Tag: volunteer

Primary Election Candidates’ Forum – 26th Legislative District

Hear the candidates discuss the issues and ask your questions at the non-partisan candidates’ forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County and UW Tacoma Division of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs. Candidates invited include:


Emily Randall
Bill Scheidler
Marty McClendon

House of Representatives Position 1:

Naomi Evans
Connie FitzPatrick
Jesse Young

House of Representatives Position 2:

Michelle Caldier
Joy Stanford
Marco Padilla
Randy Boss

Are You Ready to Go on an “Amazing Quest”?

Join us this October for the Amazing Quest to Understand Homelessness. Associated Ministries has designed this energizing new event to take participants on a compelling journey illustrating the challenges our neighbors experiencing homelessness face. Teams complete engaging activities related to homelessness at multiple learning stations inside the McGavick Conference Center in Lakewood; each encounter is designed to open your eyes, engage your mind, and touch your heart. At the end of the Quest there is music, food and fun for everyone!

To participate, form a team of four or more people by gathering your family and friends, workplace co-workers, fellow students from school, or adult or youth groups from your congregation to come together for this eye-opening and bonding experience. Register your team online here.

The team with the most points at the end of the Quest wins a great prize! How do you earn points? By successfully completing the learning activities at the Quest event, combined with bonus points you can earn for raising funds in advance (an online fundraising page is created for each registrant) and by collecting and bringing donated items to the Quest (such as blankets, socks, sleeping bags and tarps).

AM Executive Director Mike Yoder says, “I believe Amazing Quest can move the needle on awareness about the crisis of homelessness in Pierce County. There are so many misconceptions about homelessness; this event addresses these misconceptions in an accessible and family-friendly way. We have two goals: to illustrate the struggles of our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness, and to raise money and resources to inspire change and make a lasting impact.”

DON’T MISS the 2nd annual Amazing Quest to Understand Homelessness on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College (4500 Steilacoom Blvd Lakewood, WA 98499); the course is open for you to take your 1-2 hour journey any time between noon and 4:00 pm.  More information is available online at https://associatedministries.org/amazing-quest-2018/.

Join us this fall to go on an eye-opening Quest you’ll never forget! Sign up today!

Volunteer Opportunities
It takes dozens of volunteers to run the Amazing Quest, and many serving opportunities available. Please click here to volunteer.

How to Help our Neighbors

After a life of service to others, including children in Romania and widows needing help with their houses, *Sarah is hoping volunteers will come to paint her home.  Her husband, a minister, had a final wish before he died, and that was to have their house painted. We need volunteers to help fulfill his final dream!

*Ann is a South Tacoma homeowner who raised 3 children while working as a waitress, and is now raising her 14-year-old grandson.  Another great local organization, Rebuilding Together South Sound, is providing her with free home repairs. Volunteers who choose this house will be part of helping this family in multiple ways!

After years of service to his country, *Jamal, a disabled veteran, has been waiting for two years for a group of volunteers to help him.  As a single dad of three children, it would mean a great deal to the family to have their home painted.  Will you be the ones?

These are just three of the homeowners who are hoping to have their homes painted through the generosity of volunteers and the Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful (PTPB) program.  The program, in its 34th year, has helped beautify the homes of over 2,200 residents of our community.

Volunteering is easy: we have opportunities for one-day projects or multiple days beautifying a home from start to finish (scrape, pressure wash, prime, paint).  PTPB supplies all the materials needed for the volunteers.  For more information and to sign up as an individual or crew, please visit our website, www.paintbeautiful.org.


Primary Election Candidates Forum – Legislative District 31

Hear the candidates discuss the issues and ask your questions at the non-partisan candidates’ forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County and UW Tacoma Division of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs. Candidates invited include:


Phil Fortunato
Jeff Benson
Immaculate Ferreria

House of Representatives Position 2:

Morgan Irwin
Mark Boswell
Steve Skutt


Paint Tacoma Builds Community!

Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful is about to embark on its 34th summer of painting houses for low-income homeowners and we need you!

Our goal is to paint 27 houses in Tacoma this year, helping people in need in our community through the generosity of volunteers and sponsors.  Volunteers come from all walks of life: workplace, families, faith communities, individuals, student groups, unions, community groups and more!

Wonder how volunteering can make a difference?  Last year one Eastside couple who have been married for more than 60 years, applied to have their home painted. The wife is suffering from cancer, and medical bills make it impossible to pay someone to paint. A crew from Pierce County Public Works painted their home.

How you can help: Gather your friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, church members, or any other group you are a part of and sign up today!  Your crew will be assigned a house to paint, and be provided with training, guidance, paint, supplies, and T-shirts.  House-painting is a multi-day project. Your crew can serve for one day only, or work on a house from start to finish. Whatever time you can give is appreciated!

Don’t have a crew? Sign up as an individual and we will place you with a team.

Training is required for new crews (crew leads) and volunteers.  You need attend only one 2-hour session.  You can choose from:


Wednesday, June 27 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Friday, June 29 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Saturday, June 30 from 9:00 am – 11:00 am

All trainings will be held in the garage at Associated Ministries.

How to sign up: Visit www.PaintBeautiful.org. Click on the “Volunteer” tab and fill out the online application. And check out our video clip from TV Tacoma’s CityLine here.

And the winner is…

…a secret!

At least until they are announced at our Keeping Dreams Alive luncheon on Wednesday, May 9!  There is still time to sign up to attend this inspiring event and meet the nominees who helped us build a stronger community in 2017 and beyond.

We welcome you to join us–and help us honor and thank several of our many amazing volunteers.

These are just a sampling of people who made a difference in the lives of our community neighbors in the following ways:

Made an impact in their community

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Site Coordinators go above and beyond to make sure that low- and moderate-income taxpayers receive high-quality tax prep services free of charge. During the 2018 tax season we had some amazing individuals in that role: Dawn Ault, Monyneath Phy (first year), Michele Johnson (10+ years), Sherri Gordon (20+ years), and Norman Brickhouse who served more than 1,000 people in the last year at Goodwill, our busiest tax site, including post-season tax help through October 2017.

They make an impact on the community by helping low and moderate-income taxpayers and seniors, saving them the average $300 fee that American households spend on tax prep, and helping them get as full a refund as possible. All this to make sure these tax payers become more stable and achieve their goals.

Gave 110% to their cause

AM has been fortunate to have two long-time volunteers coming into the office, Sherry Bernklau and Tony Lewis, who have given beyond 110% to AM!

Sherry Bernklau volunteered in the AM Representative Payee Office for a total of 1,840 hours. As a longtime volunteer, she was involved in helping other volunteers learn the ropes. Later she was involved in the the implementation of a new database system for Associated Ministries.

Sherry has deep insight and great empathy for the clients served in the Representative Payee Office and other programs at AM.  She stands as a role model and a sign of hope to clients. Sherry’s significant gifts in technology and her compassion for people who are vulnerable make her volunteer work with us invaluable.  

Tony Lewis has been coming into the office for 40 hours a week for over a year, has given an extraordinary 1,442 hours to date, and is still volunteering every day each week for 8 hours a day.

He believes in the mission and work he is doing for AM and is committed to helping in any way possible.  Tony has taken on two different projects working with the Database/QA Manager in fulfilling various information system strategic initiatives set by AM Management. Tony has been a vital key to developing the new Landlord Liaison Project Program. 

Opened their hearts, used their voices or lent their muscle to make a difference

We are thankful for the dedication of some our key Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful (PTPB) volunteers. They provide the back-end support that makes PTB possible. They helped us identify and select projects, supported new volunteers, and lent their expertise and insights to improve the program.

Our unending gratitude goes to Marty Cheek, Matt Edwards, John Herem, Rikki McGee, Jim Ofelt, and Roy Kilgore. These volunteers helped us in numerous ways: assessing houses to evaluate their need for painting, helping us select houses for paint projects; evaluating the program and helping us to improve services. Sometimes they led paint crews and painted houses themselves.  By opening their hearts, using their voices and lending their muscle they made a difference for hundreds of low-income homeowners.

Inspired by example

Karin and Melinda worked tirelessly to create and present AM’s first Interfaith Women’s Conference. As a first-time event, the planning and “master-minding” was intense, time-consuming and required a lot of thinking “outside of the box.”  Not only did these two women put crazy hours into this project, they brought a perspective that was unique, honest and fresh.                                                                                        

They inspired us by the example of their working relationship–which turned into a friendship–showing how life-changing it is to take the time to meet someone from a faith outside your own.  Melinda and Karin come from two very different faith traditions.  They worked together, learned from one another, gained a respect for each other’s views, and forged a new friendship!  That is the power of interfaith dialogue!

We hope you will join us as we honor all our volunteers!        

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Temple Beth El

5975 S. 12th., Tacoma

The event is free, but an RSVP is required. Click here to register today!

Disaster Response Care Team Training

Disaster Response Care Teams are a small group of specialized volunteers who offer emotional and spiritual support during the response and recovery phases of a disaster or emergency evacuation. Care Teams are overseen by Associated Ministries, and offered in partnership with Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and Pierce County Citizen Corps. Training for Care Teams is provided by Washington Community Chaplain Corps.

Care Team members are volunteers who offer emotional and practical support to survivors of disasters during the response and recovery phases. Care Team members help by:

  • Provide a Calming Presence
  • Help Connect Survivors to Resources
  • Identify Unmet Needs
  • Support Emergency Shelter Operations

Refreshments will be served!

Please pre-register for this free event by contacting Wendy Morris at wendym@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1501. More information about the Disaster Response Care Team program can be found online at www.associatedministries.org.

This is a four-part training.  Training dates for 2018 are:

  • Saturday, March 10th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Saturday, June 9th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Saturday September 8th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Saturday, November 17th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Volunteering is Rewarding For Everyone

Eleesha, a taxpayer living in Tacoma, was being swallowed by the stress and frustration of dealing with her taxes. Calling one of the bigger tax preparation service providers, Vaughan explained her situation and income level. She was told because her income was lower than the requirement to file that she did not have to file and they will not be preparing her taxes. Disheartened with the proclamation, Vaughan was having discussions regarding what she was told with her family. Then she heard about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

She was urged by her mother to call and make an appointment to get a second opinion on her tax standing. Upon arriving for her appointment, she was still hesitant to have her taxes processed believing that may be a waste of her time. After the interview process and after waiting for a volunteer, Eleesha had her taxes processed and reviewed. To her amazement, not only did she benefit from having her taxes filed, she received a refund that much more than she thought; her total refund was $4,985! She was very grateful for the services the VITA volunteer provided. She mentioned that she now had money that she could use towards her household needs and repair to the family vehicle.

This is just one of the many stories volunteers hear when they are helping people complete their tax forms. However, more people are needed to volunteer to ensure those stories and successes continue. 

Why should you volunteer?  Some of the benefits of being a VITA volunteer include:

  • Gaining new skills
  • Looks great on a resume
  • Meet new people
  • Make a difference
  • Serve the community

Did you know that the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has a huge impact on the community?  Over 2,800 people served, saving about $800,000 in tax prep fees and bringing back more than $3 million to the community. 

Helping people do their taxes that cannot afford to pay someone and more importantly cannot afford to make a mistake and not maximize their refund. The VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

View this YouTube video for more details.

You will receive training to provide free tax help for low-to-moderate income families who need assistance preparing their tax returns. How does this program work? As a committed tax volunteer you’ll be assigned to work with a sponsoring organization, first to receive training and then to begin volunteering at a location in your community. Training is offered both online and in the classroom. Tax sites are generally open nights and weekends and the hours are flexible. You will surely find a volunteer site close to you.

To learn more, visit our website at www.VolunteerTaxHelp.org.

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.

Care Teams Training: offering compassion and support in times of disaster

Our next Care Team training is happening soon! Please join us for this quarter’s topic, “Boundaries and Self-Care for Caregivers.”

Twelve years ago on August 29th, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana, becoming the most destructive hurricane in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands of people in the hurricane’s path were displaced. To help communities of faith in Pierce County assist evacuees who were relocated here, Associated Ministries created the Care Teams program.

Today, AM continues to help communities of faith prepare to serve in times of disaster. We offer quarterly Care Team trainings to train volunteers to provide emotional, spiritual, and practical support for disaster survivors. Someday, it may be our own community in need. When that happens, will you be ready to help?

This is a free event. Coffee and refreshments served!

RSVP to Wendy Morris, wendym@associatedministries.org, or 253-426-1501.

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