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.