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.
“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.
“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.’’
“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.’’
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.’’
| “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,
* 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?
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!
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!
As we sit down to dinner this Thanksgiving, surrounded by mouth-watering dishes of every kind, let's remember those who will be going without this year. A staggering 30 percent of our neighbors are considered working poor. In a state with a population of 7 million, that means 2.1 million of us are struggling to put food on the table, not to mention the thousands who call our streets home.
Numbers like these seem insurmountable. But, you know what?
Our God is bigger than hunger and homelessness.
Thanksgiving was central to Old Testament worship. Sacrifice and offerings were to be made not grudgingly, but with thanksgiving. The psalmist valued a song of thanksgiving more than sacrifice. Thankfulness was expressed: for personal and national deliverance; for God’s faithfulness to the covenant; and for forgiveness. All creation joins in offering thanks to God.
The first harvest celebration was held in 1621. It was then William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Indians. It was not until October 3, 1789 that George Washington assigned Thursday, November 26, 1789, to be a day of national thanksgiving. In his proclamation Washington stated, "...recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer; to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many ... favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship and is to characterize all of Christian life. Early Christians expressed thanks: for Christ’s healing ministry; for Christ’s deliverance of the believer from sin; for God’s indescribable gift of grace in Christ; and for the faith of fellow Christians.
A Thanksgiving Proclamation, spoken by Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863 observed that the last Thursday of November would be a day of "Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
He continued, "It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
Psalm 100 A Psalm For Giving Thanks. 1Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth. 2Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
This Thanksgiving, because of donors and volunteers, we were able to serve over 1,200 households with a Thanksgiving meal they may have otherwise gone without. It is heartwarming and encouraging to see the impact a community can have when we come together with a common goal.
Through your support of Phoenix Rescue Mission, God transforming lives that in turn impact others. It's a ripple effect that reaches farther and impacts more lives than we can imagine - just like a wind becomes a storm, a flame becomes a wildfire, it's been God's method for change from the very beginning.
So, as we remember those who will go without also remember that you are a part of something big, something that is changing the face of homelessness and hunger in our state.
God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving.