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About Desert Mission

about desert mission

The goal of our Desert Mission programs is to meet the basic needs of our most vulnerable community members and help them reach their full potential for health and self-sufficiency.

Community service is the cornerstone of John C. Lincoln Health Network. The network began in 1927 as Desert Mission, addressing the health and social needs of struggling families in North Phoenix.

Today, we continue the legacy of caring for our community. Through integrated programs, Desert Mission served nearly 40,000 individuals in 2012, a 15 percent increase from 2011.

Desert Mission Programs

The History of Desert Mission

In its early days, Arizona was a land of promise, not only for the healthy but also for the sick. The dry desert air and sunshine drew many people suffering from respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis.

Many used their last savings to make the journey, arrived penniless, and pitched tents or built tiny cabins in the area north of Phoenix now known as Sunnyslope.

In the 1920s, good neighbors such as Marguerite Colley and Elizabeth Beatty came to be known as "the Angels of the Desert" for the work they did to help these struggling families. Their actions spurred the growth of the Desert Mission and John C. Lincoln Hospital.

The Rev. Joseph Hillhouse had formed the Desert Mission by the 1930s, and resources from people as far away as Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., funded such amenities as a permanent chapel, a food bank, a medical clinic, a children's dental clinic, a nursery school, a library, a recreation center and several small convalescent cottages.

A spark in the pump house started a fire that destroyed everything except the library and recreation building in 1942. Losses were estimated at $22,000; fortunately, no deaths or injuries occurred.

Although World War II slowed construction, rebuilding efforts began. An outpatient clinic, a convalescent home, a community swimming pool and a permanent baseball field had been completed by the end of the '40s, thanks to the support of generous donors.

In response to hospital overcrowding, the outpatient clinic, an emergency station and the Desert Mission convalescent home were combined and licensed by the Arizona Department of Health as the Desert Mission Convalescent Hospital. It had 16 beds for inpatient care and was incorporated as an independent entity separate from the Desert Mission. In 1954, it was renamed John C. Lincoln Hospital.

The Desert Mission Inc. has continued its quest to meet the basic needs of the community's most vulnerable members and to help people reach their best potential for health and self-sufficiency, as it does today with a food bank, children's dental clinic, learning center, health clinic, family resource center and an affiliate community development corporation.