About

History of New Connections

Board of Directors

Sam Tower, Chair
Joanie Bichsel, Treasurer
Jessica Means, Secretary
Blake Kremer, Trustee
Rosemary Powers, Trustee
Kathie Williams, Trustee

Vision/Mission/Focus/Values

Vision
A community that promotes positive reintegration for formerly incarcerated people.

Mission
Helping people successfully re-enter the community after incarceration.

Focus
We promote our mission by offering:

  • Pre-release support
  • Clean, sober, and supportive shelter
  • Wrap around services and resource mentoring
  • Skill-building opportunities
  • Advocacy and referral services
  • Reentry 101 workshops @ Pierce County Jail
  • Outreach to justice involved people who are experiencing homelessness

Values
At New Connections, we:

  • Uphold a person’s right to dignity and self-enhancement
  • Welcome and value diversity of people, ideas, cultures and spiritual traditions
  • Believe in the value of community partnerships
  • Treat all with respect, compassion, honesty and humanity
  • Operate with integrity, accountability and professionalism
  • Believe that each of us holds the potential for positive change

History
New Connections began as an outreach ministry for previously incarcerated people under the auspices of the St. Vincent DePaul Society. Sharing the vision of housing and re-entry services for formerly incarcerated women, Father Bill Bichsel, S.J. (Bix) and the Tacoma Catholic Worker Community enlisted volunteers to renovate the house in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood specifically to meet the needs of this program.

Irma Gary House: named for its former, long-time occupant, became the primary program of New Connections and the first resident was welcomed in the fall of 2001.

Non-profit Status: In 2004, New Connections became an independent 501(c)3 organization and continues to welcome women as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives. The house can accommodate up to six women.

Ann Flagg Cottage: named in honor of Sr. Ann Flagg, CSJP, who began welcoming homeless women at Guadalupe House in 1979. New Connections renovated the interior and welcomed the first guests into the family cottage in 2013. This small, 2-bedroom home provides shelter for women (with minor children) who face obstacles to housing based on a criminal background.

About the Hilltop Urban Village: Father Bill Bichsel, S.J. (Bix) worked for decades to gather the land, materials, and other resources needed to develop a community of compassion in the heart of our hilltop neighborhood. The St Leo Parish (a half block away) has been a treasured ally and continuous support for the many initiatives and projects incubated here. It would be difficult to list the many other faith-based organizations, community agencies, businesses, tradespeople, and individuals Bix recruited to create and support this community.The properties now include Guadalupe House, Jean’s House of Peace, Jesuit Volunteer House, Irma Gary House, Ann Flagg Cottage, and two adjacent dwelling  as well as the Community Commons and Guadalupe Gardens. We are working together to develop a contemplative garden on a vacant lot between the houses as well.

About the Tacoma Catholic Worker: Founded in 1989, the Tacoma Catholic Worker (TCW) manages the properties described above and continues Bix’s tradition of inviting others to engage in compassionate works.  New Connections operates and maintains Irma Gary House and Ann Flagg Cottage; however, we are not charged for the use of the properties. In addition to this generous donation, TCW members welcome and support Irma Gary House and Ann Flagg Cottage residents in their return to community life. TCW continues to be an essential partner and ally to New Connections and those we serve.

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