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Tale of two charities: Help for homeless families

Steven and Lisa Noyes speak at an open house Sept. 13 to celebrate The Joseph Foundation’s new housing unit in Northeast Tacoma. The unit on 48th Avenue Court NE will assist a homeless family in need. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Steven and Lisa Noyes speak at an open house Sept. 13 to celebrate The Joseph Foundation’s new housing unit in Northeast Tacoma. The unit on 48th Avenue Court NE will assist a homeless family in need.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

Homeless families in the Federal Way area often reach a turning point once they find a stable place to live.

With that mindset, two local nonprofit organizations lead the charge of helping homeless families become self-sufficient.

In Federal Way, FUSION (Friends United to Shelter the Indigent, Oppressed and Needy) will open a tenth transitional home this month. Across the border in Northeast Tacoma, The Joseph Foundation just unveiled its fourth housing unit for homeless families.

FUSION and The Joseph Foundation will officially combine forces on Jan. 1, 2009. Volunteers laud the merger as the right step for both groups, considering the proximity of their efforts.

“It’s a perfect fit,” said Carl Buehring, vice president of the Joseph Foundation board of directors. “It will ensure the longevity of both organizations.”

“The new FUSION is going to be stronger,” added FUSION board president Bob Wroblewski. “Both organizations will be better positioned to help the homeless.”

Dream achieved

On Sept. 13, The Joseph Foundation opened its fourth transitional home alongside three others in a Northeast Tacoma neighborhood.

The foundation’s four units sit on a parcel of land donated by the late Stuart and Helen Noyes. In 1990, the Noyes couple deeded their property to the foundation in exchange for a smaller home of their own. The couple’s charitable attitudes were well-known, with Helen Noyes earning the nickname “prayer warrior.”

At Saturday’s open house, Steven Noyes and his wife, Lisa, said the new house complimented his parents’ vision of helping the homeless and less fortunate. Noyes also described how his parents raised 50 foster children — all boys except for two girls.

“My parents wanted to give everyone a chance,” said Steven Noyes, who also helped low-income people when working for the Seattle Housing Authority. “It’s something our family does.”

Construction on the new home began May 2. Exodus Housing will manage the home and choose families from Pierce County to live there. Federal Way-based Multi-Service Center provides case management for a two-unit Joseph Foundation home on the same property and selects families from King County.

Phil Wamba, president of the Joseph Foundation board of directors, spoke at Saturday’s open house about a years-long journey to complete the Noyes family’s vision. Along the way, the foundation has helped about 80 children and 45 adults, Wamba added.

“After 17 years, the dream has finally come true,” Wamba said, referring to the new house.

Peggy LaPorte, founder of FUSION, said the merger between FUSION and The Joseph Foundation makes sense because of the opportunity for both organizations to grow. She also described the foundation’s fundraising and grant-writing accomplishments, which netted $150,000 for the newest transitional home, as “truly beautiful.”

The FUSION-Joseph Foundation merger also sheds light on ways Northeast Tacoma and Federal Way can work together on issues common to both communities, said Federal Way City Council member Jeanne Burbidge.

“This is a good example for the governments,” Burbidge said.

Contact Andy Hobbs: ahobbs@fedwaymirror.com.

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