Martin Luther King, Jr., Redeeming the Prophetic Vision

Martin Luther King, Jr., Redeeming the Prophetic Vision
Sunday, January 14, 2018
2:30pm – 4:00pm
Urban Grace Church

Sunday, January 14, 2018 will mark the 12th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Redeeming the Prophetic Vision.  This all volunteer-organized interfaith community event is brought to the community by The Conversation in partnership with Associated Ministries and Urban Grace Church. 

We seek to honor Dr. King’s radical call for peace and justice for all people by helping our community to shine the light of his vision on our current local, national, and global situation; re-imagine unity across difference; renew our shared commitment to the path of social justice; and reconnect with peace and justice activists and advocates across our community.

As part of our efforts to fulfill these goals, we offer a distinctive community event that is intergenerational, multi-ethnic, and participatory, including: blessings from multiple faith and wisdom traditions, spoken word and music addressing civil rights and justice themes, and messages from Dr. Dexter Gordon and other local voices on how to extend Dr. King’s radical vision through individual and community action.

Join The Conversation, Urban Grace Church, and Associated Ministries at Redeeming the Prophetic Vision 2018.  Bring your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 2:30pm.  Urban Grace Church (corner of 9th & Market) in downtown Tacoma.  Plan to “fill a row” at Urban Grace!


AM Community Quarterly Meeting a Huge Success!

by Valorie Crout, Chief Program Officer, Associated Ministries
In 2017 Associated Ministries began convening Community Quarterly Meetings in partnership with other homeless and housing service providers working in Pierce County, with the goal of creating an energizing space to gather regularly to learn about, discuss and take action on the crisis of homelessness in our community. So far, 187 people representing 44 faith communities have attended one or more of these meetings to learn how they can impact homelessness.
We had a record number of attendees during our most recent CQM. The word is spreading! The energy is rising! People of faith are hearing about and responding to the call to help end homelessness!  We extend special thanks to the following people who made the December meeting a success:
  • YOU, for showing up to listen, learn and participate in this encouraging session. And to all of those who wanted to attend, but couldn’t. Your spirit was still with us. Thank you!
  • Pastor Eric Jackson for offering a warm and comfortable space to meet at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
  • Tess Colby, Manager of the Community Service Division at Pierce County Human Services, for a insightful and well-received presentation on our County’s new 5-year plan to end homelessness (pictured to right).
  • Pastor Nathan Hollifield from Fircrest United Methodist Church for offering a testimony on how his church has been blessed by hosting families experiencing homelessness multiple times this year as part of Catholic Community Services’ Family Housing Network.
  • Jeffery Boyce for sharing information on a unique way congregations can consider helping: by providing safe parking for those experiencing homelessness.  Learn more about safe parking from Jeffery here
The testimonies, information presented and dedication in the room was amazing! Truly we are community coming together to end homelessness.

You can find the PowerPoint presentation that was provided here.

As we enter the New Year, the team at Associated Ministries is committed to continue bringing forward the most current information and resources to inform our community, allowing us all to make informed decisions and take appropriate action to help end homelessness.
P.S. Please join us at the next Community Quarterly Meeting (download bulletin inserts here):
March 22nd from 5-7pm
Shiloh Baptist Church
1211 South I Street, Tacoma


A note from Rev. Gregory Christopher, Senior Pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church: 
Hello Community, Wow! The Shiloh Church family and myself are elated to host the next Community Quarterly Meeting sponsored by Associated Ministries. At these quarterly meetings the community is in partnership with other homeless and housing services and ideas are exchanged on how to best address homelessness and affordable housing. For me this opportunity is also personal; my oldest brother died of hypothermia December 31, 2015. My brother was made homeless because of a shooting in an area in Dallas Texas where the homeless population was allowed to live in huge tents similar to those on the port of Tacoma . He froze to death under a bridge. If you think that your family and closest friends are immune to homelessness, please think again.
Come out and join in the conversation; who knows, the best way of addressing homelessness could be within you.
Best Wishes during the Holiday Season,
Gregory Christopher, Senior Pastor

December Celebrates Births in Many Faith Traditions

December holds many faith holidays and celebrations.  As I looked through the calendar, a theme jumped out at me: birth.  Mawlid celebrates the birth of Muhammad, the prophet who received the message of the Qaran, the sacred text of Islam.  Bodhi Day celebrates Buddha’s “birth” of his new life into enlightenment after he sat under the bodhi tree for eight days.  And of course Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Christians worldwide.  As we move towards the “birth” of winter, the idea of newness, birth and enlightenment warm my soul!

Reverend Kojo Kakihara of the Tacoma Buddhist Temple shared this about Buddha and Bodhi Day:

“Even though he had every material thing he could desire, Prince Siddartha Gautama was not satisfied with his life. After diligently practicing many different kinds of strict disciplines including starving himself almost to the point of death, he realized that such extremes were not the way which would lead to a peaceful mind. Instead, he turned toward the “Middle Path” of meditation and sat under a Bodhi tree making a firm resolution not to move from his sitting position until he attained Enlightenment. December 8th is considered the day that the Prince Siddartha Gautama attained enlightenment and became Sakyamuni Buddha. If this event did not occur, the world may never have known of the teachings now called Buddhism. So this day is shared by all Buddhists regardless of sects as a day of utmost importance. Since Enlightenment is known as Bodhi in Sanskrit, December 8th is called Bodhi Day, and the tree that the Prince sat beneath is referred to as a Bodhi Tree. The word “Buddha” means the “Enlightened One.” Buddha is one who has realized the Universal Truth and can see the true nature of existence just as they are. Buddhism teaches that all things have Buddha-nature or potential to become a Buddha.

It is the common and ultimate goal in any type of Buddhism that this “I” aim to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha. To attain enlightenment is my being given a new life. Enlightenment is Great Wisdom and Great Compassion. Even though it is extremely difficult to attain enlightenment, the goal of attaining enlightenment always teaches me who I really am or how I am living everyday life. It is like a mirror that shows our true self as it is. Also Enlightenment makes it clear where we should live this precious life towards, and we come to realize the meaning of this life more clearly, and it makes our life more positive and richer. On the Bodhi Day, with thinking of Sakyamuni Buddha’s attaining enlightenment, I reflect again upon and appreciate my own life that is living towards enlightenment of a new life.”


A Six-Month Evaluation of the Coordinated Entry System

By Klarissa Monteros, Housing Program Manager

Associated Ministries (AM) implemented Centralized Intake for those experiencing homelessness in Pierce County in 2011. We operated the County’s first centralized intake process for five years and learned for the first time what homelessness looks like in our community. Through these learnings we were able to move from a Centralized Intake process to a Coordinated Entry System (CES) in October of 2016. Focus Strategies consults with Pierce County and among other things they provide system and program evaluations assessing the effectiveness of CES. Their six month report stated they found that, overall, CES is achieving its intended objectives, including:

  • People experiencing homelessness have a clear, well-understood pathway to accessing the homeless crisis response system.
  • The CES helps households solve their own housing crisis and stay out of the homeless system whenever possible.
  • Households receive the right resources at the right time.
  • Those with the greatest needs are prioritized for the most intensive assistance.
  • People experiencing homelessness move rapidly into permanent housing and do not experience subsequent returns to homelessness.

However, the evaluation also revealed that there is a racial disproportionality in the amount of African Americans accessing the lighter-touch Diversion services rather than a more in-depth housing intervention. African Americans are over represented as participants in this aspect of Coordinated Entry.

Everyone who reaches out to CES begins with a Diversion conversation. This conversation is an immediate problem solving intervention that assists clients to resolve their own housing crisis through creative thinking. Clients who feel they need a deeper intervention to solve their situation do not participate in Diversion and opt instead to be placed in our Priority Pool, through which they MAY eventually be referred to a housing program.

While 50 percent of everyone CES met with was white and 38 percent were black, 38 percent of white clients and nearly 50 percent of black clients chose to address their housing challenge through the Diversion intervention; there should be equivalent ratios participating from both groups. This disparity prompts further evaluation to ensure we are delivering equitable services to persons of color.

This is consistent with findings AM learned during focus groups with persons of color we held earlier this year. We found that there was an overall distrust in service delivery by people of color. They felt as though they were in “competition” for resources and that resources were hidden from them due to biases stemming from a “welfare” stereotype. As a result, many persons of color felt as though they had no choice but to accept any service or resource offered to them, even if it did not fully meet their need; they felt as though they would not receive other opportunities. This is useful information we are using to evaluate CES and make service delivery recommendations.

AM is committed to being an agency that serves everyone with equity and inclusion. We will continue to use data to assess and identify racial disparities and refine service delivery in order to effectively address all differences. We are honored to be a key part of our County’s Coordinated Entry System and its efforts to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time.

Holiday Open House

Come join us on Friday, December 8th for our annual Holiday Open House!  Associated Ministries will be decorated to help show our creativity, inclusivity and festive side.  There will be refreshments, tours of the building (did you know it used to be a mortuary?), and smiling faces.

This is an opportunity to chat with staff members, and learn more about our programs and how we help the most vulnerable in our community. RSVP would be appreciated but not  required, just stop by our building at 901 South 13th Street between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm on Friday, December 8th to join in the fun!

We appreciate all the support we get each year from our volunteers, community partners, faith communities, sponsors, and individuals.  Our hope is that you can come celebrate the holiday season with us, and that 2018 begins another wonderful year working together shared commitment to our community and those in need!



And the Community Pillar Award goes to…

by Klarissa Monteros, AM Program Manager

We would like to congratulate Living Access Support Alliance (LASA) on receiving AM’s Community Pillar Award. LASA has been pivotal in helping us come together to work towards ending homelessness in Pierce County.

Recently LASA creatively converted former transitional housing units into permanent affordable housing! Minimal affordable housing is available in Pierce County, and the vacancy rate fluctuates around 1%, so this is a huge win for our community! LASA’s efforts have creatively filled a gap that beautifully supports families working towards solving their housing crisis. Every client that finished the application process was accepted into their permanent housing units despite the barriers they presented. This is difficult work and there were some bumps on the road, but we were able to work it through together.

We value our partnership with LASA and with Paula in particular. She is an amazing advocate and we trust that our clients are in good hands when we send them her way. The whole team is on point and very responsive. Thank you LASA for all your efforts helping to end homelessness. You are a valued member of our community! 

(AM staff pictured above: Ivette Morales-Perez, Kelsey Johnson, Klarissa Monteros, Paula (LASA), Mike Yoder, Mary Aongo)

#Giving Tuesday: A big day for generosity

Take a break from shopping. Make a real change in the world. Today is a day of world-wide loving-kindness and generosity. Unleash your warm, caring heart!


Help us raise $5,000 in the next 24 hours by making a generous gift to Associated Ministries today.

Associated Ministries unites people of  faith and goodwill to build stronger communities.

Your contribution to Associated Ministries advances the goal we all share: ending local homelessness. 

“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that–warm things, kind things, sweet things–help and comfort and laughter…”  

–Frances Hodgson Burnett

Let your generosity and caring shine on #GivingTuesday! 

Give today.  















Join us for the BEST Community Quarterly Meeting Yet!

We are ending the year with the best Community Quarterly Meeting yet!  You will not want to miss the next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 5.

Those who attend will be among the first anywhere to get a sneak peek at Pierce County’s new five-year plan to end homelessness. Tess Colby, Manager at Pierce County Human Services, will join us in person to present it to us.

The goal of the plan is to change what homelessness looks like in our community. A few of the impacts this plan is expected to have in our community are: 

  • More comprehensive, wrap around services for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Ending homelessness for target populations or the most vulnerable, including: chronically homeless, veterans, families and youth.
  • Cost analysis to leverage resources to serve more people.
  • Increased partnerships with the faith community, businesses providers, government, etc.
  • Reduce criminalization of homelessness.
  • Affordable housing is integrated into the planning efforts.
  • Measurements have been created to monitor progress and success.

The next Community Quarterly Meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 4:00-6:00 pm at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 4818 E. Portland Avenue, Tacoma.  Please join us to be part of this pivotal conversation in our community.

Associated Ministries convenes these meetings in partnership with other homeless and housing service providers working in Pierce County, with the goal of creating an energizing space to gather regularly to learn about, discuss and take action on the crisis of homelessness in our community. 

We especially encourage attendance from those representing a specific faith community (as a pastor or appointed representative) along with anyone else interested in helping to end homelessness.

If you have questions, please contact Valorie at or 253-426-1508. Download this bulletin insert to share with your congregation.

Why I Was A VITA Site Coordinator

By Than Tran – VITA Site Coordinator 2017

As a finance major at the University of Washington Tacoma, I realized that in order to be successful in my career, I had to continuously enhance my knowledge and skills. In addition, hands-on experiences are very important for me to get my first job after I graduate from college. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) was a great program, which not only helped me to build my resume, but also gave me a chance to do a meaningful thing to the community which I belong to.

I first started at VITA with a thought of being a tax preparer. However, when Amy, the program director of Pierce County, needed help to manage some tax sites, I thought “why don’t I challenge myself in this role?”. I believed that I could do more, and be more helpful if I took more responsibilities. So I chose to be a site coordinator.

I learned a lot from the experience with VITA. I was able to prepare personal tax returns for most of the people. Whenever I was not sure about anything in a tax return, I could simply just ask my supervisors, they were more than willing to help me out. A site coordinator was a bit busier than a regular tax preparer. I learned how to manage supplies and equipment, to communicate and manage other volunteers, improve my problem-solving skill, and to talk with a client with confidence.  

The working environment at VITA was very friendly and fun.  There was recognition for volunteers who were hard-working or had been with the program for many years. There were some special events where we work with some other organizations such as KeyBank or Sound Outreach, to help hundreds of clients a day. The thing that I enjoyed at VITA was not only what I learned, but also what I felt when I was helping other people. Their thanks and their smiles motivated me to work harder, and to be proud of myself because I was creating values for the community.

VITA gave me a chance to apply the knowledge about personal finance which I had learned at school, and learn some other things that school did not teach me such as using a particular software to prepare tax returns, dealing with problems that arose at the tax site, and creating relationships with great people who could be my references. Every small step helps me to reach my goal in my career in finance. I think that VITA is one of the relevant steps; my thanks for the VITA program. 

To learn more about volunteering for this program, click here.

The Community is Watching: Will Congregations Step Up?

By Mike Yoder, AM Executive Director

The headline on the front page of the Tacoma News Tribune on Tuesday, Nov. 7 declared: “Faith-based Groups Need to Do More to Battle Homelessness” (read it here). The article by columnist Matt Driscoll shared that the City of Tacoma is beginning to recognize the role that faith communities could play in addressing the homelessness emergency. With that in mind the City recently loosened some rules to make it easier for organizations to establish an emergency shelter within their facility, but to date, no church or nonprofit has applied for a permit to do so.

This is both good news and bad news. The good news is that local officials are, at last, rightly recognizing the unique and valuable role that congregations can play in addressing an issue like homelessness. Indeed, faith-based organizations have always been on the frontlines meeting the needs of the vulnerable and marginalized throughout history.

But such contributions can be easily forgotten or unrecognized. A hurting community is now asking us, either fairly or unfairly: “What have you done for me lately?” And that may be the bad news, because for many faith communities the answer is, sadly, not as much as we’d like. Certainly, we recognize finances are limited for some congregations which struggle to meet their own needs. But there are other resources that many churches possess that could be deployed in a time of crisis such as this.

What would it take for your faith community to step outside the box and consider a new way to serve; perhaps providing emergency shelter, or maybe partnering with another congregation that is? What if members of your congregation deployed themselves throughout your community to add energy and capacity to efforts already underway that serve the homeless?

Every day at AM we are blessed to learn about meaningful efforts already being done by faith communities throughout Pierce County. I shudder to think of how much worse off we’d be if these congregations were not already doing so much to love their neighbors and care for those in need.

But in a time of crisis, our hurting community sees underutilized church buildings and under-involved church members and rightly asks: are you willing to stretch your concern and commitment even further at such a time as this? More importantly, what do we hear God calling us to do? Many of our desperate neighbors are praying that we people of faith will be willing to do even more.

A great place to foster your faith communities’ involvement in addressing homelessness is at AM’s Community Quarterly Meeting. The next gathering will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 4:00-6:00 pm at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 4818 E. Portland Avenue, Tacoma. At each meeting, attendees are educated about homelessness, gain understanding about effective interventions, and discuss potential projects and solutions. Please join us!

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