Jesse came from a broken home. His parents’ constant fighting filled his childhood with feelings of fear, depression and anger. Turning to drugs in high school to alleviate the pain, Jesse started down a road that not only cost him his possessions, his home and what was left of his family ties – it robbed him of his freedom.
“It’s hard for me to grasp how I was back then because God has changed my life so much. Even the way I think isn’t the same anymore,” says Jesse, a recent graduate of our recovery program.
He was just 19 years old when he found himself homeless in Phoenix, standing outside the gates of a government-run shelter downtown.
“That place was filled with the mentally ill, violent criminals, sex offenders and the addicted,” remembers Jesse. “It was unnerving at first walking through those gates, but because of the numbing effects the drugs had on me, I soon adapted. In fact, my addiction flourished so well there that it eventually became too much for the shelter to handle. So I left and took up residence for the next year under a bridge in southeast Phoenix.”
But the craving wouldn’t let him sit still. Each day would be spent looking for places he could shoplift, finding those who would buy the goods he stole and visiting the dealers who would help him feed his expensive habit.
“I was a lifeless machine driven by nothing but desire. It was exhausting but I couldn’t stop. Each night I gazed with dead eyes at the star-filled sky, listening to the cars pass and wondering if I was destined to do this forever. The hopelessness I felt was overwhelming.”
Over the next few years, Jesse spent time in and out of jail on shoplifting charges, eventually landing in prison. But through it all, Jesse’s addiction survived. As soon as he was released, the vicious cycle continued.
That is, until he had a run in with one of our graduates.
“I traveled to a detox center in east Phoenix and checked in for the night. Right before I was getting ready to leave, a woman who worked there pulled me into her office. She told me about how she had been an addict and the brokenness she had experienced. It freaked me out to hear how similar our stories seemed and how her words seemed to describe the pain and longing in my heart perfectly. She had been through the women’s program at the
Changing Lives Center where God had touched her life and changed it forever. I wanted that.”
The next day Jesse went to see his probation officer to ask her for help – she sent him to the Phoenix Rescue Mission.
That was one year ago. Today, Jesse is a brand new man. He’s completed our recovery program, has become a servant leader through our Servant Leadership Training program and is currently working part-time as the assistant to our Vocational Development Manager Rhonda Blake.
“Being able to use my skills and talents to help others find employment has been a real blessing to me,” he says.
The future is looking brighter than ever for Jesse. Recently, after a tour of our center, Grand Canyon University offered to provide one of our graduates with a full college scholarship. Jesse submitted a six-page, single-spaced essay describing his story and his hopes for the future and was chosen to receive $25,000 toward the major of his choosing! He’s set to move into GCU dorms on August 25th!
He plans on majoring in counseling with a minor in Christian studies with the goal of becoming an addictions counselor.
Thank you so much for the prayers and financial support that not only transforms the lives of people like Jesse, but also sets them on a path to bringing hope and healing to countless others! It’s a gift that keeps on giving!
For those we serve, finding employment is the last, and many times, the hardest step on the road to transformation. Despite the changes that have been made on the inside, many still carry the wreckage produced by their past lives. Things like vagrancy-related fines, criminal records and large gaps in their resumes all send giant red flags to any prospective employer.
To combat some of these barriers, the Phoenix Rescue Mission offers one of our most vital services – our Vocational Development Program. Rhonda Blake, our Vocational Development Manager, teaches classes and works individually with the men and women we serve to give them access to everything they need to find success in the marketplace.
- Some of what we offer includes:
- The latest in resume building techniques
- Job leads
- Interview preparation techniques
- Assistance with online job search
- Professional attire
- Direction in obtaining certifications and licensure
- Financial counseling
- Assistance with obtaining a GED or High School diploma
Because transportation is usually an issue, we also provide bus passes once an interview is obtained and continue to provide them until the first paycheck is received.
This program has helped countless graduates of our recovery program find a way off the streets for good and back to living normal, healthy lives. But there is more we can do. There are countless families in our community who are living right on the edge of losing it all, for whom a better paying job would mean all the difference in the world.
Robert was one of them. That is, until he lost his job last year and couldn’t find another in time to keep his apartment. He ended up staying at the Mission where he volunteered between interviews. His luck changed when he met Rhonda. With her help, he was able to obtain government grants to pay for classes and obtained two certifications in computer programming. Today he’s found a job he loves, working at Sears as a Technical Support Specialist.
It’s for people like Robert that we opened these services to more than just the men and women in recovery. As of July 2014, anyone in our community who needs these vital services is welcome to take advantage of them. In that time, we’ve assisted 354 individuals from both inside and outside the Mission to become job-ready – resulting in 210 permanent job placements!
Robert tells us, “Through this experience I’m finally convinced that if you pray to God and keep faith in him, in your time of trouble, he will deliver you 100 percent of the time. Everything will be alright as long as I stay seeking God.”
These are the kinds of programs that are making waves here in Phoenix and changing lives before they end up on the streets like Robert. Together, we are building a better city, one job-placement at a time!
Retired park manager Jerry Waehner oversaw the operation of some of our biggest city parks, including South Mountain, for quite some time. When he retired 3 years ago, he became a regular in our cafeteria, serving hot, delicious food to those who needed it most.
But it’s when he got a taste of the life-altering power of the Hope Coach that things changed.
Watch the Story on the Street video with Jerry to find out what happened out on the streets that led him to seek more challenging ways to serve and live out his faith by clicking here.
A cool, safe bed at the Phoenix Rescue Mission is a godsend for those who have been living on the streets. It gives them a place where they can get real rest, a hot meal, and a chance to take stock of their situation. More often than not, it’s a place where real transformation begins.
This past year, our Community Services Center has been undergoing construction to provide more of those life-changing beds than ever before. Soon we’ll have 80 brand new beds in addition to our current beds, but first we need bedding to get them ready for use.
Just $50 supplies an XL Twin bunk bed with commercial-grade sheets, comforters, and pillows that will stand up to high-temperature washes and constant use for years.
Would you consider sponsoring a bunk and giving someone a night’s rest that may change his or her life forever? Just check the box on the enclosed reply and send your gift today.
Thank you so much for your continued support! Together we’re transforming lives one good night’s sleep at a time!