The prophet Isaiah said, “the desert shall rejoice”—and with the completion of a new Church retail complex and welfare center in Glendale, West Valley Latter-day Saints will have a little more to celebrate in their part of the desert.
The complex, located near the busy intersection of 67th Avenue and Bell Road, will eventually consist of a Deseret Industries thrift store and donation center, a bishops’ storehouse and home storage center, a Family Services office, an Employment Resource Services center and a mission office.
The bishops’ storehouse, Family Services center
and mission offices are already open, while the store/donation facility and Employment Resource Services center will open on March 17th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony half an hour before the store’s grand opening. Local church and civic leaders are expected to be in attendance.
On March 16th, the day prior to the grand opening, the entire complex will be dedicated by Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a gathering conducted by President Sean Hinton of the Peoria Arizona North Stake. President Hinton, as the local priesthood leader in charge of organizing the dedication ceremony, has organized a dedication committee to oversee the events. Other church officials will participate, including Brother Steve Peterson, the Director of Welfare Services of the Church, and Director of Deseret Industries Leland Hardy.
Many considerations went into determining the site of the new structures.
“The preference for locating a welfare complex for the church is determined by a number of factors. Some of these factors include the proximity to a dense church membership base, proximity to an LDS Temple, a strong retail location, easy access to the site, and visibility to the public,” President Hinton says.
“The Glendale complex meets all of this criteria and it is anticipated to be a very successful location for serving the needs of the community and supporting the welfare needs as determined by local church leadership.”
Church membership in the West Valley has been growing steadily enough to see the 2014 completion of the Phoenix Temple, which serves sixteen stakes in the Phoenix Metro and North Central Arizona areas.
With this growth comes a demand for Church services, and the complex will serve a variety of functions to meet member and local needs. The most familiar of these services will be Deseret Industries, a nonprofit retail thrift store and vocational rehabilitation center serving communities since the 1930s.
While the Church now operates over 40 Deseret Industries stores, only two are currently located in the Metro Phoenix area. The Glendale store will replace the old Phoenix location, located at 27th Avenue and Northern just off the I-17. The East Valley Mesa site on Broadway will remain open.
Though many may associate Deseret Industries with racks of used clothes, the DI website reframes it as “so much more than a thrift store.” Deseret Industries provides not only low-cost items and job training, but continued career and technical education, business and community partnerships, and humanitarian aid.
President Hinton reports that Church missionary, volunteer and mentor opportunities will be available through the DI store in the coming year, as well as employment opportunities that include “a paid training program to develop employable skills that can help associates become more self-reliant.” Store hours will be 9-6 PM on Mondays and 9-8 PM Tuesday through Saturday.
Adjoining the DI will be a home storage center. Arizona has four home storage centers, but only the Mesa location serves central Arizona at present. Home storage centers assist members in building up a supply of food for longer-term preparedness.
“Prophets and leaders have been asking us to build up our food storage for years,” says Eric Sawyer, field manager for the bishops’ storehouse and home storage center North American Southwest region.
The Glendale base will help ease the burden on the East Valley location—and shorten the commute for faithful saints in the West Valley. “We expect it [the new home storage center] will take about a quarter of our business in Mesa,” Sawyer says.
Just as the home storage center and bishop’s storehouse will offer temporal support, the LDS Family Services Center will provide spiritual and emotional aid, allowing church leaders to assist “individuals, couples, and families in finding quality professional counseling services,” according to the Church’s Provident Living website. The center can help address a wide range of members’ emotional and social needs, ranging from strengthening home and family to addiction recovery and adoption resources.
“Bishops can’t always deal with the complex emotional and psychological issues members may face—sometimes you need a trained professional,” says Elder Cory Webster, a former bishop who is now serving along with his wife as a church service missionary in the Goodyear Stake’s addiction recovery program.
Services provided, which can be either volunteer-based or contractual, harmonize with gospel principles.
The complex will also house an Employment Resource Services center. For Peoria Stake President David Williams, this is an exciting prospect.
At present, local employment resource needs are met in meetinghouses. “People didn’t know we [the employment center] were even there,” President Williams says. “The complex will give us more of a physical presence…a new building, a larger staff and a greater resource to members.”
Even as the economy starts to look up after the recent U.S. recession, economic welfare is still a primary concern for most members.
“A lot of individuals were forced to take the jobs they could get,” says President Williams, “not jobs particularly suited to their skill set or jobs that allowed them to suitably care for their families.”
The employment center is meant to help people in all income brackets, he stresses—not only those who struggle to live paycheck to paycheck.
“There’s a misconception that the employment center offers entry level jobs when in reality it’s suited to help individuals at all levels.” President Williams says that the new Glendale center will pattern itself after the Mesa location, which has placed people not only with entry level positions but with six-figure jobs.
“We want people to reassess what the employment center is all about,” President Williams says.
Finally, the complex will house the relocated and expanded Arizona Phoenix Mission offices. The mission, established in 1984, is one of five in the Greater Phoenix area. Roughly 160 missionaries serve here.
Arizona, which boasts around 400,000 members statewide and 5 operating temples, is seeing a period of unprecedented Church expansion. The new complex is part of that growth.
“It will be a real blessing to many people,” says Glendale North Stake President Gregory K. Martin.