Mason Methodist Church invites you to come watch two benefit performances of Godspell on March 5th at 7:30 pm and March 6th at 2:00 pm.
So what exactly is Godspell? Well, it is a performance originally produced on the New York stage that has been revised to feature church members and talented local actors with an amazing director in Jeremy Thompson. Godspell is based on the Bible’s Book of Mathew and through music, dance, and theater it relates the story of Jesus and his 12 Disciples to today’s principles and sensibilities.
South Sound’s best theater talent will be on display with an all-star cast including Cameron Waters, Rachel Permann-Fitzgerald, Gabriela Marta Aleman, Corissa Camille DeVerse, Dana Lede, Hayden Pederson, Jenifer King, Jerry Clausen, LaNita Hudson, Elena Permann, Paige Hansen, Shelby Isham, and Tyler Lydic with choreography by Kathy Kluska and music by Jennifer Permann.
*Admission is free but donations are encouraged with all the proceeds going to benefit Associated Ministries as well as The United Methodist Committee on Relief, a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to assisting all those who have been affected by crisis or chronic need in more than 80 countries.
Come out to see some great local talent, learn more about the Book of Mathew and how it is applicable to our everyday lives, and donate to two great, faith-based non-profit organizations.
Point In Time Survey de-briefing occurred last week on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
Annual Point In Time Survey occurred January 29th, 2016
Preliminary rough estimate of 23% increase in unsheltered surveys in 2016 compared to 2015 (duplicates have not been removed yet making this estimate unofficial)
City planning officials, University of Washington Tacoma students and faculty participate in the Point In Time Survey’s de-briefing and feedback meeting February 10th, 2016 at Pierce County Community Connections. (Photo Credit/Chelsea A.)
Point In Time Survey: Spending the Day With Tacoma’s Homeless by Chelsea A.
For the thousands of people experiencing homelessness and living in our county, it’s more than just a struggle to live from day to day in such a cold-to-the-bone, wet-all-of-the-time environment. It’s a constant battle simply to stay alive. For the hundreds of volunteers and employees working with these people on a regular basis, it’s a constant frustration of never having enough resources to be able to house, support or supply everyone. The annual Point In Time Survey is a doorway to find solutions.
Training the Volunteers
It was a typical rainy and cold January 25th Monday night in Tacoma when a large group of us volunteers gathered at the Pierce County building near 38th and Pacific Avenue. The doors were propped open and a hand-written sign read, “Point In Time Orientation.” The room was full to the point where multiple people were standing as our lesson began. Valerie Pettit beamed at the front, undoubtedly excited to have so many turn out in support of the event she is responsible for organizing.
The majority of the volunteers belonged to some sort of local organization currently working with homeless people: REACH Center, Nativity House, the Mission, Coalition to End Homelessness, Associated Ministries and various Pierce County employees. The rest were people who visit tent cities weekly to deliver food and supplies, or people who simply wanted to end homelessness in any way possible.
The Day of the Survey January 29th was the day of the Point In Time Survey count across the county. When I arrived at the Nativity House for my 11-hour shift, the room was already packed as people gathered for breakfast.
I gathered handfuls of incentive items and displayed them across my make-shift station: hand and foot warmers, shampoo, conditioner, razors, floss, toothpaste, gloves, hats and scarves. I only had a few of each item. Two hours into the volunteers shift and we were already running out. Luckily, Valerie arrived several times with a box full of incentive items that were sure to entice, including coats and clothing items. My pile grew 10 times as large and almost instantly after every delivery I had a line forming at my desk.
Most people begrudgingly took the survey because they needed the items I was dangling in front of them. It seemed cruel but served the purpose of getting them to participate. Without these items as incentive we would have undoubtedly accomplished nothing.
Mental Illness Throughout the day I spoke to many people with mental illnesses: schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia. There were several people who couldn’t even bring themselves to speak to me or anyone else, they were so encumbered by the disease they were battling. One gentleman asked to fill out the form on his own, writing the word “stolen” in response to every question. I asked him what had been stolen from him and was met with various profanities. Another woman spoke to the voices she was hearing as we filled out the survey together, adamantly telling me she had not been diagnosed with any kind of mental health problems at any point in her life. She came back many times throughout the day, picking up more items each time.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t help those individuals who couldn’t communicate or who were barely able enough to come to the Nativity House for a hot meal. I tried handing out supplies to them anyway, but they didn’t trust me enough for that either. In most cases I was able to get most people to at least take the survey in whatever way they could and accept the incentive items.
Valerie Pettit, Point In Time Survey event organizer, writes volunteer feedback at the survey’s de-briefing and feedback meeting February 10th, 2016 at Pierce County Community Connections. (Photo Credit/Chelsea A.)
Stereotypes of Homelessness Overall we handed out dozens of coats, items of clothing, toiletries, various things to help them stay warm–and we listened. That’s all we could do, and for some people that’s what they wanted even more than the things we were passing out. Valerie said during our volunteer orientation, “These people are avoided like the plague on a daily basis. We look away, we walk past, we ignore their attempts to ask for help – whether it’s just a little change or a cigarette.” Having someone acknowledge their existence and treat them like a human being meant more to them than anything we could have given them. I lost count how many times I heard something similar to, “Thank you for listening, it’s really made me feel better.”
It’s while we listened to their stories that we realized just how wrong the stereotype of “choosing” to be homeless is.
A middle-aged man, not much older than myself, was receiving disability benefits, but that didn’t cover the cost of his rent, utilities, and the expensive medications he needed just so he wouldn’t be consumed in pain.
One couple had been living in a rented home their entire lives, their children now grown with families of their own. When the husband, the sole bread winner, was laid off from his job, they applied for Section 8 assistance. Their landlord refused to take it–along with every other landlord they approached.
A widow told me how she had raised her family, had been an inspiration to them and her community until the day her husband passed away. She had no work experience or skills to land a job and eventually lost her home and had to live in a shelter with her four children.
A 25-year-old man I met, a year older than the youth housing cutoff, was a veteran who had lost everything due to his health problems. He was experiencing his first week of homelessness and we made recommendations for safe places others had mentioned for sleeping through the night. Like so many we spoke to he spent that cold and rainy night outside.
Another couple–both had lost their jobs–were living out of their car with their young baby. So desperate for even temporary shelter, they planned to move to another city just to find it.
I asked each what their biggest struggle was. While many mentioned getting the basic necessities, others were more affected by the way people treated them. One elderly man recounted, “People treat us like we did something wrong and that’s not right for everyone. I’ve been working full time my entire life and I never did anything wrong, never even went to jail or did drugs. I paid my taxes. After 13 years working for [the same company] they told me thank you for your hard work, but we’re making cutbacks and we have to let you go. It’s as simple as that.”
The only difference between these people and those of us who have homes or steady incomes is happenstance. It doesn’t take much for circumstances to take away everything in the blink of an eye. And when it does, you’re left struggling just to feed yourself and find somewhere to sleep.
I watched my little brother go through the same exact struggles as some of the people I interviewed. He was diagnosed with bipolar paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 25. After members of my family and I tried taking him in, he choose to be homeless. He was listening to the instruction of the voices he was hearing. He cycled in and out of institutions that refused to do anything other than release him with medications which he refused to take once he stepped out of their front doors. After a year of homelessness and at the age of almost 26, the voices won out over the love of his family and he took his own life.
This count may not be able to reach every homeless person and it may miscategorize those staying with family or friends due to the government’s definition of homelessness. But it does provide a rough estimated of the number of people experiencing homelessness along with demographic details. This number helps us understand how many beds we need, shelters, food banks, and local resources. It may not be a perfect system and there will always be people falling through the cracks, but it is a huge step in the right direction.
For me, this is the first year I volunteered in the survey but it will be one event which I will come back for each year until there are no more people to count.
What You Can Do To Help
Donate clothing, hats, gloves, scarves, hand/foot warmers, or toiletries for next year’s Point In Time Survey
Volunteer to participate and survey people experiencing homelessness in next year’s Point In Time Survey
Donate items, funds or your volunteerism to the Nativity House or other local shelters
Attend fundraisers this Spring for local nonprofits who support shelters and people experiencing homelessness
Just as a good old country doctor in a rural village is dedicated to his patients—always carrying his medical bag and on any given day answering calls deep into the night–Peter Roach is on call 24/7 at Associated Ministries.
Peter is Associated Ministries’ IT Director. He’s the tsar of our hardware and software–vital infrastructure for the work generated in our offices.
Peter’s career began at Michigan State University in the pre-med department. Along the way, Peter discovered a passion for computers that led him to his first career in the IT world. Rising in the ranks of the Fortune 500 business technology world, Peter held positions with the State of Washington, HP, EDS, and he was a consultant at Weyerhaeuser and Microsoft.
In 2008, Peter was accepted into Seattle University’s MBA program. He also engaged in the Leadership MBA program for business executives. The Jesuit roots at Seattle U affirmed in Peter his call to serve those in need. An opening at Associated Ministries led Peter to a career change in 2011 that would align his passion for service and his experience in technology and significantly advance the mission of AM.
With Peter onboard as a full time IT professional, AM avoided costly IT consulting bills and built the IT infrastructure to expand services. Peter helped AM grow rapidly and direct service staff are better able to meet client needs in remote locations. Peter also put his business education to good use supporting AM in a number of other areas: communications, development, human resources, marketing, and organizational leadership.
In fact, there is a great need for many core business services in the non-profit sector. The skills and talents any business professional possesses can help non-profits build systems to reduce costs, strengthen mission capacity, or learn and apply current best practices. Opportunities to make a difference abound!
Peter’s decision to embrace work at Associated Ministries unleashed catalytic power and impact borne of his experience in the business world. From communications, to web development, to maintaining the computer servers, the network devices and all those hidden systems that are the life and blood of any organization, Peter Roach is AM’s IT doctor! Always ready to serve, with a smile on his face, a listening ear, a word of encouragement, Peter is no exception at Associated Ministries. Like the rest of the staff, volunteers and supporters, they all work hard Uniting People of Faith to Build Stronger Communities!
Sara has suffered from episodic homelessness for the past four years. As a disabled veteran who became homeless after serving her country, she was having a difficult time finding a landlord who would lease to her. Sara stayed at the Salvation Army’s overflow shelter for a few months and worked with a case manager to try and find part-time work to supplement her low, fixed income. She was then referred to Associated Ministries to receive help.
Associated Ministries was able to help Sara secure housing through our Rapid Re-Housing program; which helps individuals and families transition from homelessness to stability. The need for affordable housing in Pierce County is enormous and the housing market is currently very competitive. This makes it difficult to locate housing opportunities for those with higher barriers. To address this issue, Associated Ministries works diligently to develop and preserve relationships with landlords in the community for the benefit of people like Sara.
Because Sara remained persistent, resilient and solution-focused throughout the process, we were able to work with BCI properties and Sara’s case manager to secure affordable housing for her. Associated Ministries provided the assistance, guidance and encouragement Sara needed to help change the course of her life and set her on the path to self-sufficiency. That is what building stronger communities is all about!
On Black Friday, give to support the work of Associated Ministries through your Fred Meyer Rewards Card. Through their unique program, Community Rewards, you can support us just by using your Rewards Card. All you have to do is link your Rewards card and scan it every time you shop at Fred Meyer. Whenever you use your Rewards Card by shopping at Freddy’s, you will be helping Associated Ministries earn a donation from Fred Meyer! If you do not have a Rewards Card, you can sign up for one at the Customer Service Desk of any Fred Meyer store. Visit https://www.fredmeyer.com/topic/community-rewards-frequently-asked-questions for more information.
Are you planning to take advantage of Thanksgiving weekend deals and shop online? It is estimated that more than 130 million people will shop online during Cyber Monday. You can turn that shopping into an act of giving and support the work of Associated Ministries by visiting smile.amazon.com. You shop. Amazon gives. Select AM as your charitable organization of choice and the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to us on your behalf!Another great option is to sign up for the free site www.iGive.com. Shopping online through iGive.com allows a percentage of your purchase (usually around 3%) to be donated to Associated Ministries at no cost to you.
Finally, on Tuesday, December 1st, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. #GivingTuesday is a global day that is currently celebrated in 68 countries and is dedicated to giving back and sharing our capacity to care for one another.
We are inviting all of our friends and supporters to join the movement and participate in this global celebration of philanthropy by making a generous gift to Associated Ministries. On December 1st, check your email inbox for more information and instructions or check us out on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss your opportunity to give back!
On November 5th, over 200 of our friends and supporters including faith, business and community leaders joined us for our 4th annual Lead the Way Home fundraising breakfast at Freighthouse Station in Tacoma. It was truly a morning of inspiration and the beginning of a new movement of interfaith service and cooperation.
Dr. Chris Gilbert, our current Board President, welcomed the largest crowd in the history of the event by sharing that, “our vision is to be a center for interfaith relationships deeply engaged in transforming our communities. Interfaith recognizes that each religion is an instrument for the divine, and together the world’s religions form a glorious symphony. Interfaith is the acceptance and the celebration of humankind in all its magnificent faiths, colors, cultures, and traditions. How boring the garden that grew only one type of plant. How beautiful the garden that creates unity and harmony among thousands of its diverse plants. That is the space Associated Ministries has the unique privilege, and dare I say the unique challenge, of creating in this garden we call Pierce County. To empower a unity of purpose energized by the belief in a God who has provided all the tools we need in this garden to help everyone flourish- to ensure the Universal truth that everyone has the right to achieve their fullest capacity.”
Our new Executive Director, Mike Yoder, inspired all attendees by sharing his vision for the future of Associated Ministries. “One of the reasons why I’m excited about having joined the team at Associated Ministries is my conviction that when people of faith join together to respond to pressing needs in our community, it will grab the attention and admiration of a watching world, sending a message that will inspire both those with and without faith,” said Yoder. “At Associated Ministries we are committed to serving as a convener of people of faith – and our community at large – inspiring all comers to be more deeply involved in transforming our community, passionately seeking the common good for everyone, starting with the flourishing of the most vulnerable amongst us.”
At this year’s breakfast, we highlighted our foreclosure intervention and default counseling work. Associated Ministries’ Foreclosure Counseling program helped Gifford and Chelsea to keep their home by securing a home loan modification.
“Foreclosure counseling is a very valuable service that AM provides free of charge to struggling homeowners, and it has been our privilege to work with more than 350 homeowners facing this crisis during the past year,” shared Dia Nichols, Foreclosure Counselor with Associated Ministries. “Pierce County has one of the highest rates of foreclosure in the State of Washington. Reports show one in every six hundred and seventy-eight homes in Pierce County receives a foreclosure notice every month.”
By working together we are striving to assure that everyone who needs a place to call home has the opportunity to reach their dream. Attendees at the breakfast were provided the opportunity to invest in families who need our assistance, guidance and encouragement to help change the course of their lives. Thanks to a generous matching gift from an anonymous AM donor through the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, we were able to raise $62,190 to support our work to end poverty and homelessness in Pierce County.
If you were not able to attend the breakfast and would like to donate, you can do so by clicking here Gifts of Property
Lastly, mark your calendars for the next Lead the Way Home Breakfast on November 3, 2016.
WordPress has a easy to use gallery feature built in. No need for complicated plugins that only slow your site down, it’s right there in the core for you to use.
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Did you know that working with video is a piece of cake in WordPress? All you have to do is place the video’s URL if it’s on a service like YouTube or Vimeo on it’s own line, and WordPress will automatically fetch and display the vide for you. Just like this:
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