Homeless Court provided a new freedom in Anna’s recovery from opioid addiction

Who the Son Sets Free

Homeless Court provided a new freedom in Anna’s recovery from opioid addiction

Law provides the guardrails that keep a society together. But there comes a point when law becomes so complex, when fines from old infractions and missed deadlines begin to stack and trigger new fines and deadlines, that those guardrails begin to act more like bars – giving people without means little means of escape.

“I see individuals coming in with 10-year-old unpaid parking tickets that turned into a suspension on their driver’s license."

Karen Sadler is a representative of the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County. “A suspension also means they aren’t able to register their vehicle, which quickly turns into an abandonment of vehicle fee because they can’t move it. And, of course, if they have warrants for those unpaid tickets, finding housing gets a lot tougher. These things can compound very quickly.”

It’s what happened to Anna. When she came to the Mission, her compounded fines totaled just under $2,400 – an insurmountable debt for someone with little more than a duffel bag to her name.

Addicted, unemployed, and in debt, Anna was trapped in more ways than one.

Unlike many of the men and women we serve, Anna didn’t come from a broken home. She wasn’t abused or overcome by peer pressure at a young age. Anna was a victim of Arizona’s opioid epidemic.

She suffered from Arteriovenous Malformation, a fusing of arteries and veins that, in Anna’s case, required a series of hand surgeries over the years. Ironically, the painkillers prescribed for surgery recovery would require a recovery of their own.

“At that time, if you had a pain doctor they’d give you whatever you want. Mine had a reputation. We found out later that he was known as ‘The Candy Man.’ And looking back, yeah, it was a disgusting amount of pain medication I was given every month.”

Despite the reckless amount of drugs that were prescribed, Anna honored the recommended dosage for years. Then, tragedy.

“My husband had an affair and left me and my daughter. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and it was a little too much to take all at once. I caved. I caved hardcore.”

Anna turned to her medication for comfort. It’s a move that, in short order, cost her her home, her relationship with her family, her daughter… even her freedom.

“When my parents kicked me out, I sent my daughter to live with her father. I was bouncing from couch to couch for a few years, shoplifting to get by and pay for pills. Then I got arrested.”

It turned out that was the best thing that could have happened to Anna.

“I found out about Phoenix Rescue Mission through the Bridge Program [our inmate outreach program]. One of the girls I had buddied up with in jail was super religious. She talked me into going. I kinda went as a joke at first… but every week I kept going back ‘cause I found it more and more interesting.”

When Anna’s time in jail was up, she enrolled at the Mission’s Changing Lives Center for Women & Children to continue the recovery she began behind bars. Thanks to your support, what she’s experienced here has transformed her life.

She met Jesus Christ and his indescribable forgiveness and transforming love. She found her sobriety, thanks to months of counseling and peer support. She’s even salvaged broken relationships with her family thanks to God’s grace and the encouragement of staff.

“My parents literally feel like they have their daughter back – and I have my own daughter back!”

But despite finding freedom in so many areas, there was still something standing in the way of her new life. With fines and fees factored in, three old traffic tickets had increased over the years to just under $2,400.

“One was a speeding ticket,” Anna recalls. “The others were for driving with a suspended license.”

The Maricopa County Regional Homeless Court allows those with back fines to make resolution through time spent in recovery programs.

It’s not uncommon for fines and court fees in the range of thousands of dollars to stand between those we serve and their path back to self-sufficiency. For these men and women, a collaboration between Phoenix Rescue Mission and the Maricopa Courts system makes all the difference.

“Resolution through the Maricopa County Regional Homeless Court is a service we offer to anyone in discipleship or higher (about 5 months into our recovery program) to pay back fines that impede them from moving forward,” says Melody, Lead Case Manager at Phoenix Rescue Mission.

Karen Sadler, Maricopa County’s Homeless Court Coordinator, explains, “Instead of using traditional community restitution, like cleaning up a highway or something similar, they can apply the time spent working on their mental and behavioral health through counseling, housing and job search, going to interviews and more. It fosters the applicant’s path out of homelessness and benefits the community as a whole.”

For Anna, that was exciting news.

"We started applying at Homeless Court last January because, with COVID, we knew it would take a while. They added up the time I spent working on my recovery, and including the time in the Ministry Training program, I had 1,240 hours to apply towards my fines."

"I just got the call last Friday; it was enough to satisfy every single fine! That’s a huge load, gone. You have no idea!"

Today, Anna has been set free in more ways than one – and she knows it. She’s eager to give back for the amazing blessings your support has given her.

“I just really want to pay it forward,” says Anna, who is going back to school to become a case manager. “This place has done wonders for my world, and I want to help the people that come in after me.”

Without the partnership of friends like you and the amazing work of our case managers, none of this would be possible. Your support helps provide a true path off the streets, breaking the bonds of addiction, hopelessness, and even the financial burdens that serve as roadblocks – keeping so many on the fringe of society.

For Anna and countless others like her, thank you! Your support is proving yet again, “Who the Son sets free, is free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Education for Transformation

The newest ‘Lopes – Brian Farretta, Jesse Dallariva and Amanda Jaramillo, three graduates of the PRM Recovery Program – each receive full scholarships to Grand Canyon University.

Amanda Jaramillo, Brian Farretta, Jacqueline Mix and Jesse Dallariva are shining examples of what happens when you take God at His word.

Not too long ago, each of these individuals found themselves addicted, broken, and in some cases homeless – but you would never know it looking at where they’re at today.

Through God’s grace and your support, their lives have been restored – a fact that Grand Canyon University recently celebrated by honoring each one with full scholarships to attend college this fall.

“These people have had some significant challenges… they’ve gone through the Phoenix Rescue Mission program, they’ve come out of it successfully and they’ve started their new life,” said GCU President Brian Mueller at Signing Day. “For us to be able to offer them this opportunity to take their life now to a whole new level is a blessing.”

For Brian Farretta, this is the latest in a long line of blessings since surrendering to God.

“I decided that I wanted Him to be in charge of everything. Since I’ve done that, I’ve gotten married, I have wonderful in-laws and now I have this scholarship. Furthering my education on a faith-based campus will be monumental for me.

Amanda plans to use this scholarship to pursue her dream of sharing the hope she’s found with others by studying Counseling with an Emphasis in Substance Abuse.

The counseling I received at the Phoenix Rescue Mission was so impactful in my life. I want to be able to do that for someone else,” says Amanda. “Having this opportunity is everything to me. It’s beyond my wildest dreams and I just feel so blessed.”

Jesse Dallariva, who will be pursuing a Masters in Business with an emphasis in Health Systems with this second scholarship, sees it as a testament to God’s amazing ability to transform a life.

“I was someone seven years ago that was homeless, on the streets, addicted to drugs and had no hope,” says Jesse. “I was an outcast that never thought I would be in any part of normal functioning society and so, to be here where I’m at now, with the extras of family, friends and support, is just amazing.”

On behalf of everyone here at Phoenix Rescue Mission, congratulations!

Jesse Dallariva, who will be pursuing a masters with his second scholarship, shares his journey from homelessness to wholeness, thanks to your support of Phoenix Rescue Mission.

Sobriety Is Only the Beginning

Intentional Recovery Counseling Transforms Lives

For those living with a history of trauma there are two choices: become a hostage to your past or use that past to help others. Lisa chose the latter.

“Growing up with parents who struggled with addiction, I felt led to help others avoid what my family went through. So, I pursued a degree in counseling.”

It was during her undergrad years that God showed her where she was needed most.

“While there is poverty in my background, I didn’t have a real understanding of generational poverty. I became well aware of it during the volunteer portion of my undergrad studies. It broke my heart. I was convicted to the very core of my soul. God told me, ‘I want you to go where my people are.’ The rest is history.”

Today, Lisa is living out her passion as an Associate Counselor and Licensed Master Social Worker at Phoenix Rescue Mission.

Growing up in an environment that included addiction and poverty, Lisa is using her past to help others as an Associate Counselor and Licensed Master Social Worker at Phoenix Rescue Mission.

“Here, I’m on the front lines of God’s miracles every day. I get to watch Him take clients from a place of brokenness, despair, and addiction to a place of wholeness. I saw that from day one. There are plenty of places to get sober but we do much more than that. We are in the business of life transformation.”

Lisa is one of four counselors on staff in our men’s recovery program, ministering to 14-25 men each week and helping them untangle past trauma through intentional recovery counseling.

“Intentional recovery counseling explores every area of a client’s life: physical, spiritual, and emotional. We’re looking for the root cause, to change the maladaptive patterns of the past and find healing. The source of that healing is a relationship with Jesus Christ. We never force anybody to do anything but we are creating a place where, if that relationship can develop, it will.”

The results speak for themselves. The national average is that only 30% of those in recovery make it to 180 days of sobriety. At Phoenix Rescue Mission, the rate is much higher at 56%!

“Our staff is very well trained. We all have master’s degrees, but what really sets our work apart from other counselors is that we get to bring Jesus with us. It’s freeing; I get to tell my clients what the real source of healing is. I couldn’t ethically practice in an environment where I wasn’t allowed to do that.”

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.’”

Meet the Staff: Cierra Peña, Lead Case Manager

When Cierra came to Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center in 2012, she had been struggling with addiction since she was 13 years old. Through your support, we welcomed this mother of four as one of the first 20 women to experience all the hope and healing that our then brand-new women’s campus had to offer – and it changed everything for Cierra and her family.

“I had been through 45-day in-patient programs but nothing helped. I knew I needed a year-long program to change my life. And it did; I’m going on 9 years in March that I’ve been clean and it’s thanks to this place.

But Cierra wasn’t satisfied with finding sobriety, she wanted to help others find the same gift that she had been given. Just 90 days after enrolling in our recovery program, Cierra began serving other women as part of the intake team. When the Mission began creating the intake triage program we now call Rescue-Assess-Place (RAP), Cierra was able to lend her experience to help build the program we now use today.

For the past 9 years, hundreds of women looking for hope have been surprised to find Cierra, a woman with genuine concern for their wellbeing, waiting to meet them in RAP.

Those who have enrolled in recovery have found a friend ready to advocate for them in court, help them set doctor appointments, obtain IDs and birth certificates, get fines reduced or eliminated – knocking down each and every barrier that stands between them and success.

As a result of her hard work and extensive experience receiving and providing assistance, lives have been forever transformed and, she’s recently been promoted to Lead Case Manager. There couldn’t be a better fit for the position!

“A lot of these women come in with no hope, many with a Department of Child Safety case weighing heavy on their hearts,” says Cierra.

“At one point in my life, I was there. I thought I couldn’t do any better. I love to share my story and help them realize that there is hope. Seeing them go from dark to light brings me so much joy!”

Cierra is another shining example of what God’s grace and your support can do in a life – and by extension, the lives of hundreds of others.