Author: Wendy Morris

Holiday Open House

Come join us on Friday, December 8th for our annual Holiday Open House!  Associated Ministries will be decorated to help show our creativity, inclusivity and festive side.  There will be refreshments, tours of the building (did you know it used to be a mortuary?), and smiling faces.

This is an opportunity to chat with staff members, and learn more about our programs and how we help the most vulnerable in our community. RSVP would be appreciated but not  required, just stop by our building at 901 South 13th Street between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm on Friday, December 8th to join in the fun!

We appreciate all the support we get each year from our volunteers, community partners, faith communities, sponsors, and individuals.  Our hope is that you can come celebrate the holiday season with us, and that 2018 begins another wonderful year working together shared commitment to our community and those in need!

 

 

Why I Was A VITA Site Coordinator

By Than Tran – VITA Site Coordinator 2017

As a finance major at the University of Washington Tacoma, I realized that in order to be successful in my career, I had to continuously enhance my knowledge and skills. In addition, hands-on experiences are very important for me to get my first job after I graduate from college. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) was a great program, which not only helped me to build my resume, but also gave me a chance to do a meaningful thing to the community which I belong to.

I first started at VITA with a thought of being a tax preparer. However, when Amy, the program director of Pierce County, needed help to manage some tax sites, I thought “why don’t I challenge myself in this role?”. I believed that I could do more, and be more helpful if I took more responsibilities. So I chose to be a site coordinator.

I learned a lot from the experience with VITA. I was able to prepare personal tax returns for most of the people. Whenever I was not sure about anything in a tax return, I could simply just ask my supervisors, they were more than willing to help me out. A site coordinator was a bit busier than a regular tax preparer. I learned how to manage supplies and equipment, to communicate and manage other volunteers, improve my problem-solving skill, and to talk with a client with confidence.  

The working environment at VITA was very friendly and fun.  There was recognition for volunteers who were hard-working or had been with the program for many years. There were some special events where we work with some other organizations such as KeyBank or Sound Outreach, to help hundreds of clients a day. The thing that I enjoyed at VITA was not only what I learned, but also what I felt when I was helping other people. Their thanks and their smiles motivated me to work harder, and to be proud of myself because I was creating values for the community.

VITA gave me a chance to apply the knowledge about personal finance which I had learned at school, and learn some other things that school did not teach me such as using a particular software to prepare tax returns, dealing with problems that arose at the tax site, and creating relationships with great people who could be my references. Every small step helps me to reach my goal in my career in finance. I think that VITA is one of the relevant steps; my thanks for the VITA program. 

To learn more about volunteering for this program, click here.

And the Quest Continues!

We are thankful to all the participants, sponsors, vendors, and volunteers who made our first AMAZING QUEST to Understand Homelessness a success! With their help, we were able to launch what we hope will grow into one of the most anticipated annual events in our community.

Team MAAThere was no doubt that this is a community who have a heart for struggling families, and want to learn and make a real difference in their lives. Seeing the passion everyone had for working together, and learning how to best help people experiencing homelessness, was uplifting.  We are grateful to our sponsors, Chase, Amerigroup, United Healthcare, City of Tacoma, Alterius College, KBTC, CHI Franciscan, Holiday Inn Express, Peace Community Center and Catherine Place for their support.

Planning is already underway for our next AMAZING QUEST! If you participated, please share about your experience and the things you learned with your congregation, neighbors, classmates, work colleagues, and others. Please feel free to add your pictures and comments to our Facebook page.

We’ve been blessed to receive feedback like this note from our friends at First United Methodist Church, Tacoma:

“Thank you for working so hard to make the Amazing Quest a success. It was a valuable learning experience for our team. Even those of us who thought we had all the answers had something to learn. It’s opened our eyes to the challenges facing the homeless and those trying to provide services.”

If you were unable to attend, but would still like to support the programs of Associated Ministries that help the most vulnerable in our community, please visit our websiteBy uniting together, we are building a stronger community!

Family Fun and Education in One

Can you build a shelter out of a pallet, a tarp, some rope and other things you might find by the side of the road within 5 minutes? How many hygiene kits can your team put together before time runs out?  These are just two of the fun activities that teams and individuals will take part in at the AMAZING QUEST to Understand Homelessness.

This first time event, on Saturday, October 7th, will bring together people from throughout the community to compete with one another and work together to learn about homelessness, and some of the issues that people experiencing homelessness go through on a daily basis.  Teams with the most points will receive prizes and there will be a special prize for the team with the most spirit!  Points can be earned by completing the activities, locating individuals along the route who are handing out surprise points, and identifying special points of interest along the route. 

You can also earn points by donating needed items and obtaining donations through friends, family and coworkers by having them sponsor you or your team.

  • New or gently used: Outside sleeping bag, tarp, wool blanket
  • New: Emergency blanket, socks

If you are looking for an easy team-bonding activity for your group, whether business, faith communities, service group, school, etc., this is a wonderful opportunity to spend a few hours together, working as a team and benefiting those that are the most vulnerable among us.

Registration is easy: just to http://www.associatedministries.org/amazing-quest to sign up.  For more information about the event, feel free to contact Wendy Morris at wendym@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1501.

 

Inviting Faith Communities Who Want to Join the Call to Action

  • Create a team to fill some homeless kits with useful items for families experiencing homelessness.  Kits will be given to Catholic Community Services’ Family Housing Network.
  • Give bus passes and socks to Shared Housing Services, a program that serves youth and young adults, ages 16 – 24, who are experiencing homelessness.  These bus passes are essential, so youth can make it to and from important appointments.

These are just two of the many ways that people attending our Community Quarterly Meetings (CQ) have pledged to help support local agencies working with those experiencing homelessness. And we need your help as we take action on the crisis of homelessness in our community. 

We hope you will join us at our next CQ Meeting on Thursday, September 21st, from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 7410 South 12th Street, Tacoma, WA 98465. The goal of these meetings are to gather people of faith and goodwill to create an energizing space in Pierce County to share knowledge, and act on strategies to end homelessness.

Attendees will be informed and educated about homelessness in Pierce County, gain understanding of effective interventions, and discuss potential projects and solutions through presentations and discussions. 

The lineup of speakers for our next CQ meeting includes:

Gerrit Nyland: Homeless Programs Data Administrator for Catholic Community Services.  Gerrit will present a clear and compelling understanding of what homelessness looks like in Pierce County.

Tiegan Tidball Bradbury: Systems Analyst for the City of Tacoma.  Tiegan will provide an update on where the City is at regarding its emergency declaration on homelessness.

Noah Baskett: Sr. Director of Community Engagement for the Rescue Mission, Tacoma.  Noah will discuss potential projects in which people of faith and goodwill can take part. 

This is a CALL TO ACTION for those representing a specific faith community (as a pastor or appointed representative) along with anyone else interested in helping to end homelessness. Multiple attendees from your faith community or organization are welcome to attend; we will have three different breakout groups, and you may want to have a person attending each one.

If you have any questions, please contact Valorie Crout at valoriec@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1508. 

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.

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.

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