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!