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Safe-haven for former homeless people in Phoenix burns down

Grace Point Church short-term mission fire
Posted at 4:41 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 20:51:01-04

PHOENIX — Terrifying moments for at least 10 people sleeping inside the GracePointe Church short-term mission, located at 1411 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004.

ABC15 talked to some of the folks who woke up to the smell of smoke, and the heat of the flames.

“I lost my place to live. My home,” said Margaret Raasch, a woman who was displaced by the fire.

Home is a word some take for granted, but not Margaret Raasch.

She lived at the GracePointe Church short-term mission, a place where folks who are homeless can live while they get back on their feet. that is, until Tuesday morning.

Raasch is now sober after two decades of using crystal methamphetamine.

“Being sober for one day after using for 20 years, I imagine is very difficult. How have the last two months been like for you,” ABC15 asked Raasch.

“Tough. There’s a park right across the street that's easily accessible to drugs. People come here all the time where I can get drugs,” she responded.

Before coming to the short-term mission, Raasch tells us she’d been missing for two years.

“I was living in a tent, and I also had a bed inside CASS,” she added.

Then one day, Raasch says she lost her tent outside the Central Arizona Shelter Services.

She also saw a bus that's part of the GracePointe outreach program. Raasch says there was something that told her to hop in.

That decision brought her to 3rd Street and McDowell Road, where she started living inside the GracePointe short-term mission.

“And I’ve been here ever since,” she said.

Aaron Walters, the Director of the GracePointe homeless outreach program says Raasch’s success story is what his life’s work is all about. She’s been targeted. She’s been trafficked. And we were able to…sorry we were able to rescue her out of that situation. And uh...that is one of the best phone calls I have ever made, ever,” Walters said, fighting back the tears.

Raasch looked back, at what was her home for the last two months.

She reflected and was emotional when she said, "It was a place for me to get off the heat. Off the street. Recondition my life.”

Now she’s a House Manager and part of the church’s homeless outreach program. A program that changed her life.

Dehp Integrative Care and the American Red Cross are both helping rehome those who’ve been affected.

“I’m glad I made it out,” said Raasch.

Raasch says, with the Lord's help, she’ll be able to rise from the ashes, stronger than ever.

“With God with me, I'm able to maintain my sobriety,” she told ABC15.

GracePointe Church has started an online fundraiser to help those who have been displaced.

At this time, Phoenix fire is still looking into what caused the blaze.