Survivors On Our Own of Arizona, Inc.
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Who We Are, Where We've Been

Survivors On Our Own was preceded by ACT (Advocates Coming Together), which was established in 1981 by Charles Simmons and continues through 1983.  This group met in each others homes and finally at the Maricopa County Mental Health Annex.  When the leaders health failed the group was unable to continue and disbanded.

In 1984 the ACT group reformed as Survivors On Our Own and they began meeting providing a consumer run peer support system.  Meeting notices appeared in the Phoenix Gazette and we were on our way.

In 1986 SOON contracted with CODAMA for $5,000.  With this funding SOON started the incorporation process and opened their first bank account.  The first true drive to increase membership got underway.

Over the next two years the services at SOON were expanded to include not only peer groups but recreational activities as well.  SOON began meeting at the Projects Arts Building.

SOON became incorporated in September of 1987 and elected their first board of directors.  All directors were SMI consumers.  SOON became very involved in advocacy and continued to serve its members.

In 1988 SOON received its 501C3 designation from the IRS and started receiving significant funding from CODAMA and The Community Special Project fund.  The membership really started feeling part of the team and the groups identity as a consumer run drop-in center emerged.

In 1990 SOON moved to three small cottages behind the State Hospital and found a home for the next ten years.  During this time SOON was able to provide employment for many consumers as Peer Program Assistants as well as program managers.

This ten-year period really shaped SOON to what it is today.  Membership continued to grow.  Additional services such as meals, food share, clothing closet and adult education classes all began in this period of time.

In 1990 the membership under the leadership of the first non-consumer executive director changes its bylaws to allow non-consumers to serve on the Board of Directors.  The new directors had an instant impact on the funding SOON received from the community at large.  The Board remains today a mixture of both consumers and non-consumers; this mix is working very well for SOON.

When the Legislature approved the building of the new State Hospital SOON was forced to find a new location.  The clubhouse was relocated to a freestanding building and a lease-purchase agreement was signed.  Where SOON had previously paid only $3.00 per year for rent, we now are paying $24,000 with 20% of that amount going toward the purchase of the building.  We have until October 2003 to complete this purchase.

SOON is currently serving over 350 members and is growing every day.  We are serving over 1000 meals each month and providing food share and clothing to all in need.  As we expand our membership and services we must also broaden our funding base and look to the community for help. 

Freshly paved front lot of SOON holds up to 8 cars.