Responding to Hate

by Mike Yoder, Executive Director, Associated Ministries

Our hearts are broken by the devastating events in Charlottesville last weekend, and we mourn with you for those needlessly killed and injured. We believe we are all called to confront racism and we are encouraged when we see the best of our faith traditions stand up to help ensure that love and justice win. We are encouraged that the local faith community is coming together as a presence of peace and to stand for justice. Please let us know about any events or activities you are planning so we can share the word via our network: https://associatedministries.org/events/

Associated Ministries has met with local faith leaders over the past few months to determine together what role the faith community can play in responding to hate speech and threats of violence directed at faith communities (particularly synagogues and mosques). We are organizing an opportunity for local congregations to stand in solidarity by declaring their shared commitment to be agents of compassion and mutual support. A Statement of Compassion has been prepared that can be signed and/or read in worship services during the weekend of Sept. 22-24, which corresponds with the City of Tacoma’s Compassionate Communities observance. Please email sandyw@associatedministries.org if you’d like to receive the Compassion Weekend materials.

As an encouragement to us all, following are links to statements by faith leaders and organizations on the events in Charlottesville that were gathered by Faith Action Network. Please share others you know about with them at fan@fanwa.org.

May we all continue to do whatever we can to promote a different narrative in Pierce County, one in which people of faith stand unanimously against hatred and racism, and may it spread across our nation.

Q & A with AM Interns

I recently chatted with two of our interns, Ryan and Bethanie, about their internship experience. Ryan has been with us for a few months, and Bethanie for almost a year.

Wendy: How did you come to intern here?
Ryan: I was referred here by the Goodwill volunteer program. I needed volunteer hours to qualify for my education benefits and they helped me find a great match for my skillset.
Bethanie: I become an intern here at Associated Ministries through word of mouth. I needed to gather work experience, and had heard that AM was in need of volunteers and Interns.

W: What have you been learning while interning here?
R: I have been learning about the database software used by non-profits and using community calendars. I have also been learning about the businesses and churches that do volunteer work with Associated Ministries.
B: I have learned about client services and ways to be strength-based in my work with the clients. It has been an invaluable experience for me, and showed me exactly why I decided to work in this field. The tough decisions that need to be made regarding clients and staff members. It’s not easy to look at a homeless client and say “I’m sorry but I cannot help you.”

W: What is your goal to learn while here?
B: The original learning target I had set out for myself was to get some work experience in the human services field. It was after working here for a couple of months that I found exactly what I wanted to do; I want to learn how to be a better direct service provider.
R: I would like to learn more about the website software WordPress, and the logistics that go into planning events and fundraisers.

W: What has been the most interesting/informative thing you’ve learned while here? 
B: I would have to say the most interesting thing I have learned so far is just the sheer capacity of the effect on what AM does throughout the community. The most informative thing I have learned is that it’s okay to be human.
R: I have learned many interesting things so far in my time here, but one thing that stands out to me is that I learned how to repair and troubleshoot a laminating machine.

W: What has been the most challenging thing?
R: The most challenging thing for me here has been managing the number of tasks that need attention. There are always several projects lined up, and AM is doing important work!
B: The most challenging thing for me was at the beginning of my internship here and being able to talk to my co-workers and clients naturally. I wasn’t sure how to act or talk to people. It was touch and go for a while. It became easy after a while to loosen up and talk to people. The AM staff has a really good knack for making you feel comfortable here.

W: Why should people intern with us?
R: Associated Ministries has a wonderful environment, with great people who care about their work. The work itself is important too, and it’s gratifying to be of service to the community.
B: There are many different departments that are interconnected with each other that make it so you are never alone in one thing that you are doing. I’ve learned a great deal on what it is like to work for a non-profit agency. So if you want to help out the homeless community or even work more on administration come intern or volunteer at AM. You won’t regret it.

Statewide Student Homelessness Numbers are Staggering

The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) has released a data snapshot analyzing student homelessness in public schools in Washington, where in the state they reside, and how they perform in school compared to their peers. It is based on data from the 2014-15 school year. This is part of a series of state-specific snapshots. The report is free to download here.

Highlights from the report:

  • There are more than 35,500 homeless students in Washington.
  • The number of homeless students increased 30% between SY 2011-12 to SY 2014-15.
  • Washington had the 8th highest number of homeless students and the 9th highest rate of student homelessness in the U.S.
  • There are 3.3 homeless children for every 100 public school students in the state.
  • Orondo and Dixie School Districts had the highest rates of homeless students in the state.
  • Seattle Public Schools, Tacoma, Spokane, and Highline had more than 1,000 homeless students each.
  • Washington’s homeless students are not achieving academically on a par with their housed peers. Bellevue School District had the largest achievement gap. In reading, 77% of all students were proficient, while just 25-29% of homeless students were proficient. In math, 75% of all students were proficient, while only 20-24% of homeless students were proficient.

There were more than 1.26 million homeless children and youth in the 2014-15 school year, across the U.S. Homelessness disproportionately impacts children and families. A quality education can be the most important tool to helping children and families lift themselves out of a recurring pattern of housing instability. To do that, however, these children must first be identified as homeless and then receive the necessary support to ensure that homelessness does not disrupt their learning. 

“We cannot afford to ignore the complex challenges faced by homeless children and their families,” says Dr. Ralph da Costa Nunez, President of ICPH. “Unless we enact common sense public policies that address the educational and economic needs of homeless families, today’s homeless children may become tomorrow’s homeless parents.”

Join the Quest!

When does a pallet, a tarp, rope and binder clips equal 75? When you are putting them together to create a shelter at our AMAZING QUEST!

That is just one of the activities that folks can participate in at our first AMAZING QUEST to Understand Homelessness. This brand new community event is designed to educate the community and raise funds to fight homelessness. While you will not only be earning points for a chance at some terrific prizes, you will be learning about the issue of homelessness that affects thousands of people in our community.

AMAZING QUEST will take place on Saturday, October 7, beginning and ending at People’s Park in Tacoma and teams will visit various landmarks around the Hilltop neighborhood to play, learn, and win points. You may even encounter other places and people to gather extra points!

We are excited about this event and welcome all faith communities, businesses, service clubs and other organizations to sign up, as well as share about this fun event. How can you help?

  • Ask your staff to form one or more teams of 2-8 people and show up to demonstrate your concern about homelessness in Pierce County. This is a great way to show your support for those in need and interact with other participants and leaders, and a fun team-building activity.

  • Hang posters on bulletin boards, distribute flyers on counters and in break rooms, and post flyers in your window to encourage participation in this unique event.

  • Encourage your workplace team to collect pledges from family and friends; your business, faith community or organization could also make a donation to support the team and/or the event itself.

  • Consider being an official event sponsor, aligning your business with a compelling cause and showcasing your services before hundreds of participants.

  • Be a volunteer and help make this fun event be the happening place! Volunteer as young as 15 are needed for a variety of tasks.

So join us for a day of fun, music, food and being part of a community who cares. Check out our website at associatedministries.org/amazing-quest to learn more and sign up!  

Back to School Resources

by June Lee, Program Intern, Community Resource Center

It’s been documented over the past few years that the child poverty rate in our nation continues to be on the rise. Washington State is one of three states where child poverty is highest in our nation. Parents and families that are working hard to support their children by providing clothes, food, shelter, and a proper education are finding these tasks more and more difficult.

Non-profit and government agencies have been striving to address and assist in these areas of difficulty that many low income families are struggling with. We, at Associated Ministries, strive to contribute to our community and those individuals and families that are in need as our mission is to unite people of faith to build stronger communities. With the new 2017-2018 school year upon us, we want to thank the people in the community for their contributions, and ask for their continued support of donated school supplies to local agencies who are assisting students and families, to ease the burden of those families that cannot afford to obtain these school items for their children.

For those seeking help for their school-aged children, below is a list of places in Pierce County, starting in mid-August, you can visit for assistance.

Mountain View Community Center                                
3607 122nd Ave E Edgewood                
253-823-4329 August 26
School Back packs and Haircuts

Puget Sound Christian Center
4020 S 56th St Tacoma

253-474-1876
10-12pm August 23
Back Pack School supplies, food, Kid zone

Lions 4 Kids
18429 89th St E, Bonney Lake

253-447-8344
August 27th 3pm
Hair cuts

Life Care Center
1717 S Union Ave, Tacoma

253-756-5300
August 27th 11a-2pm
School Supplies  

Life Care Center
8001 S J Street, Tacoma

253-756-5300
August 27th 11a-2pm
School Supplies 

Life Center
17708 28th Ave E, Spanaway

253-846-3875
August 28th 1p-4p 

Isaiah Thomas
8425 6th Ave, Tacoma

253-502-4631
September 3rd 11a-2p
Back packs, Haircuts

Parkway Presbyterian
714 138th St E, Parkland

253-531-4373
September 17th 9am-2pm
Clothing

Help is needed to continue to Paint Tacoma Beautiful!

We are so thankful for our wonderful volunteers and appreciate all the hard work they have been doing the last few months to help paint the homes of low-income homeowners! 

However, in order to make sure all the homes scheduled for this summer get completed, we need help!  There has been an unexpected issue with getting enough paint, and we are seeking donations to help purchase what we need to paint the last few homes for the low-income homeowners. 

Any amount will help and you can donate at https://associatedministries.org/donate-2017/.  Just select that your donation is for Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful.

On behalf of the homeowners participating in the program, thank you in advance for your generosity!

Paint Tacoma volunteers in action!

Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful is a fun way to make our community more beautiful and serve neighbors in need! Each summer Associated Ministries mobilizes volunteers to paint houses for low-income homeowners, many of whom are elderly or disabled. Since 1985 more than 2,200 houses have been painted!

This summer, volunteers from 10 workplaces, 8 faith communities, 7 “friends and family” groups, 3 student groups, one labor union, and a host of motivated individuals have joined in to paint 27 houses. Some crews work on a house from start to finish (power-washing, scraping, priming and painting), while others serve for just one day. Whether serving for one day or many, all volunteers are appreciated!

As one homeowner told us, “It feels sooooo great to be pretty in the neighborhood. This is an amazing
program with amazing people!”

For more information about all the programs of Associated Ministries, please visit our website at www.associatedministries.org.

Bahá’í Faith and Social Justice

by Karen Oleson, Bahá’í Faith Community
 
The Bahá’í community’s commitment to social and economic development is rooted in its sacred scriptures, which state that all human beings “have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.”  Social justice is of utmost importance to those of the Bahá’í faith.
   

Excerpted from a letter to a national community from the Universal House of Justice [Supreme governing body of Baha’is of the world], Apr. 2, 2010:

“…. rear children that see their own welfare as inseparable from the welfare of others”…

“…Social justice will be attained only when every member of society enjoys a relative degree of material prosperity and gives due regard to the acquisition of spiritual qualities. The solution, then, to prevailing economic difficulties is to be sought as much in the application of spiritual principles as in the implementation of scientific methods and approaches. …

Today the world is assailed by an array of destructive forces. Materialism… has now spread to every corner of the planet, breeding… a culture of consumerism. It skillfully and ingeniously promotes a habit of consumption that seeks to satisfy the basest and most selfish desires, while encouraging the expenditure of wealth so as to prolong and exacerbate social conflict…  And meanwhile, a rising tide of fundamentalism, bringing with it an exceedingly narrow understanding of religion and spirituality, continues to gather strength, threatening to engulf humanity in rigid dogmatism….

The key to resolving these social ills rests in the hands of a youthful generation convinced of the nobility of human beings; eagerly seeking a deeper understanding of the true purpose of existence; able to distinguish between divine religion and mere superstition; clear in the view of science and religion as two independent yet complementary systems of knowledge that propel human progress; conscious of and drawn to the beauty and power of unity in diversity; secure in the knowledge that real glory is to be found in service to one’s country and to the peoples of the world; and mindful that the acquisition of wealth is praiseworthy only insofar as it is attained through just means and expended for benevolent purposes, for the promotion of knowledge and toward the common good. Thus must our precious youth prepare themselves to shoulder the tremendous responsibilities that await them. And thus will they prove immune to the atmosphere of greed that surrounds them and press forward unwavering in the pursuit of their exalted goals.”

Meet AM’s Community Resource Connections Center!

by Klarissa Monteros, Program Manager

Do you know someone who is need of resources needed to come out of crisis, reach stability and work towards gaining assets?  Send them to the Community Resource Connections Center (CRCC) at Associated Ministries. This center is a one-stop-shop where people can receive multiple services.

 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.

Anyone in the community is able to access the CRCC. Current clients of Associated Ministries can receive direct referrals from the staff person they are working with.

Individuals must meet in person with a Community Resource Connections Center Representative. CRCC is open Monday-Friday 1pm-5pm and can take walk-ins. Clients can also call 253-383-3056 ext 128 if they would like to schedule an appointment.

10 things you can do during summer heat waves to save a homeless person’s life

It’s getting hot out there.  For many of us it’s easy to find a cool place, whether work or home, that has air conditioning. Or go to a restaurant, drive in an air conditioned car, go to the mall, etc. People experiencing homelessness do not have those luxuries. In fact, their very survival is at stake.

People who are homeless can be particularly vulnerable to heat waves because they cannot easily stay cool or stay hydrated. Some living on the streets might have medical or substance issues that prevent them from thinking clearly and are in need of extra assistance.  Add this to heat and dehydration and you have a lethal combination. Moreover, heat waves are often not perceived as being as dangerous as cold weather.

People living on the street or in their car can take advantage of cooler air in public buildings such as Pierce County libraries, Tacoma Libraries and other public places, however going in to cool off at a local restaurant, coffee shop or movie theater, costs money they don’t have.

Here are ten things you can purchase and carry with you to hand out to people living on the street or in their car during the heat wave:

  • Frozen bottled water. Try to freeze (not just chill) bottled water before handing it out. The ice will melt slowly for drinking, but can also be used for general cooling. Freezing the bottles will provide a cold source that people can hold to their heads or necks or between their wrists.  “Enhanced” water that has electrolytes added to it is especially beneficial to help replace needs nutrients.
  • Water bottles. Consider handing out reusable, durable water bottles that can be refilled from public water sources.
  • Sunglasses. To be effective, Prevent Blindness America says glasses should block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Hats. Baseball hats, straw hats, anything-with-a-brim hats. This keeps the sun off the face and out of the eyes.
  • Umbrellas. They will help keep the sun from directly beating down on a person on the street. 
  • Bandanas. Dipped in water and draped around the neck or head, these can bring down temperatures significantly. When dipped in cold water, the cooling bandana will provide long-term relief and can be reused again and again.
  • Sunscreen. Great idea, but don’t give away that bottle you barely used last year. Sunscreen’s protective ingredients expire after 12 months. Don’t be cheap. Buy new bottles. The average adult needs about a shot glass worth of sunscreen per day in the sun to stay totally protected.
  • Zinc oxide ointment. This will keep lips and noses from burning and is much easier to carry and apply than sunscreen.
  • Bus passes. People in need can ride an air conditioned bus to help stay cool.
  • Fast food cards. Where people in need can go in and purchase a meal and sit for a time in a cool place.  If they do not purchase food, some establishments will ask them to leave. By enabling them to make a purchase you are helping not only feed them, but keep them cool too.   

As the temperatures begin to climb throughout Pierce County, the Department of Emergency Management reminds everyone to stay out of the heat as much as possible, stay hydrated, and check on elderly relatives and neighbors when temperatures soar.  They also recommend checking on those with chronic health concerns as they might be more susceptible to heat related illnesses. 

Those with low or fixed incomes are also at risk. Many of them are forced to choose between eating or turning on their air conditioner. Food often wins out and in extreme heat a fan is simply not enough to keep someone cool.

Do not leave children or pets in cars unattended – temperatures can quickly become deadly.  Take advantage of cooler air in public buildings such as Pierce County libraries, Tacoma Libraries, local malls, movie theaters, and other large stores.  People seeking relief from the heat by swimming in rivers risk cold shock and possibly drowning. 

 Exercise extreme caution and make sure to take care of one another.

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