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Meet Jason Law of 1MISSION in Downtown Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Law.

Jason, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I first stood in the barrios of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, when I was 14 years old. I was a freshman in high school and was on my first mission trip with my church. Up until that point in my life, I’d had a pretty sheltered childhood. The poorest person I knew was the kid down the street whose family didn’t have a swimming pool. That’s how obnoxiously narrow my worldview was.

So when I experienced real poverty for the first time in that barrio, it broke me. It crushed my soul. Nobody had told me that billions of people around the world lived like that – let alone the thousands of people in this one community so close to home. I knew it wasn’t okay. Something had to be done about it. So over the next ten years, all the way through high school, college, and into my twenties, I returned to Mexico again and again, doing as many service projects as I possibly could. When we got married, my wife Tina started leading these trips with me. And I loved it. I felt connected to a cause greater than myself. I felt useful. I felt that I was doing what I was born to do.
Over time, we built around 30 houses for families in poverty. But at a certain point, Tina and I took a step back. We found ourselves wondering about all those mission trips and all those houses. Is this community actually in better shape now than it was ten years ago? In another ten years, will this community be any better off than it is today? These were profoundly personal questions for us, because along with people from our church, we’d spent countless weekends building these houses.
We were giving generously of our time, energy, and money. But something wasn’t right. Local families weren’t the heroes of the story. We were. I knew we could do better. We had to do better. And that’s how Tina and I eventually decided to start 1MISSION. I quit my job as a firefighter and stepped away from my landscaping business, ready to dive into this new adventure headfirst.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One challenge is that poverty is extremely complex to solve. As a community development organization, we’re working to tackle some of the world’s biggest, most difficult problems including housing, health, and economics. It’s not much of a stretch to say this really is rocket science. So that’s a challenge that will continue as long as we’re going.

A second challenge has been transforming passive recipients into active participants in the communities we serve. While there is a time and a place for charity handouts – immediately after a major natural disaster, for example – what impoverished communities need most is long-term development. While handouts are usually given with good intentions, ultimately they undermine the dignity of recipients and rob them of their ability to contribute to the solution. But over time, we have seen that people are actually eager to participate in solving their community’s problems if given the opportunity.

Please tell us about your organization.
Traditional charity is about making a one-to-one impact. A donor gives $100 and it provides clean water, medicine, or schooling for one person for a certain amount of time. And those are wonderful things to provide.

But with 1MISSION’s model, every donation is leveraged for greater long-term impact. By helping to fund a house for a family that has earned it, donors are investing in so much more. 1MISSION purchases construction materials locally and hires local labor, which means local economies are strengthened.

And since every family that earns a house serves hundreds of hours in community initiatives – planting community gardens, doing health screenings, teaching job skills – the ripple effects go far and wide. While there would be ways to build more houses more quickly, 1MISSION is committed to building community, and we do that one house at a time.

1MISSION’s work is supported by the generosity of faithful partners like you. Best of all, with overhead costs covered by a private group of committed supporters, 100% of public donations go directly to projects and programs in the field. Every donation is tied to an actual family in need, and once a house is complete, donors receive a proof report.

Who also deserves credit?
From the beginning, my wife Tina has been instrumental in getting 1MISSION off the ground. None of this would have been possible without her. We also had the support of an amazing group of close friends and pastors who helped turn a big vision into reality. Over the years we’ve had really good, hard-working staff who have put everything they have into the cause, including our current executive leadership team. I always say that our people are our most valuable asset in accomplishing our mission, and I mean it. Finally, we’ve learned so much from thought leaders and practitioners in the field of community development, both locally and around the world. We continue to learn from them.

Location & Outlook
For a nonprofit like ours, Phoenix has been great. Whether it’s young people who give their time and energy to serve or those who have more wisdom and finances to contribute, I’ve found this to be a very generous community. The Valley is a diverse, vibrant place and there are real benefits to doing work here. If you’re innovative and willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter what your resume says. In Phoenix, you can do incredible things.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1 N 1st St, #612
  • Website: 1MISSION.org
  • Phone: 6026357500
  • Email: info@1MISSION.org

Image Credit:
1MISSION

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