Founded in 1994, the Mercy House Community Center positively impacts the lives of youth and families in the disadvantaged Cashion area of Avondale, Arizona. The purpose of the Mercy House Community Center is to assist and enable the residents of Cashion to break through generational habits and addictions, to become viable citizens and to aid them in fostering education and job skills in order to provide for themselves and their families. Mercy Arredondo, a life-long resident of Cashion, in partnership with Cornerstone Christian Center of Avondale, recognized the needs of the community and sought to alleviate these problems by establishing the Mercy House. Their desire was to reduce the high rates of truancy and delinquency that lead to the failure of so many youth to complete their basic education. Mercy knew that the community’s future rested on the shoulders of these youth, who were throwing away their opportunity for success by dropping out of school and putting themselves on a path that ultimately would lead to incarceration or worse. The Mercy House has served as a safe environment “Oasis” for thousands of children who needed after school, help with homework, and mentorship/guidance for life issues.
For the last 25 years, the Mercy House has offered a number of programs to help change the life trajectory of at-risk youth in Avondale. These programs include:
· Weekly tutoring for youth in Grades K-12.
Open computer lab-open to residents for use of tutoring, online access for job search and online classes.
· Home visits with parents to inquire of student’s needs and issues plus determine if there are any additional family needs.
· Adults classes: Celebrate Recovery, Marriage Classes
· Annual back-to-school drives to provide low-income youth with needed school supplies and uniforms.
· Annual Christmas party, during which community youth socialize, play games, have a meal and receive a gift.
· Annual Spring Fling, at which families in the community receive a free meal, meet the Mercy House staff and learn about all of its available programs and services that can benefit them.
· Center is the local site for City of Avondale Community Meetings.
· Cornerstone Christian Center offers weekly student and adult bible studies.
This year has brought a new and expanded vision for the Mercy House Community Center. First, the community center is now a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. Second, its facilities were renovated by the local Rotary Clubs and local business partners. And third, wireless Internet capability was added to provide the Mercy House Community Center staff to access web‑based resources and deliver additional information to aid tutoring as well as wellness and social issue education such as drug use and its affects, suicide, etc. to our clients.
In addition to these improvements, the staff is working to add these additional services:
· Expanding resources and opportunities for tutoring in topics designed to educate and empower the Cashion area residents.
· Open Computer lab for the use by the community.
· Conducting new classes for teens and adults in anger management, parenting skills, and other topics.
· GED preparation classes for youth and adults.
· Workplace preparation classes for youth and adults.
· Free, on-site childcare for parents during the above scheduled class times.
· An annual Job Fair to help connect youth and adults to local employment.
· A resource center that connects the residents of Cashion to already-established community outreach programs such as food banks and the Avondale Youth Workforce Service Hub.
· Providing resources for grandparents, such as, education on grandparent’s rights, parenting classes specifically designed for grandparents by Parenting AZ.