Tacoma Youth Do Good

On Wednesday, August 11th I had the privilege of speaking to Tacoma Chapter, Order of DeMolay in Washington.  I was pleased to learn what an active and vibrant chapter they have. I heard of fun events, road trips, visits to other Chapters, State Events and Philanthropy. It was a pleasure to be in a meeting run so smoothly and efficiently.

I was there to explain to the young men the ripple effects of a service project they had done recently.  The Chapter had been called on by the other branch of Washington Masonic Charities, Masonic Outreach Services, who provide services that help older adults age in place.  Masonic Outreach Services has a client who needed assistance in performing some yard work. The case manager reached out to the Chapter Dad who happily worked with the young men of the Chapter to find a day to help this member of the Masonic Family.

It was a brutally hot July day, and the young men worked tirelessly.  The young men and advisors impressed the Client and Case Manager with their positive attitude and teamwork. “Tacoma DeMolay generously honored an elderly disabled Mason with their time, effort, and care in helping him with a large garden and yard project. I cannot exclaim enough how impressed the family and I were with how kind and hardworking all of the members, and the adults, were. The Mason and his family are very grateful. Thank you!” said Megan Johnson, Case Manager for Washington Masonic Charities. Within a few hours the work was completed. The young men refused payment and even offered to return in the fall, if needed.

The client was so impressed with this gesture of goodwill, he sent a payment to Washington Masonic Charities dedicated to the Youth Program.  The young men of Tacoma DeMolay had, inadvertently, provided their homeless peers with assistance.  Those funds will be used to help teens in their area without the benefit of the support system these young men take for granted.

A few hours of yard work may provide a homeless youth without a family with a much-needed meal, or clean clothes, or transportation. It may provide this young student with something more important than satisfying those very real physical needs; the feeling that someone cares about them.

It was very gratifying to get to explain to the young men of Tacoma Chapter DeMolay that their hard work had helped not only the Mason they intended to help, but many of their peers in ways they may never know. Acts of Service and Brotherly Love are nothing new for these young men, but it is rewarding to surprise them with the generosity their acts inspire.

If you would like to know more about the Youth Programs at Washington Masonic Charities, please contact Kirsten Putman at 253-267-8251 or Kirsten@MasonsCare.org

If you would like to donate to the Programs at Washington Masonic Charities please click on the WAMC logo:

For more information on DeMolay in Washington Click the logo below:

Secret Superheroes of School Districts- McKinney Vento Liaisons

     What is a McKinney Vento Liaison, and why would they be superheroes?

As the Director of Youth and Scholarship Programs I’ve had the pleasure to work with several McKinney Vento Liaisons and I have noticed that they are Secret Superheroes.  They are quietly working to help the most vulnerable population, homeless children. They are showing up, often after hours or on the weekend, to ensure that these children have the support they need to attend school. I thought I’d explain a bit about the program, so that when I mention a McKinney Vento Liaison, we all know I mean Secret Superhero. *

McKinney Vento is a little publicized 1978 Federal Law that requires each school district in the United States to have at least one person designated to help homeless students. Some districts have a full time McKinney Vento Liaison (MVL), most districts have an employee who add their MVL duties along with other social services jobs, like guidance counselor or social worker. Small districts may have a teacher or an administrator that have taken on the MVL duties.

These MVL are the bridge between the school, the student, and the social services system. The local MVL will know just where to go for the best food bank, which homeless shelter will allow pets, where homeless families can get a shower, and who to contact when students need to be rescued from their current living circumstances.

The MVL is tasked with recognizing students who fit the definition of homelessness, “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence….” This can mean doubling up, motel living, shelters, living out of a vehicle and simply unhoused. An unaccompanied youth is defined as “a homeless child or youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian” [42 USC § 11434a].

Students who are homeless are entitled to free services.  It is the duty of the MVL to ensure that the student is receiving all the resources entitled to them to ensure continued attendance. The MVL becomes the students’ advocate to provide the supports they need.

One of the main goals of the McKinney Vento program is to keep students in their school of origin. It is proven that students who remain at the school they are familiar with are more successful and have a higher completion rate at every grade.  By maintaining relationships with students and staff, the homeless youth are more likely to attend class. Children with at least one encouraging adult mentor are 40% more likely to have a positive educational outcome.

Washington Masonic Charities works closely with MVL’s across the state.  McKinney Vento Liaison professionals do amazing work to keep these students safe.  MVL’s work tirelessly for all homeless students in their district. The students that WAMC focuses on, the unaccompanied homeless youth, are particularly difficult to identify and engage.  Most of these students have left home because of dysfunction and tend to be untrusting and reluctant to accept help. In many cases the help we offer may be the first time a stranger has ever done something for them with no strings attached.  Our assistance is designed to “fill in the gaps” of other programs.

Many other programs are subject to restrictions or red tape that makes getting assistance to the youth arduous. We at Washington Masonic Charities can help students within a matter of hours.  We have the agility and autonomy to make fast and decisive moves to assist the unaccompanied homeless youth in Washington State.  In working with local MV Liaisons we have helped students with a variety of needs that may have gone unfulfilled without our help.  The MVL knows that we at Washington Masonic Charities will do everything we can to fulfill any request that falls in the scope of our mission.

These Liaisons are not just doing a job. Liaisons are ensuring that our youth, who have all the cards stacked against them, get all the help they can to succeed.  These Liaisons are faced with the pain and desperation of these children every day.  The liaisons are fighting for the future of these children in a system that often overlooks them. Yet, they show up the next day, and the next, and the next and then for the next child…

It is a work of heart. That is why McKinney Vento Liaisons are Secret Superheroes. *

If you would like to help Washington Masonic Charities in their work with Unaccompanied Homeless Youth please click this link: Click Here to Donate 

If you have questions or would like to get involved with the program please contact Kirsten@wa-masoniccharitites.org or call at (253) 267-8506

*Although others may hold this opinion, this is Kirsten’s only and in no way implies that there are not many other Secret Superheroes in all walks of life.

*I understand that all Superheroes are Secret, but these professionals are very good at being undercover.

*This is the opinion of Kirsten Putman and all criticism should reflect only on her. All praise should be sent freely throughout the world.



Superhero Clipart is from here:  <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/abstract’>Abstract vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com</a>

Cape photo is from CraftyLittlePear on ETSY

Statistics are from https://nche.ed.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/youth.pdf

Delay can lead to Disaster

This is what can happen when brakes are not maintained

When “Gloria” went to see Jesus, the Homeless Liaison for Clover Park School District, he could visually see that something was wrong with the brakes on her van.  Gloria has been attending summer school and driving between Lakewood and SeaTac. Although Gloria doesn’t have a permanent place for herself and her toddler, she does have a couch in SeaTac, for now.

Jesus knew that the van needed to be inspected immediately. He contacted Washington Masonic Charities and we agreed that the safety of this homeless youth and her toddler was an emergency need. After inspection, it was discovered that the vehicle needed new brakes, rotors and was unsafe to drive.

With funding provided from Washington Masonic Charities this homeless family was able to get back on the road and safely back to their night-time residence in a matter of hours.

It is these seemingly small, but very significant gifts that can change the future for a young person. Without our help, this student would not have been able to get back to her temporary home, or to continue attending school.  This one afternoon could have stopped her graduation.

This student has prioritized education through homelessness, teen pregnancy and many other difficulties. The fact that we at WA-MC have had a small part in helping her continue to reach for her goals is exactly why our On The Level: Student Success Program exists. Days like today prove that #MasonsCare

According to AAA  35% of Americans delayed maintenance on their vehicles last year. I don’t know how many of those are homeless parents, but I know that at least one was.  It is expensive to be living hand to mouth. Sometimes it is the cost of supplies, sometimes it is the labor, and sometimes it is not having a trusted shop, whatever the reason, delayed maintenance can lead to other items breaking. By not being able to fix her brake pads the cost of the repairs quadrupled and Gloria’s safety was threatened.

This is a place where local Masonic Lodges could be of assistance. Do you have members who would be willing to help homeless students with car maintenance? Let me connect your Lodge with the School District and we can see what the need in your area is.   Help local homeless youth learn that #MasonsCare

Please Contact Kirsten Putman at (253) 267-8251 or Kirsten@MasonsCare.org


After a year of difficulties- these students Persevered

The cap reads “The best things come to those who don’t give up.”

On the hottest Tuesday, in the hottest week in Tacoma history 26 students took a ten-foot walk that will forever change their lives. They finished High School. Some with a G.E.D. some with a diploma, but all were celebrated and applauded for their perseverance.  These students have been through trauma and circumstances many of us cannot even imagine. They overcame so many obstacles to reach this milestone that even a global pandemic could not stop them.

The stories of their futures are as varied as the stories that brought them to this re-engagement school. Many are going straight into the workforce, some are parenting full-time, a few are taking apprenticeships, and a large number are going on to higher education in a variety of disciplines. It is clear from the joy and pride in this room that these students have earned more than a high school education at Willie Stewart Academy. They have found acceptance and, maybe, even a family.

What is Willie Stewart Academy? It is a re-engagement school through Tacoma Public Schools where students ages 12-17 can complete their high school education. Willie Stewart Academy is committed to ensuring that all students reach their individual academic goals by providing the academic, social, and emotional supports that are needed.

This Tuesday, Mr. Willie Stewart himself was in attendance. He shared his 8 pearls of wisdom with the graduates, and the audience. Mr. Stewart has been active in the Tacoma community for over 60 years. Mr. Stewart began teaching in Tacoma in 1960 and was prom

From TPS FB Page
Mr. Willie Stewart Addresses the Students and Audience

oted to principal in 1970. As the first black principal in the Tacoma School District he was pivotal to the voluntary desegregation of Tacoma Schools. From his years as a school principal, superintendent, and community volunteer he is an example of excellence for all. Mr. Stewart left the crowd with a few words of wisdom, a couple good chuckles and knowledge that the graduates of the day have earned the legacy of his illustrious name.

Another local celebrity who spoke was Willie Stewart Academy’s own principal, Gregory Eisnaugle.  Mr. Eisnaugle was clearly recalling his days in a rock band as he engaged the audience and encouraged the crowd to cheer for every graduate.  This was Mr. Eisnaugle’s own personal farewell tour, as this was his last graduation before retirement. I can’t imagine a better note to exit on.

As for me, why was Washington Masonic Charities invited? This past year our staff has had the opportunity to become a sponsor for WSA in many ways. We have facilitated the purchase of practice tests to ensure competency for the G.E.D. test. Students are given the practice test several times to guarantee success under pressure.  Washington Masonic Charities have also provided the funding for the G.E.D. tests themselves. Surprisingly, these tests are excluded from many kinds of funding and the unaccompanied homeless youth we support do not have the $200.00 on average it costs to take the G.E.D. By providing this support we have helped many students complete their education. It is these kinds of concrete outcomes that prove Washington Masonic Charities are out in the community letting everyone know that #MasonsCare.

Students were socially distanced and wearing masks


That smile says it all! Congratulations!!!


All photos from Tacoma Public Schools Facebook page.

If you would like to assist a student in need please click here or contact Kirsten Putman at 253-267-8251  or Kirsten@MasonsCare.org