Point in Time Homelessness Count
Across the nation, communities participated in the Point-in-Time count for homelessness. Mesa and Maricopa county was no exception. 150 volunteers massed at the Salvation Army located on 6th Street in Mesa at 5:00AM on Tuesday, January 28. The city of Mesa was divided into 26 tracts with volunteers of 3-5 people assigned to each tract. The tracts were roughly 2 miles square. Our assignment – walk and drive these areas to see visible homelessness, then approach the folks and ask for their time to participate in an online survey about their situation. The survey uses GPS technology to GIS the location, questions to identify the root cause of their homeless situation and other demographic data such as race, age, gender, single, family, pets, and if they are new to Maricopa County and Arizona.
Major John Giles, Council members David Luna (District 5) and Francisco Heredia (District 3) all participated. Mayor Giles thanked the volunteers, touching on the challenges with the growing homeless in Mesa. He was very proud of the achievement of Mesa Police Department ‘s Operation Mainline. Its goal is to have Mesa PD connect as many homeless people to services over giving citations and arresting them for trespassing. Now police officers bring food and try to assist with services. Major Giles also expressed the need for more emergency, transitional and permanent low-income housing, along with more services for drug addiction and mental health.
Then off we went. My team was made up of Dina, a City of Mesa employee that works in housing services and Rotarian Jacob Cox from the Mesa Club. We had our survey on our smart phones, and hygiene kits made up of the supplies donated by our club and others. The kits included toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, Chap Stick, Band-Aids, tissues, hand wipes and more.
Our tract boundaries were Val Vista to Higley and Broadway to Baseline. We started at the corner of Higley and Broadway. We walked the square mile starting toward the west. It was 5:30 AM, and still dark. Using flashlights, we looked in areas, homeless sleep for the night, storefront stoops, vacant buildings, parks, protected areas near dumpsters, and gutters.
Finally, our first sighting was at the McDonalds at Greenfield and Southern. A lonely shopping cart with sleeping bag, clothing articles, and plastic bags was parked outside the McDonalds’s entry. We took a look inside for its owner. The gentleman was sitting at a table and we approached gingerly and asked for a few minutes of his time. He had been homeless for nearly six months. He was in his late 50’s. He did not like going to shelters. He did not like those people. He did not think with Trump in office anything would change for people like him. He did not want to participate in the survey. We put his location in the GPS/GIS and entered the data that we could observe. We thanked him for his time and moved on.
We drove to the southern border of our tract, Baseline and Higley. We started looking by car, as the homeless are usually on the move after sunrise. They collect their belongings and start moving toward places like gas stations, food pantries, and jobs if they have them.
We did find two young men sleeping in a retention basin near Val Vista and Highway 60. We parked the car and walked slowly toward them. They became anxious and started packing up their belongings. We explained we were volunteers doing a survey of homeless persons in the area. They graciously said they would answer our questions. John (30) and Wyatt (23) were brothers that found themselves homeless for the past 5 days. Caucasian, with no pets, they sited their situation due to drug abuse. They had not seeked assistance from shelters and were not ready to go to one. They had never been homeless before and were never part of the foster care system. They resided in Maricopa County last year. Their location was marked on the system app in GPS/GIS. We thanked them for their time and gave them the hygiene kits. They were grateful for the supplies. That concluded our work.
This data will be collected and analyzed by the team at Maricopa Association of Governments. It will then be used to determine how we are doing with addressing the needs of the homeless in our county. The count also allows Maricopa County to participate in Federal HUD programs for services for the homeless. In 2019, Maricopa County experienced its sixth straight year of increased unsheltered homeless, with 6,614 people experiencing homeless the night of January 21, 2019.
This experience gave me an insight to the struggles of those without shelter and reliable food. Also, I got to know and work 4 hours alongside Dina and new friend, Rotarian Jacob Cox.
Westwood HS Interact Officers Honored
The following was posted by Jacob Davis in the Westwood IB News
"Way to go IB Warriors
"A Huge congratulations to IB Seniors, Sonia Deveraj and Hannah Mason (pictured left to right) for being selected as 2020 Mesa Student Citizens of the Year! They were awarded $1000 as they were recognized for completing over 200 hours of outstanding community service during their years in high school. Way to go Sonia and Hannah!"
Mesa West Rotarians should remember Hannah fairly well.  She has visited our club several times in the last few years as an officer of the Westwood HS Interact Club.  She is their President this year.  Hannah serves on the Interact District Council and was an Ambassador on the district-wide Crutches For Africa Mission to Kenya last summer.  Hannah was the drum major for the Westwood HS Marching Band this year and as their leader, led them to earn the state competition in the marching band competition!
Interact Sponsor Andrea Murphy shared information about Sonia that Mesa West members were not as likely to be aware of.  Sonia is currently serving as Secretary of the Westwood HS Interact Club.  She worked to start United Sound, a club to encourage the inclusion of students with neurodiversity in band.  Additionally, Sonia dedicated time in Northern Arizona at Camp Civitan, a camp for people with special needs.  She has a passion for wanting to share her love of music with those who have cognitive limitations.  For several years, Sonia has been a dedicated volunteer in the Cancer Association's annual Relay for Life event.  She has also served as a volunteer at a local hospital.  She is an excellent student with outstanding time-management skills, making it very likely she will meet her personal goal of becoming a physician.  Andrea expects Sonia will likely continue finding time to help her community as an active volunteer throughout her life..
Aqua Africa's Host Club in Kenya in "Good Standing" with TRF
Buey Tut, who recently visited Mesa West Rotary, shared the following from Aqua Africa's first-quarter newsletter:
The Aqua-Africa team in Omaha concentrated hard to decipher the static and crackle-laced words of Country Director Beatrice Safari. “We have prepared all the materials and will be departing in the morning,” repeated Beatrice, struggling with poor phone reception in one of South Sudan’s remote areas. Along with the drilling team, Beatrice was departing from Aqua-Africa’s South Sudan compound in Nzara, to five nearby villages of Sakure, Ringasi, Yabua, Nakappo and Yabongo to construct five hand-pump wells.
On January 28th, Beatrice and her drilling team were given a gracious welcome by the Yabongo village residents, complete with traditional dancing and prayers. This warm welcome has become the pattern with all five villages. Despite its festive nature, however, the welcome was meant to express the community’s desperate need for clean drinking water. Prior to the drilled water wells, all five villages were forced to depend on rivers, ponds, and rain for their drinking water.
Funded through Rotary International’s Global Grant program, the mission is the collaborative effort of Aqua-Africa, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, Wausau Rotary of Wausau Wisconsin, and Juba Rotary. After four plus years of delays having to do with the country’s ongoing conflict and related challenges, the successful completion of this project brings Juba Rotary to good standing and able to accept future Global Grants.
In addition to serving 2,500 people, this mission also oversaw the successful implementation of the organization’s MicroDemocracy and maintenance training programs. MicroDemocracy saw 250 participants in the election process and 15 elected
water committee members while 12 individuals were given maintenance orientation training by the drilling team. “What can I say?  Water is life.  Thank you,” said Mobma, of Ringasi village.
Today's Chuckle
February is Peace and Conflict Resolution Month
Rotary wages peace through:
The Most Efficient Way to Support The Rotary Foundation
The Rotary Foundation is the charitable arm of Rotary that enables the amazing work we, as Rotarians, are all proud to be a part of.  Every Rotarian is strongly encouraged to support TRF every year by donating to the General Fund of TRF.  The target gift is $100 per year per member.  That has been the target for a very long time and in the US the average family income has multiplied a few times since that target was set.  Many Rotarians who have the means to do so have set their personal target at the $1,000 per year mark making them eligible for the Paul Harris Society level of donor recognition. 
The End Polio Now campaign is a separate fund to gifts are matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Many Rotarians choose to support both the general fund and the fight to end polio.
No matter what level you decide to donate, please support the Foundation by giving through Rotary Direct.  CLICK HERE to get answers to commonly asked questions about this program.  DOWNLOAD A FORM to authorize your Rotary Direct donations.  By giving through Rotary direct, the opportunity for human error is eliminated and recognition credit for the Rotarian and their club is much more accurate and timelier.
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