South Sound Outreach Services provides a helping hand

Those who help people – particularly firefighters, police officers and medical personnel – are receiving a lot of attention for what they do in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Locally, Tacoma’s South Sound Outreach Services is quietly going about the business of helping those in need.
Located in the Alberta J. Canada Building on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, South Sound Outreach Services works with a variety of federal and state government organizations to provide a variety of services to those 18 years of age and older who need help.
Some of those services include food assistance as part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s nutrition program; the Quality Medical Benefits Program, which helps people who are eligible get help in paying Medicare premiums; the Washington Telephone Assistance Program; and a program, along with Tacoma Public Utilities, that helps those with limited incomes pay their utility bills.
“We do all sorts of stuff,” said Executive Director Beth Frick. “Whatever people need.”
Perhaps the most important function of South Sound Outreach Services is simply providing information to people who need it.
“A lot of people don’t have anybody to call,” she said. “They don’t trust anyone or have family to call, so they come to me.”
Frick described herself as a “middleman” between South Sound Outreach and agencies and organizations that provide answers to questions and whatever service may be needed.
“That’s what separates us from a lot of other agencies,” she said. “We let people know. We want people to know what they’re eligible for.”
As an example, she cited a phone call from earlier in the day where she helped a client – an elderly woman – make sure she got a broken window repaired, no small concern with the colder weather of the fall season.
Up until a few months ago, South Sound Outreach Services was located in the Washington Building on Pacific Avenue.
South Sound Outreach Services came to be at its current location when about a year ago Frick was approached by former development director of the Martin Luther King Housing Development Association Jeff Robinson about a space in the Alberta J. Canada Building.
After coming to some financial terms, Frick agreed the Alberta J. Canada Building was the place to be for the non-profit organization formerly known as Senior Outreach Services.
“I like it very much,” Frick said, noting some of the advantages of the move, including fewer parking concerns and the fact that a bus stop is conveniently located right by the building’s front doors.
Now beginning its sixth year of community service, South Sound Outreach Services got its start when Frick, along with several friends, started their own non-profit group.
Thanks to grants from groups like the Ben B. Cheney Foundation and the Fuchs Foundation, they were able to get enough money to open the doors.
“I don’t think we thought we’d ever fail,” Frick said, and she was right.
Today, along with Frick, the staff of South Sound Outreach Services includes Synthia Morlen, coordinator; Brenda Mitchell, who works mainly with the discount assistance programs; Brian Groboski, financial assistant; Tosca Evans, clerk; and Elicia Guidroz, receptionist.
“They all do a fine job,” Frick said.
For Frick, helping others is something she loves to do.
“I’ve always been in service,” she said, noting she has always dealt directly with the community and individuals in jobs ranging from bartender to an employee with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The only thing that limits me is what I decide to do,” Frick stated.
With the holiday season approaching, Frick said the organization will be busy providing lists to people of where to go for food assistance and collecting toys that will become Christmas presents for kids.
“That’s always fun,” Frick noted with a smile.
The public can get a look at South Sound Outreach Services at an open house next month, tentatively scheduled for Monday, Nov. 26, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
South Sound Outreach Services is located at 1106 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and can be reached at 253/593-2111, or via e-mail at:
South Sound Outreach Service’s new Web site, which is set to be up and running by next year, is: