Author: Wendy Morris

Because of Everyone

From the Tacoma Buddhist Temple: June 2017 Newsletter (MYOKYO); The Sensei’s Message:

We at Tacoma Buddhist Temple hold Sunday Service in the morning of almost every Sunday. I always appreciate that you wake up early in the morning of your precious day-off and come to temple. The other day, I heard the following from Rev. Yukawa. Rev. Yukawa, who usually sits on the balcony, counted the number of attendees at a Sunday Service. He said that on that Sunday, there were about 80 attendees, and 50 of them were non-Japanese people. Of course, anyone is welcome regardless of Japanese or non-Japanese. But when I heard it, I was so surprised, and at the same time, I was so glad that not only Japanese people, but many different people come to our temple.  

Buddhism is the path which each of us walks toward the Enlightenment by understanding and practicing Truths taught by Sakyamuni Buddha. Because of that, Buddhism is also said to be “Buddha Path”. Among Buddhist teachings, the most fundamental teaching is “the Truth of Causes, Conditions, and Results.”

Holding a Sunday Service, this is the “cause”. But Sunday Service does not stand only with this cause. Your attendance, people who are MC and a pianist, the Kansho bell being rung, our chanting sutras, my giving Buddhist talks and having you nod and laugh (my talks are not so funny often though). With all of these as the “conditions,” enjoyable “Sunday Service” is realized as the “result” for the first time. But, if no one attended Sunday Service, or if no one nodded or laughed to my talks, the result of “enjoyable Sunday Service” were not realized, and I had to stand alone in the hondo hall with loneliness. That is to say, our Sunday Service stands or arises as Sunday Service because of every one of you.

Everything in the world arises not only because of causes but also due to conditions. In other words, under different conditions, everything ends up changing. It is taught in the Sutra of Queen Srimala as following;

Just as there are causes for people’s suffering and there is a path for each person’s enlightenment, everything arises depending on conditions, and everything disappears depending on conditions. The rain falls, the wind blows, flowers bloom, and leaves fall. Everything arises depending on conditions, and everything perishes depending on conditions. This body of mine was born through the conditions of my parents, it is sustained by the food I eat, and my mind is nurtured by my experiences and knowledge. Therefore, my both my body and my mind arise depending on conditions, and, of course, they are transformed depending on conditions… Just as a net is made of meshes connected together, all things are connected together. It is mistaken to think that each mesh of the net exists independently.

When we think about ourselves, it is clear that our existence entirely depends on conditions. As the Sutra teaches about a net made of meshes, we exist because of infinite connections with others. We were born in this world depending on precious conditions, and live now while having being receiving an unimaginably great number of things from others. Our present life also depends on many other “Lives” we interact with. There is nothing that does not depend on conditions. We, through listening to Buddha Dharma, are receiving Buddha’s eyes of Wisdom which sees through the truth of cause, condition, and result, and awakens us to the connection of Life, and Buddha’s mind of Compassion which respects and appreciates each other’s Life beyond self-and-other.

Gassho with palms together,
Rev. Kojo Kakihara

Community Resource Connection Center in Action

Community Resource Connection Center in Action by Debra Cole

I would like to share with you about one of our Community Resource Connections Center clients, Susan* (*her name is changed). She was looking for resources to assist her in finding a recliner before she had to have surgery on her neck and cervical spine. Due to this type of procedure she was given a strict set of rules to follow, one being to limit her mobility; restricting her to a specific area in her home.

She was in dire need of a reclining chair, one that was easy to function and the correct size for her height, and had been searching for weeks leading up her procedure. I told her about the Northwest Furniture Bank, however they did not have exactly what she was looking for.  Susan then turned to Hope Furnishings, the retail part of the Northwest Furniture Bank, where they were better able to assist her and even gave her a discounted price.

Susan, due to a limited income, did not have the funds to purchase the recliner, so again we spoke. I told her about Associated Ministries’ (AM) Family Emergency Funds (FEF) and how it may be able to help with part of the cost, which it was, but not the full amount. The AM staff recommended I contact St. Leo’s Catholic Church, who was gracious enough to assist us with the remaining amount. To make things easier, I went over to St. Leo’s and met with Jessica to pick up the check to have ready when she came for the one from us.

She recently called to thank me and our team, as she is all set up with her new chair in the home. Susan was overjoyed that we were able to assist her and cannot thank us enough. This touched my heart, because what we do here at AM is life changing. We are capable of doing what seems impossible and I feel so fortunate to be a part of an amazing team!

 

 

 

Ready to Serve in Times of Disaster

All of our communities will one day be affected by a disaster – whether natural, such as storms or earthquakes or a volcano erupting as Mt. St. Helens did 37 years ago today, or caused by accidental or deliberate human conduct. When that time comes, will you be ready to help?

Learn more about how you can help in times of disaster at a Care Teams training! Disaster Response Care Teams are groups of trained volunteers who provide support, compassion, and resources to those affected by disasters.  Training and materials are free!

The next Care Team training will take place on:

Saturday, June 10, 2017, 9 – 11 AM
Bethlehem Baptist Church
4818 Portland Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98404

The topic is Psychological First Aid – understanding the impact of disasters, and how to be a calming presence and emotional support to survivors. Coffee and refreshments will be served.

For more information visit our website at www.associatedministries.org.

Volunteer with Paint Tacoma

“I cried tears of joy. It looks beautiful. My house is beautiful.”

“On Social Security, I can’t afford to pay someone to paint my house. The volunteers’ help means the world to me.”

 “The crew was awesome. I’d be happy to recommend Paint Tacoma to anyone.”

These are a few of the words of gratitude shared by homeowners served by Paint Tacoma volunteers last year! You, too, can bring joy to low-income homeowners – most of whom are elderly or disabled – by serving as a Paint Tacoma volunteer.

Gather together friends, family, group members or coworkers to form a paint crew, or sign up as an individual and we’ll place you with a paint project. Whether you can serve for one day only, or can work on a project from start to finish, we can use your help!

Not into painting? There are other ways to get involved, from repairs, to supply delivery, to photography. For more information, contact Wendy Morris at wendym@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1501.

Sign up to serve as a Paint Tacoma volunteer today! www.PaintBeautiful.org.

Skating for Homes

On Friday, June 2, 2017, Associated Ministries will be welcoming groups of youth from different faith communities to our first-ever “Skating for Homes” skate-a-thon.  This free and fun event, will be from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm at Rollin’ 253 Skate and Community Center.

Through our partnership with Rollin’ 253 Skate & Community Center, and Help Us Move In, we are able to help educate youth about the issue of homelessness and help raise funds for youth who, along with their families, are experiencing homelessness.  Youth will have the opportunity to seek donations for either each lap they complete within one hour, or a flat donation.  All funds raised will be matched dollar for dollar by the generosity of Help Us Move In and will be used to directly assist clients with children who are in need of help with housing.

This is also a wonderful opportunity for youth leaders at our partner faith communities to help their youth understand the issue of homelessness and discuss ways they are drawn to help.  For more information or to request a housing specialist to speak to your group, please contact Wendy Morris, Community Engagement Coordinator at wendym@associatedministries.org or 253-383-3056 ext. 117.

Registration for “Skating for Homes” closes on Friday, May 26th so make sure to turn your request for tickets and receive pledge cards in to wendym@associatedministries.org before the deadline.  

Keeping Dreams Alive

On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Associated Ministries will again host our Keeping Dreams Alive dinner and auction.  This year it will be at the Foss Waterway Seaport starting with a reception at 6:00 p.m.

What could be more enjoyable than an evening of good food, lovely music, wonderful company and beautiful scenery while supporting the needs of the most vulnerable in our community?

Thanks to the generosity of many businesses, we have some unique items up for auction, including a 24-hour rental of a Lamborghini, a Napa Valley wine tour with 2-night stay at the Hotel Healdsburg and 4 tickets to the Singing Christmas Tree with one person being able to be the top of the tree!

Table captain and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Tickets are just $75 per person for a delectable dinner from Jonz Catering.

Please visit our website for more information.

Community Celebration of the Christian Holy Week

by Father Martin Yabroff, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

This is a special week within the Christian faith as Christians around the world celebrate Holy Week, a time of reflection on Jesus’ last week before his Crucifixion and Resurrection. Today also marks the beginning of the Jewish celebration of Passover for the next eight days.  Both are a time to reflect on that which is holy and powerful and mysterious in our lives and world. 

At St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church all our communities will be welcome to the annual Community Good Friday Service, co-sponsored by 13 neighboring churches:  Assemblies of God, Baptist, Church of God in Christ, Disciples, Episcopal, Foursquare, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian.  It is a blessing to have such a range of congregations worship together!   The one-hour service will bring a range of voices together to lead us in reflecting and praying about our witness as persons of faith in a time of darkness – the darkness of a good and holy man being crucified for his faith and love, and the darkness of our world of cruelty and hate and distrust today. 

All are welcome, for any religious tradition or spiritual path as these churches express their faith in an open and inviting and respectful way, a witness I believe we need today. You can find more information about the service online.

I would like to share a description of Holy Week from my teacher, the Rev. Herbert O’Driscoll:  Holy Week is “a pilgrimage, a sequential majestic journey into the most profound levels of divine and human nature, taking us into a place of profound darkness before bringing us into halls of almost inexpressible resurrection light.” 

May this be a time for all God’s people of peace and blessing.  Amen. 

Community in Action – Helping a Family in Need

When Lana* came into the Rapid Rehousing program at Associated Ministries, she was struggling; pregnant and had two little girls sleeping in the car with her. She began working very hard to find housing and applied at a few different places and was denied the same amount of times. The reasons varied; her credit, her criminal record, her income, but she did not stop. The Rapid Rehousing team worked alongside her and we finally found a landlord willing to give a young mom another chance at success.

Through Rapid Rehousing, Lana received help with move in costs and from that moment on Lana was making great progress including paying 100 percent of her rent, her electric bill, getting her oldest child into school, and even working during her last month of pregnancy. She was working very hard and was making it, but she had one big concern; her home had begun to show the signs of a roach infestation. She bug-bombed the place a couple of times on her own, but was unsuccessful.

As time passed and her tries to end the infestation failed, and as her pregnancy advanced, she grew more concerned. Lana had gotten used to cleaning incessantly and watching her children around the clock to make sure that no bugs got close to them, but once she realized that her newborn baby would be exposed and in danger, the thought of staying there was becoming less a safe option. At that point Associated Ministries put out the word to the community for assistance. We needed help in preventing Lana’s housing from becoming insecure.

RAMBO Pest Control answered the call. RAMBO offered a completely pro-bono fumigation service for the entire four-plex! They got out there right away and took care of the problem, then offered a discounted monthly service that Lana was able to present to her landlord and neighbors, in hopes of keeping the homes free of bugs.

“We appreciate how RAMBO stepped up so quickly to lend a hand to a family in need”, stated AM staff member Alexis Agee-Cooper. “Their willingness to go above and beyond to ensure the entire four-plex was fumigated, was a wonderful gift to the all of the tenants and the community.”

Since then, Lana’s baby was born and the efforts of RAMBO have helped her keep her home and feel safe and secure. We are so grateful for the efforts of RAMBO who took care of a vulnerable person in need, and proved that there are many ways in which we can help end the problem of housing insecurity. They showed how we can all be a part of the solution in different ways.

*For confidentiality, the name of the client has been changed.

Free Tax Preparation

Tax season has begun! Once again, Associated Ministries, in partnership with several other local organizations, will offer FREE tax preparation services to low and moderate income taxpayers and seniors at 23 different locations in Pierce County. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

Why get your taxes done through VITA? 

  • You will receive help from IRS certified tax preparers, and you are helping people expand their experience and resume to find jobs in the financial field. 
  • Volunteers will help eligible taxpayers claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other similar credits.  A large number of taxpayers who could qualify for the EITC do not claim the credit.
  • It’s free for low and moderate income taxpayers (incomes up to $54,000), and seniors.

Before going to a VITA site, be sure to bring:

  • Income documents such as W2s from all jobs worked, and 1099 forms for other income
  • Documentation of expenses you want to claim, such as child care expenses, home mortgage interest, higher education expenses, and charitable donations
  • Bank account information for refund direct deposit
  • Photo ID for the primary taxpayer (and spouse, if married). 
  • Social Security Cards or ITIN cards for all family members. 

Please note that VITA volunteers are unable to do tax returns for married taxpayers filing separately, or returns with some complex tax situations.

VITA sites are located throughout Pierce County.  Call 2-1-1 or visit www.VolunteerTaxHelp.org to locate a site near you.

How People of Faith & Goodwill Can Address Homelessness

The crisis is real: during the past 11 months, Associated Ministries interacted with 7,212 households that were experiencing some level of housing instability in Pierce County. These are struggling families and vulnerable individuals who spent the previous night on the street, in a shelter, in a place not meant for human habitation, as well as those fleeing from domestic violence.

So what does this number mean? It represents those who have reached out to the Coordinated Entry System (CES), Pierce County’s Homeless Crisis Response System for help, and were determined to be genuinely homeless. The CES is a partnership of Associated Ministries, Catholic Community Services, Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare and Comprehensive Life Resources and is funded by Pierce County Community Connections.

What can people of faith and goodwill in our community do to address the growing challenge of homelessness? To begin, attend one of two interactive learning sessions regarding homelessness in Pierce County on Jan. 19 or 24. Participants will come away with a better understanding of this crisis and will be briefed on the assistance programs that are available, as well as the work that remains to be done.

We are grateful to Rev. Martin Yabroff of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Rev. Dr. Eric Jackson of Bethlehem Baptist Church, both members of Associated Ministries’ Board of Directors, who will host the gatherings. “I hope that as many congregations as possible will be represented to learn about the Homeless Crisis Response System,” said Rev. Yabroff.

Rev. Jackson added, “Often those who need assistance the most don’t know how to tap into the necessary resources. This is the same case with congregations and various faith institutions who seek to support those without a place to call ‘home.’ I personally invite you to attend these meetings and learn about the Homeless Crisis Response System, who should be referred and how to navigate the system. Most importantly, we’ll be better equipped to respond to our community’s homelessness crisis.” 

Two opportunities have been scheduled share an overview of homelessness in Pierce County and how the Coordinated Entry System is being designed to address it:

  • St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, hosted by Rev. Martin Yabroff at 7410 South 12th Street, Tacoma, WA 98465 on Thurs., Jan. 19th at 1-3pm.
  • Bethlehem Baptist Church, hosted by Rev. Dr. Eric Jackson at 4818 East Portland Ave, Tacoma, WA 98404 on Tues., Jan. 24th at 6-8pm.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact us at communications@associatedministries.org.

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