Where Are They Now: Michele 5 Years Later

In 2015, Michele was addicted, depressed and suicidal. Thankfully, her aunt suggested finding help at Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center. It’s a decision that saved her life.

“I had this attitude and this demeanor about me that was so self-destructive,” said Michele. “This place has changed me. I’m not angry, I’m not bitter anymore. I look at myself now and I just shake my head. I don’t know who that person was.”

Thanks to your support, Michele thrived at the Mission. She not only graduated from our recovery program, she completed our Servant Leadership course and our rigorous Ministry Training program. You even helped her earn custody back of her two-year-old son, Brody, and gave her the tools she needed to become a great mother.

But that was five years ago. Where is she now?

We’re happy to report that Michele is better than back on her feet – she’s pursuing her dreams.

“Writing has always been a passion of mine. But throughout my life, I set it aside because I was always trying to make everyone else happy. What I learned was, it’s important to make Michele happy too.”

She enrolled in Phoenix College to work on her dream. She found a job as an administrative assistant at the Salvation Army through the Celebrate Recovery program. Little did she know that the skills she learned there would prepare her for a position at Power Trade Media, a publisher of trade magazines.
“I mostly do administrative work but I’ve also got my foot in the door on the writing side of things. Our company produces an aviation newsletter where I get to do a little bit of editing, and interview pilots. It’s an exciting time for me, because it’s something I really want to do.”

Amid her success, there’s the Mission. She still keeps up with the friends she’s made in recovery and attends Alumni functions, including our camping trip a few months ago.

Today, she has her own apartment, she’s getting close to finishing her business degree, and things are looking bright indeed for Michele and her son. It’s truly amazing what God can do.

But it’s important to remember that stories like this don’t happen by accident. Without God’s grace and the prayers and support of friends like you, Michele’s could have been a very different story.

“This program saved my life. It saved my son’s life. With unconditional love, I was able to beat the odds and move forward.”

Thank you for the partnership that continues to make true transformation possible in the lives of the men and women we serve, and God bless!

Where are they now? Tiffany 5 years later…

When Tiffany Sorenson graced the cover of our newsletter back in January of 2014, we told her story of repeated success and failure. Despite reinventing herself again and again, she could never get past the unhealed emotional wounds from her past or the alcoholism that always accompanied it.

Over the years, her addiction had cost her peace, a college degree, employment and eventually, her hope for the future.

“At one point I needed two 99-proof shots in the morning just to even out,” she admitted. “Peace was missing inside me and I stopped trying to figure out how to get it back.”

That is, until she connected with the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center. With the support of our counselors and staff, Tiffany was able to confront and overcome the root of her addiction for the first time in her life! But that was five years ago. Where is Tiffany now?

The simple answer is: busy!

Even before leaving the Phoenix Rescue Mission, Tiffany was busy giving back. In her final months, she worked for Safe Haven, a shelter for mentally ill homeless adults, and went back to school to finish the double major of psychology in criminal justice her addiction had forced her to give up on.

She graduated soon after, with honors and a 3.8 GPA, in 2015. Bachelor’s degree in hand, she earned a position as a case manager at Terros Health where, eight short months later, she was promoted to team leader as a clinical coordinator, leading one of the best performing teams in her clinic. While she worked at Terros Health, she also interned at Catholic Charities as a domestic violence counselor, and later at Chicanos Por La Causa Corozon as a substance abuse counselor.

At the same time, Tiffany started down the path of earning her Master’s degree in Social Work from ASU, adding an additional 20 hours of classes and study time to her already busy schedule, and graduated in 2017. Whew!

Today she serves as a therapist for Terros Health and is still hard at work improving herself and her ability to help others around her. She and her fiancé bought their first home 18 months ago and have set a date to get married in May!

But through all her success, Tiffany hasn’t forgotten where her life turned a corner or the friends she made while she was here. She keeps connected with other alumni through Facebook and the occasional lunch to catch up.

Tiffany’s is more than a life changed. Throughout her career, she will go on to touch and change more lives than we could ever have imagined. God’s mercy, your support and Tiffany’s hard work made that happen. We’re so proud of Tiffany! And we’re thankful for your support that gave her the chance to shine.

Talking Turkey: How turkey changed Fred’s life

What spurs people to volunteer comes in many different forms. Sometimes it’s the urge to right wrongs, or the need to share the love that overflows from their hearts.

For Fred, it was turkey.

“When I retired, I got a postcard from Phoenix Rescue Mission asking if I would donate a turkey for their Thanksgiving turkey drive.”

Thinking that was a fine idea, he picked up some frozen birds and looked forward to giving a couple of families a brighter Thanksgiving.

But God has a way of multiplying our efforts, sometimes, in ways we could never imagine. Fred didn’t know it, but the simple act of delivering those turkeys would change his life – and, with your help, the lives of hundreds more he hadn’t yet met.

“I brought my turkeys to an open house at the Mission. While I was there, I took a tour and when I saw all the amazing things they did, I told them to sign me up! I put my toe in first. Then my foot and then my leg, then both legs… I’m pretty well submerged now!” Fred says with a laugh.

That was three years ago, and Fred hasn’t looked back since. Today you’ll find him at the front of the line at our Hope for Hunger food bank where, up to five days a week, he’s assisting hundreds of families and individuals who come looking for food and hope.

“We greet them with hugs and smiles and ‘God bless you’s’, which, in our society, you have to be careful where you use that term. But around here, it’s not only allowed, it's encouraged!"

Like other volunteers can attest, service does so much more for Fred than what he feels it does for those he serves. When his friends question the number of hours he’s put in, he just smiles and shares one of the many stories that warm his heart and keep him coming back.

“I’ll never forget, a week or two before Christmas, an elderly gal came in a little apprehensive. She had never been here before. I greeted her and I put my arm on her back and said, ‘Dear, we’ll take good care of you. We’ve got lots of food today and we’ll fill this cart up.’ I watched her go around the circle, filling up the cart, and when she was getting ready to leave, I called out, ‘God bless you and have a Merry Christmas!’ Well, she stopped the line right there, walked over and gave me one of the most sincere hugs I’ve ever had in my life! I’ll never forget that.”

With the holidays approaching, we’ll soon see more families coming through our doors than at any other time of the year. That sobering thought has got Fred thinking. Turkey is what brought him to the Mission and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, turkey is still forefront on his mind.

“It’s an important time for everyone, especially families. Turkeys can feed a family for a good long while. I remember last year, thinking how exciting it was going to be because we were supposed to have 500 turkeys to distribute. When I pulled in to Hope for Hunger that morning, there were at least 300 vehicles outside waiting. To make a long story short, we fell far short of our goal last year.”

Fred is determined not to let that happen this year.

“I’ve already started making contacts to make sure of it. I’d like to get some corporate support and help from individuals and churches. If they could donate 10 or 20 turkeys or whatever they can possibly do, I’ll pick them up and we’ll have a turkey for every family this year. Our goal is 500 turkeys, but maybe we can do more. If so, that’d be wonderful. The need is definitely there.”

The other thing on Fred’s mind is the need for volunteers.

“We have a good crew, we have a lot of fun, there’s a lot of laughing, and a lot of teasing. But we don’t have nearly enough volunteers. You really need 10-12 people per shift back there to make it flow. Last Friday, when there were just four of us, it was tough. It makes it difficult.”

With three two-hour shifts, that’s 30 volunteers a day needed to keep Hope for Hunger humming along. If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch someone’s face light up when you hand them a box of much-needed food, take a moment to join Fred and the crew by visiting our volunteer page at prm.volunteerhub.com and signing up today!

Help Stock the Pantry!

We're running low on food - our neighbors need your help!

It’s 110 degrees outside. Turkey dinner with all the trimmings is probably the furthest thing from your mind right now. But the holidays are right around the corner – a time when so many hungry souls find their way to the Mission and our Hope for Hunger Food Bank, first for food, then for transformation.

The bad news is: our pantry is almost empty!

This summer has stretched our resources close to the breaking point. That’s bad news for the men, women, and children we serve. We need your help today to replenish and restock our pantry in time for the Thanksgiving rush!

It’s not just the homeless who benefit. Your gift this month will mean a world of difference for hard-working families on the edge like John’s:

“No matter how much my family plans financially, things happen unexpectedly,” says John. “Places like this help us out a lot.”

We can’t possibly turn our hungry neighbors away – not during the holidays, not ever. Together we can provide nutritious food and slip an arm around every famished soul that walks through our doors this coming season.

Thank you for your support as we gear up to give the chance to chow down and choose new life to as many hungry and hurting families as we can.

Dback’s Nick Ahmed hits it out of the park for PRM!

The Mission was honored to have Diamondback’s shortstop Nick Ahmed host the first annual Topgolf Swing for Impact event on June 23rd. It was a huge success! All totaled, Nick helped raise more than $10,000! All dollars raised for the Phoenix Rescue Mission went to support children living at the Changing Lives Center.

“We had so much fun raising money for good causes,” said Nick in a video posted on Twitter. “We’re not just donating money, we’re changing lives. We’re changing families. We’re changing generations. We’re treating and helping the whole person–mind, body and spirit.”

Nick and Amanda are touching lives both locally and internationally. In a press release, Nick said, “Amanda and I are committed to restoring and developing communities here and abroad. Thanks to the generous support of fans, we’re continuing to support the great work we started last year in the Dominican Republic. This year, we’re also supporting Phoenix Rescue Mission in their incredible effort to help the homeless and hurting here locally.”

Thank you to Nick and everyone who participated for making a HUGE impact in the lives of the children we serve!