Says Joe Maddon: “The volunteers are the unsung heroes. Without them, none of our efforts occur.” Every month, the Respect 90 Foundation will salute a distinguished volunteer from the communities of Tampa, FL, Chicago, IL, Mesa, AZ, Southern California, or Joe’s Hometown of Hazleton, PA. Respect 90 will present a $1,000 grant to that volunteer’s charity. Should you have someone who is deserving, please let us know.
Emily Talpas | Phoenix Rescue Mission
Emily Talpas has moved numerous times due to her father’s military service and her husband’s banking career. Over the years she has lived in multiple states, and with each relocation Emily desired to grow where God planted her. Each stop provided areas of growth and training that eventually led her to Phoenix Rescue Mission where, she says with confidence, that “this is exactly where I am supposed to be.”
Between her Sophomore and Junior years of High School, Emily’s family moved to El Paso, Texas. “I feel like my move to west Texas helped shape my outlook on the world, and in some ways shielded me from potential bad choices that some of my hometown friends were making.” It was there that she developed a strong foundation in her faith with a deep-rooted calling to serve others. Working through her church, she remembers crossing the bridge into Juarez, Mexico to take blankets to children and families that lived in one room, cinderblock houses.
“It was then,” she said, “that I realized all people have value, and there’s no difference really. At the heart of the matter, I feel that when you are a follower of Christ, you are created to do good works and care for those in need. The love of Jesus should flow out to others.”
Life in El Paso was a mission field that focused her perspective outward, rather than inward. She is grateful for the people that she met over the years that have been strong examples of faith lived out loud.
Even before Emily went into ministry, there was one more significant moment that prepared her to teach and lead. After graduating from college, Emily taught radiation safety seminars at the Medical College of Virginia for those using radioactive materials in their research, and to nurses caring for cancer patients treated with radioactive implants. “That was a good teaching experience,” she added with a laugh, “as I tried to make a very technical subject more interesting so that they would remember safety protocols.” At Phoenix Rescue Mission, she is now she is teaching from her area of passion, and she is grateful for the opportunity.
Emily’s role at the Mission continues to provide wonderful growth opportunities. She began serving with a group of friends from church as a worship leader for chapel services at the Mission’s Transforming Lives Center for Men in 2017, which led to being a worship provider for chapel services at the Mission’s Changing Lives Center for Women & Children (CLC). It was during Chapel at the CLC one evening that she knew she was being called to serve the ladies in the recovery program on a deeper level. “I started teaching Bible studies for the women at the CLC with a wonderful group of ladies each Tuesday and have been teaching every week since 2018. I also have the privilege of teaching and leading worship at chapel monthly.” Emily and the ladies at the CLC grow in their faith together, and she says that the ladies teach her so much as they spend time in community with each other.
In July 2020, Emily became a member of Illuminate Community Church in Scottsdale and soon began representing the Mission on their Local Outreach Team. Illuminate desires to be the light “Beyond Their Walls” and that aligns with Emily’s heart for God and others. When COVID shut down many routine service opportunities in Phoenix, Illuminate and the Phoenix Rescue Mission safely continued to serve their community, often together. With the support of her church, Emily gathered volunteers to pack food and hygiene bags at the Mission’s Donation Warehouse. The popularity of the event quickly spread, and today Illuminate has people serving monthly at the Warehouse Packing Events and Mobile Pantries. Under Emily’s leadership, teams from Illuminate now serve at Hope for Hunger Food Bank, and at annual special events for Easter, Back-to-School, Summer Heat Relief, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. In addition, Illuminate’s women’s ministry has collected toiletries for the Changing Lives Center and assembled “Hope Tote” hygiene packs for the Mission’s Homeless Street Outreach Team. “The Phoenix Rescue Mission is a sweet community of people,” she said. “Those we are privileged to serve are hard-working and so deserving and appreciative of the help they receive. Serving them is such a gift.” Now, as part of Illuminate’s upcoming churchwide outreach event called ‘Serve-tember,” Emily is busy helping PRM plan a neighborhood beautification event in South Phoenix. “We want to bless some of the people that the Phoenix Rescue Mission serves in an unexpected way.”
Since 1952, Phoenix Rescue Mission has been a place of hope, healing, and new beginnings for men, women, and children struggling with homelessness, addiction, and trauma. Their vision is to provide love, hope, and transformation to every neighbor in the Valley.
Emily’s plays a leadership role as a volunteer with the Mission. “She is a true blessing to the Phoenix Rescue Mission, says Anna Sosa, a Leadership Giving Officer at the Mission. “She is excellent at seeing a need and rallying others to join her. Emily engages those around her with passion and a sense of purpose. She has a gracious heart and desires to make a difference.”
Emily has served in many teaching roles over the years and has also served as a worship leader in Women’s Ministry and in Community Bible Study. “I am so thankful to have had the experiences and opportunities in my life that have prepared me to step into my calling to serve at Phoenix Rescue Mission and in local outreach at my church. Serving at the Mission brings me such joy, and I am blessed beyond measure to be part of the work they are doing in our city and beyond.
All of it together, was just part of God’ plan.