Serving the Community: One Water Bottle at a Time

By Nonprofit Marketing ArizonaSeptember 9, 2018

With temperatures soaring to over 100 degrees over the course of entire spans of weeks, the heat has seriously become intolerable for many, especially for those experiencing homelessness. Heat strokes and dehydration can become maladies for the common Phoenix resident, and one man is setting out to change that narrative.

Matthew Tees, a Phoenix native himself, started CART Mobile Convenience, which travels around downtown Phoenix selling prepackaged food, drinks, and other miscellaneous items. Tees sells food and water to people in Phoenix at office buildings, restaurants, or schools. For every water bottle he sells, he donates a water bottle, and for every food item he sells, he donates a food item.

After being approved by the city as a small mobile business, Tees has been driving his cart every single day around downtown Phoenix since May 23. From only 15 transactions the first day, he has now sold over 1,250 water bottles and 300 food items and delivered an equal number to those in need.

He was inspired to start his cart because he believes that in today’s instant gratification society, people would want immediate access to food and drinks as well.

“I wanted to be able to provide those items to people who can’t leave the office or job site,” he said.

Tees has a menu that is ever-evolving to accommodate the needs of his customers and help the community two-fold. First off, busy downtown workers can support the small business and quickly grab a snack over break. There is both variety and convenience associated with buying from CART. Secondly, Tees helps deliver all the donated proceeds to help those who are impacted hardest by these extremely dry weather conditions and soaring temperatures.

Tees greets all his customers with a contagious friendliness and always inquires about their day, hoping to cheer them up with conversation, laughter, and food.

His personal experiences and interactions motivated him to work to help solve the systemic problem of unequal access to water and food in the hot temperatures of Arizona.

“I am a downtown Phoenix resident, so I witness first hand a lot of less fortunate, forgotten about people,” Tees said. “It is my goal to provide them with a cold bottle of water, a smile, and a kind, humane interaction, something they might not often get under their circumstances.”

Because of his utter dedication, many of his customers are repeat supporters who ask him to frequent their workplaces by requesting deliveries. Tees makes an effort to learn every one of their names and greet them hello and goodbye. This kind of individual customer attention encourages the general public, who usually avoids the outdoors due to outrageous temperatures, to go outside and visit CART.

A current customer of CART, Marc Bauder M.D. said, “The service is excellent! Matt is scrupulously honest, endlessly helpful, and very creative about improvising on the fly.”

When Tees rolls up to visit with anyone experiencing homelessness, he tries to be a welcome beacon of aid. He holds a conversation with these people to constantly get a sense of how he can continually help them.

One of Tees’ beneficiaries, Tony S. was present during one of Tees’ distributions.

Tony said to Tees, “Thank you for what you’re doing, we really need this help. A lot of people just forget about us or don’t care.”

Tees drives along the roads and stops wherever he sees anyone that may need help and offers several bottles of ice cold water. In more populated areas such as public parks and bus stations, he parks his cart and walks around to every person to deliver his service.

Tees reflected on his experiences with those experiencing homelessness.

“Sometimes those interactions can be hard emotionally or harsh to witness, but that is the reality of their situations,” he said. “I try to be a bright spot in their day, even if it is brief.”

Tees has grand expansion plans for the future to spread the love. To combat the effects that the excessive heat warning have had on residents of Phoenix on a larger scale, Tees hopes to have even more carts in the near future to serve more people and a larger area.

But for now, we can all be thankful for the CART’s invaluable service and devotion to the community.

“CART is a real learning experience daily, in every sense of the words,” Tees said.

Tees is very active on social media and documents his work through Instagram: cart_mobile_convenience, Facebook CART Mobile Convenience, and Twitter: @Cart_Mobile_PHX. 

Article author: JESSICA ZHANG