Phoenix recently created the first permanent housing development in the nation for survivors of human trafficking and their children. U-Haul contributed to the new Phoenix Starfish Place with donated furniture, computers and children’s books for its community center.
“Having businesses (like U-Haul) headquartered in Phoenix allows those businesses to see firsthand what Starfish Place is all about,” said Jim Waring, District 2 Councilman and Chair of the Human Trafficking Task Force. “When we opened Starfish Place, we sent out a call to action to our community to help us furnish the resident building. To have U-Haul and their Team Members come in and do what they did is fantastic!”
U-Haul International has been headquartered in Midtown Phoenix since 1967. Since its founding in 1945, the Company has held a longstanding commitment to helping the community.
The industry leader in do-it-yourself moving and self-storage strives to help people meet their most basic human needs (food, clothing and shelter) through its philanthropic partnerships. U-Haul is also an avid supporter of honoring veterans and veterans’ causes.
Helping Human Trafficking Victims
Phoenix Starfish Place is a 15-unit, multi-family residence that provides permanent housing for survivors of human trafficking and their children. This inclusive community offers ongoing onsite counseling, training courses, cooking classes, career resources and also programs for children and teens.
A number of U-Haul Team Members attended the grand opening of Phoenix Starfish Place in November. They drew inspiration from the mission of the organization as well as the collaborative efforts that made Phoenix Starfish Place a reality.
“Our department hosts canned food drives every year,” said Jennifer Staley, an analyst for U-Haul Risk Management. “Yet this year we wanted to get more involved with hands-on community service. We are proud to have put our team’s collective efforts together to adopt Phoenix Starfish Place.”
Computer chairs, couches and a ping-pong table were a few of the items that lined the donation list. Team U-Haul committed to outfitting the Phoenix Starfish Place library, teen room, kitchen, training room and treatment rooms.
A two-week donation drive was led by the U-Haul Risk Management team. Gently used and new items were donated in addition to cash contributions. With the vast majority of supplies donated, Team U-Haul shopped for the remaining items.
On a sunny December day, Team Members from the U-Haul Risk Management department left the office for Phoenix Starfish Place. With a U-Haul truck full of donations, the team began unpacking. Then the assembling began.
“By donating and volunteering for Phoenix Starfish Place, our team not only has a better understanding of human trafficking, but we created a safe zone for these residents,” said Brad Shimek, U-Haul Risk Management environment health and safety specialist. “If everyone had the mindset to take care of one another, we as a society would all be better off.”
In two short hours, the community center became a welcoming space for residing families to call home.
“This permanent housing facility is a place for human trafficking survivors to free themselves from old ties,” explained Salea Kinealy, U-Haul Risk Management project coordinator. “It’s a fresh start, and Phoenix Starfish Place offers residents stability, consistency and resources they did not have.”
Tending to the Kids, Too
U-Haul also hosted a second donation drive to ensure the kids playroom and library were extra special. This drive encouraged Team Members to donate books, toys, stuffed animals and board games.
“The impact (from the U-Haul donation drives) is felt by the residents of Starfish Place is tremendous,” Waring subsequently noted. “The donated furniture and supplies have created a sense of community. I am glad to see companies headquartered here in Phoenix stepping up to the challenge.”
Finally, thanks to U-Haul Team Members for their efforts and contributions, including volunteers: Paige Brown, Matthew Carrithers, John Glenn, David Havrilla, Jessica Keenan, Salea Kinealy, Kevin Kiley, Thomas Loden, Dawn Moseke, Kim Perina, Lindsay Pobieglo, Brad Shimek, Tom Schmidt, Kyle Small, Jennifer Staley, Monserrat Rodriguez Flores, Athena Murray, Renee Royer, Christopher Valderrama and David Valderrama.