Three Arizona foundations, the Arizona Community Foundation, the Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona and the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, have established grant programs to provide immediate relief to residents suffering because the pandemic. The grants have been given to local nonprofits that serve our communities. At a time of decreased fundraising capability, these nonprofits have been able to respond more quickly because of this help. Some of the grantees spoke with the PRT about how the pandemic has affected their operations.

Food needs in the community saw a huge increase in the month of April, due to job losses. The Eastern Santa Cruz County Food Bank, received funding from United Way and the Arizona Community Foundation to purchase a large stockpile of non-perishable food that they hope will see them through this summer. Jim Staudacher, volunteer head of the Food Bank says it is difficult to predict the need. “We saw a 100% increase in our monthly food bank pickups from March to April, from 40 bags of nonperishable food to 80 bags. Then the numbers went down a bit. Perhaps people had received unemployment and/or stimulus checks by then and those are providing a bridge. But we anticipate a steady demand throughout the next several months.”

The monthly food distribution takes place at St. Theresa’s on the second Wednesday of the month from 9:00 -10:00 a.m. Staudacher and his wife, Faith Coburn, also run the produce distribution program next to the Senior Center, every Monday from 10:30 – 11:30 or 12:00. The produce is donated by Borderlands Produce Rescue. All involved are volunteers and safe social distancing practices are observed. 

Toni Leo operates Whisper’s Sanctuary, a nonprofit home for animals in need, currently housing 50 animals. They typically raise funds with their plant-based mobile kitchen called Sparky’s Cantina; however, all the festivals they usually attend were cancelled due to COVID19. Funding from the Legacy Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation will help cover the cost of feed for the animals, which is likely to reach almost $10,000 by June, when they plan to purchase a large load of hay in addition to the regular bagged feeds they use daily.

Family Healthcare Amigos of Patagonia has relied on local donations, as well as support from the Legacy and Arizona Community Foundations, to provide incontinence supplies to the elderly and disabled of our area for the past five years. Recent economic losses have made the need greater, as families struggle to care for their relatives. 

The nonprofit’s plans to open a new thrift store at 325-27 W. McKeown Ave. have been delayed by a disruption in the construction material supply chain. Recent COVID19 grant money was used to purchase a donation receptacle for adult diapers and pads. Donations are being accepted at that location now, at the end of the building next to Long Realty.

The Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center has received funding from the Patagonia Regional Community Fund, United Way, the Mountain Empire Rotary Club and the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona to help them fix healthy, take-home dinners for the youth who rely on the meals provided to them during the Center’s after-school program.

“Currently, the Youth Center is closed, but the need for meals is increasing as time passes,” according to PYEC’s Director Anna Coleman. “To date, we have prepared and served almost 4,500 take-home dinners to the PYEC youth, their families and the community. We will continue through the month of May, then change to serving ‘to go’ meals only to the PYEC youth through the summer. We have also received donations from individuals in the community and friends and family. The PYEC is very appreciative of the support and is blessed to be able to, in turn, help the community during the challenging times.”

The South32 Hermosa Community Fund has provided relief over the past several months, supporting the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, as well as Patagonia Unified School District’s distance learning efforts and several of the local nonprofits described in this article. Groups receiving South32 grant money prior to the pandemic have been given permission to use the funds for any needs that have cropped up since that time, regardless of their original proposals

Each of the nonprofit leaders spoke of the effects that the shut-down and social distancing have had on their budgets. Individual donations are still critical. Local donations to the Patagonia Regional Community Fund, which is an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation, will be used to support many of these organizations today and into the future. 

Local nonprofits can still apply for ongoing COVID-19 grants by visiting these foundations’ websites.

Editor’s Note: The PRT received a COVID-19 grant from the Legacy Foundation of Southern Arizona to assist with the costs of providing information to the community during the pandemic through increased website reporting.