Hundreds Attend Forum on “HomeFULLness”

On Saturday, April 28, the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County partnered with several local agencies, including Associated Ministries, to host 300 members of our community at a unique forum addressing homelessness. Entitled “Facing Pierce County Homelessness: Creating HomeFULLness,” the event was designed to explore not only what is currently happening but also what else could potentially be done to address this community crisis.

A wide range of information and perspectives were provided by 47 participating speakers and moderators, including four members of the Associated Ministries staff; Raphael Hartman, Klarissa Monteros and Valorie Crout presented in the session on Racial Inequity in Homelessness, and Mike Yoder shared during a panel that addressed Coordination of Services.

Among the conclusions reached by participants at the forum:

  • The public needs education about homelessness, who is experiencing homelessness and why.
  • Increased coordination among the jurisdictions in Pierce County is needed to achieve consistent data and policies and priorities for programming and funding.
  • The gap between what is available and what is needed in affordable housing and supportive housing must be filled to address this problem. The private sector will not respond without changes to their financial and regulatory environment because affordable housing is currently not a profitable undertaking.
  • Since the cost of emergency responses to homelessness is three times the cost of providing housing, it is cost-effective to provide housing as quickly as possible.

Associated Ministries is honored to participate in these informative community gatherings, and also to do our part to continue convening those who desire to make a difference for those experiencing homelessness. Our next Community Quarterly Meeting will be held on Thursday, June 21, 5:00-7:00 pm at Shiloh Baptist Church in Tacoma; attendees at this gathering will hear important updates, learn about resources and work together to help end homelessness.  Plan now to join us!

Awards Given at AM’s Volunteer Luncheon

Keeping dreams alive.  How do we do that at AM?  Through the generosity of the hundreds of volunteers who walk alongside us.  On May 9th, we were honored to have many of the volunteers and partners who help us build stronger communities join us for our first Keeping Dreams Alive luncheon.

AM Board President Rev. Dr. Eric Jackson and Michele Cotton, AM’s Development Coordinator

The purpose of the luncheon, graciously hosted by Temple Beth El, was to award a few of the many nominated individuals and organizations that have helped us make a difference in our community.

Award winners were:

Community Partner: Gray Lumber
Gray Lumber is a company who, since 1903, has been helping people in need throughout Pierce County.  Their commitment to the community is the same today as it was four generations ago.  Thanks to their on-going support, and dedication of thousands of volunteer, over 2,200 low-income homeowners have homes that have been painted through our program, Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful.

Faith Partner: Bethlehem Baptist Church
As a faith community that exemplifies what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself”, Bethlehem Baptist Church has been a strong presence in our community. Through their work to give safe shelter to those in need, hosting interfaith events, encouraging others to come alongside the most vulnerable among us, they have continually showed how to unite people of faith to build stronger communities and are truly, keeping dreams alive for all members of Pierce County.

Melinda Huish & Karin Van Vlack

Group of the Year: Melinda Huish and Karin Van Vlack

“It won’t take too much time”…the words that brought our Group of the Year recipients, a duo, together as they co-created the inaugural Interfaith Women’s Conference, a first of its kind in Pierce County.  This gathering enabled hundreds of women from many different faith backgrounds to come together to learn about one another, come together in community, and hopefully come away with a new perspective and open heart to people of all faiths.  It is through their selfless dedication (to the tune of a couple of thousand volunteer hours) that this event was a success and has created a movement to engage more women of different faiths to come together. 

Individual of the Year: Tony Lewis
Over one thousand, seven hundred hours; that is the gift of time Tony has given in service to our community. Coming to us first as a temp at the front desk, then as an intern, he has been giving 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to help in a number of different program areas, including data services and the new Landlord Liaison Program. Through his selfless volunteer service, many more people are easily helped, finding their way to stability. 

We are grateful to these volunteers, and the hundreds of other people who give of their time and talent.  People like Jim who has been with the program since its beginning in 1985, Riki, Marty, Roy, John and many others who have donated hundreds of hours each for Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful.  Volunteers are the backbone of the program, helping with assessing homes, training new volunteers, and of course, painting themselves.  Each year it takes hundreds of volunteers to ensure that the people in need of the program can be served.

We are also grateful to our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers including Sherri who has been a site coordinator for 20 years, Michelle, Dawn, Monyneath, and Norman who have made a difference by helping people prepare their taxes.  Through the VITA volunteers’ dedication, including the hours of training and certification by the IRS, millions of dollars that might have gone unclaimed, is helping stabilize households throughout Pierce County.

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of individuals, groups and organizations who are heroes in our eyes.  By giving of their time and talent, and following their passion for helping others, they are deeply engaged in transforming our community, and are definitely keeping dreams alive for people in need. 

Make sure to mark your calendars for Wednesday, May 8, 2019 to join us for our second annual Keeping Dreams Alive luncheon. 


Join Us! Annual Interfaith Iftar Dinner

Come be part of this interfaith dinner, coming together to celebrate the nightly iftar of our Muslim neighbors during the month of Ramadan. This year’s gathering will feature interfaith voices of local young people around ‘Spirituality and Social Justice.’

Download flyer here.

Interfaith Iftar Dinner
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
7:30 p.m. doors open, 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. program & dinner
University of Puget Sound
Upper Marshall Hall, Wheelock Student Center

This meal is free (provided by Pacifica Foundation), but registration is required.  Click on button below to register.

Register Here

Upper Marshall Hall is located in the Wheelock Student Center.  Guests are encouraged to park (no cost) in parking lot P1, which you can enter off of N. Alder Street at its intersection with N. 14th Street.  Please enter through the double doors facing the parking lot; Upper Marshall is just upstairs from that door.  An elevator is also available; please ask our greeters for directions upon your arrival.  Click here for UPS Campus Map – Wheelock Student Center/Upper Marshall Hall.

Co-sponsored by Pacifica Foundation, University of Puget Sound and Associated Ministries.

If you have any questions prior to the event, please feel to contact Sandy Windley at or 253-426-1506.

And the winner is…

…a secret!

At least until they are announced at our Keeping Dreams Alive luncheon on Wednesday, May 9!  There is still time to sign up to attend this inspiring event and meet the nominees who helped us build a stronger community in 2017 and beyond.

We welcome you to join us–and help us honor and thank several of our many amazing volunteers.

These are just a sampling of people who made a difference in the lives of our community neighbors in the following ways:

Made an impact in their community

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Site Coordinators go above and beyond to make sure that low- and moderate-income taxpayers receive high-quality tax prep services free of charge. During the 2018 tax season we had some amazing individuals in that role: Dawn Ault, Monyneath Phy (first year), Michele Johnson (10+ years), Sherri Gordon (20+ years), and Norman Brickhouse who served more than 1,000 people in the last year at Goodwill, our busiest tax site, including post-season tax help through October 2017.

They make an impact on the community by helping low and moderate-income taxpayers and seniors, saving them the average $300 fee that American households spend on tax prep, and helping them get as full a refund as possible. All this to make sure these tax payers become more stable and achieve their goals.

Gave 110% to their cause

AM has been fortunate to have two long-time volunteers coming into the office, Sherry Bernklau and Tony Lewis, who have given beyond 110% to AM!

Sherry Bernklau volunteered in the AM Representative Payee Office for a total of 1,840 hours. As a longtime volunteer, she was involved in helping other volunteers learn the ropes. Later she was involved in the the implementation of a new database system for Associated Ministries.

Sherry has deep insight and great empathy for the clients served in the Representative Payee Office and other programs at AM.  She stands as a role model and a sign of hope to clients. Sherry’s significant gifts in technology and her compassion for people who are vulnerable make her volunteer work with us invaluable.  

Tony Lewis has been coming into the office for 40 hours a week for over a year, has given an extraordinary 1,442 hours to date, and is still volunteering every day each week for 8 hours a day.

He believes in the mission and work he is doing for AM and is committed to helping in any way possible.  Tony has taken on two different projects working with the Database/QA Manager in fulfilling various information system strategic initiatives set by AM Management. Tony has been a vital key to developing the new Landlord Liaison Project Program. 

Opened their hearts, used their voices or lent their muscle to make a difference

We are thankful for the dedication of some our key Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful (PTPB) volunteers. They provide the back-end support that makes PTB possible. They helped us identify and select projects, supported new volunteers, and lent their expertise and insights to improve the program.

Our unending gratitude goes to Marty Cheek, Matt Edwards, John Herem, Rikki McGee, Jim Ofelt, and Roy Kilgore. These volunteers helped us in numerous ways: assessing houses to evaluate their need for painting, helping us select houses for paint projects; evaluating the program and helping us to improve services. Sometimes they led paint crews and painted houses themselves.  By opening their hearts, using their voices and lending their muscle they made a difference for hundreds of low-income homeowners.

Inspired by example

Karin and Melinda worked tirelessly to create and present AM’s first Interfaith Women’s Conference. As a first-time event, the planning and “master-minding” was intense, time-consuming and required a lot of thinking “outside of the box.”  Not only did these two women put crazy hours into this project, they brought a perspective that was unique, honest and fresh.                                                                                        

They inspired us by the example of their working relationship–which turned into a friendship–showing how life-changing it is to take the time to meet someone from a faith outside your own.  Melinda and Karin come from two very different faith traditions.  They worked together, learned from one another, gained a respect for each other’s views, and forged a new friendship!  That is the power of interfaith dialogue!

We hope you will join us as we honor all our volunteers!        

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Temple Beth El

5975 S. 12th., Tacoma

The event is free, but an RSVP is required. Click here to register today!

Community Listening Sessions on Affordable Housing

Download flyer here.

The City of Tacoma is working with its community partners to create a comprehensive action strategy addressing community needs relating to affordable housing.

To help inform this process, the City and its community partners are hosting a series of Community Listening Sessions to understand community members’ experiences surrounding this issue.

Tuesday, May 8th, 6-8pm
Peace Community Center
2106 S. Cushman Ave.
Tacoma, WA  98405

Saturday, May 12th, 4-6pm
Blix Elementary School
1302 E. 38th St.
Tacoma, WA  98404

Contact Carol Wolfe at or 253-591-5384 with questions about these upcoming events.

Open to the Public: AM’s Community Resource Connections Center

by Klarissa Monteros, AM Program Manager

The Community Resource Connections Center (CRCC) is part of Associated Ministries’ Referral and Resource Department. It is overseen by the Referral and Resource Department Team Lead and is staffed by volunteers and interns. This project is a one-stop-shop where people can receive multiple services needed to come out of crisis, reach stability and work towards gaining assets.

Anyone in the community is able to access the CRCC. Current clients of Associated Ministries can receive direct referrals to CRCC from the staff person they are working with. Non-clients wishing to receive CRCC services must meet in person with a Community Resource Connections Center Representative.  CRCC is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and can take walk-ins. Clients can also call 253-383-3056 ext 128 if they would like to schedule an appointment.

Resource and referrals provided focus on bringing people out of crisis, reaching stability and working towards gaining assets. Services include:

  • Support with application process and costs associated with obtaining needed documents for basic employment, education and housing. Documents include but are not limited to birth certificates, identification cards, driver’s license, food handler’s cards and employment licensing (i.e. CNA or CDL license).
  • Referrals to Northwest Furniture Bank for those who may need furniture for their new homes.
  • Access to a variety of community resource connections that can help fill any areas of need. Resources can include but are not limited to DSHS benefits, food bank information, hot meal sites, legal aid, employment training programs, educational opportunities, transportation and utility support, child and youth services, and medical resources.
  • Access to the Stability and Enhancement Fund (SEF) which can provide limited financial support when someone is in need of something that the community does not provide. This is minor financial assistance, for those trying to make ends meet, to prevent one situation from having a trickling effect and leaving a person in crisis.

CRCC is based on the cascade effect model. This model suggests that sometimes there are inevitable and an unforeseen chain of events, that has a domino effect on stability, leaving people in a state of crisis. There are several community resources geared towards bringing people out of crisis but very few that provide support around keeping people stable and out of crisis. CRCC aims to be a resource support for people living through those unforeseen events.

Join Us to Celebrate the Impact of Our Partnership!

Associated Ministries is hosting a new spring gathering to honor our supporters, volunteers and interfaith partners. The program will include a complementary lunch and will highlight the inspiring work we have done together to help keep dreams alive for vulnerable members of our community.

We will celebrate our Community Partner, Faith Community Partner, and Individual volunteer of the year, and share how they have made a difference to others this past year.

AM staff were asked to base their nominations on the following criteria:

  • Makes an impact in their community
  • Thinks of others before themselves
  • Willing to reach out a hand to one
  • Opens their heart, uses their voice or lends their muscle to make a difference
  • Gives 110% to their cause
  • Creates opportunities for those in need
  • Inspires hope
  • Inspire by example
  • Is inclusive
  • Goes above and beyond in their service

We are humbled by the stories shared regarding how all the nominees have affected our community! It will be honor to celebrate all nominees at this first time event.

Please join us to celebrate transformed lives on Wednesday, May 9, 11:30 am-1:00 pm at Temple Beth El, 5975 S. 12th St., Tacoma. An RSVP is required by visiting THIS LINK.

And to further entice you, we will also have a some raffle items at the event at just $5 per ticket.  Prizes include “A Year in Bloom” from Stadium Thriftway, a fun basket of goodies from Frisko Freeze, and more!  Please contact Michele Cotton at with any questions.

Tiki Apartment Volunteer Opportunity / Adopt an Apartment

We are looking for a volunteer(s) to be grouped in teams of approximately 4 people to be matched with a Tiki Apartment unit needing assistance with packing and/or moving.  

If you are of able body, have access to trucks, and/or can be on an on-call basis, please take the following action:

The Process

  1.  We want to keep our tenants safe.  Fill out a very quick & easy background check via the Associated Ministries website.  This takes less than 3 minutes and is very easy.  Information you will need to provide:
       First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name
       Maiden Name and/or any alias, if applicable
       Date of Birth (careful, many people get on automatic when filling out the form and    enter 2018)

2.  Once the background check clears, Associated Ministries will forward your contact information to the organizers:
Wendy Engen
Mary Verd

3.  Volunteers may sign up to be matched with a team of approximately 4 to help pack and/or move. Please indicate your preference.  Packing and moving dates may be differ (based on how much needs to be packed and availability of moving vehicles.

4.  As tenants become ready for their unit to be Adopted for either packing and/or moving assistance, Wendy or Mary will reach out to you to facilitate an introduction and begin the process of setting up logistics.

Keep In Mind

Tenants are still in process of securing affordable housing, so the need unfolds in real time and can be a challenge to estimate date of volunteer need, hence requesting Volunteer On Call status.  We endeavor to work together to find suitable day/times for all involved.

Tiki Apartments are a total of 60 units.  30 units to be vacated by end of April; the other 30 vacated by end of May.  All units are in a variety of ever changing status and capturing real time needs change quickly.  Many do not have email addresses or limited phone access to communicate, but nonetheless, we move through these challenges and ask for your patience and flexibility.  

If you have read through this call to action for volunteers, thank you for caring for the vulnerable in our community.  Please join in this effort.  Your precious hours of volunteering will make the difference to someone else in need. 

Reminder:  There is power in contributing & sharing:

If you would like to donate but not through the GoFundMe site, feel free to send a check with “Tiki” in the memo line to:
   Associated Ministries 
   901 S. 13th Street 
   Tacoma, WA 98405

Thank you for your care and contributions!  

Resources to Protect Your Faith Community

The world we live in can often be divisive, scary and unpredictable.  None of us like to think that a horrific event would happen in our neighborhood, at our schools, at our place of worship.  But they could, which is why it’s so very important to be prepared and have a plan.

FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security have put togehter a comprehensive resource list around planning, training and testing a security plan for your faith community.  To learn more, go to

Additionally, Associated Ministries has created a practical tool to enable local faith leaders to support one other during a time of crisis. Through our emergency response alert system, a text message will be sent in the rare event that a local faith community is threatened with a hate crime or violence and is asking for other communities of faith to lend support. To join the Pierce County Faith Leaders’ Emergency Response Network, text the keyword PCFAITHRESPONSE to 80123 and you will be automatically subscribed.

For more information contact Sandy at AM at (253) 426-1506 or email

Results of 2018 Homeless Count Released

Each year, Pierce County’s Human Services Department participates in a nationwide effort to determine how many people are experiencing homelessness within each community; this effort is called the “Point-in-Time” (PIT) Count. On January 28, 2018, Pierce County conducted its annual PIT Count, a process that enables participants to talk with people and learn more about their homelessness. This year 1,628 homeless persons were counted on that one night within our County.


The PIT Count is a snapshot that captures the characteristics and situations of people living here without a home. The PIT Count includes both sheltered individuals (temporarily living in emergency shelters or transitional housing) and unsheltered individuals (those sleeping outside or living in places that are not meant for human habitation).


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Washington State Department of Commerce require communities to conduct these one-day counts annually. The information is collected to design and fund programs that help people re-establish housing and access support services to keep their housing.


The PIT Count happens the last Friday of every January, and is carried out by volunteers who interview people and ask where they slept the night before, where their last residence was located, what may have contributed to their loss of housing, and disabilities the individual may have. It also asks how long the individual has been homeless, age and demographics, and whether the person is a veteran and/or a survivor of domestic violence. This year, more than 300 volunteers fanned out across Pierce County, talking with people in places like encampments, overnight and day shelters, meal sites, libraries, and special events like Project Homeless Connect. Perhaps you volunteered; if so, thank you very much!


The County made some changes to the process this year. They counted people during the early hours of the morning—from 1:00 am to 5:00 am. They included an observation count of people in encampments who preferred not to participate in a survey. And they replaced their old paper surveys with a mobile app that gave them real-time, consistent data entry. These changes resulted in a more accurate picture of homelessness in our County.


Like all surveys, the PIT Count has limitations. Results from the Count are influenced by the weather, by availability of overflow shelter beds, by the number of volunteers, and by the level of engagement of the people being interviewing. Comparisons from year to year should be done with those limitations in mind.


Please visit the County’s PIT Count website to view an infographic and presentation highlighting this year’s results, and to explore the full dataset.

1 2 3 31