In 1971, The Tacoma CWC began a campaign to address the often over-looked needs of senior citizens in Tacoma’s predominantly Black Hilltop neighborhood. The First Central Area Senior Citizen Center opened its door in May 1971. Its program, funded by Model Cities, began and was operated by The Tacoma Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, under the leadership of Mrs. Bertie Edwards, and became the model for senior services throughout the Puget Sound region.
Services included: home delivered meals, senior transportation, meal sites, case management, and a craft store. For three years the Senior Citizen Program was housed in the Tacoma CWC Clubhouse and served hot lunch Monday through Friday to all senior citizens. Mrs. Edwards later became the founder of what is now Tacoma’s Senior Citizens’ Awareness day (SCAD). When Model Cities phased out, the City of Tacoma took over the program and expanded it citywide.
More recently, the Living Long, Living Well Education Program filled a tremendous gap within the community. The program consisted of a series of free informational workshops targeting ethnic seniors and low-income families in the Tacoma-Pierce County area. The series included workshops on health & well-being, legal and finance, public benefits and resources, family support services, technology and education.
Today, the CWC continues to recognize the expanding gaps within and around the Hilltop community and witness daily the unmet needs of its ever-growing low income families, youth and senior populations. These gaps affect the community at-large and weaken our core systems (health, education, business, government) directly impacting economic development and our quality of life.
To address these concerns, we continue to roll-up our sleeves, rally resources, and extend our doors to support women and families in the Hilltop neighborhood and surrounding areas through educational endeavors, civic organizations, business, community and social programs.
Through volunteer service, club funds, generous donations, grants and capital campaign efforts, we continue to provide Community Outreach and Education by identifying local interest and concerns and meeting them with new and existing resources.
The Association is currently working with schools like McCarver to create programs like the McCarver Mom's Parenting Support program. The program is designed to address populations affected by social isolation, low child development and parenting skills, substance abuse, violence, and economic hardship. The program addresses these problems with research-based initiatives that educate, connect and help families with parenting, communication and life management skills while providing a place in their own community where they can seek support without judgement. Therefore allowing additional focus on education and the need for children to be consistently present in school and ready to learn.
By working closely with health, education and business professionals, we can continue to supply these groups with the tools, connections and education they need to become successful citizens and leaders that develop sustainable communities.
Continuous service to humanity has been the hallmark of the National Association of Colored Women's Club's for over one hundred years and still rings true today.