Heroin and Opioids: A Growing Epidemic

An opioid related epidemic has been growing for a number of years in our city and sadly just now beginning to break into the immediate realities of the mainstream consciousness.

Current Arizona Department of Health Services and National Institute on Drug Abuse information show a strikingly grim reality; although heroin and opioid related deaths in the U.S. and Arizona have been increasing for nearly a decade now, 2016 marked a spike in the overall trend.

A look at some of the recently released statistics show how serious and widespread the issue has become.

  • In 2016, somewhere between 59,000 and 65,000 people died of overdoses in the U.S.
  • In Arizona, a total of 790 people (on average more than two a day) dies from overdose of opioid prescription medication s and heroin in 2016.
  • Over the last five years, heroin related deaths have triples in Arizona, and heroin specifically accounted for 39 percent of all opioid deaths last year.
  • Arizona adults 45 to 54 had the highest overdose rates at 18.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Additionally, "opiod-related encounters" cost the Arizona health-care system more than $341 million in 2015 alone and there were an estimated 51,000 "opioid-related encounters" at hospitals in 2016.

State health officials report that this surge shows no signs of stopping.

Phoenix Rescue Mission is doing it's part to help with the surge in overdoses in Arizona. We are already training our staff and volunteers on opiod safety and overdose prevention, as well as the recognition of an overdose. We are also now providing many of our centers and our Hope Coach with Naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opiods. Administering Naloxone during an overdose is the first step in saving a life!

It's another way that your support is keeping our neighboss on this side of eternity! Our hope is to provide more man and women like Trevor (cover), who have gotten caught up in this tremendously addictive and deadly drug, with a second shot at life and a second chance at transformation.

Love. Connect. Serve.

The holiday season is a tough time for the men, women, and children at the Phoenix Rescue Mission. The end of the year always has a way of bringing up emotions that leave you feeling broken, longing for a new start. October for Southgate church, however, is a long-anticipated time of year. "Planning has been going on for the last few month," Josie a member of Southgate explains.

This year is the fourth year Southgate has been coming to the Phoenix Rescue Mission's Changing Lives Center for women and children, and throwing an all-campus festival. "This event is the highlight of the year for our church!" At Southgate, the mission is LOVE. CONNECT. SERVE. "Today is all about that," Nate a Southgate member explains. This is our community outreach, and we love partnering with the Phoenix Rescue Mission to do this event every year. "This is a great distraction, Rebecca, a client at the Phoenix Rescue Mission says. "It is so important to have fun while in recovery, we work so hard. Today was much needed. I feel refreshed."

Southgate church shuts down for the day, and members "bring church" to the Changing Lives Center. The day begins with church service, and after service the campus becomes a fair of sorts. With games, a bounce house, a dunk tank, and plenty of food to feed almost 200 bellies!

Thank you to Southgate church and all of it's members for coming together and making this event happen year after year. These days are so critical in the recovery of the women and their children working towards new life at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

"I love seeing all the smiles," says Connie a client of the Changing Lives Center, "it's a good day!"

Panda to the Rescue!

Going from the streets to the counseling sessions and classrooms of the Phoenix Rescue Mission's Changing Lives Center can be a tough transition for our women. But for the children they often have in tow – it can be terrifying. Another unfamiliar place. Another set of strangers. Another adjustment to make. But it’s amazing how those sort of deep-seated fears and uncertainties take a back seat when Panda walks into the room. Suddenly smiles break out on faces and fuzzy hugs are in order.

Panda is a certified therapy dog and thanks to her owner, volunteer Bob Lentz, she comes to visit our kids every week. “These kids here spend a lot of time with her, they take turns,” says Bob. “It’s good for them to be around animals. They learn how to treat them, to be nice and respect their feelings. They learn a lot.” Panda has been specially trained and tested to be gentle around people and children, sudden noises, small spaces, and new experiences. Studies have shown that during their visits, therapy dogs are able to lower blood pressure, slow heartbeats and bring a sense of overall calm to those around them.

“They love it!” says Maritza with a smile, one of our childcare specialists. “Some of our kids are really impatient and quick to anger, but the dog is so calm… and that helps them learn how to be calm with her. They love sitting with her and hugging on her… It’s good for my kids.”

When children lack the vocabulary to express their emotions, they express it through their behavior, often receiving discipline in response. But interacting with a dog who is calm and accepting, regardless of their behavior, can speak volumes to children and teach them to emulate the patience they experience. We’d like to send a big thank you to Bob and Panda for their excellent service – and to you who help bring such wonderful opportunities for joy into our kids’ lives. It’s amazing how much hope and love can be found in a wet nose and a bundle of fur! It’s just another way that your support is changing the littlest lives on campus – one warm snuggle at a time.

Banking on Transformation

This past January, we were approached by Hope for Hunger Food Bank in Glendale with the possibility of taking over their outreach – providing groceries, bread, fresh vegetables, meat and dairy to men, women, and children who need them most. After much prayer and deliberation, Phoenix Rescue Mission is proud to announce that we have decided to accept the offer and continue the good work Hope for Hunger has started! “This operation will greatly expand our anti-poverty ministry outreach and give us a base of ministry operations in Glendale,” says our President and CEO Jay A. Cory. Currently, Hope for Hunger serves 100 families a day, Monday through Thursday every week. Providing groceries offsets the cost of food allowing families on the edge of homelessness relief. Going forward, these individuals and families will also have the opportunity to connect with a bevy of Phoenix Rescue Mission services designed to break them out of the cycle of poverty and get them back on their feet! We’re excited to be able to reach out and offer hope to hurting families in a whole new way – and it’s all because of friends like you who make it possible! Check out our newsletter next month for more details!

 

Hope Begins with a Meal

The Mission is expanding our food service vocational program with the opening of Mission Possible Café! Mission Possible Café with be open to the public October 2nd, serving southwest inspired cuisine prepared by men and women currently in Mission programs. All Mission Possible Café employees will be part of the vocational development program, an eight-month course designed to get participants back on their feet. To learn more about how the restaurant will be incorporated into Mission programs, click HERE.

Mission Possible Cafe will share space with the Mission's Cookie Enterprise, and the Mission's catering business that is currently talking residence in the building. For years there has been room, and a vision to share this space with our community. The vision is becoming reality, but has taken an army to get moving. One of our first challenges began with making an empty space look and feel inviting. That is where Katie, a graphic design student at Arizona State University came in.

Katie and a team of friends came into a empty canvas of a restaurant, and turned it into a welcoming and beautiful piece of art. "The restaurant needed something that says, this is us, this is who we are we're bringing hope to people. The wall is going to bring life and happiness to this space."

Thanks to Katie and her team, the restaurant is on it's way to opening October 2nd with new life and welcoming charm. Guests will walk into the restaurant and see the words, "Hope Begins with a Meal." When the Mission began in 1952, this was our key message. The Phoenix Rescue Mission's goal is to help the men and women in our programs get back on their feet through service. Katie and her team are an example of serving our community as the hands and feet of Jesus and sharing your gifts and talents. “Someday I’d like to be an art director for a non-profit, whatever that looks like. That’s the end career goal to work in non-profits, so to be doing this work while in school is pretty cool,” Katie explains. Thank you Katie for your service to the Mission and our community!

Come support the Mission by enjoying a hot and delicious meal on us Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. To learn more and support the Mission click HERE.