Turning Mourning into Dancing – the Harvest Compassion Center Story

Seed2Life International

There is a line from Elevation Worship’s popular worship song, “Graves into Gardens,” that wonderfully encapsulates Harvest Compassion Center (HCC), their journey, and the many ways God has worked through them:

“You turn mourning to dancing. You give beauty for ashes.”

In 2003, a cliff diving accident tragically claimed the life of Mitch Swaback. He was only 23 years old. Nicolee Thompson, director of HCC, remembers her brother Mitch as someone who was fearless, loved kids, and had a heart of gold. Mitch impacted everyone he encountered, Nicolee remembers, which was reflected by the thousands of strangers who attended his funeral. Realizing what a deep impact Mitch had on others, Nicolee and her parents knew they had to carry on his legacy. Their family decided to “go all-in like Mitch,” and Harvest Compassion Centers was born, only 48 hours after his passing. Just as Mitch devoted his life to serving others, Harvest Compassion Centers’ mission is “to provide food and clothing in a hope-filled environment to the underserved in the greater Phoenix, AZ area.” Since HCC opened its doors in 2011, they have served over 38,000 struggling families by providing food, clothing, baby items, hygiene products, and other essentials. In 2020 alone, they supplied over 51,000 diapers. Guests can shop (for free) once a month at one of HCC’s three Phoenix, AZ locations, and they are offered more than just food and products. They are also offered prayer and a free Bible at each visit. Nicolee also says her goal is to be there for people and impact them as Mitch would have.

God has truly used the tragedy of Mitch’s death for His glory. Maria is just one of many people whose lives have been touched by God’s work through HCC.

For two years, Maria’s husband and children were stuck in Mexico, waiting for their immigration paperwork to be processed before they could join her in the U.S. Maria would drive hours to the border to see her family each month, and understandably struggled financially and emotionally. Throughout this challenging period of Maria’s life, HCC was by her side and a constant source of encouragement and support. Maria has since been reunited with her family and now volunteers with HCC to help others who are in similar situations.

Stories like Maria’s illustrate why Seed2Life International is excited to partner with Harvest Compassion Centers and help restock baby supplies, which are always in short supply. This will provide additional opportunities for Nicolee and her team to serve families in need and to share Jesus’s love with guests, both in Word and deed.

More information about Harvest Compassion Centers and how to get involved can be found on their website (https://harvestcompassioncenter.org/). HCC is often in need of basic food items and clothing and is also looking for volunteers to serve at their centers.

Nick Tellone, Missions Research Analyst, Seed2Life International