Two years ago, when I first was contacted by Sheila Coonen, the founder of Connecting to Serve, I really didn’t understand the value of her organization, or vision, to change the world through community engagement. She simply asked me to present to a rather small group of people passionate about connecting the Ahwatukee community to something worth changing.

Little did I know what presenting to this group would do for our capacity to serve homeless families here in the Valley. Shortly after presenting, Sheila introduced me to the Mountain Park Community Church, a passionate and large congregation in Ahwatukee. Mark Farley, their representative in my meetings was on fire to serve the homeless community. Within only a few months, Mountain Park Community was welcoming our homeless families in their church. These families, normally four single moms with little children, were served a “family style” evening meal, provided a place to sleep the night at the church, and provided love and support from a congregation of passionate volunteers seeking to serve those less fortunate expecting nothing in return. This hosting would continue for seven nights in a row. Over the last two years, they have hosted over 56 families who would have had nowhere to go without this help.

Here is the killer part of this story, after Mountain Park joined, Connecting to Serve introduced us to Foothills Baptist, St. Benedict Catholic and Desert Foothills Methodist church. Soon, they were hosting our families as well. To date, we have four churches hosting homeless families in Ahwatukee. Without a doubt, this engagement in Ahwatukee is a direct result of this organization’s passion to make a difference, and they really have.

Ted Taylor

Executive director, Family Promise of Greater Phoenix

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