Summer is Here – What Can I Do? [street outreach tips]

It’s 110 degrees outside and there he is on the corner, cardboard sign in hand, looking to you for help. You know handing him cash is not the answer and food isn’t a solution. It would be easy to drive on by, but your heart won’t let you abandon this homeless man to the heat.

What can you do?

It’s a question that weighs heavy on many of our hearts during the summer – our street outreach team is here to help!

Here are four simple tips that can make a real impact and could transform the life of someone on the street:

  1. Be Prepared. It’s hot and you are going to run into someone in need of help. Be ready! Keep a Summer Hope Tote or two in your car this summer ready to give away. Build yours at phxmission.org/hopetote.
  2. Talk with them. Say hello. Show them your heart. Asking if they have a place to stay the night or a plan for the future can be a great way engage in a quick conversation while at a stop light.
  3. Point them to PRM. This is the opportunity for transformation. Guide them toward a solution by handing out one of the enclosed Rescue Referrals or print your own at phxmission.org/referral. Tell them you support the Mission, and it could be a place their needs can be met.
  4. Pray. This is most important – only God can change hearts! Don’t forget to pray for those on the streets and for those battling addiction. Pray that their physical and emotional needs are met, and their spiritual hunger is satisfied. And please pray for the staff and volunteers at the Mission as we serve many who come to our door.

Last summer, record-breaking heat took the lives of 494 men and women in Arizona. As a community, we need to step up and reach out to those who may not know how deadly our summer can be.

Together, we can make a difference by connecting people in harm’s way with the resources that keep them safe and transform lives!

Code:Red

Meet the Staff: Cierra Peña, Lead Case Manager

When Cierra came to Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Changing Lives Center in 2012, she had been struggling with addiction since she was 13 years old. Through your support, we welcomed this mother of four as one of the first 20 women to experience all the hope and healing that our then brand-new women’s campus had to offer – and it changed everything for Cierra and her family.

“I had been through 45-day in-patient programs but nothing helped. I knew I needed a year-long program to change my life. And it did; I’m going on 9 years in March that I’ve been clean and it’s thanks to this place.

But Cierra wasn’t satisfied with finding sobriety, she wanted to help others find the same gift that she had been given. Just 90 days after enrolling in our recovery program, Cierra began serving other women as part of the intake team. When the Mission began creating the intake triage program we now call Rescue-Assess-Place (RAP), Cierra was able to lend her experience to help build the program we now use today.

For the past 9 years, hundreds of women looking for hope have been surprised to find Cierra, a woman with genuine concern for their wellbeing, waiting to meet them in RAP.

Those who have enrolled in recovery have found a friend ready to advocate for them in court, help them set doctor appointments, obtain IDs and birth certificates, get fines reduced or eliminated – knocking down each and every barrier that stands between them and success.

As a result of her hard work and extensive experience receiving and providing assistance, lives have been forever transformed and, she’s recently been promoted to Lead Case Manager. There couldn’t be a better fit for the position!

“A lot of these women come in with no hope, many with a Department of Child Safety case weighing heavy on their hearts,” says Cierra.

“At one point in my life, I was there. I thought I couldn’t do any better. I love to share my story and help them realize that there is hope. Seeing them go from dark to light brings me so much joy!”

Cierra is another shining example of what God’s grace and your support can do in a life – and by extension, the lives of hundreds of others.

Easter Is Coming and We Need Your Help!

Thanks to friends like you, our drive-thru Easter Community Outreach last year was a huge success! Cars lined up in droves as families arrived looking to celebrate the most important day of the year. We provided over 600 children with Easter baskets as well as bags stuffed with food and supplies for each family to help keep the dinner table full.

We need your help to do it again!

After a full year of COVID, the challenges our families are facing are mounting. We’re expecting 400 struggling families to attend this event - over 1,000 children total. To make sure we have a basket for every child and emergency food for every family, we’re asking you and our local church and business partners to help meet the need!

With your help, we can give our community a reason to celebrate while connecting them to the services that can keep them stable during these uncertain times! For more information or to set up a collection drive, contact Catie Hammann, Gift-In-Kind Coordinator, at 602-346-3347 or at gikhelp@phxmission.org.

Any items collected in person can be delivered to our Donation Warehouse at 3440 W. Lewis, Building A Suite G, Phoenix, AZ 85009 between 7:30am-3:30pm, Monday-Friday.

WAYS TO HELP IN 2021

  • Hold a canned food drive at your church or business.
  • Start an Easter Basket assembly event as a team-building exercise.
  • Give a financial gift and let us do the shopping!
  • Shop on our Amazon Wish List (which automatically ships to us) at phxmission.org/easterlist

4 Years After Graduation | Rich, Street Outreach Case Manager

Where Are They Now? | Rich Heitz

Because of a cocaine addiction Rich picked up when he was 17, much of Rich’s early life was a blur.

“I spent 8 years locked up: 3 years in prison, 5 years in county jail,” Rich remembers.

“I was in and out of jail and homeless off and on for 7 years.”

With so much time on the inside, incarceration started to seem like a home away from home. So, when he was arrested again on a heroin charge in 2013, he told his probation officer to send him back to the yard. With a single word, the officer changed Rich’s life.

He said “No.”

“He told me that he could see in my eyes that I wanted to quit but couldn’t on my own. He sent me to Phoenix Rescue Mission instead.”

What Rich found here he couldn’t believe.

“When I saw the guys in the program, they were hugging each other and telling each other that they loved them. There was nothing weird about it. I liked that. It felt like a true brotherhood. People were actually looking out for each other and not trying to hold each other back. It was a life that I didn’t know existed prior to 2015.”

Three weeks later, Rich asked Jesus into his life and nothing has been the same since. He graduated from our recovery program in 2017.

“After I graduated, I started looking outside the Mission for employment. I had three great interviews. But then about a week later, I was called into the office at PRM. They asked me how I’d feel about working for them. God heard my prayers and opened doors for me.”

Today Rich is back on the streets, but this time, he’s spreading a word of hope, help, and transformation as part of our Street Outreach Team.

“I love it. I go everywhere: Avondale, Goodyear, Surprise, Peoria, Glendale, Scottsdale, Phoenix; wherever I’m needed. I walk up to people with needles in their arms and provide them with water, hygiene items and hope.”

From no future, to helping others find a brand-new future, that’s what your support of Phoenix Rescue Mission makes possible.

“Every day is different. God took an old burnout, running and gunning for 30 years, and now He has me working for his glory; I love it!”

No Longer Homeless for the Holidays | Brian’s Second Chance

Brian’s second chance at the Mission brought an end to his homelessness.

Brian came to us looking for a good meal in 2007. Back then he was addicted, homeless, and miserable – and had been that way for about four years.

“I wasn’t able to maintain a job. Whenever I would try to get back on my feet or clean up for a little bit, I’d end up repeating the same mistakes.”

Then he enrolled in our recovery program, got clean, found Christ, and started on a new path… only to find himself stumbling again a few years later. The Mission is always clear that we value restoration and care for the long-term health of our clients. We do not stigmatize those who relapse but instead invite them to rebuild a solid, Christ-based foundation and community for their long-term well-being.

“I knew the only chance I had to turn my life around was to be a part of a community of people who were going to support one another; that’s the brotherhood you find at Phoenix Rescue Mission. I knew people would support and encourage me there. I went back there and tried to get in. That was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.”

This time, he’s plugged in. Instead of going it alone, he’s making sure he maintains the accountability and connections that make all the difference. In fact, he’s found an apartment of his own next to three other graduates who’ve traveled a similar path, to make sure the connections he needs are within easy reach.

His second time around, we were able to connect him to a grant that enabled him to get his Commercial Driver’s License. He’s using it to drive dump trucks and couldn’t be happier.

“I’ve been doing this for over a year,” he says, “and I love it. I have to pinch myself sometimes because I can’t believe I’m doing it. It feels good to have a great career and make good money doing it.”

Thank you for giving the gift that made it possible for Brian to have a home for the holidays.