Ep. 1: What is the McQuaid Mission?

STN is proud to share the launch of McQuaid Mission, our newest series collaboration with Human Services Campus dedicated to continuing Mike McQuaid’s mission of ending homelessness in Phoenix. The series is hosted by Chris Coraggio, STN, and Amy Schwablender, Executive Director of the Human Services Campus (HSC). Each episode will explore the issues, efforts, progress and solutions surrounding homelessness.

In the first episode, we want you to get to know the man behind the mission – Mike McQuaid. 

Mike, also known as “Big Mo,” passed away this summer from Covid-19. Mike spent the last 40 years working diligently to help men and women living on the streets find a home. He was relentless in this effort, and we are honored to help keep his mission alive. 

Our first guest on the show is Mike McQuaid Jr. He joined us to talk about his dad and the legacy he left. Congressman Greg Stanton also joins us to talk about what Mike meant to the community and share something special he presented on the House floor in Washington D.C. for Mike just days after his passing.

In this episode, you will also learn more about HSC and hear from someone who experienced homelessness but was able to get her life back with help from the campus.

About Mike McQuaid

To start off the show, we asked McQuaid Jr. what are some of the things he remembers most about his dad.

He shares that most of all, he remembers his dad as a giver and his selflessness. He genuinely cared for and loved people. From the days of coaching little league sports to helping people experiencing homelessness, his faith always seemed to lead him in a direction of helping people.

Everyone who knew Mike talked about his kindness, presence and desire to help. Even our host, Chris Coraggio, shared that Mike is the reason he pursued a broadcasting career, something he has done for the last 25 years. 

Amy Schwadenlender adds that she first met Mike McQuaid in 2005. She described Mike as someone who, “could walk into the room, command attention and outlay this vision of ending homelessness.” For Amy, Mike was the best role model for a servant-leader and set the bar high for serving our community.

She worked with Mike every single day for many years. Although he is no longer physically present, she still draws inspiration and guidance from him every day. She shares a beautiful story about a clock at HSC that Mike helped design. Every day when she walks by that clock, she says good morning to Mike and shares the day’s progress with him on her way off the campus at night.

Congressman Greg Stanton shared what first drew him to Mike. In his public life on City Council, as a mayor and now as a Congressman, Stanton has tried to use his position to try to help others and put his faith into action.

He saw Mike McQuaid as a man led by his faith that called him to help those less fortunate. 

“I don’t remember a time in my involvement in public life on issues helping people experiencing homelessness in which Mike McQuaid wasn’t a leader,” said Congressman Stanton. 

Mike McQuaid knew we could all be one bad health situation away from experiencing homelessness and that’s why he helped people in his community who were enduring tough times.

Congressman Stanton ends with these final thoughts. “One of the things that motivates me about helping people experiencing homelessness is that someone that is homeless today is not going to be homeless tomorrow. We’ve seen so many success stories of people going through tough times, but with a little bit of help – giving them a roof over their head, the medical help that they need, job training or job placement they can get back on their feet and get their lives together.”

You can find Congressman Greg Stanton speaking to the life and legacy of Mike McQuaid and what he entered into the congressional record starting at 18:46.

About the Human Services Campus (HSC)

Those who grew up in Phoenix might remember downtown used to have a tent city, and at one point, Phoenix was called ‘the most heartless city in the country’ in reference to our homeless population. Many people had this idea of creating a campus as a compassionate response and economic solution to homelessness, and Mr. McQuaid was one of them. 

The Human Services Campus is located in downtown Phoenix and began providing services to the homeless back in 2005. Since then, it has grown tremendously.

There isn’t one organization that can make the campus effective. There isn’t one organization that can end homelessness. As president of the board, Mike McQuaid helped the campus become the 7 building, 13 acres resource it is today. He also rallied a collaborative force made up of 16 partner organizations all working toward one goal of getting people off the street and into homes of their own. HSC serves somewhere from 800-1000 people per day. 

There are many factors that lead to homelessness which means there is a lot of opportunity for solutions. HSC looks at all the interventions that intersect related to prevention, diversion or reunification for people experiencing homelessness.

In this episode, we also introduce you to Nancy who lived on the street for a period in her life but found the Human Services Campus which helped her get her life back.

Nancy was homeless from 23 to 25. She was dealing with abusive childhood experiences and used drugs and alcohol to cope with it. She shares the fear and shame she felt from experiencing homelessness was thing that actually propelled her to get help. 

“People can see it on you, and I walked on the street and people would see it and or at least I believed they could see it…but they would look at me with such looks in disgust, and they would see my homelessness not my humanness,” said Nancy. 

The Human Services Campus helped her meet the right people and gave her a community. Nancy described feeling loved, cared for and like she mattered as the antidote. She’s been sober for 26 years. Today, she is a practicing Clinical Social Worker in Prescott. 

You can find Nancy’s story starting at 10:38. 

What to Expect From Future Episodes

Over the course of the McQuaid Mission, we will cover all aspects of homelessness through the impactful work HSC and other organizations do. We will bring on HSC partners, nonprofits, government partners and businesses to talk about the solutions to ending homelessness. We will bring on former HSC clients, like Nancy, to tell their stories and share all the reasons why people fall into homelessness. You’ll hear from HSC employees and board members, so you can gain perspective from the people working together to solve this complex issue. You will hear about homelessness from a race equity lens because eliminating disparities that cause different outcomes for people experiencing homelessness based on their race is part of HSC’s work.

As Mike McQuaid Jr. shared, his father believed in equality. He believed in opportunity and giving second chances because at the end of the day, this is our community. We are all part of this community, and we should be there for our brothers and sisters who need our help. 

HSC believes we have the capacity to end homelessness in Phoenix, and they are fighting at the front lines of this issue everyday. They are doing this work every day to build a more resilient community.

If you are interested in joining the mission or simply learning more about it, download the STN app to make sure stay up to date with the latest episodes or share this with someone you think would be interested!

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