A New Era at UMOM New Day Centers

UMOM Leverages Leadership and Resources to Continue Services for Youth and Young Adults

(PHOENIX) – A new era has begun at the UMOM New Day Centers.

UMOM’s leadership announced today it has taken over operation of six programs that bring help and hope to homeless youth and young adults. The programs were formerly part of the Tumbleweed nonprofit service organization and are new additions to UMOM’s longstanding work as Arizona’s largest shelter and service provider for homeless families.

In December 2016, UMOM became aware of financial difficulties encountered by Tumbleweed, an organization that provided a variety of services to homeless youth since 1972. Recognizing the significant community value of Tumbleweed’s programs, UMOM CEO Darlene Newsom, her executive team and UMOM’s Board of Directors made the decision to enter into Tumbleweed’s Chapter 11 restructuring process in federal bankruptcy court. In late April of this year, the court approved the plan to absorb nearly all Tumbleweed’s programming and staff.

darlene“It was the right thing to do,” said CEO Newsom. “At UMOM, we’ve worked hard over the years to be fiscally healthy and a strong partner to the communities we serve. That strength gave us the capacity to absorb and continue the Tumbleweed programs.”

Although it is extraordinarily difficult to accurately count the number of homeless youth in Maricopa County, we know – from a variety of sources – that each night, many hundreds of teenagers and young adults are on the street.[1]

“That’s our motivation behind all of this,” said Newsom. “The need is just too great.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton applauded UMOM for its leadership and service to the community.

“Darlene Newsom and UMOM have been a godsend to families facing homelessness in Phoenix, and now they have stepped up for our community in another vital capacity,” said Mayor Stanton. “By taking over these essential services, UMOM is giving scared and vulnerable young women and men in crisis a helping hand when they need it the most.”

UMOM Board President Karen Johnson of Midwestern University added, “Standing back and doing nothing was never an option. We already work with hundreds of families and many more individuals. Expanding to include programs for youth and young adults is a natural extension for us, and a perfect match for our vision to be a leader in breaking the cycle of homelessness.”

Nearly all Tumbleweed staffers will transition to jobs at UMOM, although there will be some changes in duties and assignments. UMOM also purchased Tumbleweed facilities that support the six programs UMOM will now operate.

UMOM New Day Centers is a nonprofit serving Maricopa County, Arizona with a mission to prevent and end homelessness with innovative strategies and housing solutions that meet the unique needs of each family and individual. UMOM offers shelter and a wide range of supportive services to homeless teens, youth and families of all ages. 

[1] The Maricopa Association of Government’s 2014 Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Count for Maricopa County, the most recent data available, found 1,819 children under the age of 18 were homeless, with another 601 young adults aged 18 to 24 also without a permanent home. (A PIT report documents the number of homeless on a given night in a particular geographic area. The 2014 survey date was January 27).

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Happy National Volunteer Month! | Lily’s Story

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Empowering Domestic Violence Survivors for 10 Years

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Teen Center Gets A Superhero Makeover!

In March, we were delighted to partner with McCarthy Building Companies to remodel the teen center at UMOM where the Teen Activity Program (TAP) takes place. Volunteers spent several days painting and remodeling the room to match the superhero theme chosen by the teens in TAP. The room is lit up by superhero cut outs such as Ironman, Batman, Captain America and many more! The room also features TV’s, gaming systems, a tutoring center and new computers for teens to work on their homework. The computer center is a big hit with Lexus, one of the teens in the program, “My favorite part of the teen room is the new computer room because it’s quiet and I get to go on the computers and am able to finish my homework.”

Teen GirlThe teens were astonished at the makeover and were enthusiastic about having their favorite superheroes in the room, to serve as inspiration. Because of the renovation, attendance has increased in TAP with twice as many teenagers now stopping by after school.  The space is much more pleasant and it provides a positive environment for teens.

Lexus Trujillo regularly attends the TAP center afterschool.  She and her family had nowhere to go and came to UMOM looking for a place to live. Her dream is to one day have a car and to find a home for her family.

Lexus and the rest of the teens in the program are thrilled with the new space, Lexus commented, “This is a very special place to me.”

Sign in TAPUMOM would like to thank McCarthy Building Companies Heart Hats volunteers and all the sponsors who donated their time and materials including, Wholesale Flooring, for providing the carpeting, vinyl base & VCT, Pete King  for painting, framing and installing the drywall, Wilson Electric, for handling electrical & re-wiring, Universal Forest Products for the superhero wood cutouts, Walters and Wolf for providing new door, frames & windows, ABcom, for setting up data capabilities, and Insight for wiring, cables and power strips.

“Thank you, to all of those involved, I hope they continue to do this to other communities because they did an awesome job!’” -Lexus

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