Nathan Smith is the chief program officer with Phoenix Rescue Mission, which provides solutions to people facing hunger and homelessness. 76 cents of every dollar given to Phoenix Rescue Mission goes directly to programs and services.
A 2020 report revealed that on a given night at least 7,419 people experience homelessness in Maricopa County — this is an 11% increase from the year prior. In the last three years, the unsheltered homelessness rate went up by 219% in the West Valley.
Learn more at phoenixrescuemission.org.
In just six years, Smith rose through the ranks from project coordinator to project manager to director of community engagement. During that time, he was instrumental in the expansion of the Mission’s reach into regions like Glendale, where he and his team saved the city’s largest food bank from closing for good.
Smith’s team reopened Hope For Hunger Food Bank, at 5605 N. 55th Ave., Glendale, and increased the output of the previous ownership by more than 50% — serving more than 160 families per day under his watch. He was also a key player in the formation of Glendale Works, an integrated workforce development program aimed at reducing homelessness in Glendale by providing homeless individuals day-work cleaning city property.
Smith lives in north Glendale and is a Grand Canyon University graduate.
What I like most about living here: Most of my family is in the Valley area. I also love the October-April weather.
When & why I moved here: I moved to the Valley in 1989 as a kid with my family.
Where I lived before & why I left: I lived in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and left because, as a young child, my mother didn’t give me a choice.
My family: Is crazy, but absolutely amazing!
What I like most about what I do: I love the breadth of PRM’s programs that serve thousands of people each month facing food insecurity, homelessness, and addiction.
If I had picked a different occupation, it might have been: Holistic healthcare with an emphasis on fitness and nutrition.
My interests and hobbies: Spending time with my wife and daughters; training muay thai and jiu jitsu; playing basketball; working out.
My best/worst habits: Best habit: discipline with exercise and nutrition; Worst habit: procrastination.
The trait(s) I admire in others: Determination and humor.
People who inspired me (and how): Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. because of their conviction to do the will of God in the face of intense persecution; my parents, aunts, and uncles because they taught me to excel and stay true to myself no matter what.
My guiding philosophy: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.