Happy National Volunteer Month! | Lily’s Story


Every day homeless families depend on UMOM programs and services to change their lives and create a bright future. None of it would be possible without volunteers. Without their help, there would be no UMOM.

Thousands of volunteers dedicate tens of thousands of hours each year at UMOM to help homeless families. They sort donated clothes, play with kids, tutor teens, paint walls, help with paperwork, serve meals…the list goes on and on. Each and every volunteer is essential to ending the cycle of homelessness. The time they give is generous and important.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes here. Some come alone, some bring their entire families. Some visit every week like clockwork, some focus their time on guaranteeing our families the gift of a happy holidays. And some, like the volunteer you’re about to meet, are furry and have four legs.

Lily is a therapy dog that volunteers with her human Libby Burns every Tuesday night at UMOM. Together they ease the many burdens our families face, and even just for a minute, provide unconditional love when people need it most.


My name’s Lily—it’s nice to meet you! I’m a 5-year-old goldendoodle, I have beautiful long white fur and I love volunteering at UMOM. Everyone says I’m a good girl, but I already know that.

I may look cute (and I am!), but I take my job very seriously. I went to school for it and took tests and everything. When I see my owner Libby grab my powder blue therapy dog handkerchief, I know it’s time to go to work. By the time we pull up to UMOM every Tuesday night, I’m already in the zone.

What does a therapy dog like me do? Whether I’m visiting elderly humans at a nursing home, comforting humans who are very sick or playing with homeless kids at UMOM, I’m there to be a best friend when people think they don’t have one anymore.


We sit in the beautiful stained glass chapel at UMOM until a family comes in. They stop by if something’s bothering them or they’re upset. I’m really sensitive to when humans are sad. I can’t help but notice when they’re eyes and noses are leaking all over the place. That’s when I go over and sit next to them, maybe put my head in their lap and wag my tail! My mom says my fur’s like butter it’s so soft—I think that’s why everyone loves petting me so much. Humans sense my kindness and I feel them calm down immediately.

One time a mom came in with four of her kids. She was crying a lot—her fifth child had just been arrested and she didn’t know what to do. I could tell she was distraught, so I sat next to her right away. Even though she was staring off into space, lost in thought, she never stopped softly rubbing my fur. When she left, her smile let me know I did my job.

I think little kids love me the most. They always run in to come see me and say hi! A lot of them used to have dogs like me at their old homes. After petting me they always ask their parents if they can get a dog again when they move into a brand new home. Dreaming of owning a dog of their own again gives them some inspiration and a little hope.

I love coming to UMOM even for just a couple hours every week. It’s my purpose. It’s like my mom always says: if we can help someone get through even that night, it’s worth it.


Empowering Domestic Violence Survivors for 10 Years


We all have days where our worries and problems seem insurmountable. The ones where it seems impossible to make it out of bed. But somehow, we find a way to take those first steps and make it happen.

But for Katherine, it was more difficult than we could ever imagine. Those sort of days take a special kind of bravery for those who are homeless after they escaped domestic violence.

The control and violence of domestic abuse escalates over time. Slowly but surely the offender robs their victim of their self-worth. Looking back, the signs and symptoms of the abuse are clear to see. The victims say, “If only I had known sooner, things might be different.”

Many of the residents at UMOM have suffered some form of intimidation or abuse at the hands of someone they loved. But the families in our Domestic Violence program have been through the worst imaginable situations. Despite the odds they found the courage to make a choice, a choice for their children to confront the uncertainty and escape the danger.

This March marks 10 years since we first opened our doors to abused women and men. Read Katherine’s story to see how she and her kids were brave in the face of danger, uncertainty and pain.


Katherine opened her eyes each morning fearing the day to come.

After years of abuse, her dreams of a happy family, a career in nursing, were destroyed. She fled with two young children, Samantha and Michael—ages 8 and 10—who still desperately needed her.  She woke up uncertain of what each day would hold. What more, Michael was on the autism spectrum, and struggled to do day-to-day what we don’t even think about.  The special attention Michael needed to thrive was impossible to get while living on the streets. Katherine and her family were homeless for three years, stuck between the past and the future, fear and hope. 

Bravely, Katherine entered the Domestic Violence program at UMOM. The safety and security the program offered were a weight off her shoulders. The family was finally in a nurturing place where they could start to heal and begin again. But that was easier said than done. 

Katherine now had to find work for herself and schools for her children. But Michael’s disability made the search even more difficult. Katherine was stretched thin between her diligent job hunt, completing nursing school applications and taking Michael to various specialist appointments. With no car, she walked and took the bus everywhere. She began to wonder if she could ever make a better life for her family. Maybe a brighter future wasn’t for her.

But so often it’s only after we reach our lowest, when we expect it least, that life looks back up. The pieces began to fall into place. Michael got into a school where he could get the attention and care he needed. Katherine found a car and was no longer bound to long walks or unreliable bus schedules. A letter with good—no, THE BEST—news finally arrived. She opened it with shivering hands. Katherine was officially a nursing student. Her new school helped her find a job soon after.

And last December, she took one more step. Katherine will never forget the day she got the keys to her new apartment. Rubbing the cold metal keys between her fingers, she couldn’t help but break down. After years of running from abuse, years of uncertainty for her family, years of pain, now she had a home. All her own. 

No longer settling to think about what might have been, Katherine and her family can look forward to what will be. 

When Katherine woke up the next morning, the first morning in her new home, she looked forward to the new day.


You Made a Difference in 2016 | Community Impact Report 2015-2016

Thousands. Thousands of families helped, thousands of hours spent volunteering, thousands of second chances given.

2016 was a big year for UMOM, all thanks to you. Your support drives the programs and services that make an impact on the homeless everyday. Thank you.

As we get to work making 2017 an even bigger successful story, take a look at how your time, donations and advocacy changed lives in 2016 in our new annual impact report.

2017 impact report final

2017 impact report final2


Hands of Promise Hosts $5,000 Matching Campaign for Giving Tuesday!

giving tuesday banner draft

Come together with UMOM for Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29! We need your help to give homeless families a second chance and make this the best global day of giving yet.

It’s easier than ever because this Giving Tuesday, your gift counts twice! Hands of Promise has made a promise to match donations to UMOM dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000. We’re so thankful for their generosity. Let your giving go twice as far this year! We’ll also go live on Facebook with our CEO, Darlene Newsom and CPO, Mattie Lord in the morning for about an hour to discuss our life changing programs and services. Tune in to learn about your impact on UMOM!

Giving Tuesday is a global day of charity and philanthropy that started in 2012. It was created to follow and counteract the consumerism and commercialization found in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The movement raised more than a $100 million for nonprofits worldwide in 2015, and gets bigger every year.

Make a difference in the life a homeless family and donate to UMOM this Giving Tuesday!


Shop Sportiqe During National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week!

natl hhaweek sportiqe draft
National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week is Nov. 12 – 20. The week is designed to raise awareness of and take action against our ongoing homeless crisis. This is a time for us all to start thinking about what we are thankful for, share compassion with our neighbors and work toward a world where no one has to experience hunger and homelessness. There’s no better time to support the cause and help those facing homelessness—and look good while doing it.

Tempe-based apparel company Sportiqe is generously donating 20 percent of its sales earned through the Sportiqe website during the entire week of Nov. 12 – 20 to UMOM in honor of National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week.

Specializing in comfy basics and athletic leisure clothing, Sportiqe has a following amongst celebrities, sports fans and everyday folks alike.

National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week started in 1975 at a single university. This year, more than 700 schools and community groups will raise awareness and aid those who are homeless.

You can help too! Do good for the hundreds of families experiencing homelessness in UMOM’s care and look good at the same time! Shop at Sportiqe for all your athletic and leisure apparel to support UMOM during National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, Nov. 12 – 20.


DELIA’s Cleaners Winter Wear Drive for UMOM

delias coat drive draft
UMOM, Arizona’s largest provider of services for homeless families, is partnering with DELIA’s Cleaners, Arizona’s largest dry cleaner, to help keep homeless families warm!

Please drop off new and gently used winter wear at any of DELIA’s Cleaners’s 19 Valley locations to help homeless families. They’ll process your donations and deliver them straight to UMOM. We’ll then distribute your generous gifts to families in need.

What kinds of winter items are we looking for?

  • Coats and jackets
  • Sweaters
  • Pants
  • Boots
  • Hats
  • Blankets
  • And more!

  • DELIA’s Cleaners will be accepting donations on behalf of UMOM for the months of November, December and January.

    Warm the hearts (literally!) of our families.


    Rapid Re-housing : A UMOM Case Study

    rrh-infographic-umomUMOM tracked a large number of households enrolled in rapid re-housing services from 2010 to 2015, and as October 2015, 93% of those identified households had not re-entered emergency shelter services. 

    UMOM New Day Centers has been able to document that for a large sample of families participating in the agency’s rapid re-housing program only 7% re-entered emergency shelter services during a span of more than 5 years.

    Interventions for individuals and families experiencing homelessness vary in type, length and intensity.  For providers, identifying those programs that result in the best chance for stable, permanent housing is critical.  One such program available is rapid re-housing.  To understand the impact of rapid re-housing services, UMOM tracked a large number of households enrolled in rapid re-housing through both their agency and subcontractors from 2010 to 2015.  As of October 2015, 93% of those identified households had not re-entered the system.

    With this kind of success, it begs the question, what is happening in Maricopa County?  And even more important to providers across the state and nationally, what can we learn and how can this work be replicated and expanded?

    Download the Full Case Study

    Prepared for UMOM New Day Centers by Kristin Borns, Borns Solutions AZ



    Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States

    In partnership with National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, UMOM was pleased to have participated in a U.S.Congressional Briefing on Early Childhood Homelessness. UMOM’s very own Kresta Horn, Director of Children and Youth Services, spoke eloquently with members of Congress of the imminent need for quality early education programs for young children experiencing homelessness. Every day UMOM’s Child Development Center helps to ensure children are getting the support and tools they need to succeed in the classroom and in life.

    Read the full article below:

    Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States
    By Patrick Fisher, Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Communications


    On March 30, I had an opportunity to attend a briefing which helped inform a group of congressional staff members on the plight of children in our federally funded homeless shelters. As a member of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) communications staff, I was there to both observe and to gather information about government support for these young children. One of the panelists briefing was Linda Smith, who is the deputy assistant secretary of Early Childhood Development (ECD) for ACF.

    What I heard from Linda and others at the briefing was that supporting homeless children and their families is and should be something that is of utmost importance to state and federal government officials and to us as individuals.

    This briefing provided an overview of early childhood homelessness, including available federal data as summarized in “Early Childhood Homelessness: A 50 State Profile,” recently released by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Early Childhood Development. Panelists described local and state innovations in increasing homeless children’s access to quality early childhood programs, as well as the remaining challenges they face. Linda discussed steps that have been taken to remove barriers to early childhood programs, including CCDF, Head Start, and technical assistance activities.

    Sadly, more than half of all children in federally funded homeless shelters are under the age of six.  This has considerable meaning because research shows children’s early years set the foundation for learning, health and wellness needed for success.

    Experiencing homelessness in early childhood is problematic for a number of reasons including:

    • Homeless children have lower birth weights and experience higher levels of childhood illness.
    • Homelessness puts children at risk of poor early development and educational well-being.
    • Trauma and extreme stress in childhood can lead to detrimental changes in brain structure and function.
    • Mothers experiencing homelessness have a higher rate of depression, severe traumatized history and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    It is vitally important we ensure young children who are homeless have access to high- quality early learning programs that can improve their educational and life experiences.  We know that quality early child care and education has a positive impact on both family stability and on a child’s long term health and development. By supporting children’s learning and development in safe, stable and nurturing environments, quality early childhood programs buffer the challenges and risk associated with homelessness.

    As part of that effort, we here at the Administration for Children and Families continue to work with Head Start and child care to meet the needs of children and families experiencing homelessness. Across the country, Head Start and Early Head Start programs are building partnerships in their communities to make their services more accessible for children experiencing homelessness. On Nov. 19, 2014, the President signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, which authorizes the Child Care and Development Fund.

    The new law has several provisions that specifically benefit children and families experiencing homelessness.

    Our goal, along with the cooperation and support of states and communities, is to not only help end family homelessness, but to put forth our most earnest efforts and resources to help those families and young children who find themselves in this unenviable position.

    Together, we can reach these important goals.

    For resource materials, please click here.


    Volunteer Appreciation Month

    April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! Thank you to all who give their time to help individuals in our community.

    At UMOM, each volunteer plays a very important role in helping us to achieve our mission. Throughout the month of April we will be recognizing individuals, organizations, and groups that have generously donated their time, passion, and talents to helping families at UMOM succeed. We’d like to take a moment to tell you about Steve, one of our many dedicated volunteers.

    steve-hudson-900pxSteve has always been passionate about giving back and donating his time to helping others. “When I was young, I learned that there are many people in our community who are in need. I was taught that it was important to share my skills and knowledge with those who were less fortunate.”

    Three years ago, Steve attended a volunteer activity at UMOM and was immediately hooked on UMOM’s mission to helping families in our community.  He began participating in UMOM’s weekly Read to Me program and now regularly donates his time in UMOM’s computer lab helping individuals get back into the workforce. He assists individuals with updating their resumes, using the computers, job searching, and conducts one-on-one mock interviews that help to build confidence. Steve also participates in the UMOM Speakers Bureau. He represents UMOM at various events throughout the valley and hosts tours of UMOM’s campus.

    Steve is passionate about giving back and we at UMOM appreciate everything that he does for individuals and families in our programs. Thanks to Steve, individuals are feeling confident that they are getting the resources and guidance in the computer lab to help them be successful. They are more confident when walking into an interview and are excited when they find employment. “I leave here every day knowing I made a difference in the life of one person.” Thank you Steve for being a strong advocate for UMOM and making a lasting impact on families in our shelter programs!


    UMOM Launches Women In Need Campaign (WIN)

    win header image
    Watkins Basic Needs Shelter is an emergency shelter for single homeless women, located in South Phoenix. The facility is a former diaper factory owned by the City of Phoenix and operated by UMOM New Day Centers.

    Last year, there were over 3,082 homeless women identified in Maricopa County. Of
    those women, UMOM served 2,115 at Watkins. Watkins provides up to 145 single homeless women with safe shelter, a shower and a hot meal each night. The women are unable to stay at the shelter during the day and are transported to the Human Services Campus, where over 1,000 men stay each day. The women feel unsafe because some of the men are sexual offenders, have criminal records and are on drugs. The women are scared and have limited services available to them.

    WIN Campus and Room FlyerThis is why UMOM has launched the WIN Campaign. Through the funds raised, women currently residing at Watkins will be relocated to a renovated facility, the “Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation UMOM Women’s Center.” The women’s center will house 120+ women in a safe and nurturing environment, allowing the women to address their homelessness, fears, and victimization. The women will have immediate access to healthcare, vocational training and job placement, substance abuse counseling, and housing resources. The women will be able to stay during the day AND focus on their case plan to end their homelessness.

    By relocating the shelter to a property specifically designed for homeless women, directly across UMOM’s main campus, the women will be able to receive the same comprehensive services and programs that we provide to homeless families. With the additional support and assistance, the length of time they experience homelessness will be reduced significantly, ultimately decreasing the need for Emergency Shelter in our community.

    If you’d like to contribute to the WIN campaign or become a cabinet member please contact Karen Fletcher by email at kfletcher@umom.org or call 602-275-7852