What spurs people to volunteer comes in many different forms. Sometimes it’s the urge to right wrongs, or the need to share the love that overflows from their hearts.
For Fred, it was turkey.
“When I retired, I got a postcard from Phoenix Rescue Mission asking if I would donate a turkey for their Thanksgiving turkey drive.”
Thinking that was a fine idea, he picked up some frozen birds and looked forward to giving a couple of families a brighter Thanksgiving.
But God has a way of multiplying our efforts, sometimes, in ways we could never imagine. Fred didn’t know it, but the simple act of delivering those turkeys would change his life – and, with your help, the lives of hundreds more he hadn’t yet met.
“I brought my turkeys to an open house at the Mission. While I was there, I took a tour and when I saw all the amazing things they did, I told them to sign me up! I put my toe in first. Then my foot and then my leg, then both legs… I’m pretty well submerged now!” Fred says with a laugh.
That was three years ago, and Fred hasn’t looked back since. Today you’ll find him at the front of the line at our Hope for Hunger food bank where, up to five days a week, he’s assisting hundreds of families and individuals who come looking for food and hope.
Like other volunteers can attest, service does so much more for Fred than what he feels it does for those he serves. When his friends question the number of hours he’s put in, he just smiles and shares one of the many stories that warm his heart and keep him coming back.
“I’ll never forget, a week or two before Christmas, an elderly gal came in a little apprehensive. She had never been here before. I greeted her and I put my arm on her back and said, ‘Dear, we’ll take good care of you. We’ve got lots of food today and we’ll fill this cart up.’ I watched her go around the circle, filling up the cart, and when she was getting ready to leave, I called out, ‘God bless you and have a Merry Christmas!’ Well, she stopped the line right there, walked over and gave me one of the most sincere hugs I’ve ever had in my life! I’ll never forget that.”
With the holidays approaching, we’ll soon see more families coming through our doors than at any other time of the year. That sobering thought has got Fred thinking. Turkey is what brought him to the Mission and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, turkey is still forefront on his mind.
“It’s an important time for everyone, especially families. Turkeys can feed a family for a good long while. I remember last year, thinking how exciting it was going to be because we were supposed to have 500 turkeys to distribute. When I pulled in to Hope for Hunger that morning, there were at least 300 vehicles outside waiting. To make a long story short, we fell far short of our goal last year.”
Fred is determined not to let that happen this year.
“I’ve already started making contacts to make sure of it. I’d like to get some corporate support and help from individuals and churches. If they could donate 10 or 20 turkeys or whatever they can possibly do, I’ll pick them up and we’ll have a turkey for every family this year. Our goal is 500 turkeys, but maybe we can do more. If so, that’d be wonderful. The need is definitely there.”
The other thing on Fred’s mind is the need for volunteers.
“We have a good crew, we have a lot of fun, there’s a lot of laughing, and a lot of teasing. But we don’t have nearly enough volunteers. You really need 10-12 people per shift back there to make it flow. Last Friday, when there were just four of us, it was tough. It makes it difficult.”
With three two-hour shifts, that’s 30 volunteers a day needed to keep Hope for Hunger humming along. If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch someone’s face light up when you hand them a box of much-needed food, take a moment to join Fred and the crew by visiting our volunteer page at prm.volunteerhub.com and signing up today!
We're running low on food - our neighbors need your help!
It’s 110 degrees outside. Turkey dinner with all the trimmings is probably the furthest thing from your mind right now. But the holidays are right around the corner – a time when so many hungry souls find their way to the Mission and our Hope for Hunger Food Bank, first for food, then for transformation.
The bad news is: our pantry is almost empty!
This summer has stretched our resources close to the breaking point. That’s bad news for the men, women, and children we serve. We need your help today to replenish and restock our pantry in time for the Thanksgiving rush!
It’s not just the homeless who benefit. Your gift this month will mean a world of difference for hard-working families on the edge like John’s:
“No matter how much my family plans financially, things happen unexpectedly,” says John. “Places like this help us out a lot.”
We can’t possibly turn our hungry neighbors away – not during the holidays, not ever. Together we can provide nutritious food and slip an arm around every famished soul that walks through our doors this coming season.
Thank you for your support as we gear up to give the chance to chow down and choose new life to as many hungry and hurting families as we can.
The hotter it gets, the more urgent it becomes to reach the least, the last, and the lost, on the streets of Phoenix. We’re in a race against time and temperature. The good news is, we’re ramping up our Hope Coach program to reach even more lives.
“We help them with water and hygiene, but we also help people get their IDs, Social Security cards, birth certificates, and of course, take advantage of one or more of our programs. We also do something we call diversion. If any of the homeless we meet have family in another state who are willing to let them live there and help them find employment, we’ll help them to get back to them.”
As part of Code:Red, each Hope Coach hits the road for eight or more hours a day, searching different parts of the valley for opportunities for transformation. This week, it changed the life of a stranded family.
“We met a mom and her three kids who drove down from Vegas looking for work. Their car broke down two months ago. She was pregnant at the time and had premature twins (girls) 10 days later, who are still at the hospital. They’ve been living out of that car ever since. Instead of getting DCS [Department of Child Safety] involved, we were able to bring them all to the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center. Now mom’s safe, the kids are safe; it was a good day.”
This is the kind of rescue you make possible every day with your support of the Phoenix Rescue Mission. It’s hard to imagine how stories like these would end without friends like you!
“It’s really cool,” says Rich. “Every day is different… I couldn’t ask for a better job. I was homeless myself for a lot of years, drug-addicted, needle-junkie; I have scars that’ll never go away. It gives me a lot of empathy when it comes to the homeless and addicted. I never wake up and say, ‘man, I’ve got to go back to work today.’ Every day is exciting! Every day is an adventure.”
Amanda was born with hearing loss, a disability that made her self-conscious around others. It led her to become a people-pleaser, as a way to overcome the difficulty of making friends. Later in high school, when pleasing others meant experimenting with drugs, Amanda eagerly traded sobriety for acceptance.
"I did whatever it took to be accepted," remembers Amanda. "As soon as I started doing drugs, all of a sudden I had friends and I started fitting in."
To Amanda, it seemed like a minor compromise. The drugs didn’t get in the way of the important things – she still managed to graduate and even found a steady, well-paying job at a law firm. But when she was 25, her boyfriend turned her on to something that would quickly eclipse all her priorities.
“Once I tried heroin, all bets were off. Everything up to that point had been recreational. This was different. I loved it. After two weeks I started to become physically dependent on it. Within two months, I lost my job at the law firm because all I wanted to do was get high.”
Over the next 12 years, Amanda would continue to cede ground in her life to addiction. Relationships, possessions, her home, even her freedom, were slowly devoured bit by bit until June of 2017 – when she finally had nothing left to give. Amanda found herself homeless. But worse than that, she was homeless in the worst possible time and place – summer in Phoenix.
It didn’t take long for Amanda to realize she was in trouble. She didn’t need anyone to explain to her the dangers of braving the summer heat day in and day out – she was living it.
“It was so hot, I thought I was going to die. I would go inside stores to get cool, but they would kick me out. I tried to stay hydrated the best I could by sneaking water from McDonalds, but I was still walking all day, trying to survive. It was exhausting.”
One hot day, the exhaustion caught up with Amanda. When she lay down to rest, she didn’t realize how close she came to never waking up.
“I woke up on a bench with paramedics around me. They said I had passed out from the heat. That was pretty scary.”
If God hadn’t intervened, it could have easily been the end of the story for Amanda – as it is for an average of 180 others who don’t survive the summer every year in Arizona. Thankfully, God had a better plan.
Shortly after, Amanda was caught with drugs by her probation officer and was given a choice – prison or recovery. She chose recovery at Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center – but she wasn’t happy about it.
“I came here kicking and screaming. When they told me I would be here for a year I said ‘No way! Are you kidding me?’”
One thing each of our graduates can attest to – the enemy doesn’t give up ground willingly. It took time, but slowly, the sobriety, the love and encouragement of our staff and our counselors and some prompting by God Himself, helped Amanda to see her situation for what it truly was.
“I was crying every day for two weeks, but then God told me, ‘Look, you cannot control this situation. So why don’t you make the best of it?’ I was finally just like, ‘Ok, let’s do this.’”
This July marks two years since Amanda walked through our doors – and thanks to God and to the support of our friends – the change has been amazing.
“This program really let me know who God is and how to have an actual relationship with Him. I had always thought; I’m just going to be a junkie for the rest of my life. I didn’t really think there was any hope. But coming here and seeing all the transformation God has done for others, and witnessing my own transformation, it’s an indescribable feeling. I know who I am in Christ and know what I’m worth and what I deserve.”
Through your prayers and support, Amanda is spending this summer safe from the deadly heat. Even better – she’s encouraging others to do the same!
After graduation, she was accepted into our Servant Leadership program and currently works in our R.A.P. (Rescue-Assess-Place) Unit, helping women and mothers with children find freedom from life-controlling problems.
“I just get so excited to share the love and the grace of God with these ladies when they come in. They’re ashamed, they’re scared, they’ve done things in their life, and I get to help them realize that God loves them no matter what and can use their story for amazing things. I just love to be a part of that, being able to give people hope! If I can be out there, doing drugs, shoplifting, sleeping in alleys, pushing grocery carts everywhere I go, and now I can be doing this? They can do it too – there’s hope in recovery. It’s possible.”
Amanda is just one example of the thousands of men, women and children on our streets, right now, who are in danger from the summer heat. Thank you for the support, whether it comes in the form of time, talent or treasure, that continues to provide hope to those caught on the streets this summer. God bless!