Zachriah “Chuck” Sanford Pennington

Zachariah was known as “Chuck” by his friends at La Mesa. He first started attending our weekly meal and worship service five years ago when he was living on the streets of Phoenix. and we were not even thinking about a Resource Center yet.  He was 70 years old at the time and had been on the streets for 7 years, but he never missed a Tuesday night! In fact, Tuesday night was his favorite time of the week – a time when he found love and acceptance without anyone caring about his past. Chuck loved the Lord and enjoyed singing and worshiping. When La Mesa needed volunteers to paint the house of a widow, Chuck was the first one to step up. When La Mesa volunteered to clean up the alleys in historic Mesa, Chuck was there.

As his confidence and trust in La Mesa began to build, he reached out to us to help him get off the streets. He told us he got caught up in a remodeling scheme in Florida some 20 years earlier and did prison time. He was sentenced to pay restitution, and for that reason he was unable to collect social security and was homeless. The Lord guided La Mesa as Chuck became the first of our homeless friends to receive assistance to get off the streets and move into his own apartment. That was over four years ago. And even though his apartment was at 18th Place and Broadway, Chuck never missed a Tuesday night at La Mesa.

Chuck died in a tragic fall at his apartment on May 12,2020. Chuck never told us much about his family, and had not seen them in over 25 years.  But with prayer and research, La Mesa was able to locate what was left of his family – two of three children still living, and a sister in Arkansas. Chuck had left his family after his divorce, and due to his shame and guilt, never got back in touch. God forgave Chuck but he never forgave himself. His family thought he had died long ago. But his youngest daughter Kim, who was only two years old when her father left, drove to Phoenix from Northern California to learn all that she could about her biological father.

A military veteran that served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corp, most of his funeral expenses are covered by the Veteran’s Administration. And once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and we can gather once again in worship, we will be honoring Zachariah Sanford Pennington, or “Chuck” as he is known to us, with a full military memorial service. His remains will be placed at the National Cemetery in North Phoenix.