Reaching out to those in need was the theme of the Oct. 29 meeting of the Pierce County Council at the Germaine Korum Center in Puyallup.

Homelessness dominated the three presentations that made up the bulk of the evening meeting. As required by the county charter, the council holds at least one meeting annually in each of the seven districts, to be chaired by the council member representing that district – in this case, Pam Roach of District 2 encompassing Browns Point Dash Point, Edgewood, Fife, Lakeland, Milton, Northeast Tacoma, Pacific, Puyallup, Sumner and the Port of Tacoma.

“Get ahead of this issue, or you will be consumed by it,” Roach said during her presentation on housing the homeless, citing the growing homeless population, both in the county and statewide, as a cause for concern that needs to addressed.

“So, I believe we need to do something about it,” she said, noting proactive measures will be required to make the issue a priority for legislators.

Toward that end, Roach floated two proposals: Creating a “Homeless Initiatives” position accountable to the council and the conversion of mothballed jail capacity to a homeless care center – that is, temporary housing and access to service providers.

Gerrit Nyland, director of Client Information Systems for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, seemed to tacitly endorse Roach’s idea for a point person on homelessness in that it would help by “making sure everyone is on the same sheet of music.”

Associate Pastor Mike Boisture of Puyallup’s Church of the Nazarene, overseer of the Freezing Nights program – a nightly rotating shelter between several churches in the area from November through March – agreed that better organization would help in dealing with the challenge of homelessness.

“I am very frustrated with what is happening with the homeless community,” he said. “We have to do something.”

Boisture and Freezing Nights have been doing something. According to Boisture, last year Freezing Nights totaled 17,000 volunteer hours, provided more than 20,000 meals, served 360 guests and more than 8,000 beds in hosting churches.

“This is Freezing Nights ministry in Puyallup,” he said proudly.

Also on hand was Krista Linden, founder and CEO of Step By Step, a nonprofit which supports at-risk mothers and their children from pregnancy through infancy.

“So, we have been doing that work for 22 years,” Linden said. “We work with about 1,200 women at a time.”

The Germaine Korum Center – named after a prominent Puyallup businesswoman – hosting the council meeting was the result of six acres purchased from Puyallup at the end of 2015 by the nonprofit in order to establish a facility for its programs assisting at-risk mothers.

The Step By Step facility is expected to include a restaurant for on-the-job training, an event center, and classrooms for nutritional education as well as résumé help. A grand pre-opening celebration was held on Oct. 26, with an official grand opening set for November.

Lua Pritchard, executive director of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center in Tacoma, updated the council on the center’s plans.

“Our mission is to bridge community and generations through art, culture, education and business,” she said.

That includes plans for building its new facility in the Point Ruston neighborhood in Tacoma. The new facility intends to accommodate 47 countries and cultures in rooms dedicated to showcasing art and artifacts. Plans also include a full grocery store, food courts, low-income housing and rooms for demonstrations and other activities.