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A Partner in Warmth: Columbia Bank and the Tacoma Rescue Mission

by Karlie Watts | Nov 26, 2018

The following guest blog is from Duke Paulson, executive director of the Tacoma Rescue Mission. The mission is a long-standing partner with Columbia Bank and a collaborator with every Warm Hearts Winter Drive.

As a long-time partner with Columbia Bank, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the bank’s employees and friends who participate in the Warm Hearts Winter Drive, and to talk briefly about what our partnership is doing to help those in our community who struggle with homelessness.

First, let’s discuss the growing challenges of homelessness. Every year, Pierce County takes part in a national Point-In-Time Count, on a set day in January, to assess how many men, women, and children are unsheltered in our community. Last year’s Point-in-Time Count identified 1,321 homeless persons in Pierce County – and as service providers, we know that is likely an under-count, since it is not possible to find everyone in that 24-hour period. It is critical for the public to understand the full picture of this crisis. The first thing to note is that “homeless” does not just refer to individuals you see on the street. The definition of homeless includes those in emergency shelters, in transitional housing and sleeping in cars, abandoned buildings, or other spaces not intended for human habitation. In every case, these are our neighbors and community members who don’t have stable housing.

Next, it’s important to understand that there is no single cause of this crisis. Mental health issues, addiction, job loss, economic crises, eviction or family tragedy can all contribute to the fact that more than 1,000 members of our community don’t have a safe place to call home. In short, people don’t choose to be homeless - a real and tangible crisis forces their hand. That is where we step in to help.

The Tacoma Rescue Mission provides emergency services, including shelter and food, to the homeless or hurting, and offers self-sufficiency programs to help lift a person from poverty and break the chains of addiction. Our work is only possible due to the support of caring community members like yourself. During the last three years, Columbia Bank’s Warm Hearts Winter Drive has provided over $75,000.00 and countless pieces of warm winter clothing to support neighbors in need through the Mission. From your generous donations, we have been able to provide shelter and warmth to many people during the coldest months of the year.

Of course, we are just one of the more than 50 organizations that the Warm Hearts program partners with to provide funds and warm clothing. Throughout the Northwest, so many Columbia Bank clients and partners have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and untold thousands of winter wear to partner organizations such as ours.

On behalf of the men, women, and children served by the Tacoma Rescue Mission, I wish to thank you for your efforts. You are helping make a real and positive difference in the lives of so many.

To donate to the Warm Hearts Winter Drive, please visit our donation page.

Duke Paulson, Executive Director
Tacoma Rescue Mission



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