Earl Zumwalt introduced our guest speaker, Mid Carlozzi, Director of Genesis Project in Apache Junction. The Genesis Project is the only soup kitchen in Northwestern Pinal County, AZ – although the services they provide go much further than that.
“We are a multi-denominational Christian organization, with 140 volunteers coming from a number of different churches in Gold Canyon, Apache Junction, and Mesa.” Genesis Project has no paid employees.
Genesis Project was founded in 2006 as a cooling station at a church on Palo Verde where the homeless would hang out in the summer because it had some shelter. Soon Genesis founders realized that the people were not only hot, but also hungry. That first year, they started feeding 30 people per day, cooking in the church kitchen. The project remained at that church for three years.
“I guess after three years, if you’re cooking at someone else’s house, they say, ‘Y’know…it’s time you found a new home,’ so we moved to another church.” After three years at that church, the pastor asked them to move on, and they moved to their current location on Idaho Road in Apache Junction.
In 2015, Genesis Project served 48,000 meals, averaging 180 meals per day. Last month, they served 6,000 people, averaging 248 meals per day. Clients include the homeless, but also veterans and “an amazing number of seniors at risk. If they have to spend their money on prescriptions, they can’t buy food.” Genesis also sees a number of folks with handicaps and mental illness. “We’re really concerned about where social service cuts are going in the future. As services are reduced, it drives more and more people to go hungry.”
Genesis serves hot meals five days per week and one Saturday per month, with a lunch bag “to go” for each client so they also have an evening meal. Genesis also provides a clothing bank, shower vouchers for the Multi-Gen Center, and bi-weekly haircuts. Weekly services include a nurse (who has been with Genesis for seven years), a mental health clinic, and bicycle repair. Circle the City Homeless Health Van has also started coming to the center, providing free medical care “to anybody that needs it.”
Mid quoted Wikipedia’s definition of generosity, “Generosity is not solely based on one's economic status, but instead, includes the individual's pure intentions of looking out for society's common good and giving from the heart. Generosity should reflect the individual's passion to help others.”
Genesis Project is supported by donations from churches, civic organizations, and individuals. A few examples of the generosity seen at Genesis Project include:
  • A dentist in Tempe who provides free dental services to Genesis’ clients.
  • One at-risk client donates $100 each month to thank Genesis for their services. He tells Mid, “I’d rather eat here because the food is better than most restaurants, I enjoy the company of the clients, and I love what you’re doing.”
  • A mystery donor knocks on the door every couple of weeks and hands Mid an envelope. The envelope lists all of the man’s bills – rent, utilities, etc. – with each item scratched off, and inside the envelope will be a few dollars, or sometimes just change. Whatever he has left over after bills, he donates.
  • Last November, two volunteers stepped up to pay for cataract surgery for one of our clients who had been with us for five years. He was basically blind for eight years. Sadly, he passed away recently, but for the last six months of his life, he could see.
“These folks are the reason I do what I do, because of their generosity.”
Challenges for this year at Genesis include:
  • Air Conditioning: currently, Genesis Project has only swamp coolers.
  • Rent.
  • Cost of Food and Water.
  • Summer Help.
Genesis is open Monday through Friday from noon to 2pm.
Donations may be brought to the kitchen Monday through Friday from 10 am to 2 pm.
Their address is 564 N. Idaho Rd. #5, across the street from the Pinal County Complex.
Learn more at: www.GenesisProjectAZ.com.