THE APPLE BASKET
Job Fair Highlights How We Need Each Other
SFB-CRC has once again displayed its dedication as an organization promoting self-reliance in the face of economic adversity, sponsoring another successful job fair May 15 at our facility. In conjunction with the Town of Sahuarita Economic Development Department, it is the second such event we sponsored, and this time we brought double the number of employers (23) and nearly triple the job seekers (135) face to face to explore their mutual interests.
“Our company knows that people needing food also want long-term careers with really good pay,” stated Taylor Kessler, human resources generalist from Green Valley Cooling and Heating. They completely train future technicians, as long as they want to work and have a GED or HS diploma. It’s why they came to the job fair, Taylor said. It’s the same reason why Pima County One-Stop, Desert Diamond Casino, Child Care Resource and referral health care organizations, a truck-driving school, school districts, and many other employers locally and from Rio Rico, Tucson, and Nogales came. They want dedicated and reliable workers.
Job seekers included everyone from students looking for an entry-level job to seniors struggling on fixed incomes. They don’t agree with people who say they don’t want to work. They were enthusiastic about the opportunities and know they need to do what it takes to appeal to these employers as candidates.
From the young man who stated bluntly that he just needs a job and is willing to be flexible with his options to the woman with a Ph.D. who spoke with a Continental School official to explore teaching possibilities that would fully utilize her skills and experience, the job fair brought people together who need each other. And, as a community we need them to need each other.
Prosperity Initiative Reflects Our Mission
Reducing Poverty Now Program Manager Bonnie Bazata presented a brand new policy development initiative May 19 to the Better Together Steering Committee at SFB-CRC that is designed to help break the generational poverty cycle and improve opportunity. She and colleague Nicole Fyffe of the Pima County Administrator’s Office introduced the Prosperity Initiative to include eight municipalities in its initial exploration.
SFB-CRC has convened the Better Together Southern Arizona Coalition for seven years. Its focus has been to increase economic well-being throughout out service areas, so its goals and this initiative mesh perfectly with our mission. Participants in the coalition include both local school districts, the Town of Sahuarita, Pima County, faith-based organizations, businesses and non-profits, housing specialists, and workforce developers.
The Prosperity Initiative was formed as an intergovernmental effort to address historically high levels of poverty in Pima County that result in suffering and adversely affect the ability of the next generation to achieve financial success. Although the full impact of the pandemic is yet to be determined, in Pima County in 2021, 15.1% of households lived in poverty, and the rate for children was over 20%. The first stage goal is to develop 5-10 policy positions that can be adopted or adapted by any of these governing bodies, and the second stage will focus on aligning local government operations and investments to best implement the policies.
Many families not technically considered in poverty still live with the stress of financial instability. Prior to the pandemic, nearly half of households reported their income did not keep up with spending over the course of the year, according to the Financial Health Network. Yet, research indicates certain policies and investments can assist them and reduce costs to the communities as a whole, returning long-term value, especially when focused on families with children, single mothers and families of color.
Multiple efforts across the region to address immediate needs and alleviate suffering from poverty often are not enough to move people out of it. Although this is not an argument to reduce the safety net, it is an opportunity to think and plan long-term with focus on breaking the cycle of poverty and creating conditions for individual and community prosperity. Policies must be evidence-based and endorsed or recommended by national well-recognized non-partisan authorities on anti-poverty strategies. They should include ideas that are applicable and achievable and relatable to local service providers, experts, committees and commissions, and those with lived experience at the local level. Policies should also consider the impact of historic and/or systemic inequities and when possible prioritize ways to address and mitigate them.
Addressing poverty is not a one-size fits all approach, so some policies may apply or be implementable in some communities but not others, but the Prosperity Initiative is certainly a new chance for all of us to serve as architects for significant change for the next generation.
If you’d like more information on the Prosperity Initiative, please contact Bonnie Bazata at email@example.com or 520-724-3704.
We Bring Hope and Possibilities
Please take a moment to check out the programs Sahuarita Food Bank & Community Resource Center offers to our community and surrounding areas by clicking the button below. Perhaps we can be of assistance to you or your family. You will be treated with kindness and respect as we explore the possibilities together. Help us help you by contacting SFB-CRC at (520) 777-7675 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to meeting you.
An assistant pastor leading youth and family programs for three years at The Good Shepherd UCC when the food bank first started there, Nathan Watts was also one of its earliest volunteers. Returning from service in Flagstaff, New Orleans, and Dallas to take on a new role as our Rural Program Coordinator, he says he’s “challenged by the newness of this pilot program and has confidence that it will have a real impact on the communities around us.”
On the job for six weeks now, he is enthusiastic about this new opportunity. “It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve been looking for a team and to be reintroduced to the culture of the food bank. The chance to build something from the ground up is exciting.”
Born in Ohio, raised in Dallas, Nathan attended college in Kansas City, then graduated Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2014 before coming here. A pastoral background that nurtured skills in listening, empathy and caring for others will help him in cultivating and maintaining relationships with rural partners, and to be attentive to the needs of the community-based organizations in those communities. Nathan feels it’s a great fit with his experience in community organizing, starting new programs, working with local leaders, helping to build capacity, and guiding organizations and individuals in how to sustain an effort.
The SFB-CRC Rural Program is a pilot and so it’s experimental for us, but we believe it’s an important step to bring services to those who cannot or may not see the opportunity to come to us. There are so many possibilities with the program, particularly with rural health, which means not only physical health, but also the “social determinants of health including economic opportunity.”
Readers may recall that we are eagerly awaiting the customization of a trailer used as a mobile classroom, office, food distribution site, and more. Nathan is conducting a comprehensive needs assessment to determine what Summit, Arivaca, Amado, Sasabe, Ajo and others want and need to improve their family, health, and economic well-being utilizing this mobile unit. He’s already hearing they need food assistance, as well as workforce development and adult education from financial coaching, basic computer skills, entrepreneurship, social media fluency, and behavioral health services. There is lots of potential for reaching out to rural communities as Nathan works to help move this program forward.
“Everyone who knew Nathan when he last was here is thrilled that he is back in southern Arizona,” said SFB-CRC Board President Penny Pestle,“and has chosen to work with our wonderful, dedicated staff and volunteers.”
Collaborating with Arivaca Human Resources, a strong and stable organization in this small rural community about an hour away in southern Pima County, SFB-CRC brought eleven organizations there April 26 to serve residents at the Arivaca Resource Fair. As part of our growth in rural outreach, the fair attracted 82 people, 12% of the population, to receive services, including 8 Covid vaccines, 2 flu vaccines, 2 blood pressure checks, 4 Google IT signups, 1 veterans claim, 1 job referral, 10 family support service referrals, and 16 liver scans, 3 that required immediate medical attention.
Friday Night Feast a New Favorite
SFB-CRC unveiled a new program in March called MEALS2GO. The board and staff have dreamed for some time of a program to provide prepared meals for a donation. Weezie Bryson, a chef/instructor who recently moved from Montana, managed a prepared meals program for a food bank there, and the response has been so good Weezie now has volunteer help from students from our line and prep classes learning how to cook in quantity. People can reserve a meal to “pay it forward” for someone else, perhaps a shut-in, or just as a break from cooking for themselves, and our volunteers gain valuable cooking experience at the same time. One recent week we prepared 84 meals, and people are returning each week. Any community member can reserve a meal prior to Wednesday evening by simply going to the website sahuaritafoodbank.org to “Food” and then click on MEALS2GO..