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

Expanding Hope | Welcome to the Life Recovery Building

If you’ve traveled south of Buckeye on 35th Avenue lately, you’ve noticed something new.

A phoenix can be seen rising from the streets – a striking symbol of renewal, hope, and transformation.

That phoenix, and the new four-story Life Recovery Building on which it rests, is a beacon of hope to the hungry and hurting of our community, declaring that new life is not only possible – it’s within reach – at Phoenix Rescue Mission.

Inside this special edition newsletter, we invite you to take a tour, led by staff and recovery graduates, to show you what God’s providence and your support and prayers have done – and why our city will never be the same.

“Everyone is affected by homelessness, whether it’s a friend, a neighbor, a son or daughter, a grandchild. They are part of our lives; they live in our community and it is so important that everyone steps up and participates. We are a family in this city and if not us, then who?”

Jan Brewer, Honorary Campaign Chair, former Governor of Arizona

The day is finally here, the realization of a dream years in the making!

For years, our men’s campus, known as the Transforming Lives Center, has been in serious need of expansion. As our city grew, and with it, the homeless population, the Mission was forced to get creative to keep up. We refined our services, implemented new programs, streamlined the recovery process to maximize every inch of space and every opportunity God presented to change a life.

But efficiency only takes you so far.

Being “at capacity” was fast becoming routine. That’s a problem when the people you serve straddle the line between life and death on a daily basis. Turning people away isn’t an option.

The only remedy was to start building and the Expanding Hope campaign was born.

Today, the Life Recovery Building is open for life-transforming work. Four stories and 56,000 sq ft now tower over 35th Avenue, a testament to God’s provision and our community’s heart to care for the homeless and hurting.

The first question people ask when they see it is, “What are you going to do with all that space?”

The answer: We’re going to use it to transform lives like never before.

More Beds = More Transformation

Alfaro’s Story

The addition of the Life Recovery Building means our capacity to serve men has dramatically increased. Not only has our bed count grown from 160 to 360, the overall quality of those spaces has increased as well. Instead of hosting up to 40 men in a single room, this new building allows for a dorm-style approach of 2-4 men per room – greatly improving comfort for those working to rebuild their lives.

“Having 40 men to a room honestly felt a little like jail,” laughs Alfaro, Recovery Graduate and current Ministry Training student at the Mission. “Going to two men per room will give us our own space for the first time. That’s important. To be able to come here and have a bed was a blessing but now to have your own little space makes a huge difference.

Each room is equipped with either single beds or bunk beds depending on program level, air conditioning, fresh bedding, closet space, under bed locker space, and a table and chairs for study.

Alfaro, Recovery Graduate and Ministry Training Student

When Alfaro was introduced to his new room for the first time, he was ecstatic.

“The new building is beautiful and the fellowship here is phenomenal. I’m rebuilding bridges with my family and my kids. It’s a blessing to have a new place to fellowship in together.”

More Classes = More Growth

Richard’s Story

When you’re impacting the lives of an additional 200 men, you need the classroom space to accommodate. At full capacity in our old building, we had to use chapel and dining space as classrooms. But no longer. The new dividable chapel/classroom space will be a game-changer.

“Before, everyone was using the chapel for this and that, including chapel time,” says Richard, one of our Recovery Coaches. “There was only ever enough time to teach one class a day. The new classroom/chapel space at the LRB will allow us to have several inner healing classes or foundations classes going at the same time.”

More classroom space also allows for a more structured curriculum for the entry-level men while strengthening current classes and adding teaching opportunities morning, noon and evening.

Richard, Recovery Coach

These new additions mean we’ll be able to offer better life skill development, family relationship counseling, education assistance, and meet more court-appointed curriculum.

“As more men enroll, we could end up teaching multiple classes a day and still see clients for counseling sessions,” says Richard, thinking about the possibilities. “That’s exciting!”

New Space = Better Community

Sam's Story

This new addition isn’t just about improving current programs and services. The Life Recovery Building includes spaces designed to build community and foster strong relationships among our residents in ways we’ve never been able to offer before. Sam, who was a guest in his own home for years after other drug dealers and gang members let themselves in, welcomes the opportunity to experience real fellowship.

“I was living in a house that was taken over by dangerous people,” Sam remembers. “Even though it was my place, I was sleeping on my couch. I didn’t feel safe. There were nights where I didn’t know if I’d wake up the next morning. I’d have anywhere from 30-60 different people coming in and out of my house and yet I was very lonely.”

He continued, “The new common rooms at the Life Recovery Building will be the opposite. I’ll be around people who share the same trust that I have in Jesus, who want what’s best for me. I won’t feel like I need to have my guard up. I can be vulnerable and safe in this place. I’ll be part of a crowd that genuinely loves me.”

Sam, Recovery Graduate and Ministry Training Student

As a graduate of our recovery program and a current student in our rigorous Ministry Training program, Sam is looking to use his newfound skills in the common rooms to build relationships and build up the men following in his footsteps.

Outdoor Respite = Food for the Soul

Cliff's Story

The outdoor spaces are equally as inviting with tables and chairs for fellowship, and a soon-to-be-built prayer garden for solitude and reflection. For the first time, our recovery clients will have a much-needed quiet space to study, to pray and grow closer to the Lover of their soul.

“We want a place for people to get away and find some peace and quiet,” says Cliff Danley, our New Start Program and Aftercare Supervisor. “It can be hard to do that in a campus of 160, soon to be 360, men. In a long-term, Christ-centered recovery program, having some solitude can be underrated.”

From the new dorm-style beds to the expanded classroom and chapel area, to the common rooms and soon-to-be prayer garden, the Life Recovery Building represents a giant leap forward for transformation worthy to represent the King of kings.

Cliff, New Start Program and Aftercare Supervisor

“When you get into a place and the facilities are nice, that dignity really elevates a sense of wellness and value in a person,” says Cliff. “They’re going into a beautiful facility, they have a nice room, everything is new, and they get to be there. It lends itself to the overall sense of self-worth and confidence that they’re in the right place.”

Thanks to friends like you, hundreds more men this year will find dignity, new life, and a new path forward waiting for them inside our doors.

The sheer number of restored and redeemed fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands God will produce here as a result of your generosity is stunning to think about – not to mention the countless lives those transformed men will touch and change as they live out a new Christ-centered life.

“When you get settled in and get a chance to take stock of this place,” says Cliff, “it’s hard to ignore the fact that, ‘Wow, God did this.’”

Filling our Streets with Hope – One Tote at a Time

When Diane Powers took her first summer trip on the Hope Coach, she thought she had an idea of what she would encounter. But what she saw spurred her to action.

My heart breaks for those who are in the heat without water, sunscreen, or a roof over their heads. I really wanted to help and so did the rest of my church congregation.”

With the support of Pastor Bobby Brewer, Diane organized the first North Chapel Bible Church water and Summer Hope Tote drive. That was five years ago and every year she and the rest of her congregation go all out seeking to save lives from our brutal summer heat.

“Most people make their own totes and we get a lot of donations of bags and things. Then a group of eight or so of us assemble any loose items into Hope Tote bags. By the time we’re done, we have nearly 250 cases of water and 80 Summer Hope Totes. PRM sends a big truck to pick everything up.”

Homelessness seems like such a big problem and many of us wonder just what kind of difference one person can make. Diane proves that it only takes one person to start a movement that saves lives.

“I want to get other people in my church involved in these projects and raise their interest level in people suffering. It’s important to not stay in a little box and not know what’s going on around you. You can provide more help on a larger scale when you have people who are motivated and get involved.”

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

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