It’s not uncommon to hear East Valley residents complain about their utility bills, especially during the summer months.
But bills seem meaningless when some consider air conditioning and a consistent well-balanced meal a luxury.
Local community centers hope to curb that trend.
“The big challenges are food and shelter. We can provide food, but the biggest thing Mesa lacks is shelter,” said Michael Boos, director of Paz de Cristo Community Center in Mesa.
Paz de Cristo has provided people with water and daily meals since 1988.
The center offers meals to about 200 people in its 50-by-50-foot swamp-cooled outside dining room each day. Meals are provided from 5:30 p.m. to 7
Jan Nobles said the center’s positive environment helps him cope with the heat.
“I love it here. You need a place like this,” Nobles said.
The St. Vincent de Paul Center, about a half-mile away, offers daily breakfast to folks. St. Timothy’s Catholic Community church sponsors both organizations. Meals are provided from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Members of the Triple R Volunteer Corps, a nonprofit service that distributes water to Valley homeless shelters, don’t want a summer like last year’s.
Blistering summer temperatures claimed 51 Arizona residents in 2005. It’s estimated that between 30 and 50 residents die each year from excessive heat.
Members of the Volunteer Corps group distributed bottled water last week when temperatures soared to 115 degrees. The group plans to distribute water to Valley homeless shelters twice a week until the end of the month.
“It’s lifesaving. It’s imperative that it gets done,” said Alicia Brown, director of community relations.
Paz de Cristo looks to serve cold meals more often since high temperatures aren’t likely to let up soon.
Marc Bailey gets some meals from the soup kitchen, but said it’s easier to cool down and get water at nearby convenience stores.
“There is some shade here, but there is swamp coolers out here. It’s still real hot. It’s better, but it’s hot,” he said. Volunteer Joe Celaya has worked at the center for almost nine years. “It helps when people leave here with a full stomach and maybe they’ll feel better about themselves,” Celaya said.
East Valley community centers
Lehi Community Center
1231 E. Oak St. Mesa (480) 362-9001
Paz de Cristo Community Center
424 W. Broadway Road Mesa (480) 464-2370
The Salvation Army-Tempe Corps Community Center
40 E. University Drive Tempe (480) 967-8649
137 E. University Drive Mesa (480) 969-8601