Author: Barb Gorzinski

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!

Check out YOUR impact!

The headline for the impact you are making is A Future Where No Family Is Homeless in Pierce County.

Because of you, because you care about families and individuals experiencing homelessness here in our community, because you make a choice to contribute financially and with your time, as a volunteer or as a supporter advocating that more should be done.

You can access Associated Ministries’ 2016-17 Impact Report here. And you can be proud that thousands of your neighbors are being served and raised up. You are instrumental in that impact!

You’ll notice we’ve changed the format of our usual Impact Report. It’s shorter and to the point–your support does enormous good in the community. We plan on telling more of that story throughout the year, instead of in one jam-packed read.

We think it’s also important to let you know that what you’re supporting is a strengths-based approach to ending homelessness. That means we’re not just throwing money at a complex set of problems. Families and individuals possess the power to change their circumstances, and they have the motivation to return to permanent, affordable housing. And we’re walking alongside them to ease their barriers and help them build networks of support and community resources.

You may also be directly engaged in this work as a volunteer–through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful, perhaps in training to respond to the aftermath of a disaster, or in other projects that build up our community. We thank you for devoting time, and more importantly, love of neighbor, kindness, and compassion to the work we do together.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We look forward to the miraculous, creative, deeply personal ways you will continue that impact in 2018 and beyond.


Faith Action–Our Powerful Force for Good

Associated Ministries has been a longstanding member of the Faith Action Network (FAN). The 2018 legislative session is underway and for the next 60 days, many decisions will determine the fate of several issues that you and I care about. Let’s bring our voices to Olympia and be a force for good in our communities.

This is why Faith Action Network is excited to offer a free advocacy training to help you be a strong advocate. Learn the the skills and resources that will equip you to make a huge impact in 2018.

Pierce County advocacy training is on January 21, 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM, at St. Leo Catholic Parish, Tacoma

The training will have something for everyone. The centerpiece is FAN’s 2018 legislative priorities: what needs to be done for climate justice, to prevent human trafficking, bringing our voices to the immigration debate and speaking out against wealth inequality.

Don’t miss this opportunity to network, learn and organize with other people of faith from all over Washington. You are  vital to the powerful force people of faith and good will can be to ensure all Washingtonians have what they need to thrive and succeed.

Spread the word to your congregation, community, and friends. If you would like to RSVP or if you have any questions please send an email to


In the Midst of Challenges, We Remain Encouraged!

We are so grateful for your partnership with Associated Ministries this past year. During 2017 we experienced momentum on many fronts:

  • Our Community Quarterly Meetings convened ever-larger crowds throughout the year; in total 187 people from 44 faith communities came together at four gatherings to be educated about homelessness and discuss potential projects and solutions.
  • In November we hosted the largest group yet at our annual “Lead the Way Home” breakfast, and attendees responded with record generosity.
  • During October we encouraged Pierce County faith communities to take part in the first “Standing United with Compassion” observance, which kicked off at a moving and memorable “interfaith Shabbat” service hosted by Temple Beth El.
  • In September we staged an innovative new community event called “Amazing Quest to Understand Homelessness” in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood.
  • In March we were overwhelmed by the response to our first-ever Interfaith Women’s Conference as some 400 women gathered for a day of learning, inspiration and fellowship.

These are a few tangible examples of the growing commitment we sense throughout Pierce County to come together to address our communities’ most critical needs.

When it comes to one of those needs – homelessness – we all know we’re facing a crisis. But behind the scenes many of us are working hard to make fundamental shifts in our homeless response system. We must not grow weary in doing good, not when we are making progress towards our preferred future, one in which homelessness is a rare, brief, and one-time experience for those caught up in its terrible consequences.

Truth be told, there have been many challenges to navigate during 2017, including some discouraging – and even terrifying – situations playing out across our nation and world. And yet at AM we remain optimistic as we see people in our community coming together with new-found solidarity and resolve to make a difference. In trying times it is essential to know that we are here for each another.

No matter what happens in the year ahead, Associated Ministries will continue to press forward as we have for 48 years, bringing together people of faith and good will to create a more humane, compassionate and just community. To do that, WE NEED YOU; and more than ever our community needs you. Thank you for showing up and for reaching out!

Michael Yoder, Executive Director

#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.  















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!

Why Lead the Way Home?

When we ask you to join us at the Lead the Way Home Breakfast it truly is an invitation. Not just to breakfast (Cheesy egg scramble, potatoes O’Brien, sausage, pastries, fruit skewers, by the way). Not just to enjoy the company of friends, though there will be plenty of time to do that.

You are invited to join the cause of ending family homelessness in our community.

Nothing means more to us than showing you how to help one more family move from homelessness to safe, stable housing.  

Change the life of a mother and her children who are living in their car as winter comes. You can lead the way to safe shelter and a stable life. To a consistent school schedule with a rich environment for learning. To a meaningful job. You can lead the way home!

Homelessness is a crisis in our county. We are committed to making it a thing of the past. We’re counting on you to accept that challenge and join our commitment. Because you have a big heart, and it loves the chance to help other people.

The Lead the Way Home Breakfast is where you can start.

Please join us. Be inspired by stories of faith, courage and transformation. Make a new story you can tell others. A story about how you helped families step out of poverty and homelessness and move into a life that offers hope.

Admission is to the breakfast is free. Your investment in ending homelessness will be magnified many times over through the lens of loving kindness.

Reserve your free tickets by October 27th.

You are invited!

Meet our amazing Rapid Rehousing team

Our Rapid Rehousing team–Team Leader Ivette and amazing team members Mary, Kelsey, and Will–explain in this video a little of their approach to helping people with housing services. In 2016, they helped 375 households go from homelessness back into affordable housing rapidly and permanently. 

“We accept individuals and families who are referred by Coordinated Entry. We also assist with some move in costs and very short-term rental assistance. Using the Housing First model we address homelessness and then provide resources to meet other needs clients have.”

“In our program, we meet the clients where they are in life. This program is all about what the clients want and need. They are in charge of their destinies and know their situation better than we do. Families receive referrals to employment services, mental health services, and resources to gain tools for self-sufficiency. Empowering clients to take control of their lives is the key to our Rapid Rehousing Program.”

Landlord collaboration is vital to the success of the Rapid Rehousing Program. Read more about the incredible landlords the team has worked with and honored through regular Community Pillar Awards.

You can “Lead the Way Home” for homeless families

Join us at the Lead the Way Home Breakfast for a morning of inspiration and learn about our vision to end family homelessness in our community.

Reserve your FREE tickets by October 27th

AM Executive Director Mike Yoder, along with former Director David Alger and other special guests, will share stories of faith, courage, and transformation.

Discover how you can help families step out of poverty and homelessness and move into a life that offers hope.

November 2, 2017

7:30am – 8:30am

Foss Waterway Seaport 705 Dock Street, Tacoma, WA

(free parking available in the adjacent lot)

The Lead the Way Home Breakfast is a fundraising event; while the breakfast is free you will be asked to make a generous donation to this worthy cause. Proceeds benefit Associated Ministries and its programs that serve homeless families and individuals.




Supporting church libraries (and the people who love them) for 50 years

Celebrate church libraries and meet the people called to the ministry of offering church libraries in and for their congregations.

In 1967, a group of church librarians met at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), just south of Tacoma, Washington, to form a new organization, which they named the Pacific Northwest Association of Church Libraries (PNACL) The goal of the organization is to maintain and promote church libraries.

On Friday, July 14, church librarians from all over Washington, Oregon and Idaho will be back on that campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of PNACL’s founding.  They will attend the 50th annual two-day conference, which this year is hosted by the South Puget Sound Chapter of PNACL.  The South Puget Sound chapter has members in the Tacoma and Olympia areas and meets six times during the year.

Despite the media’s claims that most people no longer read print books, church libraries continue to flourish. PNACL currently has 137 members. Most of those church librarians are in seven PNACL chapters in the three states, but there are a few at-large members. PNACL supports its members with quarterly newsletters, book reviews, books and other materials, a list of authors available for speaking events, and help for congregations that are interested in starting or weeding out books to restart an old church library.

Many church libraries are hidden away in a basement. They acquire books by donation and are usually supported by volunteer librarians who are called to the church library ministry. Dee Hoff, a member for 27 years, believes that working together as a network helps churches manage their libraries more effectively. The PNACL has developed interesting ways to promote church libraries, such as summer reading programs, book discussion groups, and supporting other ministries of the church. Roberta Larson, a past President of PNACL, also believes church libraries offer support to people who attend church but don’t particularly want to join the church itself. They are able to check out books to help them explore their faith or provide inspirational stories to help them through difficult times.

Speakers at the conference will discuss such topics as library technology, funding of libraries and library promotion.

Several long time members will be in attendance to share their memories of early days, including first-hand accounts from a couple of ladies who were at the first conference.

Authors will be on hand to discuss their books and participate in an “author shuffle” so conference goers have some individual time to talk to authors.  You can get a preview of some of the authors by visiting their websites:

Elizabeth Lonseth, who has written two memory care booklets, also will be one of the conference speakers.  Her topic will be Dementia & Alzheimer’s Care Resources.

Conference registration costs $175, which includes two days of presentations and activities, overnight accommodations, three meals and refreshments. For further information, go to the website or contact: Dee Hoff, 253-582-7328 or Cheryl Addams, 360-918-8950.

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