Life in Tacoma

This week, the Tacoma community share their enthusiasm and gratitude at their experiences living and serving as JV AmeriCorps members. From coordinating community gardens to supporting the Food Bank, these JV AmeriCorps members love their placements and relish the community in which they live. 

Hello! Our names are James, Jeff, John, Lauren, and Natalie and we are the Tacoma House of Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest AmeriCorps program. Our house’s name is Thea Jamba, which means “the house where the bus stops” in Cambodian. If you come visit us in Tacoma, don’t bother looking for the bus stop, though! The name was given to the Tacoma house back when it was located on I street, next to a bus stop. The community moved to a new house, and we liked the name so much that we took it with us.

The Tacoma community of JV AmeriCorps members have five chickens that provide them with food in exchange for their care. Says JV AmeriCorps member Lauren McKenna, "The chickens are not only a source of eggs, but also a fun reminder of where our food comes from."

Thea Jamba is located in the middle of a Catholic Worker community in the Hilltop part of Tacoma. The Catholic Workers are an independent group of people who, like the JV AmeriCorps members, live in community and work toward social justice. Needless to say, we’ve become great friends and have dinner with them about once a week. Hilltop is a fantastic community to live and serve in. It’s a very friendly atmosphere, and we’ve learned a lot because there is so much talk of life and experiences within the community. On top of all that, we get to wake up every morning to the beautiful sight of Mount Rainier!

The JV AmeriCorps Tacoma community on Christmas morning. JV AmeriCorps member Natalie Commins (far left), served later in the day at her placement, Nativity House, serving dinner to adults who are experiencing homelessness.

We all think we have the best placements in the best city in JVC Northwest. Natalie’s service placement is at Nativity House, a day shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Hilltop. She always comes home with awesome stories about how she serves her guests. Lauren and Jeff serve at L’Arche, a community where people with and without developmental disabilities live and work together. Jeff serves on the L’Arche farm, where he grows food with the community members with disabilities, called “core members.” Lauren serves in Noah’s workshop, spending time with core members as they make beautiful crafts.

JV AmeriCorps member Lauren McKenna poses with a core member in the midst of their Christmas Party. At her placement, Lauren spends time with core members, making crafts, baking, dancing, going on walks and field trips and supporting members who volunteer at various organizations in Tacoma.

John serves at the Guadalupe Land Trust, which manages community and learning gardens in Hilltop. He organizes the communities in the gardens, and has lasting friendships with many of his gardeners. Finally, James serves at the Food Connection, the food bank on Hilltop. He coordinates the youth programs and serves children in the Tacoma public school system.

JV AmeriCorps member James Harper speaks at the University of Puget Sound to students about hunger issues in Tacoma and about St. Leo Food Connection’s Backpack Program. He coordinates volunteers, including many local college students, who help pack the bags that are sent home with children from local schools for the weekend.

Fr. Bill Bischel, who lives next door to the Tacoma JV AmeriCorps members, speaks at the opening of the Gallucci Learning Garden. Fr. Bix, as he is lovingly known, is a source of constant support for the JV AmeriCorps community in Tacoma.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about our community in Tacoma- we’ve enjoyed sharing it. In the coming months, we’re planning to use our sunny weekends to get involved in the bike co-op and to spend more time outside with our neighbors. Lauren is even taking gardening courses at the learning garden next to our house! We’re incredibly grateful for this opportunity to live and serve in Tacoma and we’re excited to use these last few months to the fullest.

JV AmeriCorps members from Grays Harbor visited the Tacoma community (and Tacoma’s Bridge of Glass) in December. The Tacoma JV AmeriCorps members love showing them all the hidden treasures that Tacoma has to offer.

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