Project Cont. Sunshine Rescue Mission: Life OFF the Streets
The issue we face with homelessness in the city of Flagstaff is that most people choose to avoid the issue. Most of us walk down San Francisco St. and can visibly see homeless people with nothing but a backpack sitting on benches, holding signs asking for help, food or money. We walk by knowing that there is an issue and we choose to do nothing about it because “they’re probably drug addicts or alcoholics”. Luckily, there is a safe and comfortable home for those who are left out on the streets to fend for themselves.
The Sunshine Rescue Mission is a place for people without homes to feel comfortable, it is a Christian based shelter, but they do not push anything on anyone. As Coordinator and Kitchen Manager Carlos Nixon explains, they make it clear that nothing is forced because they understand that these people “have been pushed around their whole lives and most of them have been independent on the streets for years.” This shelter is unique as it is the only zero-tolerance shelter in the city of Flagstaff, they work on helping people with drug or alcohol addictions to get better, back to work and back into society. The shelter provides 14 bunks as well as a family room for women and children, there is currently a woman and her 14-year-old daughter staying with them.
“Just to see a lot of them come in and be able to smile, knowing that they are in a safe place and they’re getting help. If we can’t help, then we have resources that can and that makes a difference for them.” said Coordinator and Kitchen Manager Carlos Nixon.
In addition to the 14 bunks, they lay out mats in the main entrance room when they run out of bunk room and for the people who must get up early and go to work. Not only does the Rescue Mission provide bunks for homeless people, but they also provide and require anyone who is staying to take showers on site. They are given clothing, blankets, backpacks, razors, food and even suitcases when they are available, which are all donated every single day, except for Sundays.
The Sunshine Rescue Mission is one of the three homeless shelters available in the city of Flagstaff, there is also Hope Cottage and Dorsey Manor. Hope Cottage is a shelter located downtown for 65 women and children a night that provides clothing, shelter, meals and goal planning. As Hope Cottage is part of the same organization as Sunshine Rescue mission, it is also Christ-centered and there is zero-tolerance for drugs and alcohol on site.
“I have been sober for 16 years and I can’t even stand the smell of it. The reason we have it is because we have a lot of people in recovery and if someone smells it, it can trigger them to want to go back.” Said Administrative Director Debbie Wallace.
Carlos Nixon is excited to start a couple programs at the Sunshine Rescue Mission in the next few weeks. One program, the Genesis program, urges people who have dealt with drug or alcohol addiction in the past to resurface what is in the back of their minds. The goal is to bring back past emotions and problems that they think may be behind them, but is still in the back of their minds, in order to help them deal with it in a better situation. In addition to the genesis program there is also a culinary program launching in a couple weeks, it is a six-month program that allows people who come to the shelter to learn how to cook. The program will allow them to get their food handlers card, learn how to cook and prepare food and even continue cooking as a career if they choose to after the program.
“It is tremendous to see the change in these people, some of them come in with sunken in faces because they are malnourished, but we make sure they get what they need.” Said Carlos Nixon.