Yezan’s Smile has a Story to Tell

Yezan’s Smile has a Story to Tell

Your love and support gives hope for the hungry this Thanksgiving

All of us have an innate desire to “fit in”, to be welcomed and understood by those around us. But when Yezan was invited by a friend to volunteer at Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope for Hunger Food Bank, he wasn’t so sure “welcome” is what he would find inside our doors.

“I was a little nervous coming to Phoenix Rescue Mission,” says Yezan. “I was worried that I might get turned away because my family came to United States as refugees from Syria. And because I was raised Muslim.”

Yezan’s hesitation is easy to understand. We see it in the eyes of many of the vulnerable men and women who come to Hope for Hunger, wondering if they will be accepted and understood. But like Yezan, once they step inside our doors, they find those fears are unfounded.

They find that love and hope is available for all, and that understanding here is not only possible, it’s foundational.

“The first day that I came with my friend was the only day I needed before I felt comfortable enough to start coming on my own. It’s been incredible because what I’ve noticed is, although this is a Christian organization, I found hope here the same way that clients find hope. I found I could fit in, I could contribute. That’s why I come in so regularly. I always find ways where I can do something more.”

The more he showed up, the more comfortable he became. Then Yezan found something he didn’t expect.

“Here there’s... how do I say it… a fellowship. My life has changed since working here and getting to build relationships with Danny and Casey and Ceanna and all the volunteers that I’ve met here.”

Our new mural at Hope for Hunger Food Bank sends a message of hope to all who need a little encouragement.

Once Yezan discovered his fears of rejection were unfounded, he was elated. He made it his mission from that point on to wake up early, drive across town and serve at our food bank before heading off to work at St. Joseph’s Hospital. His goal: to help others find this same amazing truth – that everyone is welcome at Hope for Hunger.

“A lot of vulnerable people, some who are immigrants, come here are very nervous about how they’re going to be treated or accepted. So I started applying my language skills, because I’m able to speak Arabic, to serve people who can’t express [in English] what they mean, like if they don’t understand the hours, stuff like that. That is huge for them.”

For the past year, men, women, and families of all kinds have found Yezan’s helping hands and winning smile waiting for them at Hope for Hunger 3-5 days a week. In that time, he has been amazed by the sheer number in need and, thanks to God’s grace and the support of friends like you, the food bank’s ability to meet that need.

“We’re always serving upwards of 100-200 a day. And that’s not just individuals. That’s 200 families and individuals. To serve that many and then continue it five days a week, it’s mind-blowing. The impact that Hope for Hunger, that Phoenix Rescue Mission has in this community is unbelievable. The pandemic made it even more crucial for families that were like, ‘I’ve never been to a food bank before, but I have no other option.’ It’s really special that this little warehouse has been able to do all that, to be that productive and so much fun at the same time. That’s unique!”

It’s that unique experience that he urges other would-be volunteers to find here at Hope for Hunger this Thanksgiving.

Everything I have done here, the relationships I’ve built and the things that I’ve been able to do for the clients has filled my heart and soul with purpose. At this point, I could not give this up."

“Come one time. Give it a try. You’ll find this sense of satisfaction that you just can’t find elsewhere.”

Thank you for the prayers, financial support and the food collection drives that allow Hope for Hunger to be such a source of hope for the vulnerable in our community this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving & Receiving | Charles’ Story

Your support helped this faithful volunteer when he needed it most.

Loving his neighbor always came easily to Charles. He spent much of his time in California helping people out at church or the local food bank. But when rent in Long Beach started to outpace his income, he knew he couldn’t stay.

“I kept telling myself that the Lord was going to make a way for me,” says Charles.

He and his wife quickly found a new home here in Phoenix. Soon after, he picked up a steady job as a Security Guard at the Phoenix Convention Center. God even directed his car past Hope for Hunger Food Bank, to get him back to what he loved doing the most. Charles signed up to volunteer immediately.

But God had another reason to make this connection. Charles never imagined that the place he was helping would someday help him.

“I’ve been here every day at 6am for almost four years,” says Charles with a smile. “Serving the Lord keeps me coming back every day.”

Most mornings you can find Charles directing traffic in the parking lot of Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope for Hunger Food Bank, keeping the line moving and the food flowing. But over the past four years, he’s lent a hand in all areas of the food bank – and had some incredible moments.

“I’ll never forget the lady who came in here and she had 8 or 9 kids. She broke down crying when she saw how much food she was getting. We all surrounded her in prayer. When it was over, she said, ‘I needed that!’ She was so grateful because she didn’t know where she was going to get food.”

It’s an experience he’s seen time and time again.

“You don’t know what a person is going through when they come here. They can be mad at the world and you give them a cart and tell them, ‘The Lord is going to make it better for you.’ And they look at you and you can tell He’s already in there making a difference.”

It’s a promise that Charles has had to hold on to this year. When COVID made headlines in March, conventions and businesses of all types shut their doors across the country – and that’s bad news for a security guard.

Charles not only lost his job; he lost his industry.

Weeks of job-hunting turned into months. Savings ran dry. Charles suddenly found himself in the shoes of the countless families he served here at Hope for Hunger.

“I adjusted my shopping list accordingly to keep us fed, but Hope for Hunger was there when I needed it.

Like thousands of other families every month, Charles had access to food when he needed it most, thanks to you.

This year serves as a stark reminder that hunger can strike any one of us, especially during a pandemic. Countless individuals and parents have been blindsided, never thinking in a million years they would be struggling to put food on the table. It will be a long time before families fully recover – they need help now more than ever!

It’s your prayers and strong support that are keeping families fed, making ends meet and keeping countless men, women children off the streets this season. And while the same is true for Charles, we’re sad to report that he still hasn’t found employment. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the service of this much-loved and faithful volunteer as he headed back to Mississippi last month to work on his family’s farm.

As sad as we are to see him go, we know that God will continue to make a way for him. On behalf of all of us at Hope for Hunger, we’ll miss you Charles!

“I love coming here, greeting people, talking to people, giving them hope. It’s like a family. This place is a blessing for anybody.”

Things May Look Different, but the Work Goes On

News of the coronavirus forced us to cancel the groundbreaking ceremony of our new, 4-story Life Recovery Building which will house our men’s program and increase available beds from 170 to 360, allowing us to have greater impact on many more lives. But the work goes on! Construction is underway, and all throughout Phoenix Rescue Mission, we’re still bringing help and hope to the homeless and needy.

At the Mission, we’re staying abreast of the COVID-19 situation and making decisions in real-time regarding how to best care for and serve those in our ministry family. Our leadership team has developed plans for each area within the organization, so that we can responsibly continue our ministry with care and compassion, especially at this crucial time of need in our city.

We’ve adjusted our outreach in creative ways. Our Hope for Hunger Food Bank has been transformed into a drive-thru style so we can continue our normal hours (M-F, 8am-12pm). There are no zip code restrictions on who can receive food at Hope for Hunger, so anyone can receive food assistance so long as they show an ID and proof of residence (typically a utility bill). Healthy volunteers are still needed each weekday. If you can help, sign up at prm.volunteerhub.com.

We will also continue our Community Markets and Mobile Food Pantries around the Valley, all with redesigned procedures to minimize or eliminate personal contact.

In times like this, we’re given an opportunity to display God’s love, help build courageous people, and engage in the welfare and comfort of our communities.

With your faithful support, we will continue to reach out to the hurting and homeless with hope and help. In times of darkness, the light shines brightest – thank you for the partnership that gives a path forward to the men, women, and children we serve, even in the midst of the current crisis.

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.

The Main Thing – A Volunteer’s Difference

Our volunteers are the biggest difference-makers in the ministry of the Phoenix Rescue Mission. I see time and time again the impact volunteers make in the lives of those we serve.

Janet, a former addict, is now one of our regular volunteers. “I still see my old self in many of the faces of the men and women at the Mission,” she says. “I’ve gained so much from volunteering. My journey led me full circle — I am home again.”

It is common with our volunteers, they come to serve others and touch the lives of those in need. When in reality, the volunteer is the one who is impacted the greatest. Whether your serving a meal to men, women, and children who were once broken and lost, packing a food box for a family in need, or working in our boutique to give dignity back to women and children through the simple gift of a new shirt, dress, or a new pair of shoes. Lives re being transformed, and that's the main thing here at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

The Mission simply would not be what it is without volunteers who give their time, love, and support to serve our community. Volunteers are a part of the Mission family, and see first hand the transformation that takes place not only in the lives of the men and women we serve, but within their our hearts as well.

We would love to have you join us as a volunteer in this life-changing ministry! Join Janet and hundreds of other volunteers at the Mission. No matter your skills or talents, no matter how much time you’ve got, whether you’re an individual or part of a group . . . you can begin to transform a life today!

In just a few weeks, all of our homemade favorites will be making an appearance around the dinner table. Turkey will be coming out of the oven, and freshly made pies will be on the counter waiting for hungry bellies.

This time of year, we have a huge opportunity to reach out in love to hundreds of hurting men, women, and children throughout Arizona. Every day, Phoenix Rescue Mission volunteers give their time serving a meal, packing food boxes for local families, providing office support for our staff and performing countless other duties big and small ... The simple truth is, we could not do what we do without volunteers.

For people like Teresita who serves faithfully every week at our Hope for Hunger Food Bank, extending warmth and kindness to the people we serve.

I have a great appreciation for what our people are doing, and spending time at our Hope for Hunger Food Bank is a true testimony to how much our volunteers make an impact in our ministry.

With all the volunteers I've had the pleasure to meet, there's one consistent.

They feel far more blessed than the people they are serving through their volunteer work. It's not about them, it's about God.

At Hope for Hunger, we see first-hand how God provides. Food is provided by God, we give thanks for it, and distribute it. Through food, we are able to build relationships, and help those we serve find solutions to an array of issues, whether it's food insecurity, homelessness or poverty. Through that, lives are transformed. And that's the main thing!

As we continue to grow, we need more volunteers. There are so many opportunities, especially during the holiday season to get involved and make a really difference in our community! For all of you who have ever volunteered with us, I give my sincerest thank you. You are a part of the life-transformations taking place behind our doors. Thank you for being a part of our family, and showing the love of Christ to the least, the lost, and the last.

Jay A. Cory
President and CEO
Phoenix Rescue Mission

 

If you are ready to begin your journey as a volunteer, visit VolunteerHub to create an account and sign up for opportunities around the Mission!