The Patagonia Regional Community Fund (PRCF) has just announced its 2021 grants, totaling over $23,000, to six local nonprofits. These funds are part of $40,000 that has gone to support local organizations since the beginning of 2020.
In contrast to last year’s grants given out by PRCF, which addressed the impacts of the pandemic on local nonprofits, this year’s grants cycle includes some new and innovative programs. The following grants were awarded:
Mat Bevel Company: The PRCF grant will fund a locally developed curriculum to nurture creativity and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills this spring at Patagonia Elementary School (PES) and Patagonia Montessori. The students will participate in “The Universe Within,” teaching elementary students about geometry and physics through characters, stories, sculptures, machines and solutions they create, according to Paula Schaper, Vice-President of Mat Bevel Company. Schaper said, “One very exciting facet of the program is the formation of The Creative Directors For Youth, which is a group of students who are videotaped providing other students their age with demonstrations, tips and advice. Our local kids are amazing in these videos!” For more information, go to www.matbevelcompany.org
Patagonia Creative Arts Assn: The PRCF grant will be used to replace theater curtains in the Tin Shed Theater that were donated 15 years ago by the Patagonia Woman’s Club. “Since then, we’ve made safety and ADA improvements, like a fire exit, a handicapped exit, and assistive hearing devices,” said PCAA Director Cassina Farley. “It’s time we replaced the curtain with ones made of flame-retardant material. And this grant will pay for the bulk of that project.”
Borderlands Restoration Network: BRN successfully applied for a PRCF grant to develop a program to educate community members about developing mesquite as a wild food source. Denisse Ortega Lorona, Education Director for Borderlands Restoration Network, is happy that Borderlands will now be able to expand a program it has been developing over the past several years. Funding will pay for salaries and needed materials and will support educational activities. Building on previous mesquite milling workshops and the formation of the Mesquite Stewards, whose mission is to understand the history and potential of mesquite, and to develop skills in using mesquite as a wild food, the program will expand the applications of mesquite into various areas, including its benefits to habitat, pollinators, and soil fixing. “As we research and meet with local experts such as arborists and agriculturalists, we are learning so much about mesquite and all the ways it contributes to lives and livelihoods,” said Juliiet Jivanti, BRN’s Educational Coordinator. The next series of public workshops will begin in June, and anyone interested in joining the Mesquite Stewards may contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center: On March 15, PYEC held its first in-person event in a full year, thanks in large part to their new grant from the Patagonia Regional Community Fund. That morning, a crew of teenagers spread 18 yards of topsoil over the front yard of the Center, creating a vegetable garden plot. The “Working Outside the Box” project is the brainchild of Caitlyn Coleman, PYEC Program Coordinator, and Kate Tirion, local gardening expert and former director of Deep Dirt Farms.
“Spending the entire year apart has been difficult and we’ve done what we could. But we’ve missed being together,” said PYEC Director Anna Coleman. “So, we had to ‘think outside the box.’ The name also refers to working out of doors, which is safer during COVID, and also healthy for all of us.”
Kate Tirion will act as mentor to the group, including several teen leaders who will help oversee and organize other teens to plant, tend and harvest. The Center plans to enjoy the vegetables in their cooking projects, and share surplus with the teens’ families and possibly the community.
Senior Citizens of Patagonia: Since COVID, the number of people receiving lunch from the Senior Center has more than doubled to 55 meals per day. Lunches have been offered for pickup since March 2020.
Chuck Kelly, Center Secretary, said, “The funding from PRCF will go almost completely to purchasing food for the meals program. While we receive about half our needed budget from the Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization (SEAGO), it is up to us to seek the rest of the money. The Patagonia Community Regional Fund has been a supporter since around 2009.”
Lunch is the main meal of the day, the main source of nutrition, for some residents. “Our meals are prepared by our wonderful chef, and menu is approved by a nutritionist,” Kelly said. “We offer lunch Monday through Friday, but if folks need meals to sustain them over the weekend, we provide frozen meals we have set aside.”
Anyone who is 60 years old or order, or has a spouse who is, is welcome. Information at seniorcitizensofpatagonia.org
Whispers Sanctuary: The impacts of COVID have affected animals, as well. At Whispers Sanctuary, Toni Leo said, “We support our animals in large part through Sparky’s Cantina, a plant-based food catering truck that we take to local festivals. This year, no festivals meant our normal income source was gone.”
“The animals, mostly equines, that we have taken on are not necessarily unwanted. Some owners have been hit so hard financially that they can no longer care for their animals. We understand that – it costs us around $300 per month to feed one horse. With the funding from the PRCF and other private donors, I’ll be able to call up my supplier in the next couple of weeks and tell him I’ve got money in the bank to order a load of hay.”
In addition to 13 horses, there are 10 donkeys, a few mules, and goats, geese, barn cats and dogs on their 26-acre property. The Sanctuary can put the equines and goats out to pasture during the summer months, but not all the animals can graze; many are old and have no teeth. There are also vet and dental bills.
PRCF’s funds are permanent endowments that support the needs of the Patagonia, Sonoita, Elgin and Canelo area. These funds grow both from donations made to PRCF and the earnings from PRCF’s long term investments managed by ACF. Those interested in donating can go to azfoundation.org/Patagonia or send a check made out to PRCF to Patagonia Regional Community Fund at 400 W Fry Blvd, Suite 6, Sierra Vista, AZ 85635.