“Not in my backyard.”

One of my greatest inspirations in life is Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She once stated, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

On May 2, 2016 the House of Refuge received notice from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After 19 years they were no longer supporting transitional housing programs for homeless families nationally. To say it was a shock would not adequately describe the moment. It was as if all of the air had suddenly evaporated in the space around us. But, as we always do in life, we took our next slow, deep, shaky breath, picked up a pencil and started to plan how we were going to tackle this enormous problem. We had been effectively teaching our families how to overcome abrupt, life changing hurdles for decades. Now it was our turn to “put our money where our mouth was.”

As the following days gave way to weeks, heavy public displeasure was applied to the local HUD office and a representative visited House of Refuge. At the end of our visit I asked him what were we supposed to do when we ran out of funds and families were still in our homes during the height of the summer heat. His response was, “they may have to go back to where they came from.” What? Where? Back to shelters, there were waiting lists for beds. Back to their prior domestic violence situations, unacceptable? Back to the streets, it was summer in Arizona. His was not an answer, it was simply turning our backs on our responsibility to these families. That was not going to happen. We knew we had to set another course.

So, we reached out to you, our amazing community, and you reached back. You rallied and simply said, “Not in my backyard.” This tragedy will not play out in our community and you mobilized. WOW, did you mobilize. Because of you I sit at my computer ONE YEAR post defunding and draft this note. To paraphrase Mother Teresa’s beautiful words, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter this extraordinary community.” I am so proud to report that we have restored 70% of our funding base and are on track, with your continued support, to achieve our goal of 100% before the heat of the summer descends upon us. We are inviting families back into our life changing program, back into stable homes where a community has proven they truly care about every human being living within its borders. Because of you families are safe, children have a place to call home, and I am able to sit here with my pencil and write a love note to you from the depths of my heart. May God richly bless each and every one of you for your care, support and efforts. You have made a life changing difference in our community and we THANK YOU.