A Letter from the Executive Director
2021 was a year of some amazing accomplishments. We were able to serve over 300 families with $2.1 million of COVID assistance in rental and utility help. This is a staggering number for me, as I remember when our entire budget was barely over $2 million just a few years ago. We could not have done this without Chris Williams and his team and their attention to detail, as there was an enormous amount of paperwork to keep track of.
Those that were blessed by this assistance often sent heartwarming messages that would keep the team motivated. As this program eventually went down, we were blessed to receive another grant opportunity. Instead of losing these wonderful staff members, we were able to transition all of them into other open positions.
One of those places was with Manuela, Amelia, and the workforce development program. They have been doing incredible work getting adults and youth back in the workplace. This type of work was extremely hard to do remotely, and as things have started to open back up, Neighbors at Work has really kicked into gear. Their team grew from 2 to 10 and is looking to add another 5 teammates. They have enrolled about 100 youth in the Level Up program (their program is featured in this report).
About 70% of the youth are not in school or working at the time of enrollment. Once enrolled they receive workforce readiness workshops, paid work experiences, occupational trainings/certificate programs, and supportive services. Their program will enroll 260 youth by the end of 2022. This is a big goal and will be an astounding accomplishment to pull off.
Another program we want to celebrate is our Nueva Esperanza program. In 2021, we had the unbelievable opportunity of reuniting about 500 unaccompanied minor children with their sponsors. Our foster parents are incredible examples of the hands and feet of Jesus. Matthew 25 Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
As you can imagine, opening our campus back up post-COVID has not been all smooth sailing. While most of us were working on a rotation between campus and remote, our staff grew to over 130 employees. As we all transitioned back to campus we were faced with a new set of challenges, not enough office space and the high demand for internet connectivity.
As more and more meetings have moved to virtual spaces, the conversation around internet speeds shifted from download to upload speeds. For all of these internet needs, we have added an additional 40 WIFI access points to our campus, new switches and firewalls along with a new fiber optic service line to meet these new demands, in addition to leasing a new office space on 19th avenue and Missouri for our Nueva Camino program. We now have four ministry locations: our main campus, the Missouri Office, Hope House, and our first of two Nueva Camino homes.
As we look forward to the future, there are some exciting things to come. We anticipate that our staff will grow to close to 200 by the end of 2022. As many of you know we have been working on a new building for the last few years. We are hopeful to start construction mid-year as we are in the final stages of permitting. Join us in prayer that we will still be able to find an abundance of generous companies to join us in the project to keep the costs on budget even with all the shortages and craziness going on in the construction industry. We are pushing to have the building built by the end of the year.
We are also excited to announce an amazing blessing that will allow our Wayne and Kit Danley Scholarship for college students to have permanent sustainability which will keep dreams alive for many years to come. We now have an endowment with a matching pledge of $500K. This is such a blessing to a community that only a few years ago thought college was an opportunity always outside their reach. As we now have a constant flow of college graduates, that thought is changing. We invite you to help us make that $500k pledge a million dollars of hope for a future for youth in our community.
There is more. We are developing the Neighborhood Ministries Training Hub. After 40 years of following Christ in central Phoenix we have learned a thing or two. We will be working on bringing those lessons into the Hub in a way that will provide access for countless others to learn from us here. Along those same lines, Kit, our Founder and President is working on a new book that we are excited about, and we look forward to sharing with you in the coming year.
After a few hard years of Kids Club and Kids Camp happening remotely, in a scaled down version, or not at all, we are looking forward to being able to get back into the swing of things this summer. We hope to be able to grow our core programing over the coming years adding resources to our Sueños Youth Center and our legacy program, Kids Club. These programs are fundamental out-reaches into the community that have built generational relationships.
As you probably have heard by now this is our 40th year anniversary. We have a lot of exciting plans to celebrate the past 40 years and we hope you can join us in these celebrations. The dates of these events are all in the calendar that was sent out earlier this year with the culminating event in December. We have ambitious fundraising goals this year with the hopes of being able to expand our core programming. We hope you can join us in the work God is doing here at Neighborhood Ministries.
One last thing, I would like give A big THANK YOU to the board of Neighborhood Ministries for the dedication and trust they have in Kit and I as we have undergone this enormous growth. They are godly servants that I call on weekly, who invest countless hours in helping the organization grow and develop. Many of these accomplishments could not have happened without the behind the scenes work they put in. We have had a goal of growing and diversifying the board for a while and are now ready to start that work. If you are interested in rolling up your sleeves and bringing your skills to the table, we would love to hear from you.