The Salvation Army dedicates Mike Michaels Activity Center

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Designed to restore normalcy to families through recreation

The Salvation Army Metro Phoenix held a dedication ceremony Feb. 22 at the new Mike Michaels Activity Center, named in honor of the late Mike Michaels, a local, longtime supporter of The Salvation Army.

The project broke ground 11 months ago on the campus of The Salvation Army Phoenix Emergency Family Shelter, a 23-room facility with a capacity of 118 beds and 15 cribs for its residents.

“Great things will happen on this campus, and it will be a hub of activity,” said Southwest Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Kelly Pontsler. “Families who are facing crisis will have a chance to get a fresh start.”

Mike Michaels’ daughter Barbara Anderson and son Chuck Michaels were on hand with a dozen other family members to see the completed center for the first time.

Before his passing in 2015, Mike Michaels—who worked as a financial advisor in Phoenix for more than two decades—donated often to The Salvation Army, and he told his children of his intentions to leave the bulk of his estate to charity. His children honored their father’s wishes by supporting such programs as The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers and Kroc Center scholarships.

Chuck Michaels became emotional as he spoke to the nearly 100 people in the audience, including community partners who made significant contributions to the project and Business Development Director Debbie Drotar of the Greater Phoenix Chamber.

“My dad never knew his father, and he had an estranged relationship with his mother,” he said. “He would tell me that sometimes he was raised by his mom, sometimes he was raised by his grandmother and sometimes he was raised in foster care.”

His father went to bed hungry many times as a child, Michaels said. Those struggles made him identify with the work of The Salvation Army and led him to ring a bell at the red kettle during the holidays. He often deposited a check in the kettle at the end of those shifts.

“I wish my dad were here today to see this amazing building and the incredible gift he’s given to the community,” Michaels said. “I know he would be very proud.”

Using a model of “Recreate to Re-create,” The Mike Michaels Activity Center is designed to restore normalcy to families by providing opportunities for them to learn and heal through play, as well as address families’ short-term and long-term housing and economic self-sufficiency goals.

Opportunities for Emergency Family Shelter residents include: The Cox Innovation Lab with 15 laptop computers, four smart TVs, four tablets, two printers, furniture and additional tech accessories as funded by Cox Communications; Case management; Counseling; Wellness corridor with medical and dental services; Half-court sized multi-purpose room for activities such as basketball and volleyball; Game tables, books and board games; and Harmony Park, an outside space with a walking path, playground and gazebo.

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