Carrying on another’s leadership, legacy

Victor Wong takes the reins at Plateau Outreach Ministries after Britt Nelson resigns as executive director after seven years.

It has been many years since Britt Nelson has enjoyed a full summer off, a situation she’s happy to rectify.

Victor Wong was constantly on the move as a child, has seen more than his share of the world as an adult and now finds himself comfortably settled into a career of serving others.

Those two life choices reached a pleasant confluence early July when Nelson relinquished the reins at Plateau Outreach Ministries and welcomed Wong as the organization’s new executive director.

Nelson took POM’s top job nearly seven years ago after working primarily in the world of commercial real estate lending.

As part of a press release announcing her resignation, POM’s leadership noted she “leaves behind a legacy of developing new programs, renovating the facility (and) cultivating church, community and government relationships to enhance and increase services to our community.”

Nelson had given the POM board of directors plenty of notice, allowing for a search process that netted candidates both locally and from outside the area. In the end, the board’s No. 1 choice was in their own back yard – already known in the community and in the Plateau Outreach Ministries office.

Wong had been working with Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care. For the past four years, he spent time in Enumclaw and King County helping veterans, low-income and homeless individuals who have a mental or physical disability and other vulnerable populations.

“I’m excited to join a wonderful team that helps and contributes to our community with love and compassion,” Wong said when his hiring was announced.

He brings to POM a background rich in experience. He was born in Panama into a military family and was raised as a self-described “army brat” who attended five elementary schools, three middle schools and three different high schools.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Wong served in the U.S. Army, the Washington State National Guard and the Army Reserves from 1998 until 2006. He is a veteran of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and landed in this part of the country due to an assignment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business/global business management in 2011 from the University of Phoenix with a goal of owning a business. But a calling for public service work prevailed, starting a path that eventually led to POM.

“My faith is important,” he said. “I left it to God at that point.”

He joins the local social service agency fluent in both English and Spanish and is conversational in three other languages, a skill set that will help his work across the entire Plateau community.

Understanding Plateau Outreach Ministries

POM provides social services on behalf of the Plateau Ministerial Association and is funded by local churches and their congregations, among others. Despite that relationship, POM does not proselytize or cater only to the Christian faith community.

All in need are welcome but, due to limited resources, POM’s emergency assistance program, Samaritan Project, is limited to residents of Enumclaw, Buckley, Black Diamond, Wilkeson, Carbonado and South Prairie. However, the food and clothing bank and thrift store are open to all.

From its building at the corner of Cole Street and Marshall Avenue in Enumclaw, POM has become a single stop for those in crisis – whether the need is for food and clothing or a voucher that helps keep lights and heat from being turned off. POM also has the ability to connect clients with other agencies.

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