Your Neighbor as Yourself: The Phoenix Dream Center

There is a parable in the Book of Matthew in the New Testament in which Jesus explains to his followers that giving to the “least of My brethren” as an expression of belief and faith has an impact on all people. In this spirit, the Phoenix Dream Center (PDC), Phoenix First Assembly of God’s inner-city outreach center, is helping a varied and extensive group of people in need, from at-risk youth to the homeless to low-income families. PDC assists with tangible needs such as feeding, clothing, and housing. Most importantly, with an eye toward creating responsibility for the self, the organization also focuses on services that will help people afflicted by psychological, spiritual, emotional, and mental needs. PDC aids Valley residents with their journeys to abandon destructive paths plagued by drugs, abuse, and violence. It helps people to discover, recover, or rekindle their dreams. It gives them hope.

The Phoenix Dream Center began in 2006, when Phoenix First Assembly’s senior pastor, Tommy Barnett, realized the need for an organized, wide-reaching vehicle to address difficult conditions of people on the streets. Dream Centers are operative in New York and Los Angeles, and Barnett had served the L.A. organization for twelve years. He combined his experience and faith with that of the PFA-founded nonprofit City Help Inc. of Phoenix and purchased an old Embassy Suites hotel. The 120,000-square-foot facility in West Phoenix currently houses 250 men and women, many transitioning from prison, who have been rescued from homelessness, drugs, gangs, prostitution, and other destructive lifestyles. With increased funding and volunteer involvement, the site can grow to support over 600 individuals.

The center presently operates a number of outreach programs under the name City Quest. Volunteers distribute food boxes throughout the community and feed over 9,000 people weekly, facilitated by a new, fully operational commercial-grade kitchen that serves hot meals daily. PDC provides free clothing for over 4,000 individuals on a weekly basis through community programs and their free on-site store, The Lord’s Closet. There are also distributions of computers, furniture, and household goods. Adopt-a-Block teams minister to entire neighborhoods weekly through sharing of faith and physical labor—mowing lawns, fixing up houses, cleaning up graffiti, and delivering furniture. A growing bus ministry, which has been operative since 1980, transports people—including the elderly, deaf, handicapped, and homeless—to church. The PDC Church on the Street, headed by Pastor Walt Rattray, who was also instrumental in starting and building the Phoenix Dream Center, holds services at the center and on the streets. Spanish-speaking services also take place there.

A free beauty salon and barbershop give the homeless, the unemployed, and the lower-income Phoenicians the outward confidence they need to seek employment and promotions. A wellness center provides free, basic health care, checkups, over-the-counter medications, and aid with paperwork for state-funded health coverage and benefits.

Through partnerships with other organizations, PDC offers at-risk teenagers dance classes, sports programs and leagues, and personal coaching to challenge our youth to be successful both in school and in life. There are a number of special programs within the organization to assist with diverse needs: Driven by Vision is a discipleship program that provides food and clothing, and Atmosphere is the center’s Saturday-night youth outreach event that brings a clean, safe, and fun dance alternative to other more hazardous weekend activities. PDC also partners with the City of Phoenix’s Work Force Connections, which provides the unemployed assistance in building resumes, job-interview training, enrollment in vocational training programs, and finding jobs through work-search programs.

Dream Center residents have access to long-term rehabilitation in the areas of life skills, anger management, domestic violence, and jobs training. The goal is to help residents break destructive patterns, overcome victimization, and adopt productive, healthy lifestyles. One of the growing (and, particularly in Phoenix, much-needed) branches of the PDC is The Rescue Project, which provides housing and safe locations throughout Phoenix for underage girls and adult women who have been saved from human trafficking. The Rescue Project operates two separate homes divided by age group: 9–17 and 18–30. The center partners with others to ensure that victims receive the attention and treatment they need to rebuild their lives: mentoring; access to therapy, counseling, licensed-physician care, and legal help; life-skills, career-skills, and nutrition training; and help obtaining GEDs or high school diplomas.

This rising inner-city resource walks its faith by unconditional acceptance, caring, and love through very practical, tangible, real means. Restoring hope to the city begins with restoring hope to and recovering the dreams of its citizens.

The Phoenix Dream Center is located at 3120 Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85017. Call (602) 346-8700 or visit phxdreamcenter.org for more information.

PLEASE INCLUDE IN A SEPARATE BOX:

Donations: (602) 404-7494
Volunteer: phxdreamcenter.org/volunteer
Weekly Tours: Tuesdays at 11:45 a.m. (lunch provided)

If someone you know:

– needs homeless shelter services: (800) 799-7739 or (602) 263-8856
– needs food, clothing, or other assistance: (602) 346-8720
– is interested in joining their 15-month Christian Life Recover School: (602) 346-8726
– is in need of rescue or other human trafficking-related services: (602) 346-8786, rescueprojectphx.org

By Cassaundra Brooks
Photo credits: For the Adopt-a-Block Bus Kids, Community Outreach, and Life Recover School photos (if you use any of those three), please credit Brenden Moore Photography.

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