The Phoenix Gospel Mission was founded in 1952 by six businessmen from the Phoenix area. The original location was on South 3rd Street in downtown Phoenix where an evening meal, Chapel service, and clothing were provided to migrant workers and vagrants. Between 35 and 50 clients were served each day.
Reverend Carl Spacone joined the Mission as a Board member in 1963 and became the Executive Director in 1969. That same year, the Mission moved to the former Utah Hotel at 440 W. Washington Street. For 22 years, the Mission provided showers, three meals per day, clothing, family events, Sunday school, food boxes, and six beds for addiction recovery at that location. In 1991, urban renewal forced the relocation of the Phoenix Rescue Mission to 35th Avenue.
Reverend Spacone passed away in 1991, leaving his wife Dorothy to carry on as Acting Director. Dorothy ran the Mission until 1994, when she hired Don Johnson as the Mission’s Executive Director. Under his leadership the Mission continued to grow and change.
The Phoenix Gospel Mission became the Phoenix Rescue Mission in 1997. In the spring of 1999, the Board of Directors appointed Jerry Sandvig as its Executive Director. Under Jerry’s watch, the Mission expanded its services with outreach to the surrounding community, serving thousands of children and families at special events throughout the year by providing food, clothing and other items they otherwise would not receive. Jerry ended his tenure as President and CEO with the opening of the brand new Changing Lives Center, a specialized facility for homeless women and their children offering a comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle of addiction, abuse, trauma, and homelessness.
Current President and CEO Jay A. Cory has 20 years experience building and directing Christ-centered recovery programs. Before coming to Phoenix Rescue Mission in 2011, Jay served as Executive Vice President of Atlanta Mission, in Atlanta, Georgia. Jay cast a new vision for the Phoenix Rescue Mission – to end hunger and homelessness by transforming lives and mobilizing our community. Jay has a true passion for helping the addicted heal and re-enter society as healthy Christians. The new strategic plan, which will be unveiled in November 2012, calls for the Mission to expand its shelter and recovery services to the homeless.
God continues to call us to grow and serve more people. As we do, we will continue to see that we are cared for by the Lord and so many other faithful Mission friends!