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In Memory of Dorothy Spacone former Executive Director

October 14, 2010

You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart . . . to be my own.’  ~Leviticus 20:26

The Mission learned last week that Dorothy Spacone, Age 74, went to be with the Lord. Dorothy and her husband Carl ran the Phoenix Rescue Mission for three decades. Their dedication to the Mission and caring for the homeless will not be forgotten.

Dorothy Spacone worked at the Phoenix Rescue Mission alongside her husband,Carl for 24 years and in 1994 became the acting director of the Mission upon herhusband’s passing. By November 1969, the Mission moved to a larger building at 440 W. Washington Street. The building was actually the old Utah Hotel (now the site of the Dodge Theater). For 25 years, Dorothy and her husband ensured the Mission provided showers, three meals a day, clothing, events for families in need and even held Sunday school for neighborhood children. Times were not always easy and the sacrifice was great.

In 1969, the number of “homeless”, though that was not yet a term associated with persons who had unfortunate circumstances, was increasing. Rev. Spacone who served on the Board of Directors of the Mission was asked to take over as Executive Director. He left his construction job to take on the challenge and was paid a starting salary of $35 a week. In 1970, Rev. Spacone’s salary was increased to $100 per week and his wife Dorothy was added to the staff as the bookkeeper. Finances were often tight, but the Spacones always took care of the Mission bills first, even though They had seven (7) children of their own. They had a heart for the men and put the needs of the hopeless above their own. In addition to keeping the Mission’s books, Dorothy would help prepare the meals and assist where ever there was a need.

In the late ‘70s early 80’ the Spacones were appalled at the number of servicemen from the Vietnam War coming to the Mission for shelter. The Mission was grateful for being able to meet the men’s need for food, shelter, and clothing, but wanted to do more. In a 1983 newsletter, Rev. Spacone wrote, “But their need for work to get them back on their feet and a part of our working society has always been in our hearts and prayers. Out of this need and their own cry for ‘jobs not handouts’ we have been led to start the ‘Dial-A-Worker program. Within the first month of the program, the Mission received 650 applications for work and placed 162 people in full or part-time jobs.

The cornerstone of the Spacone’s achievement was starting an addiction recovery program for homeless men. The 20-bed program was called a ‘Spiritual Rehabilitation Program’ at that time and men stayed up to 12 months. The word “spiritual” was used instead of “alcohol” so that the Mission did not have to hire state counselors and could incorporate Bible study in the program. Rev. Spacone led the program, as drug and alcohol addiction was an area form which the Lord had delivered him. Giving his life and addictions over to the Lord had forever changed Carl’s existence, and he was determined to share his story and the Lord with whomever he could for the rest of his life. To this day, the Phoenix Rescue Mission offers an addiction recovery program free of charge to homeless men.

President Ronald Regan commended the Spacone’s for their service to Arizona and America. In a 1982 letter, the President wrote: “Over the years, I have witnessed many times the greatness of the American spirit. Compassion for others, creativity in meeting challenges, and determination to accomplish our goals are significant attributes of our people. Evidence of this spirit is the vitality of programs such as Dial-A-Worker. I am pleased to extend my personal congratulations and commendation to you. Your involvement exemplifies the highest tradition of service to others and enhances the lives of all our citizens.”

Dorothy was laid to rest October 2, 2010. The Mission family will celebrate her life and contributions to our work the entire month of October.

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