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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Families Giving Back: Help local homeless families

Since opening its doors in 1964, UMOM New Day Centers has been dedicated to helping homeless families in Phoenix. This year, UMOM acquired Tumbleweed, a nonprofit that helps homeless youth, and the organization continues to work to prevent and end homelessness with innovative strategies and housing solutions.

“Our ultimate goal is to be a leader in ending homelessness,” says Melissa Steimer, chief development officer at UMOM. “Every week, nearly 50 families slip into homelessness in Maricopa County alone. In order to help solve this issue, we believe the best way is by giving a hand up, and not a hand out.”

Every night, UMOM provides safe shelter and supportive services to 145 homeless families and offers more than 300 units of affordable housing across the Valley. Its programs and services are designed to help families and individuals meet basic needs and work toward the ultimate goal of acquiring permanent and affordable housing.

Families at UMOM can gain marketable skills while receiving medical care, child care and educational opportunities to rebuild and move forward with their lives. In addition to the family homeless shelters and permanent housing program, UMOM also offers programs for veterans and assistance for victims of domestic violence.

As part of her bat mitzvah project, Sarah collected and donated snack items to UMOM’s Read to Me program. Photo

The organization provides shelter for single women, youth and families, and a child development center for ages 5 and younger, and partners with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to provide healthcare for their residents under age 26.

UMOM New Day Centers are currently looking for volunteers (ages 8 and older) to help with the Read to Me program — a weekly literacy program for UMOM children ages 4 and up — and volunteers to organize donation drives and assemble snack bags for teens in UMOM’s after-school program.

Donating time and resources can help break the cycle of homelessness in Maricopa County and beyond.

“The most common misconception about the homeless stems from a lack of understanding that every person, family and situation is unique,” said Steimer. “There are a number of reasons that can keep someone from getting back up on their feet, and we’re here to help with that process. Not only do volunteers make all the difference, they are also presented with the opportunity to learn more about homelessness. Many of our volunteers are surprised that they can actually relate to the families at UMOM, [even though] they aren’t the person on the street with a cardboard sign.”


Families Giving Back works with Valley nonprofits to create in-person volunteer events and at-home projects for families with kids of all ages and with busy schedules. Here’s an easy project for kids and parents to do together.

Snack bags for teens — an at-home volunteering project

  • You’ll need plain lunch bags, decorating supplies (markers, stickers, crayons and blank cards), pens/pencils, granola bars (without nuts), snack-sized bags of crackers or pretzels and bottled water.
  • Decorate the bags and put the following in each: a granola bar, crackers or pretzels, pencils or pens and a handwritten inspirational note.
  • Drop off the bags at UMOM, 3333 E. Van Buren, Phoenix. Questions? Contact Fara Walling: 602-296-6886 or [email protected]

Visit to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

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Rachel Brockway

Rachel Brockway of Phoenix is a Families Giving Back board member and the mother of Aiden (10).

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