One hundred and forty-six people from Pierce County nonprofits, education, government, and business gather on a Zoom call and each one quickly introduces themselves. They know each other as individuals, not just as representatives of the organizations they serve, and they have committed to being able to call on each other to help someone in need.
It’s a regular gathering of the Pierce County Community Engagement Task Force, led by WorkForce Central’s Director of Community Engagement, Tamar Jackson.
“We are the voice of accountability as we serve our community. We recognize and celebrate organizations for what they do and we hold them and ourselves accountable for our work,” Jackson explained. “The Task Force is built of people who work at the 15,000-foot-level – close enough to the ground to hear the voice of the community and with access to share that voice with leaders at the 30,000-foot-level.”
The Task Force brings speakers forward to encourage and educate Task Force members, but the heartbeat of the group is the work of several committees who focus on leadership, organizational structure, outreach, and service providers/community. Jackson said, “I ask people if they want to be in the loop or in the lobby. If you want to be in the loop, you need to be engaged in committee work.”
Task Force members regularly identify needs and fill gaps not covered by specific organizations. In a recent example, forty volunteers from the Outreach Committee, The Moore Wright Group, and Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier Region stepped up to unload two box trucks of family supplies that served 28 organizations and more than 400 families in Tacoma’s Eastside and Hilltop communities.
The Organization Committee has developed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Welcome Packet that can be used by organizations to discuss racism and oppression in all forms. “How can we hold organizations accountable if we don’t give them tools to do this work right? The DEI packet provides resources to add weight to your message when you’re trying to bring change,” Jackson said.
A speakers’ bureau of people who have experienced homelessness and other challenges is being developed by the People’s Committee to ensure community voices are heard when services are being reviewed or developed.
“We want to make it easier for you to accomplish your cause. We are here saying ‘you can do it’ when the task is huge. Together we’re the David to your Goliath,” Jackson added.