Author: Sandy Windley

Standing for Love, Not hate

by Mike Yoder, Executive Director, Associated Ministries

Our hearts are grieved by recent court decisions and administration policies that foster “other-ness.” We believe we are all called to love our neighbor, to “do unto others as we would do for ourselves,” so we are encouraged when we see Pierce County’s communities of faith come together as a presence of peace and to stand for justice.

Most recently, local spiritual leaders who advocate for the free and open practice of religion in society have shared a strong and public condemnation of the hateful beliefs and actions which targeted the Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Center on Friday, June 22 (as reported in the Tacoma News Tribune and aired on KING-5). This group is calling upon the people of Pierce County to commit anew to create a community in which all people, of all faiths and cultures, are welcome as neighbors and friends; and to work together to create a community in which hate crimes such as this are not only not acceptable but are no longer a part of who we are. They have created a call-to-action petition “A Call to Rise Against Faith-Based Hate in Pierce County” (sign today at this link) as well as a GoFundMe effort to help repair damage at the Buddhist Center.

A practical tool that enables local faith leaders to support one other during a time of crisis, such as the recent incident at the Buddhist Center, is maintained by AM. Through this emergency response alert system, a text message is sent in the event that a local faith community is threatened with a hate crime or violence and is asking for other congregations 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 Windley at AM at (253) 426-1506 or email sandyw@associatedministries.org.

May we all continue to do whatever we can to promote a narrative of peace and hope in Pierce County, one that is very different than so much of the national dialogue, in which people of faith stand unanimously against hatred and bigotry and for the vulnerable amongst us.

Congregations: Learn the Facts to Better Support the Homeless System

by Valorie Crout, AM’s Chief Program Officer

It is widely understood that Pierce County’s homeless crisis system is under stress. There are not enough resources in our community or capacity within the current system to meet the needs of the growing number of households experiencing homelessness. 

In the midst of ongoing efforts to effectively manage and address these challenges, congregations can equip themselves to aid in this crisis by simply educating themselves and others about the realities of how the Coordinated Entry System (CES) works. Attached is a new fact sheet detailing some of the lesser-known aspects of Pierce County’s homeless response system and implications for faith communities. Please circulate this fact sheet to key members of your congregation who are involved in outreach efforts, as well as to staff members, other clergy and anyone else who could benefit from knowing more about the realities of Pierce County’s CES.

We hope that by equipping congregations with the facts about what the CES can and cannot do, we can reduce the number of calls coming into the system from those who are not eligible; that will free up our capacity to assist households who can be helped. Unfortunately over half of those contacting CES are not currently eligible.

Thank you for supporting our community’s response to homelessness by learning and sharing the facts, an important role for congregations to play as frontline partners in our shared desire to end homelessness.  Come join us at our Community Quarterly Meeting on Thursday, June 21st from 5p-7p to learn more!

If you have questions or would like for our staff to visit your congregation or organization to make a presentation and answer questions about the CES, please contact Sandy Windley at sandyw@associatedministries.org 253-426-1506.

Raise Your Voice and Take Action to Help End Homelessness

We are much stronger when we work together! Homelessness is a crisis in our community; we need each other in order to effectively address this urgent issue. Please join us for Associated Ministries’ next Community Quarterly Meeting (CQM) on homelessness.  This is a free event but registration is requested:

Register for CQM

When: Thursday, June 21st from 5-7 pm (light snacks provided)

Where: Shiloh Baptist Church, 1211 South I Street, Tacoma

Download flyer here.

This is the most important CQM we’ve held to date; please make every effort to attend. We believe you will leave inspired by people who are actively involved in the journey to end homelessness. Special guests and topics to be discussed at the June CQM are:

Reports from the City of Tacoma: Erica Azcueta, Program Manager of Homelessness and Household Stability in Neighborhood and Community Services, will provide an update on the City’s Emergency Declaration on homelessness; and, Daniel Murillo, Housing Division Manager in Community and Economic Development, will give an update on the City’s process to develop an Affordable Housing Action Strategy. These two efforts have profound, long-term consequences for housing and homelessness efforts in Tacoma, so you won’t want to miss these critical updates.

Community Quarterly Meeting’s “Moral Voice” (Advocacy) Task Force: Mike Yoder, ED for Associated Ministries, will report on the research efforts and policy priorities that members of this group are developing related to the City of Tacoma’s Affordable Housing Action Strategy. Members of the Tacoma City Council will be present to respond to the group’s recommendations.

Landlord Liaison Project (LLP), Pierce County’s newest housing program: Alexis Eykel, Program Manager for LLP, will discuss how this new program will increase access to affordable housing for those experiencing homelessness. She will also explain the incentives for landlords and property management companies to become involved. This program will provide essential key pieces for us to end homelessness in our community. 

Who should attend the meeting?

  • People of faith and good-will who have an open heart and a willing spirit to come together to learn, participate, and be involved in practical ways to address homelessness. We especially encourage attendance from those representing a specific faith community (the pastor or their appointed representative), as well as other interested individuals.

What will be achieved at the meeting?

  • Attendees will be informed and educated regarding the background, context, and challenges related to the issue of homelessness.
  • Attendees will gain a better understanding of effective interventions already underway to address homelessness.
  • We will discuss potential projects and solutions that attendees can engage in as faith communities or individuals to positively impact homelessness.
  • Attendees will walk away with at least one specific step they can take to help end homelessness, inspired by people who are actively involved in the journey.

If you have any questions about the CQM, please contact Valorie Crout, Chief Program Officer for Associated Ministries at 253-426-1508 or valoriec@associatedministries.org.

Together we CAN impact the crisis of homelessness in our community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raise Your Voice and Take Action to Help End Homelessness

We are much stronger when we work together!

Our local Lutheran Bishop Richard Jaech offered encouragement by sharing this biblical account: “What comes to my mind is the story from Numbers, chapter 11, where Moses is feeling overwhelmed with all of the challenges facing the people of Israel as he leads them in their journey from slavery to freedom. God tells Moses that leadership is too heavy to do just by himself. So God instructs Moses to pick 70 elders from the people of Israel and bring them together as a group, where God blesses them to carry out the leadership they all give together.”

TOGETHER, we can impact the crisis of homelessness in our community. Make your presence count! Please join us for the next Community Quarterly Meeting.

When: Thursday, June 21st from 5-7 pm (light snacks provided)

Where: Shiloh Baptist Church, 1211 South I Street, Tacoma

Download flyer here.

Special guests and topics to be discussed at the June meeting:

  • Representatives from the City of Tacoma will provide a status report on progress to end homelessness.
  • Presentation about the new Landlord Liaison Project, a program working to secure affordable housing.
  • Advocacy updates, testimonies and MORE.   

Attendees will walk away with at least one specific step they can take to help end homelessness, inspired by people who are actively involved in the journey. 

Last year Associated Ministries began convening these meetings in partnership with other Pierce County homeless and housing service providers, 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. Last year nearly 200 people representing 54 congregations attended these meetings; we need you at the table!

Who should attend the meeting?

  • People of faith and good-will who have an open heart and a willing spirit to come together to learn, participate, and be involved in practical ways to address homelessness. We especially encourage attendance from those representing a specific faith community (the pastor or their appointed representative), as well as other interested individuals.

What will be achieved at the meeting?

  • Attendees will be informed and educated regarding the background, context, and challenges related to the issue of homelessness.
  • Attendees will gain a better understanding of effective interventions already underway to address homelessness.
  • We will discuss potential projects and solutions that attendees can engage in as faith communities or individuals to positively impact homelessness.

If you have any questions about the CQM, please contact Valorie Crout, Chief Program Officer for Associated Ministries at 253-426-1508 or valoriec@associatedministries.org.

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 sandyw@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1506.

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 cwolfe@cityoftacoma.org 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.

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.  https://associatedministries.org/volunteer/.  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)
       Gender

2.  Once the background check clears, Associated Ministries will forward your contact information to the organizers:
Wendy Engen wengen71@gmail.com
Mary Verd massagebymaryverd@gmail.com

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: https://www.gofundme.com/tiki-tenant-relief-fund.

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!  

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