The Face of Associated Ministries
by Will Bergstrom, Housing Counselor
I started working with Associated Ministries in the spring of 2013 as an unpaid intern. I was finishing up my junior year at the University of Puget Sound at the time and was seeking a meaningful use of my summer season. Unsure of what exactly AM was, I based my decision on a desire to work with the homeless population, which I had been introduced to through a Project Homeless Connect event. It took less than a month for me to realize that I had found a very special place to spend my summer–which is why I quickly looked for an opportunity to extend my time with Associated Ministries. As the summer ended I was offered a part-time position and jumped at the chance to be hired. I worked the entirety of my senior year as a part-time employee, and primarily reached out to the households that were on the waiting list for housing.
For a period of time I had the privilege of occupying the Youth Housing Specialist position, where I found that engaging homeless young adults is an extremely rewarding type of work for me. I have since started seeing more families and adults, but the youth population continues to inspire my work. The lessons that I have learned at Associated Ministries actually drove me to focus my senior thesis on issues of mental health in homeless youth. I quickly found that the youth & young adult populations are drastically under-served and they will require extra care and attention in the coming years. I hope to be part of that effort.
Although it has been a fast (and often overwhelming) two years, I embrace the fact that my experience is ever-evolving and I hope to continue to find new ways to improve at what I do. When I was younger I never would have seen myself doing this kind of work. My work has instilled within me a deep respect for the fragility of the human condition. I am grateful that Associated Ministries provided these opportunities to me. Being there for others has become my calling, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.