The general population in Flagstaff may not be aware that there is an open food kitchen in downtown Flag, feeding anyone and everyone who is hungry. The Sunshine Rescue Mission serves between 150-300+ meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner to any man, woman or child who is downtown, alone and hungry. Yes, this even includes hungry Northern Arizona University students!
“We are so much more than three hots and a cot,” said Carlos Nixon, who came out of homelessness through the recovery assistance offered free of charge at The Mission. Nixon now works for Sunshine Rescue Mission with a deep, compelling drive to pass kindness forward, helping others find a safe place to rest, good food and the human connection it takes to start addressing the reasons why they are on the street in the first place. Nixon’s personal story is on the Sunshine Rescue Mission’s Facebook page.
Here are some surprising facts that our community might not know about the plight of the homeless in Flagstaff this summer:
Hundreds of additional homeless individuals come up to Flagstaff in the summer months for relief from the Phoenix heat.
The main shelters in Flagstaff include Flagstaff Shelter Services (which does receive taxpayer funding), which has been under construction all summer, and The Mission downtown, which is privately funded by the generosity of caring donors. The Mission is privately funded because it is a faith-based non-profit organization, yet faith has never been a barrier to receiving meals, shelter and more.
This summer, The Mission downtown has been providing hundreds of additional meals each week and free showers to accommodate the construction closure of the other shelter.
Hope Cottage and The Mission (both facilities of Sunshine Rescue Mission) have been packed to capacity, while at the same time, private donations are down because of the change in the tax law that happened last year.
As the chairperson of the board for Sunshine Rescue Mission, I find myself wondering how much the citizens of Flagstaff know. Do they realize that such a valuable service – food for the hungry, shelter and recovery – is happening free of charge for our homeless neighbors and friends? Thousands of people have found a hand up and out of homelessness by this organization that does not receive any funding from the city, state or federal government. What a gift this is to our mountain community and yet, without enough financial support, Sunshine Rescue Mission is struggling to keep its doors open.
Employee hours have been reduced as a result of a lack of funding. Without financial relief soon, our open food kitchen may have to end one or more daily meals. This is heartbreaking to the staff and board of Sunshine Rescue Mission, who have never had to turn the hungry away. Do our community members even know? If they did know, would they provide a little community support? Anyone who might have a heart to help can call The Mission at 928-774-3512 and talk to Debbie or Peggy. People can also visit our website at srm-hc.org to make a one-time or recurring donation.
For anyone who might be able to help, or anyone who cannot help financially but have valued all that the Sunshine Rescue Mission does for our community, thank you! It really does take a community to effect great good. FBN
By Kathie Knapp
Kathie Knapp is the chairperson of the board for Sunshine Rescue Mission.