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justa-celebrationRecently, celebrated their tenth anniversary serving seniors aged 55 and older who are homeless in the metro Phoenix area. Rev. Neil Leftwich, West District Superintendent, shared greetings from Bishop Hoshibata. Click here to download the Bishop’s letter

Justa Center is seeing more elderly homeless and they have more mental and physical health problems (in addition to their lack of a place to call home). This summer they grew from 130 daily visitors to 184 daily members but they take the time to address everyone by name and with dignity and respect. About 50% of their members now are women and the percentage of veterans is 30-40%.

They still provide daily coffee, showers, lunch, clothes, hygiene items and comprehensive services of counseling, employment search, computer access and veteran and social security advocacy. Justa Center’s staff are carefully trained professionals who go the extra mile to help each individual. A strong spiritual component is part of their outreach.

Justa Center is housing one homeless senior per business day. In November, they exceeded that goal and housed 27 seniors. As they house more seniors, their extended care program is growing. The Justa Ambassadors either visit or call those individuals who have moved into housing. They have a 93% retention rate of keeping people housed.

The following is an excerpt from the sermon preached that day by Rev. Gerri Bast:

“Neither Jesus nor Matthew control the gospel, The end of the gospel is in the community that continues to tell the story – the end of the gospel is in us. The story illustrates the new inclusiveness of the gospel. Faced with human need, Jesus is persuaded that people matter most. No one can be excluded. All must be given food both physically and spiritually. None can be left out. There are many in our community that others see as less and they have become invisible but the Canaanite woman gives them a voice. Jesus listened to that voice. Those voices are still to be heard, for those with ears to hear.

Rev. Gerri BastThat is way the name Justa was chosen for this center. Consider the courage it took for that woman to confront Jesus. Women had little or no status at the time, and for woman of the “wrong” religion to approach Jesus in the first place was unheard of. She demanded to be noticed so that she could obtain the help she needed. Even though she is not named in the gospels, a Pseudo-Clementine epistle gives her the name of Justa and the founders of Justa Center decided to use that name to represent all the marginalized people in our society who like the Canaanite woman sought the help of Jesus now come to Justa Center to seek our help on a daily basis. As Justa showed us, every person has rights and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We are all children of God and all are treasured in God’s sight. Jesus saw this in the Canaanite woman, Justa and thus we have all been blessed by her faith and courage. At Justa Center we strive to treat all who enter our doors with dignity and respect every day and to give them the self-respect they so richly deserve. We give them a voice just as Justa did with Jesus and thus helped the gospel spread to all to this very day and Justa Center helps spread that voice so that those who the culture might ignore can be heard and respected. Thank God that Justa Center is here today.”

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