You probably know we are fanatical about Tacoma and want it to continue to improve as it has in so many ways over the years. Last year I wrote about Metropolitan Development Council opening the Randall Townsend Apartments. MDC is applying an innovative approach to homelessness, referred to as “housing first”. The concept is to provide housing along with access to services such as medical, mental health and drug and alcohol treatment. A key distinction; use of these services is not mandatory. This no-strings-attached approach has proven very effective in getting people on track toward independence. The notion is that a homeless person’s primary need is housing. With that in place, other problems, often stemming from the homelessness, simply vanish or are soon overcome. Beneficiaries of the program also show a dramatic reduction in use of emergency room and hospital services. MDC has a goal of ending Veteran homelessness by the end of the year and eventually ending homelessness altogether. I strongly believe our community is better when everyone has a home.
At last year’s Share breakfast we heard a terrific keynote speaker and stories of success directly from people whose lives have changed through this work. It was fun and inspiring. This year I was thrilled when MDC asked me to chair the breakfast. The keynote speaker is John Quinones, host of the popular show What Would You Do? If you haven’t seen the show, it is a hidden camera format that records bystanders’ reactions to paid actors exhibiting rotten behavior in public, such as refusing to serve dinner to a paying homeless person. Often people turn away with indifference, or appear to want to intervene but lack the nerve. Occasionally someone reacts heroically, standing up for what is right in the face of risks to themselves. These moments put a lump in the back of your throat. It is a great show and dovetails with the issue of homelessness. Today, right here in Tacoma there are people caught in a cycle of homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness and/or medical issues. What will WE do to help our neighbors break free of this cycle?
The Share Breakfast happens September 29th. I encourage you to attend or assemble a table of your friends as a table captain. There is no cost, but you will be invited to make a charitable gift to MDC in whatever amount you can. I challenged the president of MDC, Mark Pereboom, to increase attendance by 200 people this year. He would love your help in doing so! Register here!