On Saturday morning, I visited Wright Park in downtown Tacoma. I saw the St. Vincent de Paul program “Homelessness Prevention & Basic Needs Program – Walk This Way!” in action.
Among the wonderful trees and shrubs of Wright Park, with a beautiful view of the fountains and pond I saw three tents. Homeless people don’t all look the same. They don’t all push grocery carts or beg for change at freeway exits. I’ve seen them on Gravelly Lake Drive in Lakewood, Sixth Avenue in Tacoma, Pacific Avenue in Parkland, and near the fairgrounds in Puyallup. In April this year, “The annual Pierce County Point-in-Time Count found more than 1,400 people were experiencing homelessness locally — a 16% decrease from 2018.” – patch.com/washington/universityplace/1-400-people-counted-homeless-pierce-county-report
In the middle of the park I found Tracy Peacock, the executive director of St Vinnies here in Tacoma and two of her people, Lori Bemis and Stephanie Nicklaus. This was the 9th Annual walking and fundraising event. St. Vincent de Paul prevents homelessness by providing direct assistance to our needy neighbors — to avoid utility shut-off first, and and to avoid eviction, which can especially cripple a family for a long time.
I loved the event. St Vinnies staff was not only there working for the community, but so were their children and friends. I chatted with over a dozen people who were happy to be at the park, even with a constant late September drizzle.
The Tee-Shirt Crew were having a ball folding and sorting tees for the soon-to-arrive walkers. Peg and I have made two or three donation runs to the 56th Street location over the summer, so I recognized several of the women in the group.
There was plenty of parking around the park. I left my car near the Conservatory (always a great place to visit) and immediately ran into workers putting out orange cones and signs, and spray painting arrows on the pathways showing the route for walking. There were three loops and the complete walk was three miles.
Registration began at nine and the walk started at ten. Although St Vinnies works closely with the Catholic churches, religion plays no part in their assistance. The people of Pierce County benefit.
I walked the paths taking photos of volunteers and walkers and also drove around the park several times watching the participants. I enjoyed the lush feeling of the green grass and delighted in watching the squirrels scamper over the chestnuts and acorns laying on the ground. The walking event brought in thousands of dollars from sponsors and event walkers. The constant message of awareness helps our communities with Homelessness Prevention.