About Us: Desert Mission


Desert Mission's Legacy of Caring

Since 1927, Desert Mission has been improving the health and well-being of community members of all ages through programs that embrace the power of resiliency and foster self-sufficiency.

Our areas of focus include:

  • Early childhood education and enrichment
  • Senior enrichment
  • Food access and nutrition support
  • Financial coaching and resource navigation

Breaking Down Barriers

With the support of a generous and giving community, Desert Mission is breaking down barriers to self-sufficiency and making healthy possible.

Desert Mission’s history: A legacy of caring

The 1920s: Angels of the desert

In the early 1920s, people began moving to Phoenix to find relief from their respiratory ailments in the desert climate. Many of them arrived in the Valley with nothing but hope for cure. With no funds left, many camped in the desert north of the city limits.

In 1927, the local Presbyterian Church’s Desert Mission took note of the plight of these individuals, and its volunteers brought them food and medical supplies to ease their suffering. Organized by “Angels of the Desert” social worker Elizabeth Beatty and practical nurse Marguerite Colley, Desert Mission activities eventually grew to encompass a medical clinic, chapel and community building.

The 1930s and 40s: John C. Lincoln joins Desert Mission cause

In 1931, Ohio entrepreneur and millionaire businessman John Cromwell Lincoln brought his wife, Helen, to Phoenix to recover from tuberculosis. It worked: She lived to be almost 103. As she recovered, the Lincolns took note of Desert Mission’s work, touched by what they saw. To support Desert Mission’s important work, the Lincolns contributed two-thirds of the money needed to buy the current John C. Lincoln Medical Center campus between Dunlap Avenue and Hatcher Road, and from Second to Third streets in Phoenix. In the late 1930s, they added an emergency station to the clinic.

The 1950s: A hospital is built

World War II delayed plans to develop the clinic into a hospital, but construction finally began. In 1951, the Arizona Department of Health licensed Desert Mission Convalescent Home, the Roy Brooks Outpatient Clinic and Emergency Station as Desert Mission Convalescent Hospital. In 1954, John C. Lincoln caved to pressure from his family and allowed the hospital to carry his name as its primary financial benefactor. The following year, the Lincolns funded construction of a $200,000 surgical wing.

John C. Lincoln Medical Center celebrated several “firsts” over the years. It was:

  • The first Phoenix hospital with an air-evac medical transport service and an FAA- approved heliport for emergency helicopters.
  • One of the Valley’s first three Level I Trauma Centers, all launched within a few weeks of each other in 1979.
  • Responsible for training the first class of Phoenix Fire Department paramedics.
  • Responsible for opening the state’s first licensed Adult Day Health Care center.
  • The first and only Valley hospital to operate a food bank and a host of other social and human services, the legacy of the Desert Mission Angels of the Desert.

At 90 years: Deep roots and growing services

Today, Desert Mission continues to work to meet the health and social needs of the community by offering a wide range of resources. Even as the organization’s offerings have evolved over the past century, its purpose has not. Desert Mission remains committed to helping build stronger communities, together.