Despite the Pandemic, the Hope Coach Travels On

It’s 8am. Hope Coach drivers Sarah Snead and Brian Farretta load up with hygiene packs, water bottles and other supplies as they prepare to hit the road. Their excitement is palpable.

Just a couple of summers ago, they would have been on their own. But today, they’re part of a team of six street outreach case managers offering services throughout Phoenix and much of the West Valley.

“We get up in the morning ready to go,” says Brian, “knowing that we’re about to make a difference and give God the glory.

God tends to move in amazing ways on the Hope Coach and today will be no different. Although COVID-19 has altered how they interact with men and women on the street, it hasn’t affected their resolve to reach the least, the last, and the lost.

Virus or not – Hope must move forward.

You might remember Brian from the cover of our March Newsletter last year – a man who was at the end of his rope, until a Facebook post from an old friend and a referral to Phoenix Rescue Mission saved his life. Now he’s giving back by sharing what he’s been given through the Hope Coach.

“I love it, I absolutely love it,” says Brian. “I like connecting with people. I like the evangelism part of it. I was rescued from so much, and I want people to know that we serve a God who can do that for anybody.

Sarah shares a similar past. “I didn’t know how to handle some life trauma and I started dabbling with drugs ‘til I couldn’t control it anymore. When I was 20, I started selling. Our house got raided and I ended up in prison for four years.”

While incarcerated, she found a relationship with Christ that changed her heart. Shortly after, she met Melissa Sheller, Director of Volunteer and Inmate Reentry Ministries, and joined the Mission working in Donor Care.

“When I found out about the Hope Coach and being able to connect with people on the streets who are suffering, I felt like the Lord was telling me, ‘This is where you need to be.’

Now, Monday through Friday, Sarah and Brian hit the streets looking for opportunities to transform lives.

“There are a lot who don’t receive it,” Brian admits, “but man, the ones who do! I love going into the Mission and seeing someone in Servant Leadership Training or Ministry Training who I originally picked up in the Hope Coach. Just seeing them thriving with a true heart’s desire to serve the Lord, man, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

On the road, we drive by a young woman in a coat. Immediately Brian recognizes her, exclaims, “Hey, that’s Misty!” and pulls over. Misty was one who didn’t make it. Brian picked her up a year ago, helped her enroll at the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center, and prayed for the best. For a while, she thrived. But then she fell in with a group of girls who wanted to leave and quickly ended up back on the street.

Today, God gave him a second chance to see a life transform. After some catching up, Misty says she’s ready and Brian sets her up for an appointment for a pickup at 2:30 that afternoon. They also meet Mike, who you can tell is on the fence about coming in for recovery. He tells stories about having to sleep with one eye open. He knows it’s not safe out there. While Sarah and Brian minister to others, he returns over and over again to ask more questions about the program, but in the end, Mike decides he’s not ready.

“He knows he’s got a drug problem. We can help with that,” Brian relates with an obviously heavy heart. “We offered him a safe bed and a warm meal. But he’s still willing to sleep outside with one eye open every night just to stay high. That’s how badly this stuff has a hold on people. Until they come to that point where they say this is not me, this isn’t what I was meant to do, it’s hard to change.”

While this wasn’t the day for Mike, the services the Hope Coach provides have evolved over the years to be more relational. As a result, more are leaving the streets in search of hope.

“It’s a lot different now than it used to be,” says Sarah. “Before, it was more meeting people, giving them water and food and connecting with the homeless population that way. Now there’s more case management. We offer ID vouchers, help people get birth certificates, we’ve got options to house people. It’s more of an intimate relationship to try and get them out of their current situation and into a better one.”

With your support, we’ve expanded our reach as well. Today, there are four vehicles in the Hope Coach program, reaching homeless and hurting individuals across the Valley. From Peoria to South Phoenix and Sunnyslope to Goodyear, we’re spreading hope to more locations than we ever have before.

“Let’s find the problem, meet their needs by fixing their addiction problem, help them recover from trauma, all through the hope found in Christ,” says Sarah. “You just keep planting seeds and watering ‘til they’re ready. When they finally take it, that’s when people get better. That’s why we do it.”

*Note: The photos of Brian and Sarah were taken prior to the CDC guidelines surrounding COVID-19 being announced, which is why they are not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

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.

 

What is Love?

What is love? A difficult question for most people, let alone men and women who have experienced a a fair amount of trauma and abuse. Yet, these men and women are learning what love looks and feels like when God is a part of their lives. Some are early in their journey. Some are deep in their truth of what the Bible says about love. February, and every day, we celebrate God's love for us and how we can walk that out in our own lives by loving like Jesus loves.

"Love is an action. God IS love. God sending his only son to die for us .. is love. Something as simple as a smile can represent love."

Michelle - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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Tom - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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"I didn’t know what love felt like. All I knew was hatred, shame and guilt. I didn’t realize until I came to the Phoenix Rescue Mission and actually received Jesus Christ, my personal Savior, and turned my life over to God, what love feels like. And now its like a feeling in my heart all the time. It’s amazing. I care about myself again, I care about everyone around me. The way the Mission and the staff adopted me as family. That feeling you get, it’s crazy. I don’t have problems anymore. It’s a good feeling."

"Love is selfless, and takes a lot of sacrificing of your own desires."

Tiffany - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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Stephen - graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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"This is a good week to talk about love. When I think of love, I think of 1 Corinthians 13. What is love, what is the picture of God's love for us? Love is patient , love is kind. Love keeps no record of wrongs. It does not boast, it is not envious. And looking at 1 John also, perfect Love casts out fear, if we don’t know God, we don’t know love."

"Past experience with love hasn’t been the greatest, but a lot of that is because I didn’t have a relationship with God. Now that I do, it’s kind of re-learning everything through His eyes, His perspective. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m still learning a lot."

"Love means home. With my kids, it’s home, family, my babies. That’s love to me. Here at the Changing Lives Center, my kids aren't here with me. So I often go to our daycare on campus, and spend time with the kids. I feel an abundance of love there. It’s unconditional. This is my home right now, I feel safe and I feel love from Christ. Love from God is overpowering, just all-consuming, joy, smiling, happiness. It puts me at peace. My relationship with God now is the strongest it’s ever been. I feel God’s Spirit, that’s love."

Michelle - Client at Changing Lives Center

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Brandon - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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"Love is an unconditional acceptance and a yearning to be with someone or something. Love has no bounds, there are no stipulations as to how I can give it to someone or something."

"This is what I have sought for in love. When I think of love, I think of my mom. She showed me the most love, forgiveness, encouragement and just enjoying the company of others. That’s where I learned what love is. Enjoying and wanting to invest all of yourself regardless of cost."

"Love is to be fully known, yet accepted. Unconditionally."

Sala - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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Are you a healthy giver?

Are you a healthy giver?

How you can make a REAL difference this Christmas

During the giving season, more than any other time of the year, we all want to help our fellow brothers and sisters. But are you a healthy giver?

That’s a question we all need to ask before we hand our next $5 bill to someone on the street.

Jerome Parker, of the Healthy Giving Council (of which Phoenix Rescue Mission is a part) is doing his best to get the word out ahead of the crowds this holiday season. “We urge people to not give money or food on the street,” says Jerome. “It’s much more helpful to direct them to an  organization that already provides meals, clothing, and recovery programs set up to close the gap between those who are homeless and permanent housing.”

It may seem counter-intuitive, but feeding someone on the streets does more harm than good. It often leads to discarded trash in our neighborhoods (53 tons of it was collected off the streets between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year) and enables the homeless to avoid help for one more day. It even changes the way we think about the people we are hoping to help. “Street giving and feeding puts us in a frame of mind,” he says, “where we begin to see the homeless as less human. If we’re honest, we know that burger or dollar bill we hand out isn’t going to change  anything.

We do it to make ourselves feel better. We need to ask: Is what we are doing bringing this person closer to, or further away from, ending their homelessness?”

Here are a few easy ways to be a healthy giver!

  1. Hand out the enclosed Rescue Referral cards instead of food or cash when you see someone in need. Including a $4 bus pass is even better (bus passes can be purchased at most gas stations and grocery stores).
  2.  Help provide food, clothing, spiritual guidance, addiction recovery, counseling, education assistance, job training, and so much more by supporting the efforts of the Phoenix Rescue Mission.
  3. Become a volunteer by visiting prm.volunteerhub.com and give your time and energy by serving with us on the front lines.

 

Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of the men and women we see on our streets this holiday season!

Download your own rescue referral cards to print at home by clicking the image below.

A Smile Can Change A Life

How God is using our partnership to restore the years the locusts have eaten

When we see people missing teeth, we “label” them. We somehow tend to think of them as unintelligent ... unprofessional ... even untrustworthy. No, it doesn’t really make sense, logically. But it happens nonetheless.

It’s a challenge faced by many of our graduates. Even though they are new creations in Christ, their bodies still bear the scars of the past – ruining job opportunities and potential relationships – essentially keeping them from moving forward.

Enter our dental partners that give our graduates a reason to smile. Phoenix Rescue Mission is blessed to have Smiles Beyond the Bars, Pacific Dental Services Foundation, Brighter Way, Custom Fit Lab and Smiles for Everyone provide bright smiles for our clients.

“We help formerly incarcerated people who have come to love the Lord, and are in a faith-based organization,” says Linda of Smiles Beyond the Bars. “If they qualify, we will totally rebuild their mouth, giving them a new shot at life, a new confidence, and a chance to live like anyone else and not hide their teeth.”

It makes all the difference for our graduates. Just ask Tyler. “For years I’ve hid my smile,” says Tyler, “unable to enjoy even the smallest moments of joy and laughter. I could feel the assumptions and judgments from those who would see my teeth. Smiles Beyond the Bars not only gave me back my confidence and ability to enjoy life, eating is no longer  painful! It’s been a huge blessing. I am so thankful for Phoenix Rescue Mission and Smiles Beyond the Bars!”

“The Phoenix Rescue Mission brings them in, gives them a bed and teaches them life skills, but if they still have bad teeth, they can’t get a job,” says Linda. “The missing factor is their smile.”

Lisa, CEO and founder of Smiles Beyond the Bars, approached Tyler about a special opportunity during the process of receiving his new smile. Smiles Beyond the Bars was hosting their 2018 Smiles for Success Gala, and wanted Tyler to be the emcee! Tyler was more than excited to raise awareness for the cause that gave him his new smile, and praise God for what He had brought Tyler through. "I want to do this every year," Tyler explained.  Tyler's testimony and experience was shown on the big screen as he told his story of hope and transformation, not only for his teeth, but his soul/ It was a beautiful night celebrating World Smiles Day among supporters and recipients of new smiles.  They year, Smiles Beyond the Bars will provide 75 new smiles to recipients, from a dedicated core of 65 dentists and 13 labs contributing their services equating to $2 million of treatment and lab services!

God’s grace, your support and the dedicated support of our counselors and staff give our graduates the tools for transformation from the inside-out. Our dental partners provide our graduates with dazzling new smiles to match their inner change – the combination is nothing short of 1 Peter 5:10: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”