More than two years ago, Michele Estavillo joined the Sahuarita Food Bank Board and serves as our events coordinator. She has organized and staffed many community and food drive events, including Christmas in July, our booth at the Pecan Festival, the Kids Care Fair, Relay for Life, the Latter-Day Saints Food Drive and the Sahuarita Spooktacular.
Born in Ohio, Michelle was raised in Arizona. She lives in Sahuarita with her husband and two girls, who also volunteer for the food bank. Her husband, Ramon, drives the food bank truck occasionally, and the whole family staffs some events. “I was always taught it was important to give back and I am teaching my children the same,” says Michele.
Michele is a 13-year employee for Tucson Electric Power, where she is Customer Advocate, and often volunteers for many of the company’s community events. Although her work is challenging, she still makes time to serve.
To relax, Michele and her family like to attend sporting events, often where one of the girls is competing, such as in the Tucson rodeo.
Thank you to TEP for encouraging volunteerism with your employees and sending us Michele for her to contribute her time and talent.
By Ellen Siler, Contributing Writer
Often the holidays inspire us to want to help others. But once the holidays are over, the need to feed the hungry remains. Our ability to provide enough food to feed people in our community depends upon reliable, sustained donations.
Often there’s an ebb and flow to donations. We often see an increase in donations beginning in the fall and through the holidays, which also are times of greater need. For example, on November 15 we set a record for the number of people we served: 156 households and 646 individuals.
But other months can be quite lean. Food in our pantry dwindles down to the very basics. This means that those who depend on us will be food insufficient and hungry. It doesn’t have to be that way.
As we look forward to 2019, consider becoming a sustaining contributor. Your regularly scheduled gifts provide reliable funding and food supplies so that we can consistently meet the needs of our hungry neighbors.
“[Sustaining contributions] are like breathing,” said Nancy Ackley, SFB Board Member who specializes in development. “We don’t need to think about whether funds will be there, they just are and help us on an ongoing basis.”
You can make ongoing contributions through our secure website, which allows for one-time or automatic monthly or annual donations. Contributing monthly helps us offset our already low operations costs, which includes purchasing food items that are needed.
Join us today in our fight against hunger with your Sustaining Gift. Do it today while holiday spirit touches you.
Happily giving to those in need.
Loving, laughter, help us to feed.
Building up those who are down.
Sharing, caring, a better town…
By Jana S. Eaton, Contributing Writer
When asked how she would be recognized at a local coffee shop where we met for this interview, Susan Eaton chirped, “I’ll be the only 77-year-old with spiky hair!”
As our volunteer operations coordinator, Sue channels her energy into hours of volunteer work each week.
Sue began her career serving as Director of Religious Education at three Connecticut churches. Twenty-five years after graduating from college, she changed course, earning a master’s degree in education and embarked on a teaching career in 1988, teaching grade school for 20 years.
In 2008, Sue retired in Arizona, having wintered here for the previous four years. A year later she married the love of her life, Walt Burzycki.
She and Walt now share a mission to serve the Sahuarita Food Bank. “Every client impacts my life in a big way,” she says. “I listen and help if I can, often networking my clients with other service organizations to get them get the help they need.”
One memorable occasion was when a person in a wheelchair recently lost his wife to cancer. Friends and relatives were coming to his home to celebrate her life, but there was no food to serve the guests. The Food Bank provided entire meal for the memorial party, from turkey to desserts.
In another incident, a client lost her husband and asked the landlord for an extension on rental payments until she could get the finances straightened out. Instead, the landlord evicted her, but Eaton and her colleagues were able to network to procure financial assistance.
“We always treat clients with the dignity and respect they deserve. For me, this is a total commitment. I work where I’m needed and for as many hours as needed. I just love what I am doing,” Sue said. “It feeds my spirit. It is my mission in life.”
Tucson Electric Power recently made two significant in-kind donations to the Sahuarita Food Bank. TEP gifted four preowned Hewlett-Packard laptop computers and also printed two multi-page, full-color brochures for us in their corporate printing center.
“The print jobs are very high quality on glossy paper, and everyone who has seen them is very impressed,” said Curt Keim, SFB Vice President.
The cost of purchasing laptops and paying for printing services could have easily cost us thousands of dollars in capital and operating costs.
The GVR Computer Club also was kind enough to donate and install operating systems on the computers as well as Microsoft Office software, which was donated by Microsoft.
We are so appreciative for these and the many other gifts that we receive from the area corporations, businesses and community groups, which allows us to put nearly all of our funding to helping feed the hungry and provide the means for self-sufficiency.
Our operations have grown so much over the past few years that we have outgrown the space that we’re currently leasing from The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ.
With insufficient space to serve our growing number of clients, store food and offer programming through our Community Resource Center, the need for a new facility is clear if we are to continue to fulfill our mission.
To address this need, the Sahuarita Food Bank plans to build a new 7,000 sq. ft. facility for food collection, storage and processing in addition to 2,000 sq. ft. for programming to support our Community Resource Center. Construction costs are estimated to be $2.2 million.
A larger facility would allow us operate more efficiently, feed more people and address the root causes of hunger and poverty. We will be able to offer effective programming, such as counseling, coaching, employment and training assistance and nutritional programs together with community partners.
Our decision to build for the future was made only after a feasibility study and readiness evaluation of our organization and the community were conducted. Results of these studies were very positive.
If you’d like to learn more about our building campaign and are interested in supporting us, please contact SFB Board President Penny Pestle. We hope you’ll join us in building for the future. It’s an exciting time!
I love this opportunity to step back and reflect on what has happened in the last year, before plunging into the next year. Next year will take us into new directions that will allow us to serve our clients and the community even more successfully.
It is most important that I thank you—our donors, supporters and volunteers. In our 2018 Community Report, you’ll experience the power of our shared mission—to feed those who are hungry and address the underlying causes of poverty. This report will soon be posted on our website and distributed to our supporters.
We are deeply grateful for your generosity in donating food, making financial contributions and providing grants. Along with this, the incredibly hard work of 150 volunteers has allowed us to accomplish the following:
Other accomplishments this year that were key to our future include:
Again, on behalf of our clients, volunteers, and board, thank you for your generosity, support and interest in supporting our mission.