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.


GCU Gives Back for Holidays

Kassandra Elson couldn’t believe she was watching a Grand Canyon University women’s basketball game on Tuesday night. She described her participation in the partnership between the Lopes and the Phoenix Rescue Mission (PRM) as “crazy’’ because less than a year ago she was incarcerated. In her case, the Christian-based PRM is aptly named.

From left, PRM residents Kassandra Elson, Katie Diercks, Courtney Kinnear and Holley Kirk surround PRM Donor Events and Engagement Coordinator Nikki Smith (center).

“I came to Phoenix Rescue Mission from prison,’’ Elson said. “My outlook on life was really hopeless. I just knew that if I didn’t do something immediately that I would end up back in prison, so I came to their Changing Lives Center praying that there would be some kind of hope there for me. Now things are going well. I am a leader on the campus and I am doing things that I never thought I would do.’’

Cheering for the Lopes had never been on Elson’s radar.

“It is crazy to think I am coming to something like this, a GCU basketball game,’’ she said. “This is how I am spending my free time rather than doing things that put me in prison.’’

As fans placed toys into the boxes in the lobby of GCU Arena, Elson reflected on her childhood as the oldest of six children in a low-income family.

Donations of toys and games will be distributed at the Winter Wonderland on Saturday.

“I totally understand. I know that not having that great of a Christmas really affects your life, and you remember that stuff forever,’’ she said. “So the fact there is a toy drive to help people get presents for their children is really great because the children will remember something different than just having a poor Christmas.’’

Along with collecting toys, games and household items for PRM’s Winter Wonderland, GCU and PRM were united by Jesse Dalla Riva, who gave a compelling pregame prayer.

Dalla Riva overcame drug addiction and homelessness through PRM.  He has worked at PRM full-time the past four years while majoring in counseling with an emphasis in substance abuse addiction at GCU.

“I was motivated to give back to the community that I was once part of in that I am addict myself,’’ said Dalla Riva, who plans to graduate in April.

With his wife, Blake, and their 19-month-old son, Jaxson, looking on, Dalla Riva prayed for the students and the athletes, adding, “God, I pray for all of those who are suffering and in need tonight.’’

Jesse Dalla River offered the pre-game prayer as his wife, Blake, and his son, Jaxson, watched from courtside.

“It was a real surprise that they asked me to lead the prayer,’’ he said. “I didn’t expect it and I was really happy to do it because of what this school has meant to me along with the opportunities they offered me and my family. ‘’

The connection between GCU and the Christian-based PRM was further strengthened by a halftime video that shared PRM’s mission. In addition, Nikki Smith, Donor Events and Engagement Coordinator for PRM, urged the GCU community to make donations.

“Unfortunately, a lot of our children have come from traumatic situations,’’ she said. “Some of them are hopeful for Christmas, but others are not. They do not have high expectations for what might be under the tree, so something like this gives them hope. It lets them know that other people care that they matter. It is a joy to change a child’s life and perspective, so it is a big gift.’’

GCU women’s basketball fans Mike Carley and Sue Hunter happily donated toys and dish cloths.

“Anywhere we are we try to make sure we help out,’’ Hunter said. “It is just part of what we do.’’

A GCU women’s basketball fan makes a donation for PRM.

The toys, games and household goods, which will be collected until Thursday, Dec. 13, at Building 71 (contact Sue Boyle) and Building 26 on the main campus, (contact Debbie Accomazzo), will be distributed on Saturday at the Winter Wonderland, where parents can “shop” for their children.

Smith summarized, “Events like this go a long way to giving people hope and helping them to transform their lives.’’



There’s only a few days left to make your Arizona State Charitable Tax Credit donation!

 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  ~Luke 6:38

If you give a gift to the Phoenix Rescue Mission by December 31, 2018, it may be given right back to you after you file your Arizona State taxes.

Through the Arizona State Charitable Tax Credit also known as the Arizona Working Poor Tax Credit, you can give a tax-free gift and help provide meals and care to those who are hungry and homeless in our community.  If you itemize your tax return, your donation to Phoenix Rescue Mission may qualify you for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. Just donate to the Mission before December 31, 2018 and use our Qualifying Charitable Organization QCO Code 20549. The Phoenix Rescue Mission will send you a receipt of your gift by mail. Then, when you file your Arizona States tax return, you can receive a tax credit of up to $800 when filing a joint return or $400 when filing an individual return (using form 321)*. Best of all, you will be helping to feed and clothe men, women and children who rely on the Mission’s services to make ends meet.

Your end-of-year gift will help us close the gap on the unprecedented demand for our services.  Would you please make an online gift today? If you have already donated, please share this with a friend so they too can take advantage of the Charitable Tax Credit.

As 2018 comes to a close, we humbly thank you for your faithful support of those we serve at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.  Your generosity is helping change lives year-round!

Peace and Joy,
Jay A Cory
President & CEO

* Please visit Arizona Department of Revenue for more information and seek the advice of a tax professional to determine if you qualify.





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 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.