Building hope

Hope is powerful.  Without it, despair sets in.  But with hope, nearly anything is possible.  This week I witnessed that power in our community – not once but twice!

As you may have seen in the recent news release, this week we presented to the Council a bold and smart plan to create a new community for chronically homeless people in the county.  A place where people trapped on the streets, many with untreated addiction and mental illness, can be restored and recover.

Modeled after the successful community outside Austin, Texas, this village of microhomes with supportive services, gathering spaces, healthcare, and microenterprises would bring dignity, hope and a home for about 270 people who have been without a stable home for years.

You can read more about the plans here

I think this video tells the story well.  I encourage you to listen carefully to Erica’s words.  She had been living on the street for about 10 years before the Tacoma Rescue Mission lifted her up and gave her a reason to hope.

I want to thank Erica for bravely sharing her story, and her perspective. The new village would help others, like Erica, who have lost their connection to community and the safety of a home.

I’m hopeful Council will soon consider the proposal and release the funds that have been budgeted for just this purpose.

My thanks to Steve O’Ban, Heather Moss, Duke Paulson from the Tacoma Rescue Mission, and many others, for finding an approach that can work for both those who need our help and our broader community. I would especially like to thank the work that our County Council has already done in understanding this opportunity.  Dave Morell, Paul Herrera and Amy Cruver took the time to see Austin’s success first-hand.  And Marty Campbell, Paul Herrera, and Amy Cruver have already walked the site of our proposed village.

There is still much work ahead, but hope is motivating our efforts.

A hundred years ago, a group of local women had a vision for ensuring the sick children in our community received the care they needed.  From that vision, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital opened in 1955.

More recently another group of far-sighted people in Tacoma started dreaming about rebuilding and expanding Mary Bridge.  They wanted to ensure our children today and into the future have access to world-class care.  And on Wednesday I had the opportunity to represent the community at the groundbreaking of this new Mary Bridge Hospital Campus.

I was one of several distinguished speakers at the event, including the mayor of Tacoma, the leaders of MultiCare, the Mary Bridge Foundation, and the Mary Bridge Brigade – the legacy of those original women who stepped up in 1921.

But one speaker’s words were more powerful than all the other presenters combined.  His name is Jack, and he is in 8th grade.  Jack has been battling cancer for the last two years – and now serves as a Mary Bridge Ambassador.

He shared how the diagnosis changed his life – and it came right at the beginning of the pandemic.  He told us about how the amazing staff at Mary Bridge helped him stay connected to his classmates, in addition to providing life-saving care.  Jack is exceptional and I have high hopes for his future!

At the same time, I could not help but think about Jack’s parents – what were they thinking when they heard their beloved son had cancer?  I suspect they felt both powerless and hopeless.  But the outstanding Mary Bridge team gave them confidence that Jack would receive the care and support he needed.  When facing despair, that team provided both Jack and his parents hope.

I am so thankful that we live in a hopeful community.  We believe in brighter futures for those facing tremendous challenges – and we rally around them.

Thanks for reading,