Today is National Heat Awareness Day. Living in the Valley of the Sun, "the heat" is something residents are very aware of. From May through September, triple digit temperatures rule the Arizona forecast. Those temperatures can mean life-threatening illnesses and even death for the homeless in our community.
According to the Maricopa County Public Health Department, the county saw an 82% jump in heat-related deaths over the last two years – 85 deaths in 2015 and 155 deaths in 2017.
In response, St. Vincent de Paul will be opening its doors for extended heat relief hours beginning May 29 at its three dining rooms in Phoenix, Sunnyslope and Mesa. In addition to air-conditioned spaces, St. Vincent de Paul’s heat relief locations will operate as hydration stations, heat refuge locations and relief collection sites.
Heat Relief hours will be open until August 31 and are available to anyone in need. For more information on heat relief locations in Arizona visit AZMag.gov, stvincentdepaul.net or scroll down for our list of heat relief locations and hours.
In addition to our extended heat relief hours, the overwhelming need for heat relief is constantly on the minds of Joseph Yanez and Jose Luis Cárdenas, who run SVdP’s Celebrity Fight Night Water Truck. Each day, the truck will take to the streets filled with pallets of ice-cold water, frozen water and sack lunches to give to the homeless population.
"Driving through the Arizona streets, we feet like we are on a search and rescue mission," said Jose.
Putting their three years of experience to good use, the duo visits familiar spots where homeless men and women reside – but they know to widen their search to parks, freeway intersections, along canals, at gas stations, and abandon industrial parks with make-shift shelters.
"At each stop we are greeted with pleas for water and appreciative, “God bless you’s,” Jose explained. "These men and women would share stories of how long it had been since their last sip of water."
The Celebrity Fight Night Water Truck and extended dining room hours allow SVdP to offer refuge from Arizona's opressive heat, but we cannot do it without your help. Last year, our Human Services Campus gave out about 1,700 water bottles per day. Water donations are vital as our Phoenix, Mesa & Sunnyslope dining rooms are state recognized hydration stations.
You can drop off a water donation at our thrift stores, dining rooms or our main campus, or make a monetary donation here: www.stvincentdepaul.net/give. Will you help us?
St. Vincent de Paul’s Heat Relief locations:
Phoenix Dining Room
Sunnyslope Dining Room
Mesa Dining Room