The Omicron Phi chapter of Zeta Phi Beta was chartered at NAU April 1, 2019. The sorority has hosted multiple drives for the community, such as a resource drive for Flagstaff Medical Center and a grocery bag drive for Killip Elementary School. For the month of March, the chapter is hosting a Female Necessity Drive for a local shelter.
Hope Cottage is a shelter for homeless women and children that has provided food, shelter and clothing for the past 60 years. According to its website, “Hope Cottage provides a loving and accountable environment of grace. We have found this allows the women and children who come to us for assistance to heal from the inside out.”
Hope Cottage is a part of the Sunshine Rescue Mission Inc., which was founded in 1957. Sunshine Rescue Mission has been providing meals and shelter for the homeless while sharing resources and teaching about Jesus Christ. On Oct. 1, 1995 the doors of Hope Cottage were opened, which would be used as a separate house for women and children. In 2010, a local Flagstaff family donated their land for a new Hope Cottage to support the community. That same year it was named Arizona Daily Sun’s Organization of the Year and is currently serving over 60 women and children a night.
The housing accommodates up to 35 single ladies, with nine of them being mothers with children. There are 10 to 20 children and range anywhere from infants to teenagers.
The drive is looking for donations like diapers, baby wipes, notebooks, backpacks and other items that could benefit the women and children at Hope Cottage. The donation drop box is located in the NAU Office of Inclusion and will remain there throughout March.
Sophomore Hannah Imohi, second vice president of Zeta Phi Beta, talked about the importance of this particular drive.
“This drive is important because it allows people in our community to give back to women in need,” Imohi said. “I believe that people should not have to experience being unable to provide for themselves. If the institutions established in our country are not going to help us, then we need to show up for those who need help.”
Imohi said because March is Women’s History Month, it was a main goal to coincide in empowering womanhood. Imohi shared that this is Zeta Phi Beta’s final drive of the year and they have a goal of gathering 50 items to donate to Hope Cottage.
Not only does Hope Cottage provide human necessities, but the shelter also provides Christ-centered classes, chapel services, life skills, jobs and computer skills courses for residents.
Director of Hope Cottage Sharon Rose Wilcox, talked about their mission and goals for the future.
“Our mission is to serve all who enter our shelter with love and compassion,” Wilcox said via email. “Our goal is to provide a safe haven for women and children to feel safe, have a place to call home. We work toward giving them tools they can use for the rest of their lives to have a healthy, stable and productive life.”
Wilcox said there are items needed on a day-to-day basis, such as feminine hygiene products and cleaning supplies.
Other supplies Hope Cottage recommends are toilet paper, napkins, facial tissue, hand soap, laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, antacid, disposable razors, cotton swabs, acetaminophen and undergarments in various sizes.
“We are in the process of updating/revamping our long-term program mentioned above,” Wilcox said. “We are keeping some components of the original program and adding new classes, leaders, etcetera. This is a more individualized program. In addition to group classes and projects, one of the ladies is interested in becoming a Chaplain and the other is interested in pursuing education in the mental health arena. We are so happy to walk alongside and help them set goals and move toward achieving them.”
Wilcox also shared that Hope Cottage is working on upgrading their children’s yard. There were donated funds to install AstroTurf and even a new swing set.
In 2018, the Arizona Daily Sun reported 415 people in Coconino County were recorded as homeless with 86% located in Flagstaff. 287 were located in shelters and 118 were found outside of shelters.
In 2006, the city proposed an annual action plan for housing and homelessness in the area. According to the document, “...throughout Arizona, and especially within Flagstaff, there are a large number of households earning less than a livable wage who are at high risk of becoming homeless.”
In response, a three-to-five year strategic plan accommodating to homeless needs was proposed. The Homeless Section of the 2006 Consolidated Plan has been developed through weekly focus groups, surveys and public forums. The Arizona Rural Continuum of Care committee is closely helping with the plan through organizations within the community, nonprofits, local coalitions and consumers.
Before, Hope Cottage, operated by the Sunshine Rescue Mission, consisted of 18 beds for homeless women and three family rooms for homeless women with children, totaling up to 32 beds. Within the next decade, the total number of beds increased to 70 and continues to serve single women and children.
The Sunshine Rescue Mission website has more details surrounding community, media, donations and volunteer opportunities. For more information on the drive, Zeta Phi Beta posts updates via Instagram or Twitter.