Chandler nonprofits facing soaring needs, less revenue SanTan Sun News

Chandler nonprofits facing soaring needs, less revenue

March 30th, 2020 development
Chandler nonprofits facing soaring needs, less revenue
Community
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By Kevin Reagan, Staff Writer

The numbers at AZCEND’s food bank slowly started to rise as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.
The Chandler nonprofit typically gets 15 visitors on the third Saturday each month to pick up an emergency food box. But that number suddenly jumped to 66 on the morning of March 21, according to AZCEND CEO Trinity Donovan.
Other days have seen a similar pattern, she said, as the organization’s food bank sees more visitors than what it typically sees.
A quarter of the people coming to AZCEND for food boxes have never visited before, Donovan added, suggesting demand could be growing in the community for basic necessities.
Donovan is one of many nonprofit leaders in the Chandler and throughout the East Valley who have had to quickly respond to the complexities of the COVID-19 crisis.
She’s still got a large community to serve, yet her team of volunteers must find creative ways to deliver services without contracting or spreading the contagious virus.
Her staff has been told to minimize in-person contact with clients, conduct appointments over the phone and discourage visitors from congregating in groups.
There’s a lot of uncertainty about what the future will bring, Donovan said, but she’s bracing for more Chandler residents needing AZCEND’s help in the coming weeks.
Before the pandemic hit, AZCEND was already struggling to provide enough rental assistance for residents facing eviction notices. If more people lose their jobs as a result of the crisis, there’s the prospect that AZCEND will have even more residents needing help to pay their rent.
Gov. Dough Ducey issued a directive last week prohibiting evictions until July 23 for anyone who is impacted by the coronavirus.
“We’re definitely in a period of unknown in terms of what will continue to happen, knowing each week may bring something new,” Donovan said.
AZCEND is among a cohort of Chandler nonprofits that fall under the city’s For Our City coalition, which serves as a network to local service organizations.
Niki Tapia, the city’s community resources supervisor, helps to manage the For Our City coalition and said there’s a “tremendous” need for resources from Chandler’s nonprofits.
The pandemic has not only generated a greater demand for social services, Tapia said, but it’s interfered with an organization’s ability to continue accumulating donations.
“Many nonprofits have had to cancel annual fundraisers that make up a significant amount of their yearly budget for services,” Tapia said. “Many have understandably seen a reduction in volunteers and are concerned about paying for increased staff hours to continue providing basic services.”
Most of the network’s nonprofits are seeking monetary contributions, donations of non-perishable goods, and more volunteers.
The Chandler Care Center, a nonprofit operated under the Chandler Unified School District, is specifically seeking more soaps, shampoos and deodorants to hand out with its food boxes.
Though the center has temporarily suspended most of its in-person services, the nonprofit’s food bank is still open and has already seen its clientele triple in size over the last couple weeks, according to Care Center Director Katie Kahle.
“We’re also increasing the amount of food we provide clients as much as we’re able to without depleting our resources,” Kahle added.
About Care, another Chandler nonprofit, is looking for more sanitary and cleaning supplies to give to 450 elderly residents it serves in Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek.
The organization normally has volunteers driving senior citizens around Chandler to medical offices or recreation centers. But public health officials are advising older residents to stay home, which has prompted About Care to refocus its resources to homebound care.
Ann Marie McArthur, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer, said her 150 volunteers are trying to keep clients home by bringing groceries and supplies to them.
Most of About Care’s clients are low-income residents, McArthur said, and don’t have a stockpile of toilet paper or canned goods saved up in their cabinets.
Aside from basic necessities, About Care is also prioritizing the emotional needs of clients by making sure every one of them regularly gets a friendly phone call from a volunteer. Some clients don’t have any family living nearby, McArthur said, and lack any social connections.
“They’re isolated anyways but now it’s gotten to a point where we really need to make a concentrated effort to reach out to these people,” McArthur said.
About Care has never had to deal with a crisis quite like the COVID-19 pandemic since it opened in 2006. But McArthur said her team is adapting to the evolving crisis as quickly as possible.
“We’re all learning as we go,” she said. “But our doors are open and we’re still helping our community.”
Neighbors Who Care, a nonprofit servicing up to 600 senior citizens in south Chandler, has had to make some operational changes to help volunteers avoid one-on-one contact with clients.
Bonnie Kosar, a social worker for the organization, said they’re instructing clients to conduct their grocery shopping online and volunteers will drop the food off at their door.
Even the clients who don’t have internet access are being helped over the phone to get the supplies they need, Kosar added.
Neighbors Who Care has not noticed a greater demand for resources since the pandemic started, Kosar said, so the organization is trying to carry on as if everything’s normal.
“We’re trying to do business-as-usual as much as we can,” the social worker said.
Organizations providing shelter services for East Valley residents have had to quickly implement new protocols to protect residents and staff from COVID-19.
My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter near Chandler, is now screening new residents over the phone for signs of the virus.
Someone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 could still potentially stay in a quarantined section of the shelter, even though My Sister’s Place is already operating at its full capacity.
Jean Christofferson, a spokesperson for the shelter, said staff is limiting contact with current residents and the shelter’s communal spaces can only be occupied by one resident or family at a time.
The outlook for nonprofits in Chandler has been mirrored across the Valley.
Valley of the Sun United Way launched a “United for the Valley COVID-19 Fund” to support families and businesses impacted by the virus and begged for help, asking for donations at vsuw.org/covid19fund or via texting UnitedFund to 51555.
The virus “leaves many families and individuals struggling more than ever with how to secure food, childcare, and rent money – also causing local nonprofits to be faced with unforeseen demands and challenges,” United Way said.
The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits said a survey found that nearly 90 percent of the 364 members are predicting a loss of nearly $30 million in revenue from canceled events.
More than half of the nonprofits expressed concern for budgetary implications related to strains on the national economy and indicated their services to communities and individuals had been disrupted.
“It’s incredibly difficult to watch this happening and we’re certainly much too early in the process to even try to determine an overall dollar impact, but we do know that organizations reporting revenue impact expect to lose an average of 31 percent of their revenue with reported ranges up to $10 million,” said Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits CEO Kristen Merrifield.
Merrifield said that additional steps have been taken to provide expanded support through the upcoming Arizona Gives Day 24-hour online fundraising campaign, a collaboration with Arizona Grantmakers Forum and presented by First Bank, on April 7, including the creation of an Emergency Relief Fund giving donors the option to increase donations as an add-on at check out or through direct donation at azgives.org/aznonprofits.
All funds will be distributed equally among participating nonprofits.
“It’s clear that Arizona nonprofits are facing a triple threat from the COVID-19 outbreak: staggering revenue losses from canceled events, workforce shortages as volunteers and paid staff stay home, and dramatically increased demand for their services,” said Arizona Grantmakers Forum President and CEO Laurie Liles.
Since 2013, Arizona Gives Day has generated $17 million in donations to Arizona nonprofits with $3.6 million donated in 2019.
Early giving is open at azgives.org.
Valley of the Sun United Way is working with local foundations, businesses and others to create the new United for the Valley COVID-19 Fund.
“We partner with nonprofits and schools to identify the most pressing needs, then mobilize the caring power of our community to meet those needs,” said Valley of the Sun United Way President and CEO Carla Vargas Jasa.
“Today, our community needs resources that are available quickly and can be nimble to meet the fast-changing environment that many of Maricopa County’s health and human service and education organizations are facing right now.”
United Way held two virtual forums with more than 100 representatives from its nonprofit partner agencies who shared needs, concerns and ideas.
“This is a community-wide effort of epic proportions – and we are experiencing challenges that we have never seen before,” said Michael Hughes, CEO of A New Leaf, which provides a broad spectrum of services that help individuals and families experiencing homelessness and more.
“This is the best way for us all to move forward, together, to fill immediate needs and eliminate the duplication of precious resources,” he added.
United Way board Chairwoman Jenny Holsman Tetreault noted, “The resources our community members and nonprofits require most are changing on a daily basis, sometimes hourly, and the United for the Valley COVID-19 Fund provides a flexible resource to help with needs as they arise. We have a 95- year history of bringing people and organizations together to address the community’s most pressing needs – our community looks to us now more than ever.”
More than 650,000 households spanning Maricopa County struggled to meet their basic needs even before the coronavirus outbreak began and the continued disruptions to school, business, large gatherings and events are making things even more difficult, the spokeswoman added.
To contribute to the Arizona Community Foundation: azfoundation.org/covid19.
Despite all the chaos that COVID-19 has afflicted on businesses and nonprofits, Trinity Donovan of AZCEND can’t help but appreciate the goodness Chandler residents have shown in response to the pandemic.
“Our community is really doing what it can as well,” Donovan said. “It’s been great to see that camaraderie and that teamwork.”
More information on Chandler’s nonprofit organizations can be found at forourcitychandler.org.

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