Monday, November 29, 2010

Broken Water Pipes Temporarily Close Historic Building

 by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

The historic Betye Martin Baker Human Service Center building at 1501 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma, owned by United Way of Pierce County and home to several other nonprofits, is temporarily closed due to substantial damage caused by a series of broken pipes following last week’s winter storm. While the building is closed until further notice, United Way and the South Sound 2-1-1 hotline will continue to serve the community through remote operations. A few unaffected offices operated by other nonprofits will continue work at the building site, as the structure itself is sound.

Late Thanksgiving night, pipes burst in the building as frozen water began to thaw, causing damage throughout the four-story site. Flooding on the top floor also damaged interior walls and some offices below. The Human Service Center was one of many buildings in downtown Tacoma that suffered damage as a result of last week’s snow and frigid temperatures. Despite the damage, United Way of Pierce County and fellow human service providers located in the building are committed to continuing service for those in need.

“At United Way, we operate by the motto of LIVE UNITED,” said Rick Allen, President of United Way of Pierce County. “The same is true in this situation. We have problems of our own that we are dealing with but our number one priority remains, and always will be, to help those in our community who need it most. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that continues.”

South Sound 2-1-1 is a call center that provides non-emergency resources to the community. The Monday after Thanksgiving is usually the highest call volume day of the entire year for people seeking human service assistance. Call center hours will remain the same and staff is available by simply dialing 2-1-1. Over 75,000 calls for help came to the local call center in the last year.

Updated information on the building closure will be available at 253-272-4263.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Will Pierce County Citizens Rise to the Challenge?

by Rick Allen, Phd, President & CEO, United Way of Pierce County

Most Americans are still struggling to make ends meet in this economy. Thousands of Pierce County citizens can be counted among those who are struggling. Over 40 percent of the residents of Pierce County are now receiving service from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). That's over 300,000 people.

Calls to South Sound 2-1-1 for human service assistance went up by 28 percent from 2008 and continue at unprecedented levels. Over the last year, the call center received over 76,000 calls, many from people desperate for help. Unfortunately, reports showed that only 39.8 percent of them were actually able to get the help they needed because the nonprofit programs had been overwhelmed and no longer had funding to provide the needed service.

We can all share stories of neighbors, friends, loved ones and family members who have lost jobs, lost their homes and are fighting just to stay afloat in this negative economic storm. Unfortunately, due to painful cuts in the budgets of almost all funders, it is likely the nonprofits who provide services to those in crisis are about to receive another round of deep cuts.

There are those who are stepping up to help and some of the sources of this extraordinary generosity might surprise you.

Young people in our local high schools are stepping up by increasing their community service through volunteerism. Over 400 high school students from more than 30 Pierce County high schools are expected earn a Varsity Letter in Community Service by volunteering more than 145 hours each during the year. Ten years ago, only seven students earned the honor.

Another example is that staff in numerous nonprofit organizations, including United Way, has taken salary freezes and cuts over the last two years. They have cut other internal costs which have helped to get more services into the community. For most nonprofits, these cuts are far too deep to sustain over time.

Russell Investments is also a great example of stepping up. Russell has pledged a $500,000 challenge matching grant to the community through United Way, pledging to match every new undesignated dollar donated to United Way’s community campaign. What that means is, if you add a new dollar to your past gift or if you make a new gift and pledge it to the community safety net, Russell Investments will match your gift with an additional dollar.

When was the last time someone gave you free money to help those in need in your community? It is impressive to see Russell’s social commitment to the area in which many of their employees reside.

However, the phrase “challenge match” is real. What that means is that Russell Investments will match each new dollar to the community safety net through United Way, up to $500,000, but only if you and others like you decide to take the challenge and increase your gift. In these difficult economic times, there is certainly no guarantee that will happen.

Will companies not currently participating in the community-wide campaign also step up? In those companies, every single new dollar to the community safety net through a new United Way campaign would be matched by Russell Investments. In a time of community crisis, we are hopeful that leaders in these companies will rise to the challenge, step forward and say, “Count us in. We will join the community-wide campaign in this time of obvious crisis.”

To do so, just email the Vice President for Community Education and Resource Development at United Way, Jay Thomas, at

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bethel Senior Shares Passion for Volunteering, Football

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

Many seniors set goals for their final year of high school. For Bethel High School senior Christian Booth, those goals included volunteering enough hours to earn his fourth Varsity Letter in Community Service from United Way of Pierce County’s Youth United program. Yet just earning another letter wasn’t enough. So Booth extended the challenge to his teammates on the Bethel football team.

The team began volunteering this summer, working toward the 145-hour minimum necessary to earn the letter. They did environmental rehabilitation and participated in monthly service projects through Youth United. One of the most meaningful projects tackled by the team was volunteer work at the home of a Bethel teacher who lost her life to cancer. The boys did yard work and helped around the family home. By summer’s end, more than 50 members of the team were working toward the minimum goal to earn the letter.

In July, Booth’s efforts were sidelined when the Youth United leadership team member fell 200 feet while exploring on the Washington coast. Booth suffered multiple fractures and broken bones. His injuries were severe and not only halted his volunteer efforts, they also put the Braves’ co-captain on the bench for his final football season.

Despite his injuries, Booth continues to serve his community by sitting on the United Way of Pierce County Board of Directors, participating in the Bethel chapter of Youth United’s leadership council, helping arrange volunteer projects for his teammates and volunteering at Phoenix Housing with his family.

Christian Booth doesn't just wear the shirt, he lives it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Red Hot Leaving Their Mark on Hot Dog World and Local Community

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

The Red Hot and their Tacoma-inspired hot dogs are grabbing national attention. A few weeks ago they were featured on the Food Network’s Chef vs. City and Yahoo Travel recently named their dogs one of the best in the nation. However, it’s their work right here in their Pierce County community that really turns heads.

Shortly after opening nearly their eatery on 6th Avenue three years ago, the staff at the Red Hot came to United Way of Pierce County looking for an opportunity to give back. They got involved in their seasonal giving programs, providing school supplies for low-income kids going back to class and gifts for single-mother families at the holidays.

In 2009, they decided to get their patrons involved. With the additional donations from their customers, the Red Hot was able to build a backpack for a girl and another for a boy in every grade. They also bumped up their holiday giving to include two families.

In honor of their third anniversary, the Red Hot is celebrating August 15, 2010 and raffling off a vintage Rainiers cooler with all the proceeds going to United Way of Pierce County. Tickets go on sale Monday, July 5th and will be sold through August 14th and are just $1.

Owner Cynthia Miller and her team at Red Hot believe in community and have developed a family of patrons who join them in making a difference.

“We have the greatest clientele,” said Miller. “It is like a community within a community, not an establishment.”

Visit the Red Hot at 2914 6th Avenue in Tacoma to purchase tickets.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Children’s Museum Has a New Home, Long-Term Partnership with United Way of Pierce County

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

United Way of Pierce County and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma entered into a potential 25-year partnership today with the signing of a ten-year lease, with options for three five-year extensions. As of March 26, 2010, the Museum will lease approximately 8,700 square feet on the first floor of United Way’s historic Betye Martin Baker Human Service Center at 1501 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. Museum administrative offices will take up part of the second floor.

The Museum is outgrowing its current storefront location and has, under the leadership of John Folsom, been looking for a new home for over two years. Folsom was chairman of the Museum’s Site Selection Committee. The Committee reviewed several opportunities for the Museum, guided by criteria influenced largely by community input. The United Way location met the majority of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma’s search criteria, including a favorable long-term lease, increased space, potential access to outdoor play space, adjacent parking, easy access and safety in a downtown location near cultural districts and amenities.

“We are thrilled about this partnership,” said Tanya Andrews, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. “Given the current challenges that all of us are facing, this is really an affordable solution for the Museum, for funders and for families. This allows us to focus our resources on playing with families, be it in our new, enhanced space or in their own neighborhood through our expanding Play to Learn program. It means our supporters are funding more direct services rather than just bricks and mortar.”

The new location will further enhance United Way and the Children’s Museum’s partnership in education. The pair have been working with other local partners to increase the number of Pierce County children who are ready to learn upon entering kindergarten. The Children’s Museum’s Play to Learn program has been a key component in the community’s efforts. Play to Learn offers free opportunities for children birth to six years old and their adult caregivers. In its first 18 months, the program spread to eight sites throughout Pierce County and now serves over 400 individuals each week. Play to Learn is projected to serve 10,000 people this year: a growth of over 68 percent since its inception.

“We are excited to have them on board,” said Rick Allen, President of United Way of Pierce County. “Not only are our interests closely aligned, but their move here now makes them a part of the Museum District, a nice enhancement to an economic driver in the city. We think the fit is right in many ways.”

The Museum expects to open the doors at 1501 Pacific Avenue in late 2011. The building, built in 1889, was dedicated as the Betye Martin Baker Human Service Center in 1995. United Way purchased the property in 1992 with the intent of providing affordable space to local nonprofits and organizations with closely related interests. The building is home to several organizations including the Boys and Girls Club administrative offices, Safe Streets, The Nonprofit Center, Cares of Washington and United Way of Pierce County.

The Children’s Museum is interested in continuing its conversations with the community about services and museum amenities; a survey is available at Community members can also sign up for email updates about the new space and the Museum’s Capital Campaign at

The Museum’s Capital Campaign for a new home will be reactivated in the upcoming month. Campaign co-chairs are Jacquie Boyd and Joanne Bamford will meet with their leadership team in early May to determine project needs and campaign goals.

UPDATE: The Children's Museum announced they will open at the new Pacific Avenue location January 14, 2012.

The Spirit of Pierce County

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

The highest honor bestowed by United Way of Pierce County is the Spirit of Pierce County Award. This award is given to the local company that demonstrates consistently strong performance in the conduct of their United Way workplace campaigns, diversity and depth in their community service and energetic and bold leadership in addressing community issues and needs. Recipients exemplify the highest standards of civic engagement and community-based philanthropy. And the nominees are…

Columbia Bank – This amazing organization is very committed to this community. Its employees not only support United Way’s community campaign but donate financial and technical support and volunteer time at more than 150 nonprofits throughout the county. Their fundraising efforts are lead by their management staff and recorded their best campaign ever as a result.

Comcast – This organization gives generously of both their time and treasure. This year, they helped the entire Puget Sound area, working with local United Ways to run the Give $10, Tell 10 Friends social media campaign. They also saw significant increases in their campaign and ran another success Comcast Cares volunteer event.

Lindquist Dental Clinic for Children – This partner has worked alongside United Way of Pierce County for years, working to provide vital dental care to children. This year, their campaign grew from 20% participation to 100% and as a result, their donations increased as well.

Moss Adams, LLP – This company knows what it means to volunteer. They support a number of local nonprofits with their time and through generous sponsorships. In addition, they consistently support the community with financial donations.

MultiCare/Good Samaritan Hospital – This committed organization runs a model campaign. Numerous events, leadership involvement, appreciation events and a hard-working coordinator team have helped MultiCare/Good Samaritan become one of the most successful campaign in the county.

Parametrix – This small company is fueled by an energetic and enthusiastic team of people. Their campaign is known for its fun events but this group understands the importance of supporting the community as well. This year they not only ran a campaign, but provided turkeys for local food banks that were hurting during the holidays.

Pierce Transit – The commitment to community runs year-round for Pierce Transit. They run a stellar campaign but also volunteer close to 2,400 hours of service. They have great leadership support, even putting their CEO to work washing cars.

The winner will be announced April 27th at United Way of Pierce County’s Community Celebration. Congratulations to all of our nominees!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Campaign of the Year

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

It's time to meet another group of award nominees. The third category of nominees is the Campaign of the Year for Companies in the Public Sector. Campaign awards recognize outstanding companies who demonstrate excellence in the conduct of their workplace campaigns. And the nominees are...

City of Sumner – This organization of caring and giving employees saw their most successful campaign in five years in 2009. Participation continues to grow annually as well.

Eatonville School District – A community-minded organization, the School District has been working to increase participation in their campaign for the past few years. They are succeeded, multiplying their participation rate every year.

Sumner School District – One of the most giving school districts in the community, Sumner continued to generously support the campaign this year. Despite staff cuts, they increased their participation and maintained giving.

Tacoma Public Utilities – Just when they think they’ve maximized giving, TPU employees raise the bar. Volunteering, food drives and fundraising events are just part of what made their campaign a success as they exceeded donation and participation goals once again.

The winner will be announced April 27th at United Way of Pierce County’s Community Celebration. Congratulations to all of our nominees!

Coming Next week…The Spirit of Pierce County Award Nominees!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Campaign of the Year - Companies with More than 100 Employees

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

The second category of nominees is the Campaign of the Year for Companies with more than 100 employees. Campaign awards recognize outstanding companies who demonstrate excellence in the conduct of their workplace campaigns. And the nominees are…

Concrete Technology Corporation – This company rose to the occasion despite the economic conditions, running one of their best campaigns ever. They raised more this year than in 2008 even though they lost one third of their staff.

Costco Wholesale – Puyallup – Costco ran an outstanding campaign in 2009, incorporating agency tours and presentations that helped employees truly understand the needs of our community. The result, the most significant increase in giving the organization has seen.

Mutual of Enumclaw – Another organization that saw big increase was Mutual of Enumclaw. A very active company in the Enumclaw community, they gave generously this year, increasing their campaign 148 percent.

Umqua Bank (formerly Rainer Pacific Bank) – A dedicated group of coordinators made this year’s campaign an active one. Fundraisers from breakfasts, raffles, doughnut sales, restaurant take-overs and auctions helped this company achieve success.

Toray Composites America – After laying off a quarter of their staff, Toray had their work cut out for them. Yet, their fundraising remained steady and they gave an additional donation to the Gifts in Kind program.

The winner will be announced April 27th at United Way of Pierce County’s Community Celebration. Congratulations to all of our nominees!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Campaign of the Year - Companies with Less Than 100 Employees

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

Each spring, United Way of Pierce County acknowledges the outstanding work of companies and individuals in our community. These partners are critical to the advances being made in Pierce County through their financial support, volunteerism and advocacy.

The first category of nominees is the Campaign of the Year for Companies with less than 100 employees. Campaign awards recognize outstanding companies who demonstrate excellence in the conduct of their workplace campaigns. And the nominees are…

Altrom America Group – a leading distributor of import car parts and alternatives, Altrom chooses to give to United Way of Pierce County despite their location in King County. They support the community where they live through their campaign and by donating to the Gifts In Kind program.

APA – The Engineered Wood Association – APA was one of the many organizations that saw a reduction in its workforce but that didn’t stop this company from supporting the community. In addition to running a strong campaign, APA also supports the community year-round through food drives, back to school support, holiday giving and volunteering.
Baxter-Hobart Manufacturing Systems – This company‘s leadership sets the tone for their campaign, giving a remarkable corporate match to encourage employee giving. In addition to their outstanding campaign, Baxter-Hobart gives their time at an equally generous rate, supporting several organizations in their Orting neighborhood.

NuStar Energy – This company proudly boasts a 100% participation rate in their campaign. They also give through Gifts in Kind, volunteer their time and support families through seasonal giving.

Pilkey Hopping & Ekberg – Another company with 100% participation, this organization decided to focus on increasing their giving. They did just that by tripling their donations for 2009.

Salvation Army – Tacoma Corps – Over the last several years, this organization has increased its giving substantially, going from 12% participation a few years ago to 100% in 2009.

Ted Brown Music Company – This company took a fun approach to their campaign this year and it paid off. Exciting events combined with education to make this year’s campaign a success.

The winner will be announced April 27th at United Way of Pierce County’s Community Celebration. Congratulations to all of our nominees!

Friday, February 19, 2010

ADVOCATE - A Day on the Hill 2010

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

Part of United Way of Pierce County’s efforts in Advocacy includes spending a “Day on the Hill” in Olympia. This year, United Way of Pierce County was well represented in Olympia on February 11. Our delegation was led by Jamey McCormick and Patty Rose, board members who co-chair UWPC’s Advocacy Committee. Other Community Champions who attended were Jeffrey Vernor, Board Member, Russell Investments; Cheryl Jones, Allen Renaissance; Ria Johnson, Metropolitan Development Council; Matt Levi, Franciscan Health Care; and Nathe Lawver, AFL-CIO. Funding partners from Boeing, Gina Breukelman and Shyla Miller, also joined the team.

The group gathered at the Capitol and spent the day meeting with legislators discussing our board- approved legislative agenda, primarily focusing on support for developing a private/public funding partnership for home visiting (3SHB2687), a critical resource for the First 5 FUNdamentals early learning system and preserving state funding for 2-1-1. Highlights of those meetings include reassurance from Representative Bruce Dammeier (25th District) that early learning is one of his top priorities which was echoed throughout the day in meetings with Senator Derek Kilmer (26th District), aide for Representative Jan Angel (26th District), aide for Representative Tami Green (28th District), Representative Jeannie Darneille (27th District) and aide to Representative Dawn Morrell (25th District). We brought much needed attention to the value of 2-1-1, particularly with Representative Dennis Flannigan (27th District), Representative Al O’Brien (1st District – not in Pierce County, however a prime champion for statewide 2-1-1) and Senator Jim Kastama (25th District).

Early learning was definitely creating a buzz in the hallways of the legislative building, with lots of discussion swirling around about a variety of related bills which are alive and moving through the process. During the luncheon, provided by UWWA, Representative Ruth Kagi (prime sponsor of the home visiting bill), mentioned how much she appreciates the advocacy by Pierce County in relation to home visiting. Also during the lunch, President Rick Allen engaged in an interesting back and forth with Representative Roger Goodman who believes that early learning should be included in the definition of basic education.

All in all it was a very successful day that the Champions agreed made a significant impact. Now we must keep that ball rolling so that when the legislative session ends on March 11, our agenda items will be winners! Most importantly, the community we serve will be able to continue to access the invaluable service of 2-1-1 and young parents and their babies will start life out right due to having a trained professional visit their homes regularly providing child development and bonding insight.

You can help by writing a letter to the editor or contacting your local legislator. Use your voice, make a difference.

WE WANT TO KNOW…What issues do you think our state government needs to focus on?

Monday, January 11, 2010

THANK YOU 2009 Loaned Executives

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

I cannot believe I just typed “2010”!

It seems like just yesterday that we met our 2009 class of UWPC Loaned Executives (LEs); there they were, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with no idea what they had just gotten themselves into. So, what had they gotten themselves into? Fifteen weeks of hard, but rewarding, work. Fifteen weeks of making connections, meeting new people, planning campaigns, tallying pledge forms, educating the community, and – eeek! – public speaking (insert dramatic music here).

We had 11 UWPC LEs who raised funds for the UWPC Community Campaign. We also had the great privilege of working alongside five Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Loaned Executives. The CFC LEs are loaned from the military and United States Postal Service and work specifically raising money for federal accounts.

We could not be more proud of the work that these 16 brave individuals accomplished during their time at UWPC. We simply could not run the campaign without them. And the LE program would not exist without the generous organizations that loan or sponsor the individuals. We work with hundreds of accounts, and our tiny team is physically unable to give every single one of those campaigns the time and attention they so richly deserve. However, when you add 16 talented, hard-working people to the mix, well, the game completely changes!

A huge thanks to our 2009 class of Loaned Executives and to the companies who loaned/sponsored them!

United Way of Pierce County LEs: Luther Rimorin, loaned by Puget Sound Energy; Mark Kawabata loaned by State Farm Insurance; Shelley Roberts loaned by Tacoma Public Utilities; Cristina Celani, Malcolm Russell, Liz Stanton, Michelle Spruell and Michelle Smith, all sponsored by The Boeing Company; Patricia Hart sponsored by Russell Investments and Columbia Bank, Megan McFarlane sponsored by Group Health and Pediatrics NW; and, Sinh Nguyen sponsored by Regence and KeyBank.

CFC LEs: MSgt Christopher Yando loaned by McChord Air Force Base; DeeDee Emmett loaned by theUS Postal Service; 1Lt Passion Julinsey loaned by WA National Guard, MSG Tito Vazquez loaned by Madigan/Warriors Transition Battalion; and, SSG Morris Anderson loaned by Fort Lewis.