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.

Our Graduate, Graduates!

Five years ago, Jesse Dalla Riva wandered into a detox center, homeless, addicted and without hope. A young woman who worked there named Blake, a graduate of our recovery program, referred him to Phoenix Rescue Mission. And his life has never been the same.  

Jesse enrolled in our recovery program. He found Christ and sobriety, and never looked back. His original story was featured in our August 2015 newsletter, where he thanked the young woman at the detox center. Amazingly, Blake heard about the article and drove to the Mission to grant his wish. Sparks flew and they were married a few months later.

But God wasn’t finished blessing Jesse. Later that year, he was selected as the recipient of a full-ride scholarship to Grand Canyon University, which he accepted. During that time, he’s managed to juggle being a husband, a new father, his full-time school schedule, and a full-time position at the Mission as our Solutions Supervisor.

We’re excited to report that last month, Jesse completed that scholarship, earning a degree in Counseling, with an Emphasis in Substance Abuse Disorders!

Jesse is more than an example of the transformation possible through Christ; he’s a model for how far God can take you when you give Him the reins.

A Victim of Abuse

 

Andrea was a victim of abuse when she was little. She survived acts perpetrated by a family member too  horrible  to  describe.

"I always felt, how could there be a God if He let this happen to me and my sisters? I harbored a lot of anger. But I never realized how much all those things that happened as a child impacted my choices."

It was when Andrea stepped out on her own that the problems began. She found a good job; she bought a nice car and rented a place of her own. But even as she began to gather the trappings of a normal life, she knew deep inside that something was wrong. Despite her success, she was empty... hollow, and she didn't know why. Not knowing what to do with this feeling, she started to fill the void with alcohol.

It was a decision that almost cost Andrea her life.

It wasn't long before bottles started stacking up. Andrea's alcoholism was rapidly consuming the success she had managed to achieve-and it scared her.

"I called my mom and told her what I had been doing - that I had lost both of my jobs, my rent check was gone and I couldn't stop drinking. I didn't know what to do. She got really stressed out."

Andrea's family was supportive at first, but the cycle kept repeating. The requests for financial help, the overdose scares, detoxing on her sister's couch in full view of her school-age nieces, occurred with increasing regularity. Soon, family members began to tell her to stay away, that her decisions were damaging the family.

"My sister said, 'You're going to kill our mom.' That got me thinking. I'm the problem, so if I get of that, it'll hurt, but only for a little bit. I can't hurt anyone if I'm dead."

Thankfully, she was unsuccessful. Paramedics saved Andrea's life. But while all of this was going on, God was working behind the scenes. A year earlier, her dad Jorge, who had been homeless and an alcoholic himself, had enrolled in our Men's Recovery program.

"The Mission saved his life. And he told me, 'Go to the Mission, they have a women's center [Phoenix Rescue Mission's Changing Lives Center] there.' So I said I'd give it 30 days. The joke around here is that after day 15, my timer broke. I've been here 15 months now."

It was a decision that not only saved her life, it transformed it.

"There's so much love being poured in here [The Changing Lives Center] that you can feel it. I've learned that I'm not alone and that I'm not a burden. Talking about my past and presenting it in front of the other women made me realize that I'm not the only one who goes through this or has these thoughts."

Working with our staff, she's also discovered the missing piece that was always meant to fill the hole in her life.

"I actually understand the Bible for the first time in my life and I have a close connection to God. I know that everything is going to be okay because He has a plan for me. It's given me the courage to do something hard."

Your support not only helped save Andrea, you helped give her the drive to reinvent herself and follow a dream she's had since she was little.

"They are very big here on, instead of just getting a job, getting a career. I've wanted to be an EMT [Emergency Medical Technician] for a long time, but I never had the courage. I was broken, taken advantage of, I was weak.

"But Yvette [Program Assistant in our Job Attainment program] encouraged me and helped me get the scholarships I needed. Now I've made it - I'm an EMT as of May 8th! This place and Yvette helped me get there."

Not only is Andrea sober, a recovery graduate, and a graduate of the EMT program, she's looking forward to continuing her education to become a paramedic.

Like so many who walk through our doors, Andrea was meant for more. Today she's walking that path with God by her side.

From being saved to saving others, Andrea has come full circle - and she has you to thank for it.

A Mother’s Day Miracle

 

 

 

This Mother’s Day will be a day of joy for Cassie – thanks to the support of friends like you. Cassie, a mother of six, was caught in an abusive relationship a few years ago that made for an unhealthy home for her children.

“I told myself everything was fine, but deep down I knew it wasn’t.”

As things got worse and the bills went unpaid, everything came to a head on a single day – all at once, her children were removed and she was evicted.

Cassie did her best to comply with DCS [Department of Child Safety], in hopes of receiving her children back, but restoring custody when you are homeless is all but impossible. As a result, her youngest four children were adopted out.

“We were living out of a car for a few months and it was obvious I couldn’t do what they {DCS} were asking of me until I fixed my situation. One day a voice told me, ‘you need to get out of the car and start walking.’”

“It was God talking,” explains Cassie’s son, Patrick.

Her journey both ended and began here at Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center.

"It was life-changing. I never had any confidence in myself or my abilities. Phoenix Rescue Mission changed that. I’m working now, paying bills and saving up for my own place.”

We advocated for Cassie in family meetings and before the judge. Five months after she arrived, her oldest son, Patrick, was allowed to come live with her on campus. She is currently in the process of receiving her oldest daughter, Chloe, back as well.

“I was very excited, very happy, and a little nervous because it had been so long since I had them with me. There’s no way I would be where I am today or have my children back if it hadn’t been for Phoenix Rescue Mission.”

“For others in my shoes, I would tell them, don’t be afraid to ask for help. God is there for you – there is always hope!”