Local grass-roots collective “Helping the Homeless of Tacoma”
With the mission of uniting people of faith to build stronger communities, Associated Ministries works very closely with a number of local nonprofits and organizations serving those who need our help. We continue to be inspired by each and every one, including a band of local do-gooders who call themselves “Helping the Homeless of Tacoma.”
This grass-roots collective provides food, clothing, toiletries and love to people experiencing homelessness. They also hold impromptu and informal events they call Pizza Love, Guac Love, etc. where they gather hot meals and distribute them to anyone in need.
“We’ve distributed food, tents, sleeping bags, tarps, clothing items of all sorts, lots of batteries, radios, flashlights, hand and foot warmers, diapers for infants and adults, vitamins, pet items and countless other items,” said Ana Maria Sierra, a founding member. “Pizza Love is simply a mobile pizza party for our homeless friends with a dash of love thrown in. It was started by a community of love and naturally, we had to spread this great idea around.”
They began their efforts simply by recognizing an opportunity in their community to do something good for their neighbors.
“Initially, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances responded to my Facebook posts about reaching out to our homeless community person-to-person, without intermediaries,” said Sierra. “Then, friends and neighbors offered to drop off blankets, food and other things on my front porch. Next, they asked if they could join me on the street. As the conversation grew, Carolyn Schneider said we should start a group and she started ‘Helping the Homeless of Tacoma’ group on Facebook.”
HHT also provides outreach in the form of local services which they recommend, including putting people in touch with AM.
“We listen to our homeless friends,” said Sierra. “If they express a need or desire for specific kinds of help such as housing, we refer them to AM and Nativity House. For education or work support we have provided them with Courage360 pamphlets.”
These individuals graciously recognize the city’s companies and nonprofits who are already contributing to the HHT mission.
“Someone had the idea to contact Harbor Greens and we know they have really yummy pizza,” said Sierra. “We just shared with them what we’re doing and asked if they could offer us a discount. And they did. They were very generous and those pizzas were very much appreciated.
“The Little Caesar’s on Pearl St. helped us out a lot. They provided a discount and we used coupons. They’re very nice people and made it as economical as possible. AM is our ‘hub’ for getting people help. They know everyone and everything about helping our [homeless] community. We’ve also taken donations directly to Nativity House, Saint Leo’s, the Rescue Mission and Courage360.”
The doors to HHT are open to any and all who wish to participate. Sierra asks that anyone seeking to help the HHT network to feel free to donate time or items to their ongoing pool by joining their Facebook group “Helping the Homeless of Tacoma” and creating a post or comment reaching out to members who can coordinate a drop-off location.
The most important assistance anyone can give someone experiencing homelessness, Sierra says, is to acknowledge them with a warm greeting.
“Look at our homeless friends without judgement, see a human being – not a problem – and just say ‘hello.’”
This group does exactly what it intends to do: spreading love and compassion throughout the community. After reading their stories and viewing their photos of these random acts of kindness, you may find yourself giving away extra snacks or toiletries you have on hand. You might eventually find yourself carrying a surplus around just in case you make a homeless friend of your own.
These inspiring locals are truly causing a ripple effect in Tacoma that continues to touch lives!
Featured Photo: Ana Maria Sierra, HHT founding member, and Beth Siltman, HHT member, gathering discounted pizzas from local restaurant Harbor Greens to pass out to local homeless as part of a Pizza Love event.