MDC Community News for Winter 2017


Mark Pereboom, CEO


During this holiday season, as we near the end of a trying year, I can think of no greater goal for our community than to show more kindness toward and compassion for each other. 2017 has been a challenge for many in our community. Between the opioid epidemic, continuing challenges serving the mental health needs of people in Tacoma and Pierce County, and the increase in the number of people who don’t have a safe place to live and find themselves currently homeless, it is easy to slip into despair. The anecdote is for each of us to bring more kindness and compassion for others into our daily lives. By showing kindness and compassion, we bring hope not only to those struggling day to day, but we also create positivity that ripples out from us.

During the MDC Share Breakfast in September, our Board member Stephanie Caldwell spoke about how today we are living in an age where it feels like everyone is focused on shame and outrage, and that we can all decide to move beyond the shame and blame, and begin to change the conversation when we see people who are suffering in our community. Rather than asking ourselves what people did to get into their current situation, we can ask ourselves what happened to these people? And how can we help?

By showing more kindness and compassion, by choosing to let those who are struggling share their stories of how they came to where they are in their lives today, we can come to a place as a community where we ask, “What happened to you? And how can we help?” One way you can help is by making a year-end gift to support the work that MDC does in our community. I hope you will join me in giving, and bringing more kindness and compassion to our community in the coming year. If you are interested in helping MDC develop a kindness and compassion initiative, please contact Rob McNair-Huff at









At MDC, I feel spiritually lifted and connected when I’m here. It is a passion for me to help.

After being chronically homeless off and on for the last ten years, Amanda wanted to change her life. Her first interaction with MDC was when she was pregnant with her son.  She lived with her partner in 2012, who was a veteran, and accessed housing through MDC’s veteran services. While she and her family had housing, Amanda struggled with other issues.

“Before MDC, I was experiencing homelessness, drug addiction, co-occurring issues with mental illness, depression, and anxiety,” she said.

She coped as best she could, struggling to maintain balance with her family and general day-to-day activities. In the end, she lost her housing and began living in her car with her young son, until he was taken away from her by Child Protective Services.

“I couldn’t focus on keeping a job. All I could focus on was my drug use. I was sleeping in my car in parking lots, couch surfing, or sleeping in the streets. When my son was taken away, I knew I had to change my life. I sought treatment and ended up living in a transitional recovery home for women. After successfully finishing treatment, I wanted to do something more with my life, and was directed to apply for an internship opportunity with the Energy Assistance and Weatherization program at MDC.”

Amanda didn’t stop there. She wanted to be more involved with MDC on a more permanent basis, and soon began working in the Evaluation and Treatment program at MDC. Now a full-time employee, she has the chance to guide those in need who have gone down a similar path. Through her past struggles with substance use disorder and housing, she is able to relate to and help guide those in need. “MDC’s mission is absolutely amazing, offering programs for people who can’t always make ends meet. It made my heart feel good, because I could relate to people. We help people and it makes me feel good to help others. I’ve been inspired, based on my own experiences. I want to do more here. I recently applied to be a peer counselor because I see myself in many of the people who come in. There are kind souls all over MDC who want to help.”






Sharon wasn’t sure what to do when she first encountered MDC. The death of her husband and lack of his income forced her into homelessness.

“I was homeless for a year and a half. I had just lost my husband and because I no longer had his income, I became homeless.”

During this time, Sharon was attempting to attend school. Like so many students experiencing homelessness, it was a struggle to look for housing and maintain her grades.

“I went to different people asking for help. I wasn’t really able speak about my situation because I was so embarrased about losing my housing, but then I discovered MDC while attending school.”

Sharon had a tough time looking for housing on her own. Not only did she have to overcome the shame and guilt she felt of her situation, she also had to complete the daunting application process. Once she discovered MDC’s housing services, she was able to tackle her housing search with more confidence.

“MDC counselors accompanied me to fill out applications. By myself, I filled out over 37 applications with no luck, but with MDC with me, I only filled out four before successfully receiving housing.” Sharon was relieved to finally have housing, especially with her desire to complete her education. Now she could focus completely on her educational goals.

“Now that I have housing, I have peace of mind. I can focus on my schooling. I have a double Associates degree and will graduate this fall from Pierce College. I am currently registered at Central Washington University working, on my Bachelor’s degree. Lastly, I plan on attending University of Washington in pursuit of a Ph.D. in social services. I want to give back to the community and allow others to experience the goodness of MDC, the way I did.”

Sharon’s advice for those in need: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be ashamed, because MDC is a listening ear and
is willing to go out of their way to provide great services, like housing.”



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As 2017 comes to a close, your year-end gift can make a big difference in the lives of people in Tacoma and Pierce County who are working to overcome mental health challenges and addictions.

People who come to MDC for help every day need some things that we cannot currently provide, and your donations can help us buy these items, such as bus passes, hygiene products, and outdoor gear, such as hats, winter coats, and gloves.  These donations can help:

1) Ensure that a client can make it to their counseling appointment at the Center for Substance Use and Recovery.

2) Provide the basic hygiene items that can help a client in Co-Occurring treatment take care of their health between sessions.

3) Ensure that clients with an addiction can leave their in-patient treatment in Detox with a warm coat and hat as they return to our community.

You can choose to donate new items, or make a cash donation by using the donate button below, or by visiting the MDC website at

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