SFB-CRC is inviting members of the community to join them at Rancho Sahuarita Friday, February 7, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., for a celebration with music and great refreshments to kick off the Nourishing Our Community public campaign. It’s an opportunity to showcase the plan to construct a new building that will revolutionize services for the needy, and to show SFB-CRC’s love for this community and the many ways they serve it, such as food, health and nutrition services, family support programs, and workforce development programs. Check out the attached flyer with all the details and RSVP to email@example.com.
They had to be stopped.
Pesky squirrels took over Anamax Park’s garden enclosure, burrowing and yanking and nibbling and chomping until there were no carrots left. Countless volunteer hours of planting, watering, and fertilizing were wasted and the Town of Sahuarita’s dream to give local families and organizations a place to create their own edible crops in the park seemed to be dying in the desert dust left behind.
But then three years ago, the Town of Sahuarita Parks and Recreation Department, in collaboration with Rancho Sahuarita resident Ashley Blood, teamed up with the SFB-CRC staff to fight back. They studied squirrel traps, chemicals, feral cats and non-toxic snakes, ultimately rejecting them as ineffective, inhumane, or just plain scary, settling on a slippery solution that would eventually defeat the cunning little combatants.
The Food Bank purchased ten galvanized steel cattle troughs, very tall with slick sides that discouraged the climbing squirrels. SFB-CRC put up a shed for garden tools and bought soil and equipment and the Town pitched in with a picnic table under a shady mesquite tree, complete with irrigation and ongoing access to the garden along a newly completed sidewalk.
Today the garden has given 25 families and organizations, including Girl Scout troops and a special education preschool class, the opportunity to grow healthy food, some of which goes directly to the Food Bank. There is now a waiting list for the gardening troughs, protected by netting over PVC piping. The Joyner Green Valley and Sahuarita libraries provide gardening classes and seeds.
Ashley, who used to lead the classes through Master Gardeners, can now focus on keeping the plots occupied and encouraging all the participants.
Ashley victoriously waved the first carrot of the season, proving that perseverance and people who care about their community will always triumph.
With a new $100,000 anonymous pledge, the Sahuarita Food Bank & Community Resource Center’s Nourishing Our Community capital campaign now has reached nearly 70 percent of its $2.2 million goal.
We have received generous contributions, large and small, from 130 donors. Every donation is bringing us closer to the reality of a new building for feeding the hungry and supporting those who are seeking to strengthen their families and workforce skills, so that their lives can be more stable and economically secure. Our campaign has reached almost $1.5 million and is entering its final push.
We need your help now to meet the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation’s challenge to match their $150,000 grant with community donations. Visit sahuaritafoodbank.org/make-a-capital-gift to help us now. Or, if you or your company has a foundation that supports projects like the SFB-CRC, please contact Curtis Keim at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are an individual with questions about supporting the project, contact Penny Pestle at email@example.com.
Even with the work from 200 volunteers providing more than 22,000 hours equivalent to 11 full-time employees, the day to day operations of the SFB-CRC cannot survive without financial support from generous donors.
Operations and the Community Resource Center programs are the two major components of SFB-CRC, and all food programs are supported by operations, including food distribution to nearly a thousand people each week, the weekend BackPacks program for 455 area students in eight schools, the Wednesday Produce program, and two school pantries, as well as many behind-the-scenes activities.
The paid positions of executive director, PT material handler, and PT Bookkeeper at $85,000 per year are essential to the efficient and responsive management of operations. Milk and egg purchases to ensure needed protein for each household on their two monthly visits cost nearly $30,000 per year. BackPack supplies cost $65,000, and purchases of material handling equipment and carts and shelving add another $10,000. Maintaining a box truck and van to transport rescued and gleaned food requires about $6,000, and off-site climate-controlled storage expenditures for non-perishable foods run about $5,000 each year. Utilities, insurance, rent, and other operations and administrative expenses that total nearly $20,000 round out the operations requirements.
Every donation is critical to the operations services SFB-CRC maintains for the community.
“Without operational funding from community members,” stated Executive Director Carlos Valles, “we cannot deliver nutritious food to more than 5,500 unique individuals we are serving this year. And, that’s really what it’s all about. Your generous donation towards operational costs helps us to continue our overall mission success.”
For Arizona taxpayers, donations up to $800 per couple and $400 per individual can be a complete tax credit on 2019 taxes (if filed by April 15). This means that your donation to us, an Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization, costs you nothing!
Sinatra sang long ago about staying young at heart, and that timeless truth still lives today in Walt Burzycki. He has learned and taught almost everything about everything when it comes to the Sahuarita Food Bank.
“Walter has been my mentor from day one,” declared SFB-CRC Executive Director Carlos Valles.
At 86, the retired commercial hauler from Connecticut perks up anytime he’s working on a puzzle or someone suggests heading to the casino. He still logs close to fifteen hours a week at the Food Bank, sharing years of knowledge with staff and volunteers, as well as doing just about any job that’s needed at the time.
“I try to make sure all jobs get covered,” he said, and he even creates tasks for new volunteers to get them engaged and keep them interested until they end up in just the right place for themselves. They call him the Food Bank General. Anyone who needs to know anything comes to him first. He has mastered just about all of it. Officially in charge of ordering the milk, eggs, bread, and regular government food products, he has a ten-person crew to supervise, but he admits, “I’m really all over the place.”
He knows he’s slowing down a bit, as one would expect, acknowledging that younger volunteers are needed to lift and tote and load and drive, but he refuses to give up the giving that has been a part of the compassionate and committed Walt since he joined the volunteer team many years ago.
When he first attended the church with spouse Sue Eaton, another major player in the volunteer effort that makes SFB-CRC a force in the community, he was struck by their mission-oriented approach, and the Food Bank has been a huge part of his life ever since.
“Our job is to take care of the hungry,” he puts it, but it’s also about a man who wants to continue to leave a mark contributing to his community, even if he is into the third act of life when many others succumb to crankiness and impassivity.
“I’ve got a place to go and something important to do,” he said. It keeps him active and he is needed.
“Most, if not all food banks, would treasure an individual such as Walter,” Carlos said. “He’s a cornerstone of the volunteer force. He is an incredible individual and we would not be where we are without him.”
Here is the best part; you have a head start, if you are among the very young at heart.
Jean Hewitt of The Women of Quail Creek (TWOQC) announced at an SFB-CRC information session that this year they will fund five $2,500 scholarships for interested and qualified women in the community who receive SFB-CRC services. The scholarships are designed to help lower-income women over 21 pursue their education. The information session ensured that the process could be explained in detail and all questions could be answered so that qualified applicants would not hesitate to apply. For more information and to download an application form, see The Women of Quail Creek Scholarship page.
SFB-CRC is grateful to the Pio Decimo Center volunteers, part of Catholic Social Services, who are providing free tax preparation for food bank visitors and others in the community. The program, in its second year, began Thursday, January 23, and will continue each Thursday, noon to 4 p.m., through April 9. Many SFB-CRC food recipients do not have access to a home computer, so they cannot complete their own taxes on-line, and commercial tax preparation agencies can charge $150 or more for that service. The volunteer preparers also ensure that families who struggle to make ends meet will be able to benefit from all tax credits available.
SFB-CRC will provide workshops regarding the importance of the 2020 US Census at four food distribution days February 20, 22, 27, and 29. Computers and SFB-CRC volunteers trained through the Complete Census Committee organized by the Town of Sahuarita will be available to assist clients and community members in completing the census on-line in both Spanish and English beginning Saturday, March 14, and on food distribution days through mid-April. The committee represents schools, health care, human services, and businesses who are keenly aware of how an accurate census can affect Federal support for the poor and underserved in Arizona. If you can help, please contact Penny Pestle at firstname.lastname@example.org.