Come and See
SFB-CRC’s open house is just around the corner. November 18 is the date to remember for a chance to celebrate and express our gratitude for the generosity from our donors and the expertise from our construction partners. They made this happen.
We had planned the opening for only a few months after completion of the new building in January, but we decided to wait until programs were up and running so that members of our community could see first-hand what this center for food, health, and learning is really about. We now have partners in place, including Pima County’s Community and Workforce Development, Valley Assistance Services, and Ron Bryant, an advocate for his fellow veterans, assisting them in the process of obtaining the disability benefits they’re entitled to receive.
There will be self-guided tours, activities for the kids, music of all types, free food for the first 300 attendees, and a brief program at 5:30. And, there will be a surprise!
Please join us for this joyful event. See you November 18.
SFB-CRC Hosted Huge Health Fair
SFB-CRC showed its diversity as a center for health as well as food and learning, hosting its first health fair October 20. Pima County Health Department arranged for 24 health-related organizations to gather and provide a variety of services and information for the 300 people attending, including Covid boosters and flu shots, fatty liver scans, A1C testing, and much more. Food bank visitors attended along with relatives and friends, as well as other members of the community, even several children. It was perhaps the largest health fair this year between Tucson and Nogales!
Normally SFB-CRC gets plenty of lead time to apply for funding for operations or a specific program. Thursday afternoon, October 13, we were summoned to apply for a $15,000 grant to provide food, nutrition education, and other support for 60 households once a month. A great opportunity, but the deadline was midnight the next day. Whaaat? No problem for our expert grant writer Curt Keim, who gathered some volunteer help and pulled the trigger on the submission of the eight-page document at 4:31 on the 14th—a new record. Stay tuned to see if we get approved!
Typically food drives start gearing up around Thanksgiving, but our generous food donors are way ahead of the game this year, and we’re so grateful they are, especially given the increase in food bank visitors and the holidays coming soon.
All the service clubs in the area—notably Rotary, Lions, Optimists, and Kiwanis—were first out of the gate, united in bringing in 300 pounds of food and more than $2600 in cash contributions. The local LDS Stake collected nearly a thousand pounds of food. Green Valley News and Pioneer Title added a couple hundred pounds each. What a difference they all make in our mission to feed the hungry.
Turning It Around
Eight new students are working to make personal health changes through our diabetes prevention and management program. SFB-CRC collaborated with our partner Valley Assistance Services to secure a grant that helps us provide nutrition education taught once a week by VAS director Chris Erickson. In addition, Jennie Gaines teaches diabetes-friendly cooking classes through the Food Matters program, and A1C levels will be monitored to chart improvement.
“For years I’ve been pre-diabetic,” testified one of our students, “but recently my A1C spiked. My health clinic gave only skimpy info citing no references, and when asked about reliable internet sources, my nurse practitioner only said, ‘It’s confusing.’ I love the format—small classes, good Q and A time, knowledgeable guidance, and tips on what sources not to trust. It’s rejuvenating my health focus.”
Adventure With Friends
We have plenty of groups that volunteer—youth groups, airmen from Davis Monthan, National Honor Society students from Walden Grove High School—but none enjoy their volunteer involvement more than Adventure with Friends.
Penny Grabowski has a special needs son and has gathered together a group of special needs adults to help provide them with a variety of experiences in their lives. These “adventurers” come by every second and fourth Friday to help pack our weekend shelf-stable food for kids who otherwise would go hungry over the weekend. They relax over lunch and celebrate packing close to half the 650 bags of food we distribute every week in this program.
It’s not work to them. Jeff says he “wants to help people,” and for Amanda it’s particularly meaningful that they are helping children who are hungry. It brings joy and sense of purpose for them, and it’s a huge help for us and the people we serve.
First Job Fair a Success
SFB-CRC held its first job fair October 11, hosting 14 employers and 45 job seekers. Pima and Santa Cruz Counties’ One-Stop teams and the Better Business Bureau worked to bring everybody together. An advocate for our area’s businesses and residents, State Senator Gabaldon stopped in to underscore the importance of employment opportunities here.
“Job fairs are an integral part of economic growth in the area,” said Victor Gonzalez, Director of Economic Development and Public Affairs for the Town of Sahuarita.
There was a diversity of seekers, from young people to couples just moving to the area to seniors on fixed incomes in a battle with rising costs of food, rent, and services. Some wanted a career change. One moved here to escape domestic abuse and needed to find work immediately to support her family.
Employers included Freeport McMoRan, GV Cooling and Heating, Desert Diamond Casino, various health agencies, and many others. They were eager to meet prospects, and we intend to keep in contact with them to learn how many jobs were filled as a result of the fair.
Rhode Island Retiree Does It All
He will tackle any job we find for him. After coming aboard in January, Jimmy McComiskey has quickly developed a reputation as a volunteer who is a pleasure to work with and will take on pretty much any task.
He manages all the cardboard that goes into our baler dubbed Captain Crunch, but is best known as the SFB-CRC champion potato sorter. An organic farmer supplies us with small potatoes that arrive on site in huge bags—generally one on a pallet—and Jimmy has become an expert small potato sorter and bagger. He believes he probably has sorted 10,000 pounds of potatoes—five tons!
“He’s handy to have around,” acknowledged fellow volunteer Dennis Beyer. He agreed that he will do pretty much anything he is told to do, but Jimmy insists he never feels like he’s being told what to do. They just come to an agreement on what needs to be done, he put it.
Born and bred in Rhode Island, Jimmy and his wife Rachel retired in Vail to be close to their three grandchildren after a 30-year career in the construction industry installing sheet rock mostly in Boston in large building projects. They love it here. “I don’t have to shovel,” he said.
Jimmy is self-learning the guitar, enjoys card playing, and he and Rachel are seeing the West after spending so much of his life on the East Coast. Zion is checked off and next is Alaska, then Austin for the music.
He was going to volunteer twice a month, but now makes the drive from Vail two days a week. “I have had a great life,” he explained, “and I have a need to give back.” He really enjoys it, he added, because “everyone is so nice.”
We’re so lucky he decided to “Go West!”