Real Stories

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PatriciaThis is Patricia. We don’t always know what impact our work may have on someone. Last Friday Paz de Cristo staff went to the local WalMart store to ask the store manager for support for a grant request we made. I asked the lady at customer service whose name is Patricia if she could direct me to the Store Manager. She asked who we were and I said we were with Paz de Cristo. “Paz de Cristo” she exclaimed. “You saved my life.” Christine and I looked at each other and asked Patricia to tell us more. My life was a mess, she said. I worked for the same company for 25 years, had worked my way up to a good wage and then they hired someone half my age for half my salary and they fired me. I had a difficult time finding another job at my age, I lost my car and then my house. So in my fifties I was homeless for the first time in my life. Someone told me I could go to Paz de Cristo for dinner. I started going there for dinner and to get a shower. Then I was told about their jobs center. I got help with my resume, some clothes for an interview and a bus ticket. They helped me get an interview at WalMart and I have been here 3 ½ years, started as a cashier and I am now Manager of Customer Services for the Mesa Riverview store. I have my own apartment, a car and I get up every day and go to work. “You saved my life”.


ChesterChester, a veteran who was discharged from a treatment facility on a Friday came to Paz looking for shelter. Allison and Celina connected with Ozanam Manor in Phoenix for a phone screening that day. Over the next two weeks they arranged transportation for Chester to attend additional face-to-face interviews, medical appointments and trips to the VA. After two weeks he was accepted into Ozanam Manor full time and not only has a place to live but is receiving counseling and treatment for alcohol.  Chester came by the Paz de Cristo office this past week and told us Ozanam is the best place he has ever lived. A great big thank you to the City of Mesa for funding this effort through their grant program!


LarryIn July of 2014, Mesa Mayor John Giles announced Mesa’s “Housing our Heroes” program with the goal of providing housing for homeless Mesa veterans.

Paz de Cristo was asked to participate in the program because of the number of homeless veterans that visited Paz for meals and other services. Larry is a disabled Marine Corp Vietnam veteran who has been homeless off and on for the past 30 years and was a regular at Paz for dinner. Larry signed up for the Housing our Heros program on July 28th

Just a few weeks later, on Sept. 1, he:

  • Celebrated 10 years of sobriety
  • Moved into his new apartment
  • Had a party thrown for him at City Hall that was attended by City councilmen, the City Manager, Mayor Giles and Senator John McCain.

Larry was the first to be housed by the Housing our Heroes program.


Hanan’s Save the Family Experience: Changing the Cycle of Poverty through Education.

Hanan was just 4 years old when she went to a homeless shelter with her mom and brother. They were escaping a domestic violence situation; Hanan’s dad was abusive. Both of Hanan’s parents immigrated to America – her mother from Ethiopia and her dad from Nigeria. Hanan, her mother, and her brother came to Save the Family and were able to be placed in affordable housing operated by Save the Family. Hanan said that the affordable housing piece was huge – her mom was able to get on her feet, finish a degree, find a job, utilize the childcare programs, and really gain self-sufficiency. She remembers the youth programming well, and Hanan loved meeting Shaquille O’Neal at a Save the Family youth event. Hanan also remembers getting a backpack filled with school supplies and that it was great. She said, “Even though we didn’t have anything, we knew Save the Family would be there for us.”

Hanan is now 20 years old. One thing Hanan’s mom always stressed to her children is the importance of education. In fact, her mom finished her bachelor’s degree while with Save the Family, and later went on to get a master’s degree and worked for a time as a surgical nurse. Today she works as a nurse in rehabilitative services. Hanan watched and learned from her mother’s experiences, and is currently pursuing a degree at Gateway Community College. She says that of all her friends, she is the only one who graduated high school and is going to college.  Hanan is majoring in psychology and is deciding between becoming a social worker or a psychologist – or something else she hasn’t even discovered yet! She really wants to work in a role where she can show people that they can come from nothing and still make it. She says, “I really want to influence people to make good choices. I want to share, I came from where you come from - and you can make it.” She was just named a Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholar. She says, “Education has changed my life,” and “You can lose your job, but nobody can take your degree.” She’s an honors student and was recognized as a student leader at Gateway this past year. Hanan has a two year old daughter, Amina. Amina is her maternal grandmother’s name, and it means “trustworthy.” (As an aside, Hanan’s name means “compassionate and gracious” something her mom tells her she’s grown into!)


Rainbow’s Story: It took a strong, coordinated system.

Rainbow is a Native American who has been homeless in Mesa for at least the last three years.  He has been considered as “chronic” or “service resistant.”  Just in the last month, Rainbow has required emergency assistance (fire/medical, police, courts, non-profit agencies) 26 times.  He became “everyone’s problem,” and he continued in this cycle because everyone was working within silos and not communicating with one another.  The best we were about to do was keep him sober for four hours at a time.  Based on the new system and approach of collaboration in Mesa between all city departments, emergency services and non-profit agencies, we were able to make sure he didn’t slip through our fingers with poor process.  The collaborative approach has resulted in Rainbow now being sober for weeks and in a recovery home with ongoing service support.  The recovery center chosen is one located in the Native American Community, where Rainbow is also being served with spiritual guidance and has the support of “his people.”


 Deena Cadman - Paz de Cristo Experience

I am writing to express my extreme gratitude for your services and assistance. Thank you very much, due to your job services and your programs, I managed to get back on my feet, stay sober and through it all, I have strengthened my relationship with the Lord.

Paz de Cristo has helped me immensely, last year about this time of year I moved back to Arizona from Las Vegas after struggling with alcohol and homelessness after losing my job, due to my alcohol use. I went to the Women's TLC program and while there, I utilized your job program and when I did get my job at Community Bridges Inc., the bus passes helped me get to and from work to Phoenix. I graduated from TLC and started looking for a place of my own to live. It was hard for me to find an apartment because I have 3 DUIs and the 3rd resulted in a felony. I finally found a place and I was so grateful and blessed to have your assistance.