Meet the Staff: Nathan Smith, Our CPO

Ever wonder what fuels the fire in the hearts of our staff for the homeless and hurting? Starting this month, we’ll be introducing you to the outstanding men and women who work tirelessly to see lives transformed – to get a peek into what brought them to the Mission and what keeps them going.

Ask anyone on campus and they’ll tell you: Nathan Smith has a huge heart for the homeless. But it didn’t start out that way.

“I wasn’t necessarily callous to helping people with great needs,” Nathan remembers. “I just never paid any attention to that as a kid.” It wasn’t until his first missions trip to India that his life, and his heart, changed forever. Nathan not only found his calling while he was in India, he found his wife – who was serving in the medical clinics of the same missions’ field.

“Years later, I was having trouble getting out to India to continue my mission work because I was building a family here. That’s when I was challenged by my grandmother-in-law to do more work locally. I started working with the homeless, which blossomed into a church ministry. From there, I met Jay Cory (former President and CEO of Phoenix Rescue Mission) who got me started at an entry-level position at the Mission.”

At the Mission, Nathan flourished. In just six short years, he’s risen through the ranks from Project Coordinator to Project Manager to Director of Community Engagement. During that time, he was instrumental in the expansion of the Mission’s reach into regions like Glendale, where he and his team saved the city’s largest food bank from closing for good.

Nathan’s team reopened Hope For Hunger Food Bank and increased the output of the previous ownership by more than 50% – serving more than 160 families per day under his watch. He was also a key player in the formation of Glendale Works, an integrated workforce development program aimed at reducing homelessness in Glendale by providing homeless individuals day-work cleaning city property.

In May, he accepted the position of Chief Program Officer!

God has put me in these different spots to expose me to what it means to be a leader, what it means to work with people who are really, really down and out and it’s prepared me to take that on at a higher administrative level. I couldn’t be more thankful for the path He put me on to get here.

Congratulations on your promotion, Nathan. We can’t wait to see how God uses you next!

Back to School? How your support gives kids hope for the school year

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected us all in different ways. It’s possible that life will never be the same. But beyond the sickness and the social distancing, there’s one group affected who are easily overlooked.

Our school children.

There are thousands of families who have lost jobs, been furloughed, or have otherwise seen their income dry up with no warning over the past few months. Edith’s family is one of them.

“The virus hit us really hard because we weren’t expecting it,” says Edith. “I got laid off.”

Just a few months ago, she was employed at Amazon and supporting three kids, while she worked on becoming a Registered Nurse. Today, she needs help affording school supplies for her children.

Thankfully, our Back to School event is coming up on July 25th. Edith and her family will be attending for the first time – and she couldn’t be more grateful for your support that makes it possible.

Edith volunteers her time as a member of the PTA in the Murphy Elementary School District. As a member, she’s been involved with many of the events Phoenix Rescue Mission hosts there to help families. But that was before she joined the 824,412 individuals in Arizona who have found themselves out of work since the week of March 21st. Now she’s on the other side.

“Getting ready for school after what has happened with the coronavirus is tough! The Phoenix Rescue Mission is helping a lot of families and bringing smiles to a lot of kids. We’re all very grateful!”

Every year, with your support, Phoenix Rescue Mission provides school supplies, backpacks, uniforms and shoes to Phoenix area Title 1 School Districts – everything kids need to thrive and succeed. The event gives children hope, levels the playing field with their peers and provides a connecting point to keep their family on the road to success.

“If we find that a family has a need for food or clothing, or maybe they are getting evicted and need assistance getting into a shelter, we can help them with those things or connect them with the right resources to get the help that they need,” says Pam Morrison, our Community Relationship Officer. “Our goal is to remove barriers and help stabilize families which improves the opportunity for children to get an education.”

While families like Edith’s are busy trying to make ends meet – to keep food on the table and the air conditioner running – school supplies are, understandably, a low priority. Together, we can keep hope moving forward for these little ones.

“If we have leftover items at the end of the event,” says Pam, “we give those supplies and uniforms to the parent liaison to provide for any homeless students that come their way throughout the year.”

“There’s such a need for those backpacks and supplies,” says Edith. “I know these kids are excited to get back into the classroom. They’ve got the motivation if we can provide the resources.”

Our Back to School event is just a few weeks away on July 25th.

Let’s make sure every child who attends goes away smiling. Thank you for the support that gives our students hope!

Things May Look Different, but the Work Goes On

News of the coronavirus forced us to cancel the groundbreaking ceremony of our new, 4-story Life Recovery Building which will house our men’s program and increase available beds from 170 to 360, allowing us to have greater impact on many more lives. But the work goes on! Construction is underway, and all throughout Phoenix Rescue Mission, we’re still bringing help and hope to the homeless and needy.

At the Mission, we’re staying abreast of the COVID-19 situation and making decisions in real-time regarding how to best care for and serve those in our ministry family. Our leadership team has developed plans for each area within the organization, so that we can responsibly continue our ministry with care and compassion, especially at this crucial time of need in our city.

We’ve adjusted our outreach in creative ways. Our Hope for Hunger Food Bank has been transformed into a drive-thru style so we can continue our normal hours (M-F, 8am-12pm). There are no zip code restrictions on who can receive food at Hope for Hunger, so anyone can receive food assistance so long as they show an ID and proof of residence (typically a utility bill). Healthy volunteers are still needed each weekday. If you can help, sign up at prm.volunteerhub.com.

We will also continue our Community Markets and Mobile Food Pantries around the Valley, all with redesigned procedures to minimize or eliminate personal contact.

In times like this, we’re given an opportunity to display God’s love, help build courageous people, and engage in the welfare and comfort of our communities.

With your faithful support, we will continue to reach out to the hurting and homeless with hope and help. In times of darkness, the light shines brightest – thank you for the partnership that gives a path forward to the men, women, and children we serve, even in the midst of the current crisis.

Freezing temperatures and our homeless neighbors

Most people don't associate below-freezing temperatures with Arizona, but the state will be seeing a continuing trend of cold weather over the next few days, according to the National Weather Service.

The homeless population has an increased risk for hypothermia and other cold-related conditions.  This risk is even higher from those who suffer from substance addictions, mental illness, or other physical illnesses.

Homeless service providers and governments have the responsibility to protect their homeless citizens through state- and city-wide winter plans and increased shelter availability. Phoenix Rescue Mission joins these efforts year-round, and has seen an influx of men and women seeking refuse from the cold temperatures.

Cold weather poses a threat to those experiencing homelessness even when temperatures seem mild. Hypothermia can set in when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Precautions to Reduce the Risks of Hypothermia*

  • Wear hats, mittens, gloves and clothing that create a static layer of warm air, provides a barrier against the wind, and keeps the body dry.
  • Avoid alcohol and other mood- and cognition-altering drugs.
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia (e.g., shivering, slurred speech, and drowsiness) that indicate the need to seek shelter and call for help.
  • Keep and carry emergency supplies containing blankets, non-caffeinated fluids, high-energy food, and an extra supply of medications for chronic conditions readily available.

*These precautions are important for both homeless people and those who help them.

Seven hundred people experiencing or at risk of homelessness are killed from hypothermia annually in the United States. From the urban streets of our populated cities to the remote back-country of rural America, hypothermia – or subnormal temperature in the body – remains a leading, critical and preventable cause of injury and death among those experiencing homelessness.

Because of support from our community, Phoenix Rescue Mission is able to play a pivotal role providing our homeless and hungry neighbors with support during not only the winter months, but year-round.

The Mission is asking the communities support with the following items:

Any donations can be dropped our at our warehouse at 3440 W. Lewis Ave Monday-Friday 8am-4pm, or at our Transforming Lives Center outside of regular business hours at 1801 S. 35th Avenue.

 

The Main Thing – Home for the Holidays

As we sit down to dinner this Thanksgiving, surrounded by mouth-watering dishes of every kind, let's remember those who will be going without this year. A staggering 30 percent of our neighbors are considered working poor. In a state with a population of 7 million, that means 2.1 million of us are struggling to put food on the table, not to mention the thousands who call our streets home.

Numbers like these seem insurmountable. But, you know what?

Our God is bigger than hunger and homelessness.

Thanksgiving was central to Old Testament worship. Sacrifice and offerings were to be made not grudgingly, but with thanksgiving. The psalmist valued a song of thanksgiving more than sacrifice. Thankfulness was expressed: for personal and national deliverance; for God’s faithfulness to the covenant; and for forgiveness. All creation joins in offering thanks to God.

The first harvest celebration was held in 1621. It was then William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Indians. It was not until October 3, 1789 that George Washington assigned Thursday, November 26, 1789, to be a day of national thanksgiving.  In his proclamation Washington stated, "...recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer; to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many ... favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness." 

Thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship and is to characterize all of Christian life. Early Christians expressed thanks: for Christ’s healing ministry; for Christ’s deliverance of the believer from sin; for God’s indescribable gift of grace in Christ; and for the faith of fellow Christians.

A Thanksgiving Proclamation, spoken by Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863 observed that the last Thursday of November would be a day of "Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

He continued, "It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

Psalm 100 A Psalm For Giving Thanks. 1Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth. 2Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3Know that the LORD is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

This Thanksgiving, because of donors and volunteers, we were able to serve over 1,200 households with a Thanksgiving meal they may have otherwise gone without. It is heartwarming and encouraging to see the impact a community can have when we come together with a common goal.

Through your support of Phoenix Rescue Mission, God transforming lives that in turn impact others. It's a ripple effect that reaches farther and impacts more lives than we can imagine - just like a wind becomes a storm, a flame becomes a wildfire, it's been God's method for change from the very beginning.

So, as we remember those who will go without also remember that you are a part of something big, something that is changing the face of homelessness and hunger in our state.

God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving.