Glendale: Empowered [Joanne’s story]

Training in the Microsoft Office suite, helping build resumes, and teaching interview techniques are just some of the services provided at the Glendale Empowerment Center.

Over the past 11 years, Rhonda has seen a lot of changes at the Mission. She was there for the opening of the Changing Lives Center for Women & Children in 2011, the addition of the Hope for Hunger Food Bank in 2017 and the opening of the men’s Life Recovery Building in June 2021.

But it’s what’s happening now that’s got our Vocational Development Manager the most excited.

Phoenix Rescue Mission and Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) are joining forces under one roof to create a powerful new tool to protect families and prevent homelessness – the Glendale Empowerment Center.

The Vocational Development Program at Phoenix Rescue Mission has been so successful for our men and women in recovery that in 2019, we made the decision to offer those services to the public at our Hope for Hunger Food Bank in Glendale. The community responded in a big way.

“We were doing very well helping individuals find jobs,” says Rhonda who heads our Vocational Development Program. “It got to the point where I started hosting GED classes three times a week to keep up. But in 2020, Covid hit and we had to stop offering classes and tutoring out of the food bank.”

COVID canceled a lot of things, but we couldn’t let this program be one of them. A new solution had to be found.

“One day we received a call from Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS). They heard about our vocational program and wanted to find out more.”

It turned out that CASS had an open office and classroom space in a zip code that desperately needed a robust educational and employment assistance program. Meanwhile, our vocational program needed a safe space to serve the community.

What followed was a collaboration that brought the best of both worlds together in one place – the Glendale Empowerment Center.

"If a client doesn’t have a high school diploma or GED, we’ll start there. We offer computer courses, training in the Microsoft Office suite, customer service skills, resume building, interview techniques and a deep dive in career exploration."

"All of it is designed to expose men and women to the possibilities available."

It’s exactly what Joanne needed to move forward. As a divorced homemaker tasked with providing for her four kids on her own, her situation seemed hopeless – until your support and prayers for the Mission helped her see beyond her circumstances.

“In line for a food box at Hope for Hunger, I saw a flyer on the wall and started asking questions. They told me about the program and that’s when it all started to come together for us.”

With Rhonda’s careful guidance, Joanna earned her GED and found a promising career path into the healthcare field.

Joanne proudly displays the diploma you helped her earn. This mother of four is well on her way to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant thanks to your support.

“Rhonda helped me get my fingerprint clearance card and my CPR license. They even had a tutor come in and guide me and show me some of the places where I was struggling, and they paid for the GED pre-tests. They did everything. All I had to do was show up. I was just like, ‘Wow!’ I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re amazing.”

Through the Glendale Empowerment Center, men and women like Joanna who are working on their education and career search can also find housing and medical assistance through our partnership with CASS and other service providers joining forces at the Center, making success easier than ever before. This expanded location also fits hand-in-glove with our Glendale Works Program, making for an immediate impact on even more lives.

“The homeless we reach through our Glendale Works program are now also offered a ride back here. We can take walk-ins immediately. There are showers and lockers on site making opportunities not only for daily labor, but also for housing through CASS and education and employment opportunities through us. It’s a win-win-win situation!”

Through your support, each day our Vocational Development Program is giving a hand up to men and women at our residential campuses and across the Valley.

Even after 11 years of seeing God’s hand at work at the Mission, advances like this prove to Rhonda that the best is yet to come.

“It just keeps growing and evolving and expanding. We’re already meeting with CASS about the possibility of collaborating and offering vocational services at two additional campuses. There’s such a need out there so that’s really exciting!”

“Some days you see clients that don’t take advantage of all that’s available, maybe they’re just not ready. But we keep on planting seeds and watch for the Lord to start to heal their lives. Seeing them hold up a diploma or be accepted for a new job – that’s what keeps me coming back. It’s motivating. At some point, those seeds will grow.”

Seeing women embark on a path to success is what motivates and rewards Rhonda (right), who leads our Vocational Development Program.

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.

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.’”

Sweet, Sweet Recovery | Maggi’s Transformation Story

God used a little sugar to transform a bitter situation.

Drugs have been a part of Maggi’s life as far back as she can remember. Both her father and her older brother were avid users. Her mother, though not addicted, enabled the behavior by financing them both.

Maggi seemed all but destined to follow in their footsteps.

By the time she was 16, she was hooked on heroin. By 20, she was homeless. By 28, she had lost custody of kids, possessions, and even broken ties to family because of her growing addiction. Squatting alone in an abandoned house in Sierra Vista was a bitter way to live life.

She had no idea something sweet was waiting for her just around the corner. In her wildest dreams, she never would have imagined that God would use cookies to turn her life around.

“I always thought that God had forgotten about me or that He hated me,” Maggi admits. “I didn’t know anything about grace or redemption. I was just so done. I was tired of being homeless and I hadn’t seen my son in months. I knew I needed to do something.”

That “something” found her quicker than she thought. Police surrounded the abandoned house Maggi had been calling home. She was arrested, but thankfully, instead of jail time, the judge sent her to the Phoenix Rescue Mission for recovery.

“When I came here, my hair was breaking off and was matted; it was bad. Then I met a friend, Rebecca, who came from a Christian family, and she helped walk me through what grace is and taught me that hope is possible and that God hasn’t given up on me.

As she continued her recovery, little by little, Maggi started to change. Our staff equipped her with tools designed to help her effectively deal with cravings and avoid triggers. Counseling sessions helped her zero in on the root of her addiction and find healing. Weekly Bible studies brought her closer to a Savior she had never known and through that relationship she began to find transformation. That change only accelerated when she joined our social enterprise team.

In addition to her work with Mission Possible Cookies, Maggi helps tutor children at the Changing Lives Center, allowing their mothers to concentrate on their own recovery.

“Joining the Mission Possible Cookies team was the best thing that could have happened to me. You get to go off campus; it feels like a real job. Instead of just rehab, I felt like I was working towards something and learning new skills that I’d be able to carry out with me.”

Maggi learned how to work in a team setting, how to do inventory, receive orders, package those orders, and more. She earned her Serve Safe certification, qualifying her to work in a large range of areas in the food industry. She thrived. She did so well, in fact, that it wasn’t long before she was promoted to a leadership position.
“Leading a direct team of people to complete a project was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but Michelle was by my side through it all. She takes her job as a role model very seriously. Whenever anything happened, she helped walk me through it. She would encourage me not to give up and taught me to find joy in everything I do.

Today, thanks to God’s ingenuity and your support, Maggi is a recovery graduate and a new creation in Christ. She’s sober, she’s earned back split custody of her son, and even has the skills to build a bright new future.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the time, talent, and treasure you give! Thank you for the prayers and support that continues to change lives, one sweet story at a time.

“Cookies changed the trajectory of my life!”

Love Conquers Violence: Shawn’s Story

Shawn was the priest of a warlike religion, Asatru, for 15 years, committing acts of violence in the name of the Norse gods.

But what happens when a priest of Odin and Thor has an encounter with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

In a word? Transformation.

Ever since he was little, Shawn’s life has been ruled by violence.

“My stepfather used to beat me up a lot,” says Shawn. “Then I found out he was hurting my sister. At fourteen, I attacked him.”

It was an act that got Shawn sent to juvenile prison. But instead of rehabilitation, the years he spent there only confirmed violence was the answer to life’s problems. That belief sent Shawn back to prison time and time again. As an adult, he found a religion to justify his worldview — one that not only accepted violence, but actively encouraged it.

“Prisons are run by gangs. I cliqued up with the Aryan Brotherhood, the Skinheads, basically the white supremacists, most of whom are Asatru. I became a priest of a religion that shouldn’t even be called a religion, really. It’s more of a license to hurt people. It teaches that everyone else is the enemy, the only people who matter are your own and to take what you want through violence. It’s horribly self-serving.”

That all came to an end when an encounter with God brought this priest to his knees.

“I have a daughter and when I got out of prison the last time, in 2017, I found out she was pregnant. Being a grandfather made me want to change but, instead, I went back to drugs. That sent me to Valley Hospital where they gave me a list of the halfway houses and recovery programs in Phoenix.”

Scanning the list, one in particular caught his eye.

“It was Phoenix Rescue Mission. My mother is Christian. When I read that they offered a year-long, Christian-based recovery program, I thought that would be the best way to reconnect with my family.”

He never imagined what would happen next.

“I was here maybe two weeks. We were in the chapel and they were playing Christian videos. The song Oceans came on and I flashed back to the last time I had heard it. It was in the car with my mom."

"Suddenly I had this epiphany of how my mom has always prayed for me and what it means to be Christian, and I started bawling. I hadn’t cried in twenty years!”

But God wasn’t done.

"All of a sudden, everything made sense. I hit my knees. Through the tears I saw a picture of Jesus up on the wall. In my head I told Him, 'Okay God, you got me.'

Then this was crazy. Right after that, a voice in my head responded with, 'I've always had you.'" He laughs.

In an instant, God was able to reach into Shawn’s life and shatter the worldview that had held him captive for decades.

“From that moment on, I got baptized and I started taking recovery seriously. Ever since then, my resolve has become stronger and stronger. All I’ve done most of my adult life is hurt people. I want to spend the rest of the time God gives me helping people.

Your support not only made that transformational moment possible, it’s giving Shawn the tools he needs to follow his new direction.
“I applied for the Ministry Training course because I want to follow a career path that helps people. To that end, Phoenix Rescue Mission also helped me earn my Microsoft certification and enrolled me in the peer support specialist course which I graduated from as well. I’m 46 years old. I never thought I would start out on a new career path, but God has made that possible for me.”

No longer a man of violence, Shawn’s worldview had been turned upside down. Today he’s focused on rebuilding his life, the lives of others, and his relationship with his family.

“My mom and dad live up in Prescott. So do my brother and his kids, and I go up to visit them whenever I can get passes. Every time I talk to my mom she yells, ‘Praise Jesus!’ She’s just so happy. Unfortunately, I influenced my daughter to be pagan and she hasn’t come to Christ yet. But I’m working on that.” He laughs.

“Who knew that there was this oasis of God’s love sitting right next to a jail in Phoenix? It saved my life!”