Thunderbirds Charities Generosity Will Transform CASS Family Welcome Center

A generous donation of $133,000 from Thunderbirds Charities will support the transformation of Central Arizona Shelter Services’ Family Shelter Welcome Center. CASS has provided safe shelter for families experiencing homelessness since its founding and the program evolved through the years into a separate shelter location in Sunnyslope that is tailored specifically to the needs of families and their children.

Founded in 1984, CASS is Arizona’s largest, longest-serving, and most experienced emergency shelter provider, annually serving thousands of adults and families with shelter, a four-tiered trauma-informed case management program, and a full array of housing services. As the second largest family emergency shelter in the Phoenix Metropolitan area, CASS’s Family Shelter is a 30-unit converted apartment complex that provides families experiencing homelessness with emergency and transitional shelter, case management, and supportive services. Up to 36 families, or 120 to 150 individuals, stay at this apartment shelter each night, the majority of whom are children. Over 30% of the families served are fleeing domestic violence and 18% were staying in places not meant for habitation, such as in their cars or on the streets, before coming to the shelter. Families from a variety of backgrounds can access shelter quickly and begin participating in case management services designed to address barriers to permanent housing. This includes help obtaining housing, employment, benefits, mental health services, healthcare, substance abuse services, transportation, and more.

Children face devastating challenges when they lose their home. The resulting fear and unpredictability can damage their development and ability to learn (Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness). Children impacted by homelessness also have higher levels of behavioral problems, increased risk of health problems, and are more likely to show lower academic performance, repeat a grade, or drop out of school. CASS’s supportive services help families heal from their past trauma and gain access to vocational and workforce training; educational support (GED or other educational acquisition); assistance with childcare, including spaces where children can laugh, play, or work on homework; financial literacy classes; parenting classes; counseling; recreational activities; and more.

“This investment from Thunderbirds Charities will have a lasting impact for children and families experiencing homelessness,” said Lisa Glow, CASS CEO. “This new Welcome Center will incorporate a warm, friendly, and trauma-informed design, creating a safe and inviting space for children and families to take the first step to ending their homelessness. Our focus is on helping families overcome the barriers that led to their homelessness and promoting equitable outcomes for children experiencing homelessness by laying the groundwork for stabilization, growth, and security.”

All 30 apartments at the Family Shelter were renovated last year to upgrade worn out kitchens and floors, and make them trauma-informed with more soothing colors and design. This generous donation from Thunderbirds Charities will allow CASS to transform the entry and intake lobby area for new parents and children arriving at the shelter. The Welcome Center will be reconfigured to better utilize the limited space and renovations will include repairing dry wall, repainting, installation of commercial grade washer dryer, and furniture and lighting will be replaced. Construction is planned for completion by September 2023.

Central Arizona Shelter Services

This grant is part of the Fall 2022 cycle. View a list of all Recent Grantees.