Reverend Jan Bolerjack is Pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church, Director for Tukwila School Board District 2, and has lived in Tukwila for the past 10 years. In ministry for more than 30 years in the Puget Sound region, she is known for building community, envisioning and facilitating organizational outcomes, and a unique sense of humor that makes her well-suited to developing educational systems that help each person reach their greatest potential.
Bolerjack also serves on the Human Services Advisory Board for the City of Tukwila, and as a citizen advisor for the Tukwila police department.
“I have seen more and more cases of folks living with drug dependencies who can’t get the help they need. They are often turned away for lack of available beds, or they don’t have the resources to access available services. They are in a vicious cycle, where a high incidence of mental illness or trauma is driving their drug dependency.”
Bolerjack believes we need increased individual case management and specific systems to address the complex factors contributing to the dependencies. “This is not a question of willpower. We need to get at the roots of the trauma and past experiences, whatever has led them to this way of self-medicating. We all have addictions, some are acceptable and some are not – we are all doing the best we can.”
At her church, Bolerjack has witnessed first-hand people who go to jail but don’t get the assistance they need to address the issues that are driving the dependency. “They may detox in jail, but when they come out, their only connections are with folks who are using – that’s how they get through the day. We have to build trust and create a system where people are given realistic and meaningful opportunities to change, where they know they can ask for help even knowing they might fail.
“I also see kids whose parents are incarcerated. I see how hard it is on these kids to not feel comfortable or supported while talking about mom or dad in jail – this is a shame they shouldn’t have to carry. The impact of the incarceration goes beyond the person with drug dependency issues. It affects the whole community and we all have a role to play in the solution.”