into projects in schools, to the goal of addressing the circle and culture of violence that often begins early in life.

Our April 2012 meeting featured speakers from Dunia Marketplace, a Boise area non profit that specializes in fair trade goods from around the world, creating a direct market for artisans and educational opportunities for their families and communities. Dunia means “world ” and “life” in multiple world languages, an appropriate name for this endeavor. The items sold at Dunia are often made of things we would normally discard, like old newspapers, magazines, plastics, broken glass, and even bullet casings. Third world artisans also use natural materials such as grasses, woods, and fruit peels. Products ranging from baskets and mats, to rugs and containers, to art, jewelry, and even food items (coffee and chocolate, yum) are of amazing quality and detail. And the best part is that buying fair trade goods translates into better living conditions for people in some of the most impoverished areas of the world. Drop by Dunia at 1609 N 13th (Hyde Park business district) or visit Dunia’s Facebook Page for more details. You will be glad you did.

We did not have a program or presenter in March, 2012. Instead, we walked from the Flicks Theater where we meet, to the Capitol building, to add our presence and voices to the overwhelming opposition to the proposed Ultrasound Bill. Sometimes a little political activism is necessary to rein in legislative bodies that attempt to make a wrong turn.

The September 2011 HOI meeting featured a presentation from the Idaho Human Rights Education Center (IHREC). In addition to their crowning local achievement – the Anne Frank Memorial on 8th, at the river – they have new programs involving student contact exchanges between Idaho and many foreign countries, including Turkey, Japan, Israel, Jordan, and Bosnia. Idaho students visit their countries, while foreign students visit Idaho, but more importantly students on both sides communicate regularly via computer, while still at home. Small rural school districts have been linked to some very interesting world partners, to the goal of enhancing mutual understanding and tolerance of very different cultures. If you would like to know more about this worthwhile charity, visit the IHREC website

The Program at our July 2011 meeting was Create Common Good, a group that provides training and employment assistance to refugees and others in need. They also provide community garden space for volunteers to grow food and provide food training. For more information this group and their local activities, visit their website at

At our June meeting, Adrienne Smith filled us in on the services and challenges of the Idaho Food Bank. In 2011, the Food Bank is expected to exceed 12 million pounds of food distributed, including a weekend backpack program for school age children, to supplement children who depend on school meals programs. While demand is greater than ever before, the tough economic times have strained resources. Distributions are up by a third this year, while volunteer and food drive numbers are down. Treasure Valley’s top chefs will be hosting a premier fine dining event called “A Chef’s Affaire” on September 29th to benefit the Food Bank. Leroy Bell will be the featured entertainer. It should be an interesting evening of fine dining and good music. For more information on Idaho Food Bank benefits or programs, check out their website at

Paula Campbell of NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Health) was our presenter at our May 2011 meeting.  For three decades, NAMI has established itself as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in NAMI’s mission by grassroots advocates have produced profound changes. NAMI’s greatest strength is the dedication of our grassroots leaders and members – the families, friends and individuals that serve to strengthen communities across the country. For more information on NAMI, visit the NAMI Website.

Valerie James of “Ride For Joy” was the presenter at our April 3011 meeting. They are a non-profit group specializing in therapeutic riding for children (ages4-19), specifically equine therapy, helping children with special needs within the goals of enhancing physical, cognitive, and emotional well being; advancing life skills development; fostering independence; and improving quality of life. Learning to control the horse builds confidence and communication, while the rhythm of riding stimulates neural pathways. Equine therapy has been shown to be especially beneficial to autistic children. For more information on Ride for Joy, visit their website at Ride For Joy

The HOI meeting on March 28th featured Mady Rothchild of AIDA (Animals In Distress Association). She brought a baby bat with her, for show and tell. I had no idea they were so soft and furry. A real departure from the stereotypical bat we all have seen in the movies. AIDA is an organized wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization founded in 1987. They help, on average, about 3000 injured, orphaned, and displaced wild animals annually. An important component of AIDA is education – teaching humans how to coexist with wildlife. For more information on AIDA and their mission, visit their website:
Idaho Wildlife Rescue

Kurt Alderman of Life’s Kitchen presented to our group at the February 2011 meeting. This organization is dedicated to transforming the lives of at risk young adults (age @ 16-20) by building self sufficiency and independence through comprehensive food service and life skills training. Not only do they teach jobs skills and help them find employment, but they also teach things like basic financial literacy, communication, and writing. The program offers transferable high school credits through the Boise School District, to help achieve a diploma or GED, and help with college enrollment. Half of Life’s Kitchen’s funding is achieved through their training businesses – Food Contracts to businesses, catering, and their Café at 1025 Capitol Blvd, near Boise State. The other half of their budget comes from grants, foundations, and donations. For anyone that would like to experience an unusual and incredible lunch (hours are 11:30-1, T-F) and do a good deed for the community at the same time, drop in on the Life’s Kitchen Café. You will be treated like a VIP. Find out more about Life’s Kitchen at: Life’s Kitchen

Dan Barker, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) was a guest speaker on Nov 5, 2010. He chronicled his journey from Christian minister to Atheist activist. The lecture was followed by a question and answer session. There were many in the audience from out of town, including a group from Twin Falls. Afterwards, Dan joined leaders of BSSSA (Boise State Secular Student Alliance) and HOI (Humanists of Idaho) for dinner at Table Rock Grill. Check out FFRF at:

October 2010’s highlight was AHA President David Niose’s visit on October 8th. David first address was at BSU, on the topic of Humanism and Sexuality, addressing many contemporary issues with analysis of differing viewpoints and methodologies, plus comparisons to same from other countries. David co-authored a work called “Teen Sex: The Holy versus Humanistic approach. His 2nd talk at BUUF, titled “Why Humanism”, focused on the social and political significance of Humanism in the modern world. Outside the two events, David shared some insights with Paul and I over lunch. He welcomed everyone to follow him on Facebook. David’s wife joined us for dinner that evening, as did several members of Secular Idaho.

Allison and Kaylynn from Early Childhood Education (ECE) gave a presentation on their organization at the HOI August 2010 meeting. This organization raises funds to provide scholarships and incentives to educate future teachers in the field of early childhood education and keep them in Idaho, as well as provide for early childhood learning, itself. For more information on this new education organization, visit their website: ECCL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>