Phoenix Rescue Mission Sets Record for Street Rescues

Phoenix Rescue Mission Sets Record for Street Rescues In May & June 2021

Street Outreach team rescues 120 men, women and children from homelessness since launch of Code:Red in May

PHOENIX (July 27, 2021) – As the Valley reaches record-breaking temperatures, Phoenix Rescue Mission is also breaking records. The Mission’s Street Outreach Team rescued a monumental 120 men, women and children off the streets since launching its Code:Red Summer Heat Relief effort in May.

“Our Street Outreach teams have been working tirelessly to find and rescue people from the hot sun and, frankly, the streets in general,” Nathan Smith, Chief Program Officer, said. “We knew they were making an impact, but it wasn’t until the numbers came in that we were truly blown away. In 2020, our average was 27 each month, but we broke our all-time record in May with 60 rescues, which is amazing. But then we hit that number again in June, and that’s when we realized our success was not a fluke."

"Because of the passion and care our teams bring to the streets, the partnerships we are building in cities around the Valley, and the strong support of the community, it makes sense that we’re making incredible progress."

Among the 120 rescues this summer was a single mother and her five children who found themselves in dire straits when a move to Phoenix from Indianapolis didn’t go as planned. Down to her last few dollars, the mother had only one option—to use her car for shelter, a deadly proposition in the Valley of the Sun. But thanks to the Mission’s Street Outreach Team, the mother and her children were rescued before they spent a single night on the streets. After helping the mother re-connect with family back home, the team provided bus tickets for them to make it home safely.

That mother’s story is just one of many rescues that could not have been possible without the recent expansion of the Mission’s Street Outreach Team, which now boasts a fleet vehicles capable of going where the need is at, searching for and rescuing vulnerable individuals and families like this mother and her children.

This coordinated effort is largely possible because of several public-private partnerships between Phoenix Rescue Mission and local municipalities, including Glendale, Goodyear, Peoria, Avondale, Scottsdale and Surprise. Each municipality works closely with the Mission’s Street Outreach Team to identify those in need and connect them with the appropriate solutions to help them re-enter society and reach their potential. Whether addiction recovery, mental health support, vocational development, food assistance or housing, the Street Outreach vans are available to pick up the individuals and transport them to either Phoenix Rescue Mission or an appropriate organization or destination that will serve the needs of that person.

The expansion of the Mission’s Street Outreach Team is the latest example of the nonprofit’s continued goal of growing and meeting the needs of those it serves by focusing on community impact in a fiscally responsible way.

“For decades, we have been providing Christ-centered, life-transforming solutions to persons facing hunger, homelessness, addiction, and trauma,” Nathan Smith said. “Our staff and volunteers are equipped with proven, time-tested programming to help those within our residential recovery programs undo lifelong strongholds that may be at the root of their suffering and find their purpose in life.”

More information about the Code:Red Summer Heat Relief initiative can be found here. Food, water, and all other heat-relief donations can be dropped off at the Mission’s Donation Warehouse, located at 3440 W. Lewis Ave., Building A, Suite G, in Phoenix.  The Mission is also in need of volunteers to help distribute vital, nutritious food to families in need at its Hope for Hunger Food Bank in Glendale.

For more information on what to donate or to start a Code:Red drive, please contact Catie Hammann at gikhelp@phxmission.org or 602-346-3347.

 

Phoenix Rescue Mission:

Phoenix Rescue Mission provides Christ-centered, life-transforming solutions to persons facing hunger, homelessness, addiction, and trauma. The nonprofit Mission, which has been operating since 1952, is asking the public for support of its many programs designed to transform lives, including Hope for Hunger Food Bank, Hope Coach Street Outreach, Temporary Shelter Programs, Men’s Addiction Recovery Program and the Changing Lives Center for Women and Children.

 

Media Contacts:

Ryan Brown, Phoenix Rescue Mission, cell: (302) 359-6780, rbrown@phxmission.org

Josh Skalniak, Lambert & Co., cell: (480) 352-2050, jskalniak@lambert.com

Prepared for the Streets [Matt’s Outreach Story]

How God used Matt's past to give others a future

Though many people know Matt now as a phenomenal street outreach case manager, his initial steps into adulthood could be described as “rocky at best.”

“I was never the greatest student,” Matt admits. “I graduated high school a couple years late. I wasn’t sure what to do next so I tried to enlist in the military but ended up failing the entrance exam. I couldn’t hold down a job. I had no direction, so I turned to partying, gambling and drinking.

It’s no surprise that partying wasn’t the answer. Starting with nothing and spiraling from there left Matt homeless by the time he was 24. But just when it seemed like life was over before it began, God took what was meant for evil and used it for good.

No job. No home. No control. Everything in Matt’s life up to this point told him he was a failure. Thankfully, God saw something different.

In the midst of depression and alcoholism, God used a simple song to break through the lies and speak to Matt’s heart. “I heard a song on the radio one day while I was driving called ‘Spoken For’ by Mercy Me.”

Covered by your love divine,
Child of the risen Lord
To hear you say “This one’s mine”
My heart is spoken for.

“I broke down in tears. I felt the love of God like I’ve never felt it before. I gave my life over to Christ in that moment.”

Suddenly, Matt’s life took on an altogether different trajectory.

He enrolled in a Christian recovery center in Los Angeles to find sobriety and strengthen his relationship with Christ.

After graduation, he found purpose for the first time in his life helping others as a part of a homeless outreach team. He was married in 2012, graduated from Bible college in 2017 and took a position as Case Manager for the Homeless at the Western Montana Mental Health Center.

It was the most success Matt had ever experienced! But there was something missing. The secular organization he worked for didn’t allow Christ as a solution.

“When I worked there I was limited in sharing my faith, and it was my desire to share. That got me praying about it and God revealed a ministry to me called Phoenix Rescue Mission. I started researching and really fell in love with it.”

A few interviews later, Matt became an outstanding addition to our Street Outreach team in January of 2020. Today, he’s out on the streets in the Hope Coach five days a week fulfilling his God-given purpose – to reach the homeless and hurting and offer hope and transformation.

Sharing his faith is extremely important for Matt. He knows that helping those who are struggling on the streets is critical, but he also wants to help them find eternal life in Christ.

“We encounter anywhere from 15 to 30 men and women a day. We help them get on housing lists, find recovery, get ID’s and really just share the love of Christ with people who are hurting and broken.”

Reaching people has never been more important. The hottest summer ever last year also claimed a record number of lives in Maricopa County: 336 perished, a majority of them homeless.

“A lot of what we’re doing is warning people: ‘The heat is coming, figure out a plan, get off the streets.’”

Matt knows firsthand just how vital this contact can be– it saves lives!

“Last July I spotted a man who looked like he was in trouble. It was 115 degrees outside and he knew he needed help. We loaded him up and took him to the hospital.”

Matt continued, “Shortly after, I came across a man at the bus stop who was so dehydrated it was clear he needed medical attention. We called 911 and the paramedics took him away. All of us on the Outreach team, we’ve all got stories. That’s why we do our best to prepare people for the coming months.”

With your help, we can give men and women like Matt the tools they need to reach people, not only in time, but for eternity.

“I love what I’m doing. I know this is what I was called to do. Looking back, I can see how the Lord prepared me for this role every step of the way. My bout with addiction, the recovery, Bible school, the mental health center – it was all preparing me for this.

You can be prepared when you encounter someone on the streets with tips from our Street Outreach Team at phxmission.org/tips

2021 Code:Red Summer Heat Relief Effort

2021 Code:Red Heat Relief Effort Launches May 10

Phoenix Rescue Mission to partner with public to prevent heat-related and COVID-related deaths and illnesses among the homeless and at-risk

PHOENIX (April 30, 2021) – Phoenix Rescue Mission is launching its 9th annual, city-wide Code:Red Summer Heat Relief Campaign to ensure the Valley’s homeless population and at-risk individuals do not fall victim to the hot summer months ahead.

Beginning May 10, through August 31, the large-scale heat relief initiative and water drive is raising the level of need for this year’s campaign, due to the continuing risks of COVID-19. In addition to water and other heat relief items, the Mission is asking the public to help support the campaign with monetary donations and non-perishable food drives. Monetary donations, which will be essential to meet the increased need during the difficult months ahead, will be matched up to $150,000 – made possible by a grant from several friends of the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

The Mission also launched a system for individuals and companies to easily set up digital fundraising drives to make socially distanced collections even simpler.

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of Code:Red, the need for public support could never be higher,” Phoenix Rescue Mission CEO Ken Brissa said. “In addition to battling triple-digit temperatures, the number of homeless men and women in our community has continued to climb while the pandemic limits access to many resources and services.”

Several municipalities, including Goodyear, Peoria, Avondale, Scottsdale, Surprise, and Glendale, have joined the effort and will work with the Mission’s Street Outreach staff as they comb Valley streets in a small fleet of Hope Coach vehicles providing water, toiletries, and case management services to those in need. The Mission’s outreach teams will be following the CDC’s COVID-19 safety protocols while providing personalized care that removes the barriers that keep people stuck in a cycle of homelessness.

“Anyone can help us save lives this summer, no matter if you’re an individual who wants to make a small donation online, a small business owner who’d like to start a food or water drive, or if you just want to drop off a case of water,” Brissa said. “It’s important to note that we’re not just handing out water and making people feel better. We’re building relationships with those in need and helping to remove the barriers to get them off the streets for good.”

More information about the Code:Red initiative can be found here. Food, water, and all other heat-relief donations can be dropped off at the Mission’s Donation Warehouse, located at 3440 W. Lewis Ave., Building A, Suite G, in Phoenix.  The Mission is also in need of volunteers to help distribute vital, nutritious food to families in need at its Hope for Hunger Food Bank in Glendale.

For more information on what to donate or to start a Code:Red drive, please contact Catie Hammann at  gikhelp@phxmission.org or 602-346-3347.

 

Phoenix Rescue Mission:

Phoenix Rescue Mission is a leading provider of Christ-centered, life-transforming solutions to persons facing hunger, homelessness, addiction, and trauma. The nonprofit Mission, which has been operating since 1952, is asking the public for support of its many programs designed to transform lives, including Hope for Hunger Food Bank, Hope Coach Street Outreach, Temporary Shelter Programs, Men’s Addiction Recovery Programs, and the Changing Lives Center for Women and Children.

 

Media Contacts:

Ryan Brown, Phoenix Rescue Mission, office: (602) 346-3352; cell: (302) 359-6780, rbrown@phxmission.org

Josh Skalniak, Lambert & Co., cell: (480) 352-2050 jskalniak@lambert.com

Surviving Homelessness in the Phoenix Summer [Robert’s story]

If it seems like the summers are getting hotter in the Valley of the Sun, you’re not imagining things.

In 2020, not only did we experience the most blistering July we’ve ever seen, August’s average high temperature of 110.7 degrees broke the record for the hottest month. Combined, they made for the hottest summer ever recorded – since records began in 1896!

As temperatures start to climb this month, that’s a deadly forecast for the men, women, and children caught on the street. Add that to a lingering pandemic that has brought thousands of families to the brink of homelessness and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

This is a Code:Red!

If anyone knows how dangerous summers can be while living on the streets, it’s Robert.

In 2019, his parole officer recommended that, in order to overcome his addiction, he enroll in recovery at Phoenix Rescue Mission. Even though Robert readily agreed, he was already making other plans. He blew off his intake appointment and spent the next couple months on the streets trying to stay out of sight. But he didn’t take into account the fact that it was summer.

The decision to run almost cost him his life.

“It was rough,” Robert remembers. “I would bounce between Starbucks and fast-food restaurants to stay cool. But then I collapsed one day in front of the library on 46th Street and Thomas. When I opened my eyes, there were paramedics standing over me. They said I was very dehydrated. They told me I was lucky I woke up.”

That near-death experience was a wake-up call for Robert. He knew that if he reconnected with his parole officer it would mean jail, possibly even prison time, but it was far better than the alternative.

“It was so bad that I turned myself in. I told them I would accept whatever conviction they gave me. But instead of locking me up, they still allowed me to go to Phoenix Rescue Mission!”

Robert narrowly escaped death from severe dehydration in the summer of 2019. More than 280 others experiencing homelessness in the Valley weren’t so fortunate last summer.

Your support saved Robert’s life. We gladly welcomed him out of the deadly heat, connected him with recovery classes, counseling, and case management tools that would help break the hold addiction had on his life and gave him the tools he needed to find transformation.

Today Robert is better than safe. He’s sober, he’s a graduate of our Men’s Recovery Program, and is currently enrolled in tech school working on his A+ technical certification with plans to become an IT professional.

It’s only by God’s grace and your support that Robert survived the summer of 2019 – 283 others didn’t.

Last year, during the hottest summer ever recorded, that number soared to a tragic 494 lives lost – 59% of them homeless – an increase of 33% over 2019.

It’s a combination of record-breaking temperatures and closed businesses during a pandemic that gave those living on the streets fewer options for refuge.

When just 15 minutes in our intense summer sun can cause heatstroke, hundreds stranded on the streets don’t have a chance.

We must do better in 2021.

With temperatures rising, more lives are on the line. We can change it. Help put a bottle of water and a message of hope in someone’s hand when it means the most.

A graduate of our Recovery Program and currently attending tech school to become an IT professional, Robert’s future is promising, thanks to your support.
Code:Red

Summer is Here – What Can I Do? [street outreach tips]

It’s 110 degrees outside and there he is on the corner, cardboard sign in hand, looking to you for help. You know handing him cash is not the answer and food isn’t a solution. It would be easy to drive on by, but your heart won’t let you abandon this homeless man to the heat.

What can you do?

It’s a question that weighs heavy on many of our hearts during the summer – our street outreach team is here to help!

Here are four simple tips that can make a real impact and could transform the life of someone on the street:

  1. Be Prepared. It’s hot and you are going to run into someone in need of help. Be ready! Keep a Summer Hope Tote or two in your car this summer ready to give away. Build yours at phxmission.org/hopetote.
  2. Talk with them. Say hello. Show them your heart. Asking if they have a place to stay the night or a plan for the future can be a great way engage in a quick conversation while at a stop light.
  3. Point them to PRM. This is the opportunity for transformation. Guide them toward a solution by handing out one of the enclosed Rescue Referrals or print your own at phxmission.org/referral. Tell them you support the Mission, and it could be a place their needs can be met.
  4. Pray. This is most important – only God can change hearts! Don’t forget to pray for those on the streets and for those battling addiction. Pray that their physical and emotional needs are met, and their spiritual hunger is satisfied. And please pray for the staff and volunteers at the Mission as we serve many who come to our door.

Last summer, record-breaking heat took the lives of 494 men and women in Arizona. As a community, we need to step up and reach out to those who may not know how deadly our summer can be.

Together, we can make a difference by connecting people in harm’s way with the resources that keep them safe and transform lives!

Code:Red