I was born and raised in Phoenix—the Valley of the Sun. Even as a native, I still dread the hot summer months. Sure, I’ve learned tips along the way to help me “tolerate” it. Don’t own a car with leather seats, wear sunscreen, keep a pair of oven mitts next to your steering wheel (not really, but I’ve heard stories), and always carry water with you when you’re outside.
For most of us, the summer heat is a major inconvenience. But for those living on the streets, it’s a matter of life and death. You see, triple-digit temperatures can kill. It happens every year on the streets of Phoenix. Men and women lose their lives because of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Thankfully, organizations like my client, Phoenix Rescue Mission, a local nonprofit that offers life-transforming solutions to persons facing homelessness, have stepped up to help prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses. In 2013, the Mission launched its first-ever Code:Red Summer Heat Relief Campaign, with the goal of saving lives by delivering water and other heat-relief items to those living on the streets. Since then, the campaign has expanded into a Valleywide initiative. And, through partnerships with several municipalities and businesses, the Mission has not only saved countless lives, but significantly increased awareness of the dangers and risks associated with our city’s heat.
In 2014, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health recorded 61 heat-related deaths—a shocking statistic, to put it mildly. Though, when compared with previous years, it was a major improvement. In 2013, at least 76 people died from heat-related causes, and in 2012 the county recorded 110 deaths.
While the numbers have improved vastly, I know the folks at Phoenix Rescue Mission won’t be happy until no one perishes under Phoenix’s blistering sun. Their efforts speak for themselves: Last year, the Mission’s chaplain, Cliff Danley, and a handful of volunteers worked tirelessly to deliver more than 871,000 bottles of water Valleywide via the Mission’s two Hope Coach Outreach vans. Before August 31 of this year, the team hopes to deliver as many as 1 million bottles of water.
As someone who gets to work side-by-side with the passionate employees and volunteers at Phoenix Rescue Mission on a regular basis, I can say with certainty that I fully expect them to shatter that goal.
If you’re interested in getting involved, public drop-off sites for donated items are located throughout the Valley, making it easy to help. For a complete list of items needed, volunteer opportunities and drop-off locations, visit PhoenixRescueMission.org/codered.
Josh Skalniak became a published author shortly after joining Fingerpaint’s Scottsdale team, thanks to a unique copywriting assignment for a 3D book aimed at celebrating the 125th anniversary of Sundt Construction, an agency client. In between writing about innovations in construction, Josh works with team members to earn media coverage on accounts in the education, hospitality, real estate and non-profit sectors. Josh has quickly established himself as a go-to resource for TV outreach, on a local and regional level, and has developed priceless relationships with media members across a variety of industry-specific areas of coverage.