106-year-old, Tacoma Community House (TCH) continues to better Washingtonians through a variety of support programs.
TCH is a non-profit organization located on Hilltop at 1314 S L St., Tacoma, WA. The building has been renovated three times while it’s been in business.
Over the years the organization has changed, but throughout those changes the organization always thrived to serve the South Puget Sound area.
Originally, the organization served families and children in the neighborhood. A lot of programs were geared towards the youth—Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, children’s summer camp programs, etc. The organization changed, now mainly serving adults.
“The programs changed in response to community needs. [The organization] begins and ends programs according to the current greatest need. In the early 20th century that need was for the first preschool and literacy programs. Now the greatest need is adult education, employment, and immigration services,” says Community Organizer, Sarah J. Roemer.
There are four departments: educations, employment, immigration, and advocacy.
The organization does provide one educational program for children called Read to Me. This program is led by a team of volunteers, Tacoma Community House staff members, and staff from AmeriCorps—a network that connects over 70,000 Americans each year to meet community needs. Together, they focus on the educational needs of four schools in Tacoma (of their choice) and work with the children throughout the school year.
“The teachers test the children the first month of school. Then we train and match volunteers to children who are below reading level for first through third grade. Those children are matched with their tutor, and their tutor comes in one hour a week for the school year,” says Roemer.
After the school year, the Read to Me staff members test the children to mark their development.
Last year, the 175 staff and volunteers tutored a total of 500 children in the Tacoma area.
The popular GED program provides adults with classes in order to receive the certificate.
“We test them [then] separate them into different classrooms. There is reading, writing, and math. Other subjects are incorporated into those classes [such as social studies, geography, and science],” says Roemer.
In addition, the organization goes beyond the paper and pencil, aiding adults in finding job opportunities.
“We have workshops where employers come in and help people fill out applications,” says Roemer.
The department of advocacy is for both immigration and victims of crime.
The client advocacy program provides resources for victims of human trafficking, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
The staff members aiding victims of crime assist them with court paperwork, police reports, filing orders of protection, and referrals to therapists.
TCH also provides an advocacy program for immigrants, aiding them on their path to citizenship.
“It’s amazing what Tacoma Community House has been able to do for 106 years. Through all the ups and downs in the economy and social pressure they have stayed here, in the Hilltop, through it all. Several people have worked here for more than twenty years and have seen so many faces come through here, working to create a stable life… The people that I share with very dominantly have the urge to step up and ask, ‘What can we do to support you?’ It’s great knowing that Tacoma and South Puget Sound care… we just need to connect more often to foster support long-term,” says Roemer.