Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Helping You Keep What You Earn Through Tax Assistance

As many of you may know, we are motivated to help families become financially stable. And considering the season we are in, one of the best ways to do this is through tax assistance. We can create a thriving community full of strong families by helping them keep more of what they earn through VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) efforts.

But we aren't in this alone! In fact, there are many different partner agencies across Pierce County involved in this tax assistance program.
  • South Sound 2-1-1 is also partnering with Pierce County Asset Building Coalition to provide tax help. Our call specialists refer callers to the network of free tax prep sites, which includes VITA sites AND AARP sites.
In addition, all of the library locations in Pierce County host VITA sites. Pierce County Libraries are even featuring information at their computer stations about - which is a free online tax prep site built on H&R Block’s product for those who feel comfortable doing their own taxes. Volunteers will prepare client taxes free of charge, determine if they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and find other credits to boost their bottom line.

For households making less than $54,000, they can get tax assistance and file for free at one of more than 20 sites throughout Pierce County from late January through April.
To find a site near you, dial 2-1-1 or check here.

These programs not only ensure families are keeping the money they deserve- but VITA ensures a long-term payoff by teaching people a vital part of financial stability.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Strong Families: Tony

Tony is a local Pierce County resident. He had everything – a nice house, a car, a job. Then he lost his job and everything "went wrong." He totaled his car, he went through a divorce, and he became homeless. He turned to Catholic Community Services Tacoma Avenue Shelter, an emergency overnight shelter for adult men and women. At first, Tony secretly cried at night in the shelter, wondering what would become of him.

Soon, Tony developed a routine of visiting Nativity House every morning to help out. He began to feel that eventually things were going to get better. Volunteering at Nativity House gave Tony a sense of purpose. He began to meet and share stories with other people at Nativity House and Tacoma Avenue Shelter and realized there were other people with life circumstances more unfortunate than his.

Tony took advantage of all the services provided by Catholic Community Services Homeless Adult Services program – hot meals, safe shelter, case managers, referrals to employment services and mainstream benefits – and finally got back on his feet. Now, he says, he is “living the dream life.” He has a good job and an apartment, and credits Catholic Community Services with making all the difference in putting his life back together.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Better Your Community With A Neighborhood Grant

by Cristiana Ventura, Resource Development & Marketing Intern

United Way of Pierce County’s Neighborhood Grants Program, powered by South Sound Together, provides financial and technical support to resident or community-led groups for projects that help children and families in their neighborhood. Last year's success proved the program to be vital for Pierce County- and we are happy to announce grant applications are available now for the 2016 year. 

Springbrook Connect is one of our extremely successful grant winners from last year. They applied for a Neighborhood Grant and got approved for their Community Garden project.

The residents of Springbrook Park applied for United Way funding in their neighborhood because they had no common area to build a sense of community together. They noted in their application that high poverty, transiency, and crime defined the vicinity. With their grant, they decided to create a community garden so that the residents of the area could all have a shared project. 

Alyce, one of the adult leaders, plays a critical role in providing a local emergency network for the community. Alyce shared that garden activities have been bridge builders within their tiny neighborhood cut off from Lakewood by I-5. She has seen parents of children, racially divided at first, start to come together under a common bond of work and play. Alyce also connects community members who cannot come to the garden. She was contacted by an older lady who had saved a ball of string to help the kids build a structure for newly planted peas.  Children who were once afraid to go to the park now play in it happily every day- their feeling of danger now a thing of the past. 

"Not only did the money help with our groups needs for tools,  fencing starts , etc. It allowed us to show the city of Lakewood that we are serious about helping to change our community for the better. Our success ... allowed Mary Dodsworth( Parks Director for Lakewood) to justify investing money into Springbrook Park. The city has decided to enlarge the park and our garden. 

I am happy to say the garden space they proposed will include a permanent storage shed, a 6 ft security fence , and 32 new raised beds for planting. I truly believe if it was not for the United Way's help last year we would not have been able to have the city pay attention to our efforts. Thank you." - Springbrook Connect resident

This community has come together in a new and meaningful way - - moreover, there is ownership in the project from a wide assortment of stakeholders. This is one small step to breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty. If we all continue to champion the cause of caring, like so many in the Springbrook community, and outside the Springbrook community, like United Way, then there is much hope.

This year, the Neighborhood Grants Program will be accepting applications from any Pierce County community-led groups in the Hilltop, Springbrook, Franklin Pierce, Bethel, or Eastside (Salishan) neighborhoods. Proposed amounts may range from $500 to $1,500.

 Want to better your neighborhood? Know of someone who would- but needs the funds to do so? Apply now! Application closes March 31st.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Welcome Corey!

We are pleased to announce the addition of Corey Mosesly to our staff. Mosesly joined United Way as the Manager of Family Stability Initiatives. He comes to the organization with a wealth of experience in both the non-profit and government sector and has worked with organizations on a broad range of issues, including education, housing, and workforce development.

“I look forward to working directly with neighborhood groups and individuals to listen to their needs and ideas for solving problems,” said Mosesly. “As well as working with service providers and partners about how we can work together to invest in our families that need help.”

One of the key initiatives Mosesly will be focused on is United Way of Pierce County’s Centers for Strong Families, set to launch later this year. The Centers will utilize existing community organizations to provide an integrated approach to deliver vital services and financial support to hard-working families.

“Center for Strong Families is an opportunity to bring people together to focus on breaking the cycle of poverty,” explained Mosesly.

Over the last few years, Mosesly has provided consulting services for the City of Tacoma’s Neighborhood Council Program, Neighborhood Business District Program, and more recently to several of the independently run Neighborhood Councils.

He currently serves on the:

•         City of Tacoma’s Human Service Commission
•         Vision 2025 Advisory Committee
•         American Leadership Forum Program Committee

Mosesly is a part of the Business Examiner’s 2014 class of 40-under-forty community/business leaders. He is a long-time member of the Pierce County Black Collective, a Palmer Scholar, and a Senior Fellow (class 18) of the American Leadership Forum.

Mosesly grew up in Tacoma and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in public policy from Evergreen State College-Tacoma Campus. He is currently completing a Master in Public Administration degree at Evergreen and lives with his wife and three boys in Tacoma’s Central Neighborhood.

To learn more about United Way of Pierce County visit or call (253) 272-4263.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Successful Kids: Mike & Drew

Mike is a volunteer at a local Tacoma elementary school helping tutor young students with reading. Volunteering and giving back to his community has always been an important part of Mike’s life, but this past years’ experience with tutoring brought him a moment that made him see his work in new light.

Mike’s student Drew grew up living with just his dad, and had been really struggling staying on track with his reading. One day, Mike and Drew were working on “ug”words: slug, bug, hug… and drug.

At the sound of the word drug, Drew immediately asked if they could skip that word. A few moments later, he went on to share that drugs were the reason that he couldn’t see his mom anymore.

“This was a major ah-hah moment for me, I realized just how important this work really is. "- Mike, Reading Tutor

Giving kids like Drew great opportunities and the care needed to be successful in school.” When Drew took his reading proficiency test, he passed and is now officially reading at grade level. On the last day of tutoring, Drew’s dad couldn’t stop talking about how proud he was of his son. And Mike agreed.