The Phoenix Rescue Mission Plants Seeds of Hope

Hope for new homeless found at the Mission

One evening, just a couple months ago, Jeff was walking near the downtown ASU Extension campus and before he knew it, he was attacked by several men and a woman. In an attempt to steal his backpack, they kicked him, hit him with a bat, tried to stab him and left him in a pool of blood, unconscious with multiple injuries. The following two weeks were spent in the hospital and when he was released, he was put in a cab and sent to the Phoenix Rescue Mission.

As part of our mission to rescue lives, to save lives, change lives and serve lives, our staff began to minister to his physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Seeds of hope and promise of a future are being planted in Jeff through our hospitality.

Jeff found himself on the streets of Phoenix after coming here from Seattle to help his sister through a bitter divorce. But alcohol, drugs and rage caused him to lose favor with his family and he was forced to leave his sister’s home.

When he came to the Mission, he put his head down, followed the rules and reflected on what had gone wrong in his life. Then he missed curfew and his bed was given to another. A week later he returned determined to work through the demons of destruction that had brought him to this point.

Jeff enjoys the security the Mission provides and says “it provides a buffer from the street.” While he sometimes feels embarrassed to be staying at the Mission, he is grateful that he has a safe place to sleep at night.

Further he says, “I really like the chapel services. They help and for the past two days I have been starting to pray on my own.”

Jeff believes “all this crazy stuff” happened for a reason. “I am here for a reason,” he says. “This is where I am supposed to be; this is a chance to move up. Another thing I like about this place is that it gives me time to think, to clear my mind and to pray.”

Jeff is at a major turning point in his life. He is discovering that peace comes from Jesus Christ. He is examining his faith and he is talking to God. He is discovering the satisfaction of serving others. Day by day we have the privilege of planting seeds of hope and seeing him grow and become whole.

Jesus talks about this in Luke 13 where he tells the story of the farmer planting seed. Some, he says, “fell along the path…some fell on rocky places…some among thorns…some fell on good soil…” In Jeff’s case the seed has fallen on good soil and it is beginning to grow and will “bring forth fruit” as we help him.

Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Volunteer of the Year Shares Her Story of Addiction and Recovery

Janet Garcia with the Mission's Nicole Peña

I wasn’t always a do-gooder. In fact, for 18 years I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. In 2005, I experienced a traumatic event, which made me seek out a 12-step meeting, or risk relapsing.

I found a local chapter of Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step program. While there, I met a woman who volunteered at the Phoenix Rescue Mission, serving meals to the homeless in their soup kitchen. I also discovered that some of the men in my meetings were graduates of the Phoenix Rescue Mission addiction-recovery program. I started volunteering there, too. Working in the kitchen felt like returning home.

I grew up just a few miles from the Phoenix Rescue Mission on Buckeye Road. My parents had moved my family to Phoenix for a new beginning. Two weeks after we left California and landed in Phoenix that new beginning came to an end. My father dropped my five sisters, three brothers and mother off at 20th Avenue and Buckeye Road and left. We stayed in an apartment for a few months until we moved to the Coffelt Housing Project. While living at Coffelt, I was introduced to heroin. I was 17. I continued using the drug for the next 18 years, until 1988.

I started volunteering in 1988 after completing a 40 day in-patient treatment program. After nearly two decades of using drugs and alcohol, I can’t even express the peace volunteering has given me. The very first place I volunteered was a program that targeted women infected or at-risk for HIV. I was meeting with women who were living the same life I had lived. It was through volunteering that I got my first job working in the behavioral health field. Twenty years later, I am still working in behavioral health, though with a different community of people.

In 1993, I started volunteering at an organization that ministered to the poor. At the time, I was going through a divorce. After working with the poor, I decided that fighting for the house and material possessions was just not worth the heartache. I moved in with a friend, owning nothing but a TV and a mattress. By volunteering, I was truly home. I was accepted, and in turn, I was able to love and nurture those coming through the doors until the organization closed in 2004.

Shortly thereafter, I found the Phoenix Rescue Mission. My first shift in the kitchen was like a journey back in time — there were so many “old Janets,” people lost, addicted like I once was — I knew I was in the right place. I still see my old self in many of the faces of the men and women who come to eat a meal or get a food box. I am now delivering food boxes to homebound seniors and I love it.

I’ve gained so much from volunteering, so much more than I could ever express. My journey led me full circle — I am home again.

— Janet Garcia
2009 Volunteer of the Year Phoenix Rescue Mission

Our thanks to Janet for her years of dedicated service and for sharing her powerful story on AzCapitolTimes.com

A New Year and New Life for Brian

In his childhood, Brian lived in several different towns. His parents were divorced, so he lived with his dad for his first ten years, then with his mom until he graduated from high school.

As far back as he can remember, Brian has dealt with depression. He started smoking marijuana when he was in his teens. He felt better and more relaxed when he was "high", so he kept on smoking it.

Brian worked a construction job for eight years after high school, still smoking marijuana on and off. His real problems began when he got involved with the wrong people and started smoking meth. He lost his job and apartment, was living in his truck in a south Phoenix river bottom area, spending what little funds he had left on drugs. As long as he still had his truck, he didn't think he was homeless.

Brian did get a job on and off after that, but eventually quit working and spent all his time living with his so-called friends doing drugs. That is when God chose to touch Brian's life.

"I found a devotional book just laying in an alley. I had always thought that God hated me, but when I read the book that night, I realized that God had loved me all along," Brian said.

The next day, he went to stay in the shelter at the Phoenix Rescue Mission. He got a day labor job and learned more about God in the Chapel services at night. He saved up to buy a car and thought he could make things work out on his own. Unfortunately when he bought a car and left the Mission, he got involved in his old ways and was soon back on drugs.

Brian was in and out of our shelter for over a year, knowing that Jesus had led him to the Mission, but unable to commit to the year-long Addiction Recovery Program. He finally admitted his addiction problem to one of chaplains and signed up for the program.

"It was the best decision I have ever made," Brian shared. In the recovery program, he learned to deal with his past resentment and also be accountable to others and to God. "I had to learn to trust God and to learn His plan for my life." Brian also discovered that having healthy relationships with other Christians could actually be fun!

Brian graduated from the program late last year and is looking for employment. He is confident that God will help him find the right job. He is truly excited about having a new life, taking it one day at a time with the Lord. Brian wants to tell those who support the Mission, "Thank you. My new life wouldn't have been possible without your gifts and prayers!"

-Selected from Phoenix Rescue Mission's Quarterly Newsletter. Request a copy to be mailed to you by emailing Debra at prm@phoenixrescuemission.org.

Henry’s Story

Henry at Phoenix Rescue Mission

Henry is a native Arizonan who was raised by his single mother after his father left when he was only three years old. His mother did her best to raise Henry and his siblings right. However, in his formative years, his male role models were his uncles, who all had drinking problems.

Henry married young and before he knew it, he was the father of three children. It's at this point that Henry's drinking problem surfaced. While he kept a job and provided physically for his family, Henry was not always there emotionally for them.

After eight years of marriage, he and his wife were divorced. That's when Henry went from just drinking to also using drugs. He became involved with the wrong people and ended up in and out of jail for several years. Then he was in a  bad accident, but didn't end up in jail even though there were already three DUI's on his record. As he roamed the streets, he was filled with guilt. He prayed for forgiveness and God's help in his life. Just a few minutes later, another man on the streets told him about the Men's Addiction Recovery Program at the Mission.

Henry entered the program without realizing everything he would go through in the next year. He had to learn to submit to authority and how to deal with his anger and pride. He had built up a great deal of resentment toward his father and learned that he had to forgive his father and himself. There were many times that he wanted to leave and run away from his problems, but the staff kept encouraging him. "God broke me of many things, humbling me for my growth and His will," Henry said.

Henry graduated from the program in July and is searching for a job. He also has received a grant to attend Rio Salado college to pursue  a Chemical Dependency degree. His ultimate goal is to be certified as a Chemical Dependency counselor to help others.

"I can see now that God's been with me through it all." He wants you to know, "When you give to the Mission, you're not just giving to people, but you're giving to God's work."

Thank you for making it possible for Henry and many others to be touched and changed by the Lord!

-Selected from Phoenix Rescue Mission's Quarterly Newsletter. Request a copy to be mailed to you by emailing Debra at prm@phoenixrescuemission.org.