“Barely Surviving The Last Summer” [Sergio’s Story]

Sergio knows what it’s like to try to survive in Phoenix during the brutal summer heat because he did – but barely.

“I had blistered feet and could barely walk. It was excruciatingly hot. I just needed water. If I didn’t get it, I would have definitely been in danger of dying.”

Sergio survived by finding spigots and staying there, drinking water until his body was hydrated enough to move a few more blocks. He didn’t want to be out there, but he thought he had no other choice.

“I couldn’t go a day without drinking alcohol. I was a raging drunk. I would get aggressive with people,” Sergio says. “I’ve been to numerous programs, but never experienced more than 3 months of sobriety. Just constantly relapsing and getting worse every time.”His family tried their best to help but found themselves at a loss. Eventually, they kicked him out.

“I started smoking meth on a daily basis. When that happened, things got really crazy. I was hearing voices, thinking crazy stuff, having terrible episodes, and believing they were true,” he says.

One August day, as the temperature soared, Sergio knew that if he was going to survive, he needed help. His family had told him about Phoenix Rescue Mission so he called us and made an appointment to come in.

“After five years, I was done. I could see I wasn’t able to stop my drinking and drug use on my own. I wanted out of the heat, away from the hunger and the shame. I was ready to walk through those gates.”

As soon as he walked through our gates, his life began to change.

“I’d tried recovery so many times. But this time it was different. The main difference was where they pointed me to – they pointed me to Christ. They taught me to open up the Bible. And I saw a lot of success early on. I saw guys graduating. I saw them in their ceremonies. I saw guys with their families. And that inspired me.”

After a year in the program, Sergio became one of those graduates. After graduation, he joined our Street Outreach Team. This year, with Code:Red, he’s been exceptionally busy.“There are extreme dangers that come with the heat,” Sergio says. “What we provide is something simple. It can be seen as an icebreaker to talk to people, but for some individuals, that water is going to save them.”

Saving lives is our first priority. Especially with record-breaking temperatures like we’re expecting in the next few months. Last year, through Code:Red, we were able to rescue 303 people from the streets! Not one of them was a moment too soon.

“You see people who are passed out in direct sunlight, which is a very dangerous thing,” Sergio says. “It is fairly common to see ambulances at bus stops out here.” It’s already hot out there, but it’s going to get worse. That’s why we’re asking all of our friends, like you, to give as much as you can as quickly as you can.