If there was a record for handing out food boxes, Mesa’s Paz de Cristo would surely be in the running. The community center provided nearly 800 of them Tuesday in just three hours, including a Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings for East Valley families who would otherwise go without.
But five months after checking into the East Valley Men’s Center in Mesa, Bindy has found sobriety, a steady job and a new start.
Bindy, 31, admitted he couldn’t have done it alone. Part of his success stems from the substance recovery meetings held at the center, in addition to attending church services. His job at a manufacturing plant has helped pay off some debts, and in the next few months, he’d like to rent an apartment.
The center relies on donations, grants and contributions from Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler. And as the holidays approach, the need for donations increases.
"More cities need to step up to the plate,’’ said director Margie Frost.
While riding the bus to work, Bindy occasionally runs into former friends from his drugusing days. Seeing them amped up and strung out only reminds Bindy how far he’s traveled to stay sober.
"I can leave right now,’’ said Bindy of Scottsdale while folding laundry in his bunk at the center. "But I’m doing well, so why quit?"
Tough love ladled out at center
HOW YOU CAN HELP: The East Valley Men’s Center always needs volunteers as well as donations. To arrange pickup of items or learn more, call (480) 610-6722, Ext. 104. Also visit www.mesacan.org/programs/mencenter.htm.
• Hygiene products, especially shampoo, deodorant, shaving supplies and nonalcoholic mouthwash.
• Over-the-counter medical items such as aspirin, cough drops, bandages, peroxide and cotton swabs.
• Paper products, especially toilet paper and napkins.
• Men’s clothing. Clothing for women and children are distributed to the appropriate Mesa programs.
• Food and beverages, including chocolate, which helps cut cravings for alcohol or drugs.
• Cleaning supplies, especially bleach and laundry detergent.
• Any materials, such as books and tapes, that assist with recovery from substance abuse.
ABOUT THE CENTER: The East Valley Men’s Center, 2345 N. Country Club Drive in Mesa, is a transitional living facility for homeless men who voluntarily commit to reaching self-sufficiency and sobriety. More than 80 men reside in a highly-structured environment that teaches skills necessary to find employment and permanent housing.
The center, which opened in December 1998, is the Mesa Community Action Network’s largest program.
Cost to operate the 84-bed center is about $35 a day per bed.
MOTHER TO MANY: Those staying at the center appreciate director Margie Frost’s tough love.
Some learn about basic hygiene or manners. Others save money from outside jobs while staying at the center.
But the most important lesson Frost teaches these men? To respect themselves and see their self-worth. It’s not about helping them stand strong, but showing them how to stand strong on their own.
"In my house, they’ll do as I say,’’ she said. "A lot of them don’t know how to make their beds or do laundry.’’
Zachary McCall, 48, began his second stay at the center about six weeks ago after kicking alcohol the first time around. As he now battles brain cancer and endures trauma from a broken marriage, McCall finds only warmth under Frost’s firm guidance.
"I don’t call her Mrs. Frost. I call her mom," he said, adding that the center fosters positive thinking.
Frost has received awards from Mesa and various organizations commending her dedication to improving the community. Her tireless social work efforts in the Valley began in 1965.
"It’s real hard to get them to believe they’re worthy and good guys,’’ she said. "They just need somebody to care.’’