Why We Joined the Tent City 3 Discernment Team

"Tent City 3?" on a bright gold background

A congregant recently asked members of the Tent City 3 Discernment Team to share their reasons for joining this effort. Long time congregant Mary Mason responds to that request below. Pam Smith Mentz and Debbie Maranville add to their earlier observations.

Opportunities to Learn More

As shared in previous articles, representatives of three UUC social justice groups—the Social Justice Steering Committee, Teen Feed, and our collaboration with Lake City Partners—are exploring the possibility of UUC hosting SHARE’s Tent City 3 in the next year. We invite you into this exploration.

Our final in-person Information and Dialogue Sessions are scheduled for Sunday, November 6, at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; the final online session is Monday, November 7 from 7:30–8:30 p.m. via Zoom (find the links in the UUC calendar).

For background on the discernment effort, check out the TC3 webpage.

Why We Joined the Tent City 3 Discernment Team

My connection with homelessness began with a simple thing, a talk by Rex Holbein here at UUC many years ago about a new organization he had formed and an initiative they were promoting to “Just Say Hello.” Rather than walking by and averting my gaze when I passed people living on the street, I started to say hello and see each person as the unique individual that they were. This is much like I see hosting Tent City 3: we are “just saying hello” and seeing each person living there as deserving of a secure place to live. What better place to start making difference.

Since our initial introduction to Facing Homelessness, a community organization dedicated to making connections with the homeless, my husband Randy and I have found other ways to engage. We first started doing group litter clean-ups outside of unsanctioned encampments. There we would nod or say hello to residents, but respected their privacy and did not enter their personal space.

Randy has since worked with their Block Home project, helping build tiny houses that are located in the backyards of people who welcome the stranger in. I volunteer at the Window of Kindness where unhoused individuals come to talk, and get some food and needed supplies for their lives outside. I cherish those moments of connection, moments I would not have if I did not work at a place that invited people in.

Being close to the people who are unhoused has given us a better understanding and appreciation of what it means to be homeless and has challenged many of our preconceptions. It has been a topic of discussion with our grandchildren, our families and our neighbors. We have been enriched by the experiences we have had.

I joined the team exploring Tent City 3 in the hope that we as a community may learn and grow in our understanding of what it means to not have a home and really explore how we at UUC can make a difference. I hope that we will make the decision to be welcoming hosts for three months to this very important community of people needing a safe place to be.

Mary Mason

Other team members describe professional exposures to homelessness that motivate their efforts:

I once represented an asylum client (and her children) from a Central American country. She was fleeing violence from multiple sources—a violent domestic partner, the former partner of a family member who was threatening the entire extended family, and gang members who were threatening violence if her teenage son did not join the gang. She came to the Seattle area because she had a cousin living here and stayed for a time with the cousin and her family. The crowded conditions were untenable, so for months my client and her children were in a shelter until, after a six-months long waiting period, she qualified for a work permit and could then find permanent housing. So difficult on top of all she had already been through.

Debbie Maranville

I worked directly with women and children as a legal advocate at both a shelter and in transitional housing. My focus was empowering them with information, exploring options and helping them seek out resources. These conversations, and relationships that sometimes evolved over a year or more, offered a window into homelessness. I came to know the systemic challenges many face when creating more stable lives, layered with challenges beyond affordable housing.

Pam Smith Mentz

Questions? Please contact Dave Mentz or Sallie Dacey.

1 Response

  1. Wendell Condio says:

    You have a daycare just across the street, as well as a library. Regarding social justice, is there justice for long-time neighbors who are struggling to stay in a neighborhood that used to be middle class, but is now horribly high taxed. Older neighbors tell me they are afraid, not only of being forced out of their homes because of expense, but now there will be a myriad of safety concerns with the encampment, that we have seen over and over again, and there is not much police presence. Seattle is a horrible mess, and do-gooders don’t want to look at the repercussions that may hurt others that are not homeless, but have lived in this neighborhood for forever, and are, nevertheless, vulnerable. Just because they live in this so-called “affluent” neighborhood, (same old-time houses) no one cares to see what is really going on here. This neighborhood was built by many blue-collar, hardworking people, who were not at all wealthy. Now their nerves and health can be on edge as well as their pocket books.