Glendale WORKS: A program with an eye for transformation

It’s 4:30 a.m. Long before most of us roll out of bed, Gabe is loading the last of the sack lunches on Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Glendale Works trailer. His mission is clear – to hire 11 homeless men and women for five hours of work cleaning up the streets of Glendale.

But his goal isn’t as obvious as you would think.

When Gabe hits the road, it’s not just to provide someone with a day of honest work, or a meal, or even to beautify the streets of Glendale. He’s out there for something far more important. To inspire, to motivate and, ultimately, to transform lives.

“I used to serve on the [Phoenix Rescue Mission’s] Hope Coach, but I like this better. I get to spend extended time with people, it’s not so random. While there’s something to be said for random opportunities, the people who are showing up to work seem to have motivation to change. It’s easier to direct them toward better things.”

Gabe already has fans. Sylvia, who started signing up for the program shortly after it began last November, sees him as a role model.

“He’s cool,” says Sylvia. “He started from nothing too. If he can do it, and be this happy, so can we. It’s inspiring. He makes it look possible.”

Those who sign up receive $55 for a fivehour shift, a breakfast and a sack lunch, as well as the opportunity to connect with resources designed to end homelessness. It’s a popular program. The waitlist for Glendale Works currently sits at a week and a half, but it’s changing lives every day.

Virginia, who has completed more than 30 shifts over the past few months, now has enough saved to make the trip back home to New Jersey and start over. Donovan, who is working alongside Sylvia, Virginia and eight others this morning, will eat well tonight because of the wage he earns here.

“It really was a blessing because I needed the money,” says Donovan. “I wasn’t able to eat for a while… it was a struggle. If there wasn’t anything around like this, I don’t know what I’d do.”

As summer comes and the temperatures begin to rise, Glendale Works also represents another way to help the homeless out of the deadly heat as a part of our Code:Red initiative.

Thank you for the prayers and support that make programs like this possible! We’ve had such success that we’re looking to roll out Works programs to other cities in the Phoenix Metro area soon – stay tuned for details!

For more information about Glendale Works, visit here, or contact Gabe at gpriddy@phoenixrescuemission.org.

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 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!

Download your own rescue referral cards to print at home by clicking the image below.

Having to Choosing Between Paying the Bills and Food on the Table

 

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, your aunt’s famous casserole, the list of options with which to pile on your plate goes on and on at most homes during Thanksgiving. But not so for Sara’s family. Hers was one of hundreds in Phoenix who find Thanksgiving a luxury they can ill afford. When life is hard and you’re forced to choose between keeping the lights on or putting food on the table, the holiday season has a way of making it even harder.

But today, everything has changed for Sara. Her family of five is eating well and even looking forward to a Thanksgiving feast this year. So what made the difference? Hope!

Specifically, Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope for Hunger Food Bank.

“A friend told me about it [Hope for Hunger Food Bank],” says Sara. “She saw that we sometimes struggled with the decision to either pay the bills or to buy food. Now once a month we come and receive the food our family needs.” Nearly 30 percent of our Arizona neighbors are considered working poor. These are hard-working men and women who struggle to stretch dollars that barely cover housing expenses. Many times, for families like Sara’s, those dollars don’t quite stretch far enough to put food on the table. Arizona ranks as the 5th worst state when it comes to food security.

But through your support of the Phoenix Rescue Mission – you are making a difference.

“I’m so grateful and thankful to God and to the Mission. What they do is amazing.

They are helping a lot of families like ours. Here, we get good stuff, vegetables, fruit, rice, beans – all the stuff you really need.

 

It’s like when you go to the supermarket, you need eggs, you need cheese, you need vegetables. The way they work things here is amazing.” For many families living paycheck to paycheck, all it takes is one emergency situation – a car breaking down, an unexpected medical bill – to put a family over the edge and onto the street.

The goal of Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope for Hunger Food Bank is not only to provide nourishing food to individuals and families who struggle to afford it, but also to temporarily remove the burden of a food bill from the household budget. This allows families to begin to save, to provide themselves with a safety net when the next unexpected bill comes around the corner and, perhaps most importantly, a path out of the cycle of poverty.

Sara, who has been coming to Hope for Hunger for two years is not only close to that goal, she’s begun to give back and provide for others.

 

 

More Than A Teacher

For 10 years, Pat Walker has helped homeless and hurting women from all sorts of backgrounds get back on their feet and into fulfilling careers as a part of the Atlanta Rescue Mission. Today she’s bringing her wealth of  experience to the men and women we serve in our vocational development program. “I teach people how to stay focused and to have faith to push through the challenges ahead of them.

 

When they have excuses, I don’t let them get away with it,” says Pat with a smile and a chuckle. “I continue to push them, stand firm with them, but also love on them as well.” Her goal is to see every man and woman who come to work at our three social enterprises, Mission Possible Café, Mission Possible Catering, and Mission Possible Cookies, find the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the real world. “My job is to re-instill a work ethic. You’ve got to show up. You’ve got to be professional. You’ve got to interact with the customers – this is a real job.

Sometimes their self-esteem is low, and they don’t think they can do it. We stick by them, show them they have the capabilities and give them the encouragement to push for it.” Pat supplies the moxie that gets our men and women moving toward success, but it’s your support that makes the whole process possible.

 

Thank you for the prayers and financial partnership that gives so many hope for real transformation and a path to self-sufficiency. “I’m here to show them that, no matter what happens in life, Christ is able to get you back on your feet.” That’s a lesson we would all do well to  remember. Thank you, Pat, and welcome to the Phoenix Rescue Mission team!

 

 

Arizona Summit Law School Provides Free Legal Services to Help End Homelessness

Located between the Downtown Core and Capitol Mall, the 13-acre Human Services Campus is a collaboration between many different partner organizations, all working to end homelessness in the community. (Photo: Fara Illich)

 

Tucked inside a bare-bones computer lab on the Human Services Campus in Downtown Phoenix, a group of Arizona Summit Law School students and a professor host a free legal clinic every Tuesday.

It’s a relaxed environment, everyone is dressed down. One student with a laptop anchors one of several small round tables, while a queue forms in the lobby/respite area of the Lodestar Day Resource Center (LDRC).

For more than two hours, there’s a steady stream of people. Every case is different but everyone who walks through the door gets the same three things: eye contact, a warm smile and respect.

“We constantly have to think on the fly — you sit down with clients, they tell you their issue, and you have to start brainstorming immediately,” said Kamal Lahlou, a 33-year-old senior law student.

For the students, they’re receiving invaluable hands-on legal experience, but for those experiencing homelessness — it’s perhaps their only chance to get out.

Many individuals face a complex entanglement of legal woes, sometimes associated with the act of being homeless like loitering or camping. Other times, it’s the reason they lost their home in the first place — a felony conviction, prison stint, domestic abuse, civil or misdemeanor fines.

SOMETIMES A FEW HUNDRED DOLLARS IN COURT FINES CAN ROADBLOCK EMPLOYMENT, RE-HOUSING


From left, professor Susan Daicoff along with students Kamal Lahlou and Michael Jones get ready for the last Human Services Campus legal clinic of the spring 2018 semester. (Photo: Fara Illich)

Maricopa County Regional Homeless Court is also located on the Human Services Campus — just down the hall, in fact. It can resolve minor misdemeanors, victimless offenses, and warrants for those who demonstrate a commitment to end their homelessness.

Referrals to homeless court, clearing up records and settling fines represents a large portion of what the Summit legal clinic does. But it runs the gamut from name changes, divorces, landlord-tenant issues, probate, elder abuse and many, many others.

Under the rules of the Arizona Supreme Court, the students can actually practice law in a clinic setting as active members of the state bar, as long as they’re supervised by a licensed attorney, law professor or with other licensed attorneys.

According to the school’s records, the clinic handled 848 legal matters on the Human Services Campus over a four-year period, with one professor and about 3-5 students per semester.

More than 65 percent of graduating seniors take advantage of one of the legal clinics offered by Summit, according to professor Susan Daicoff, who leads the program and oversees the Human Services Campus clinic.

“When clients say, ‘I don’t want to see anybody else, I only want to see you guys’ —  that’s a great feeling,” she said. “I want people to walk away feeling like we treated them well, that we treated them with respect, that we empowered them to handle their own legal matters, came alongside them, and pulled them out when they were stuck.”

SERVING THE UNDERSERVED IS ONE OF THE MISSION PILLARS OF ARIZONA SUMMIT LAW SCHOOL


Michael Jones chose Arizona Summit Law School for the legal clinic experience, getting real world experience as an attorney. (Photo: Fara Illich)

Students must complete at least 30 hours of pro bono or public service during their studies, which can be achieved through the Human Services Campus clinic, or others. There are about 10 rotating clinics focusing on domestic violence, mediation, veterans, bankruptcy, Native American wills, immigration, post-conviction relief and other issues.

Getting real world, hands-on experience was a big selling point for Michael Jones, who has participated in multiple clinics, his favorite being Arizona StandDown, which helps veterans in-need. He said it’s different than an internship or working at a firm as a file clerk.

“I get to see every aspect of the legal process,” he said. “I might not always know exactly what to do, but I always have the resources around me to problem-solve.”

Jones is 40 years old, married with a small child. So having the flexibility Summit offers is important too.

The school accepts students with lower Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores than many other universities, and offers part-time degrees and evening classes — geared toward working adults.

IT’S A DIFFERENT KIND OF LAW SCHOOL


Arizona Summit Law School is an urban campus with clinic and classroom space in the One North Central building of Downtown Phoenix. (Photo: Fara Illich)

It was established to diversify the least-diverse profession, and it’s making inroads in that area. The student body is 41 percent minority, compared with 26 percent at Arizona State University, and 33 percent at the University of Arizona.

“Serving the underserved” extends to the student population as well. The school accepts more students from disadvantaged economic, social or family circumstances.

“When you think of law school, you always think of the high society types,” said Stephen McClain-Lovato, a 30-year-old senior law student. “That general attitude is stripped away at this school. You’re treated as an equal, you’re treated as a peer.” he said, laughing. He’s a Marine Corps veteran, and likes the humanitarian nature of the Human Services Campus clinic. He’s participated in the homelessness clinic multiple semesters, even volunteering during breaks.

DESPITE THE LAID-BACK ATMOSPHERE, THEY’RE TACKLING SOME SERIOUS CASES


There are about 10 rotating legal clinics offered by Arizona Summit Law School focusing on homelessness, domestic violence, mediation, veterans, bankruptcy, Native American wills, immigration, post-conviction relief and other issues. (Photo: Fara Illich)

Part of what makes the clinic so successful is the network of services clustered on the Human Services Campus — enabling students to work faster, more efficiently. Onsite, you can get a state ID, apply for job, submit social security or disability paperwork, find housing programs, get primary and mental healthcare, access substance abuse treatment — in addition to shelter and a hot meal.

The LDRC — where the clinic is located — is often the first stop on the road to ending homelessness.

“It’s an opportunity for individuals who are experiencing homelessness to gain access to legal counsel in an environment that is sometimes not as threatening as the justice system can be,” said Gina Brockdorff, the supportive services manager at the LDRC. “Those who seek out assistance through the clinic are able to face issues that may be the very barrier standing between them and housing.”

Some simple matters require just a few phone calls and can be resolved same-day, others take years. For issues that require court appearances or legal matters the students can’t tackle, they often leverage strong relationships they have with the local legal community.

“One of the things we learned when we first came to the Human Services Campus is: don’t give a man a fish, teach him how to fish,” Daicoff said. “Our clients are in charge of their own advocacy and we’re just helping shepherd the process, rather than fixing their problems for them.”