How nonprofit leaders pushed through pandemic to do the most good

Business News | 25 May |

As we passed 365 days-plus since the onset of COVID-19 in our community, we’ve asked leaders of nonprofit organizations and associations to reflect on the year that was and share their vision for the days ahead and beyond.

Tamara WoodburyCEO of Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council

During our current health crisis, the world leaders who have been among the most decisive and effective in addressing the pandemic have been women. To continue to support the next generation of female leaders, much work was done over the past 12 months to provide experiences in STEM, entrepreneurship, and the critically important subject of civics in new ways. We remain deeply committed to building the transformational female leaders of today and the future, and showing girls the power they have to change the world. We also launched Girl Scouts at Home™ and, on Feb 28, completed Girl Scout Cookie season by implementing new and different ways for girls to sell cookies safely. We are extremely proud to offer our girls a sense of normalcy in a year that has been anything but normal. It is critical now more than ever to help girls grow their entrepreneurial, communication, financial and other skills, and we will continue to do so in new and modified ways for as long as it takes to ensure everyone’s safety. Information: www.girlscoutsaz.org

Allan Allford, president and CEO Delta Dental of Arizona

From the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve continuously worked to support customers, dentists, not-for-profits, and health centers across Arizona to ensure patients can receive the care they need now and in the future. Delta Dental was instrumental in ensuring access to federal funding for dentists as they navigated office closure mandates resulting from the pandemic. Through the success of Delta Dental’s advocacy, dentists were eligible for much-needed federal relief funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationwide, Delta Dental’s COVID-19 relief efforts are expected to reach $1.1 billion, with $10 million in Arizona alone, including $500,00 to Arizona Federally Qualified Health Centers and over $2 million in PPE funding for in-network dental practices. We are also investing $525,000 in the newly launched Delta Dental of Arizona Dental Connect program to fund emergency dental treatment for uninsured patients who visit HonorHealth emergency departments with dental issues, and we are just completing the disbursement of nearly $775,000 in Foundation grants to statewide agencies working to help improve oral health. Information: www.deltadentalaz.com

Richard Berg, executive director of the Camp Colley Foundation

Camp Colley, the City of Phoenix’s summer camp, is managed by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and is funded and operated by the Camp Colley Foundation. Arizona’s families depend on summer programs and camps to fill developmental and educational gaps for their children to ensure they stay on track when the school year ends. This need was greater than ever this past year as remote learning became the norm. Sadly, countless summer programs and camps, including Camp Colley, were forced to cancel as a result of COVID-19. Our board of directors and staff are making plans to open Camp Colley this summer, providing 480 underserved children from across the Valley with a $405 scholarship so they are able attend our transformative sleep-away camp. Camp Colley is a member of the American Camp Association (ACA) and aligns our standards to the ACA, making Camp Colley one of the premier camps in the United States. Camp Colley will be adhering to accepted social distancing practices throughout the summer so that all our campers have a safe, positive and influential experience.

Michelle Lind, CEO of Arizona Association of REALTORS®

Arizona REALTORS® are proud to support the Arizona Housing Fund whose mission is dedicated to providing a sustainable funding source for nonprofit agencies that build and operate permanent supportive, low-income and working poor housing units. This mission became critically important over the past year as the coronavirus pandemic caused many Arizonans to struggle to make ends meet. As REALTORS®, we strive to help people achieve the American Dream of finding a place to call home and the Arizona Housing Fund aligns perfectly with that goal as it works to address the problem of homelessness in the Grand Canyon State. In a year like 2020 with unprecedented loss, we approved a $25,000 donation to the Arizona Housing Fund on behalf of the 2020 REALTORS® of Arizona Political Action Committee (RAPCAC) Major Investors with 100% of every dollar going directly to the work of a variety of nonprofit organizations. Our REALTORS® continue to support the Arizona Housing Fund by providing an opportunity for their buyers and sellers to voluntarily donate $25 (or more) to the Fund at the close of escrow. Information: www.aaronline.com

Dr. Lonnie Henderson, CEO of Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS)

From the onset of the pandemic, JFCS remained steadfast in our commitment to strengthening the community by providing integrated healthcare and social services to all ages, faiths, and backgrounds. The crisis challenged us to deliver services differently, and as a result, we are able to reach even more people. As a nonprofit, we were initially concerned that the growing uncertainty would affect people’s ability to give.  That couldn’t have been further from the truth.  The community not only showed up but stepped up—motivated, inspired, and compelled to help. The outpouring of commitment and support from the community continues to be remarkable, as evidenced each day through contributions to our Emergency Assistance Fund, established to provide critical and immediate assistance as a result of the pandemic. Our four integrated healthcare centers are serving the community through in-person and telehealth appointments.  Our senior programs are now offered virtually, resulting in more participation, and our social services programs such as Shelter Without Walls, Just 3 Things Food Pantry and Jewish Career Services continue to provide much-needed support. Information: www.jfcsaz.org

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Steven Sheets, president and CEO, Southwest Behavioral & Health Services (SB&H)

Our mission of delivering compassionate care to enhance lives and improve communities was never as clear or necessary as when the pandemic hit. The vulnerable populations that we serve were particularly hard-hit, and we were seeing a tremendous increase in the numbers of individuals seeking assistance. We were able to assist more than 29,000 individuals in 2020. The mental health professionals at SB&H have been working tirelessly around the clock to ensure that access to care goes uninterrupted. Whether serving the homeless community, teens in crisis, or those struggling with addictions, our highly qualified team of professionals has been working nonstop. We shifted resources to our telehealth program, recognizing that access to care should not be a barrier. The opioid crisis did not take a break during the pandemic. We have been actively collaborating with City of Phoenix municipal judges and other providers in a Medication-Assisted Treatment pilot program to offer a “whole-patient” approach to treating substance use disorders. Mental health services remain critically important in our communities, and SB&H is proud to be a part of this much-needed support system. Information: www.sbhservices.org

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