Food bank

Local efforts are underway to help those affected by the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

The Greater Green Valley Community Foundation, with the guidance of Better Together Southern Arizona Coalition, is spearheading a fund for non-profits that will, in turn, get resources to the community.

The COVID-19 Community Impact Fund has about $20,000 in donations thus far, including $10,000 from the GGVCF and $5,000 from FICO/Green Valley Pecan Co., according to Michelle Phillips, the foundation’s executive director.

“Non-profits can exert great leadership during this time and I think they’re trying to mobilize the best they can,” she said. “We’re all part of the equation, all part of the puzzle.”

Green Valley and Sahuarita have seen hundreds of layoffs tied to the virus in the past month, most in service industries such as restaurants and resorts. Non-profits have been strained as the need grows and many have been unable to hold annual fundraisers because of restrictions on large gatherings. That has magnified the need for a response on the local level, Phillips said.

Mea Brown, director of sales and marketing for Tubac Golf Resort and Spa, said they have a skeleton crew of 20 to 25 people and their furloughed employees will greatly benefit from a local outreach. 

“Our employees are truly in the hospitality business so they’re interacting with our guests and patrons every day,” she said. “They’re used to waiting on them and serving them. I think this is going to impact them in a profound way because it’s the people they serve giving back to them.” 

Here’s the plan

The goal of the fund is to support basic needs for individuals or families such as health care, food, housing, child care and supplementing wage losses.

Phillips said 100 percent of donations will be allocated to the non-profits.

“It’s all about instilling confidence again,” she said.

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The coronavirus hit just as the Community Foundation was in its grant cycle, meeting with non-profits to determine their stability and goals as they navigate through the outbreak.

“We’re listening to them, getting a straight forward, ‘Where are you guys?’” she said.

The COVID-19 Community Impact Fund is accepting applications from non-profits and plans to make its first awards by May 1. Individuals or families in need would go to the non-profits for assistance, not to the foundation directly.

Phillips said federal assistance and other programs will meet some needs, and the success of the local fund will depend on the community.

How it happened

Penny Pestle, head of the Sahuarita Food Bank board, is on the planning team for Better Together Southern Arizona Coalition. The group has 16 board members that includes utilities, government, private entities and non-profits.

Pestle said the COVID-19 fund was the brainchild of Tom Wilsted of Green Valley, who came to her about 10 days ago with the idea.

Pestle got the Better Together board together and it was rolling.

“We were able to do it literally overnight,” she said, crediting Wilsted and Freeport McMoRan’s Jessica Brack for quick responses that gave the effort focus and energy.

“We presented the idea, people seemed supportive and Michelle (Phillips) took the ball and ran with it,” she said. “It’s a very good way to bring together the community together around an issue.”

Pestle said non-profits are working for their groups but also collaborating to draw in donors with different interests who could benefit the whole. The planning team includes Pestle and representatives from the Pima County Library, Town of Sahuarita and Tucson Electric Power.

Dan Shearer | 520-547-9770