Each year during our annual Warm Hearts Winter Drive, all of our locations across Washington, Oregon and Idaho team up to raise funds and warm winter items for shelters across the Northwest. In just five years, with the support of our amazing communities we’ve been able to raise over $1 million to directly support over 60 shelter partners like the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Each donation made to the Warm Hearts Winter Drive stays where the donation was made.
Duke Paulson, executive director of Tacoma Rescue Mission commented, “The longstanding partnership we have with Columbia supports those experiencing homelessness year-round and not just during the holidays. Columbia’s generous support is crucial to the execution of our initiatives on behalf of our many families in need of a place to call home.”
Over the last year, the Tacoma Rescue Mission has served over 304,556 meals to those in need and helped 2,524 men, women and children, a 7 percent increase from last year. They’ve also helped 89 men and women graduate from a new life recovery program and helped place 581 people in stable housing, a 62 percent increase from last year. In addition, 498 people got started with jobs due to help from Tacoma Rescue Mission, an 87 percent increase from last year.
Among the many people Tacoma Rescue Mission, and your donations, has helped is Michelle.
“To be honest, the life I grew up in, I didn’t see being alive at 50.”
Michelle was exposed to abuse and addiction growing up. From a young age, Michelle “struggled to survive.” As a teenager, she turned to drugs to cope. It was what she knew, the life she grew up in. And it was the only future she could see for herself.
“When you grow up in an abusive, drug-infested environment, it’s hard to even see that there’s any other way,” Michelle explains.
However, when Michelle became a mother of two, she knew things needed to change. She got clean and moved her family into a substance-free house. Finally, things were looking up. Yet, life took a turn for the worse when the recovery house she was living at went into foreclosure. Suddenly Michelle and her children were homeless.
Hopeless and afraid, she faced the terrifying question: “Will we have a safe place to sleep tonight or tomorrow?”
“It’s debilitating” explains Michelle. “Always having that hanging over your head is a huge burden, especially when you have kids.”
Thankfully, a caring friend suggested the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Soon after, Michelle and her family were able to move into the Mission’s Tyler Square Apartments.
It was a life-changing blessing.
“I was so used to having to survive, that I didn’t know how to thrive.” Michelle shares. “But being here, having the stability of a home helps hope grow. It really catapulted us.”
Finally, she could focus on helping herself and her family.
Michelle received her GED, enrolled in college and helped start a recovery support group. “I want to be able to help others,” she says. Without the constant chaos and struggles of homelessness, her children could thrive in the healthy and supportive environment.
Michelle is grateful for you. She shares, “The donor’s kindness makes all of this possible.”
Thanks to the generosity of community members like you, Michelle is now hopeful for her children’s future. “Being here brings opportunities to children who are less fortunate. A lot of the blessings you can’t put a price tag on,” she explains. “Hope builds in the kids. They get to see that the world isn’t always a bad thing.”
Your support can help change and rebuild lives. Michelle’s story is a powerful example. “I knew that there were people living a different kind of life,” Michelle says, “but I never thought that would or could be us.”
Because of your support, individuals and families in dire need can receive crucial help and care. Many times, that care begins with a meal. Will you help change a life by giving the gift of a meal?
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