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April 2023

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Reaching Out to our Rural Neighbors

It’s about access. SFB-CRC wants to be there for those who find it hard to get here. In the small communities and more remote areas that surround Green Valley/Sahuarita reside economically vulnerable individuals and families that we would like to serve.

Over the next two months, we will be working together with a variety of human services partners to reach out to those in outlying areas who grapple with limited local services and transportation challenges. Local community-based organizations know personally the struggles their own residents face and can help us identify those resources we can bring in. In the next few months, we plan to provide workforce instruction and other services through a mobile service unit. Ideas like computer basics, mental health counseling, job skills training, business ownership, creating a home-based business, and financial well-being assistance have already been discussed.

Dina Suarez from U of A’s Center for Rural Health, SFB-CRC Outreach Program Coordinator Lourdes Hendrickson, Executive Director Carlos Valles, our program coordinator Sofia Castro, Pima County Program Manager Marjava Ramirez, and Pima County Community Navigator Daniella Diaz met together with Arivaca Human Resources to consider how they can best serve that community about 45 minutes to the southwest of here. The group visited Head Start in Summit, a very underserved community just south of the airport near Raytheon, to listen to parents about their concerns. They are considering offerings that might include nutrition programs for both adults and children, computer classes, and health programs. They also paid a visit to Sopori Elementary in Amado, part of the Sahuarita Unified School District, where 90 percent of students receive free and reduced meals, so the need for services there is great as well.

Poverty concerns are often perceived within the context of an urban setting, but many in rural areas struggle with the unique problem of lack of access to services they need as well as the inability to get to where they’re offered. SFB-CRC continues to explore whatever we can do to reach out to rural residents to help them tackle these unique challenges.

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Music and Miracles

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Larry Worster, Gerald Carrell, and their music making friends have selflessly displayed their talents at local neighborhood concerts since the beginning of the pandemic, raising $30,000 and a thousand pounds of donated food. Blues, bluegrass, oldies, folk, and Irish music played in driveways, churches and any venue they could find brought crowds in who enjoyed great music and generously gave. The band mixed music with stories that reflect what we do, and at every concert Larry never failed to dedicate a song to spouse Leslie, a dedicated former board member, so it’s all in the family!

Ron Still Running the Race for Vets

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Navy Vet Ron Bryant continues to serve his country as a Veterans Service Officer, working through Disabled American Veterans as an advocate for those entitled to compensation for service-related issues, including PTSD and other psychological disabilities. He and SFB-CRC participated in a Veterans StandDown event in Tucson March 15. Its purpose was to “be open to all veterans, National Guard, and reservists in the area. There was assistance with clothing, haircuts, housing, legal help, mental health services, spiritual counseling, employment, disability claims, benefits, pet care, and much more.” Ron has helped 209 veterans, including 27 women, many who dealt with sexual harassment or worse, to get new or additional benefits from the VA. A veterans’ peer support specialist will be available at SFB-CRC once a month to consult with veterans who are hesitant to apply for new or additional benefits.

Money Management Grads Set Goals

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Doug and Aliceann Christy, along with three coaches from financial institutions and some excellent guest speakers, led students in our Financial Well-Being class through a ten-week financial planning journey that prompted specific plans to get a handle on personal finances. “A vision without actions is only a dream,” Doug told them. Each developed a detailed plan for the next few months that includes actions such as paying off credit card debt at 30% interest with the help of the Jewish Free Loan Fund that charges no interest to qualified applicants. Other actions included implementing a balanced budget and allocating funding for all expenses at the beginning of the month.  Although participants shared confidential information only with coaches, the students enjoyed support from each other. A new program will be offered soon.  


CNA Class a Healthy Option

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The popular Certified Nurse Assistant training combines realistic experiences (including Martha the Manikin) with solid preparation for the state certification test. It’s on site for four weeks with a fifth week in a clinical setting, led by Jennie Gaines, an instructor from the CareGiver Training Institute (part of Pima Council on Aging), currently working with 3 students in our second class series. Students can also opt to pursue a short caregiver training session to better qualify for a broad range of entry-level care positions, and some choose to pursue further training in health care.  

Line and Prep Grads Headed to New Jobs

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Our line and prep workforce development class featured an excellent group graduating April 5, already qualified for immediate placement in restaurants in dire need of staffing. Students acquired cooking and food preparation skills under the guidance of Chef Charles, who contacted local establishments to help them find jobs. “I’ve cooked for a long time,” said student Alma Martinez, but I learned so many new skills.

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Our Cardboard Cowboy

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Wrangling cardboard keeps Larry Anderson in shape as he heads into his eighties. Wrestling big boxes isn’t exactly fun for anyone, but Larry is one of those hard working volunteers you can spot Tuesdays feeding Captain Crunch, our baling machine, which allows us to more easily recycle, and it brings in money for our operations when we sell the bales. He loves the camaraderie with fellow wranglers and thanks to them putting the word out, SFB-CRC is being inundated with more cardboard to crunch for cash. Joining us during the winter months, Larry and his wife live near Bemidji, Minnesota. They rented in Green Valley for years, then bought a home. Some of their close friends moved here as well.

Larry represents a great example of the devotion and dedication our hundreds of volunteers bring to SFB-CRC in so many ways.

“I want to be busy doing something that helps others,” Larry said, and he is enthusiastic about the benefits of the physical work for his health and longevity. “When I’m not here during the summer or on trips away, I’m always eager to get back.”

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Lourdes’ Gift

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“I love my family first; they are my blessings and my life.” Our Outreach Program Coordinator Lourdes Hendrickson grew up with eight siblings in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Raised by an obviously busy mom and a taxi driver father, she has three nearly grown children of her own now—Raymond Bryan, working on his Masters in Finance, Alana Michelle at U of A studying psychology and considering medical school, and Mark Lee, a high school sophomore.

Lourdes worked as a certified safety officer for a trucking company, a domestic violence counselor, a certified caregiver, a health worker, and community outreach worker for the Pima County Health Department, and brings us a wealth of experience. We were immediately impressed with her ability to work with clients in need of health services.

“She invites people to want to work with her,” said SFB-CRC Executive Director Carlos Valles, “thanks to her warmth, sense of caring, and commitment to her goals.”

Lourdes will focus on recruiting participants for all the SFB-CRC programs, both at our Sahuarita hub and across the region. Her expertise in communicating with people in communities we serve is a gift, and her understanding of what some of these programs can mean to people’s lives will be such an asset to the success of our outreach goals.

It’s a win/win, though, since Lourdes feels she has been given a gift, too.

“I love the community,” she said, “and I want to bring new programs to them. Knowledge and access to programs and services is so important. I love the feeling of being able to serve the community. I am living the values of my parents.”

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