UW Tacoma’s Center for Service and Leadership, Tacoma Community House and The Mission Continues have partnered to provide volunteer service at the Tacoma Community House facility in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On the Saturday preceding MLK Day — Jan. 13 — these three Tacoma organizations will come together to serve the city from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Anyone interested can participate.
Participants will help repair, clean, landscape and build a lending library at Tacoma Community House’s facility located on South L Street in Hilltop. The lending library is part of a larger trend across Tacoma — people set up small stands with books and those who pass by can either take a book and return it, or donate a different one in its place.
TCH, established in 1907, is a social service organization focused on helping immigrants, refugees and community members. With an emphasis on “self-sufficiency, inclusion and advocacy” as stated in its mission, TCH provides 3,800 program services each year. With these services, TCH helps 3,500 people in the areas of education, employment, immigration and advocacy.
TCH offers basic education classes for adults — helping them pass the GED — along with English language classes and tutoring services in reading, writing and math. They also help people who are navigating immigration issues with citizenship classes and support victims of crime — including sexual assault and domestic violence.
Outreach Coordinator for TCH Latasha Ware said it is important for organizations in the Puget Sound to work together to share resources and better help the community.
“We are facing very troubling times as a community and the more that we share with one another, the better off we will be as a community,” Ware said.
Ware also said her organization and UWT share core values of “access, community, and diversity,” which makes working together crucial to “effectively accomplish our missions.”
Another service organization participating in the MLK Day of Service is The Mission Continues. TMC is a national organization which empowers veterans to serve their communities by transitioning from military service to community service. While partnering with other groups to serve in areas like education, poverty and youth, TMC also helps veterans adjust to a post-military life. Beyond MLK Day, 9/11 and Veteran’s Day also stand as important days for TMC’s service projects.
Eric Ballentine is a UWT senior, the platoon leader of the Tacoma 1st Service Platoon of TMC and the director of community service for UWT’s Student Veterans Organization. He discussed the connection between Martin Luther King Jr.’s message and the importance of community and equality.
“We must empower each other through service and commitment. We owe it to ourselves and our communities,” Ballentine said. “I believe it is important to take what I have learned in the classroom and apply it to empower our community.”
Ballentine explained that bringing together multiple organizations — like UWT, Tacoma Community House and The Mission Continues — allows for a greater impact.
“It’s about building new partnerships from different organizations and its people to provide a service that can benefit all,” Ballentine said.
UW Tacoma’s Center for Service and Leadership — the office coordinating the school’s community service activities — is a third partner for the event.
Carly Dunn — Local Services and Events Coordinator for the CSL — was introduced to the work of Tacoma Community House by Ballentine and was inspired by his work with TMC.
“I am inspired by people who take responsibility for and beyond themselves in a way that fights for life and creates a legacy for future generations,” Dunn said.
Dunn also said this event is not only for serving the community but also promotes civic leadership among students.
“Sure, this is a day of service, but it is intended to illuminate how much these gestures impact our community and just how simple it is to show up as a responsible person,” Dunn said.
All three organizations emphasize Martin Luther King Jr’s beliefs in the importance of community, inclusiveness and equality.
Students, veterans and volunteers will come together Jan. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate MLK Day 2018 by serving their community. Will you be one of them?
Sign up for MLK Day service at