Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 11:30 AM

Hope O’Brien/Cronkite News

PHOENIX – At one point Tuesday, cars came through at a rate of one every minute, six lanes across, to get boxes and bags of turkeys, potatoes and canned food from St. Mary’s Food Bank.

Members of the National Guard and volunteers in neon-orange vests, all wearing masks or bandanas, loaded up one car trunk after another to help hundreds from going hungry as the holidays approach.

“Number 6!” “Number Four!” shouted the volunteers as uniformed members of the guard and others brought the boxes to cars and trunks. People also could walk up to get goods, but drive-thru dominated the operation Tuesday.

Hunger has soared in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cratered the economy, snatched away jobs and removed the assurance that there always will be food on the table. To alleviate the suffering, local governments and nonprofit organizations are providing federal dollars.

A spokesperson for St. Mary’s, the state’s largest food bank, said it set a record – distributing an average of 10 million pounds of food a month since the pandemic hit in March. That’s the most the organization has distributed since it opened its doors more than a half-century ago.

Arizona has given food banks $1.6 million, with $600,000 of that going to St. Mary’s, which also has served the Navajo Nation.

Phoenix has put CARES Act dollars, federal money targeted for pandemic relief, to work by contracting with the Local First Arizona Foundation, a community and economic development organization. The foundation has recruited local restaurants, farmers and other businesses to help prepare and deliver meals.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2020 at 12:30 PM

Photo courtesy Shaandiin Parrish
PHOENIX – After winning the title of Miss Navajo Nation in September, Shaandiin Parrish immediately got to work on the cultural preservation and advocacy efforts central to the role.

At times, she attended five or more events in a single day, traveling across the 27,000-square-mile reservation to speak to elementary school students and attend conferences.

“You really hit the ground running,” Parrish recalled. “There’s no event too small. There’s no event too big.”

But in March, as COVID-19 swept through the Southwest, Parrish suddenly went from visiting elders and delivering motivational speeches to distributing food, supplies and information to Navajo families hit hard by the novel coronavirus that causes the deadly disease.

In the months since, Navajos have turned to Parrish for information, encouragement and aid as the virus killed at least 462 Navajos and sickened more than 9,000 others.

“I had a voice as Miss Navajo,” she said. “I never had a second thought about helping.”

Monday, August 3, 2020

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2020 at 12:00 PM

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When police discovered the woman, she’d been dead at home for at least 12 hours, alone except for her 4-year-old daughter. The early reports said only that she was 42, a mammogram technician at a hospital southwest of Atlanta and almost certainly a victim of COVID-19. Had her identity been withheld to protect her family’s privacy? Her employer’s reputation? Anesthesiologist Claire Rezba, scrolling through the news on her phone, was dismayed. “I felt like her sacrifice was really great and her child’s sacrifice was really great, and she was just this anonymous woman, you know? It seemed very trivializing.” For days, Rezba would click through Google, searching for a name, until in late March, the news stories finally supplied one: Diedre Wilkes. And almost without realizing it, Rezba began to keep count.

The next name on her list was world-famous, at least in medical circles: James Goodrich, a pediatric neurosurgeon in New York City and a pioneer in the separation of twins conjoined at the head. One of his best-known successes happened in 2016, when he led a team of 40 people in a 27-hour procedure to divide the skulls and detach the brains of 13-month-old brothers. Rezba, who’d participated in two conjoined-twins cases during her residency, had been riveted by that saga. Goodrich’s death on March 30 was a gut-punch; “it just felt personal.” Clearly, the coronavirus was coming for health care professionals, from the legends like Goodrich to the ones like Wilkes who toiled out of the spotlight and, Rezba knew, would die there.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Photo Courtesy Water Warriors United
Editor’s Note: Coronavirus has devastated Native American communities and put a spotlight on some long-standing problems in Indian Country that have made this pandemic that much worse. But at the grassroots level, everyday heroes have stepped up to help.

PHOENIX – When the sun is up, he’s up and ready to hit the road by 8. Flatbed trucks are loaded with brimming barrels of water, and the teams take off – up and down the burnt orange washboard roads that crisscross the Navajo Nation Reservation.

Zoel Zohnnie grew up on a ranch in these vast lands, knowing what it’s like to live without running water, knowing what it means to drive for miles to fill up at a community water station and then haul it back home.

“For some families, it’s a whole day of leaving home, waiting in line, coming back, unloading,” he said. “Just to drink water and have water for living.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 4:00 PM

Tomorrow afternoon the Arizona Bowl will be holding a school supply drive.

Volunteers will be collecting donations from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Fast Signs located at 3009 E Speedway which will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson.

Donations will be taken via drive-thru to ensure safety and social distancing.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge National Foster Hero Liz Johnson - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
National Foster Hero Liz Johnson
People are passionate about their fur-babies. Big or small, furry or slimy, silent or loud, people love animals and see them as part of their families.

Unfortunately, not all creatures get to share in the love and get left behind, forgotten about, or worse. If they're lucky, they make it to centers like Pima Animal Care Center where they sit and wait for their forever homes.

This can be super stressful for the animal, who only wants to feel safe and comfortable. Instead, they're crowded around other animals they don't know in conditions they're not familiar with, hoping that someone will notice them and take them in.

Enter people like Liz Johnson. Liz volunteers with PACC by fostering some of these animals until someone is willing to give them their home and heart. And now, she's being recognized for her efforts.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 12:45 PM

click to enlarge Adriana Kong-Romero, Tucson market president, Bank of America - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy Photo
Adriana Kong-Romero, Tucson market president, Bank of America
On June 2 Bank of America announced their commitment to spend $1 billion helping local communities address economic and racial inequality accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their four-year programs will focus on communities of color who have experienced a greater negative impact from the COVID-19 outbreak than others.

“Underlying economic and social disparities that exist have accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic,” said Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan in a press release. “The events of the past week have created a sense of true urgency that has arisen across our nation, particularly in view of the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live. We all need to do more.”

On May 25, a Black man named George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis over suspicion of a forged check. The graphic video of his murder in broad daylight was circulated on social media, sparking outrage and protests across the world.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2020 at 4:30 PM

click to enlarge Mel Ryan, Fry’s Food Stores Tucson District Manager (left) and Michael McDonald, CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (right) holding the $25,000 check.
Mel Ryan, Fry’s Food Stores Tucson District Manager (left) and Michael McDonald, CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (right) holding the $25,000 check.
Families looking to keep their children fed with the help of local school pantries recently received support in the form of a $25,000 grant from Fry’s Food Stores to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

The funding will support the nonprofit’s 22 school pantry programs, located in eight school districts in two counties. The pantries provide food to families despite school closures, and many continue to do so through the summer.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 5:00 PM

The Sundt Foundation donated $26,000 to two nonprofits in Southern Arizona working to address increased needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and Interfaith Community Services both received $13,000 in funding.

"Across Southern Arizona, our community is feeling the effects of COVID-19," said Sundt Foundation Tucson Board Member Rick Buchanan, in a release. "Our Foundation board made a swift decision to donate $200,000 in relief aid to over 20 nonprofits across our nine geographic markets, including three here in the Tucson region."

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has switched food distributions to a drive-through model during the pandemic for a contactless delivery. Interfaith Community Services has seen a sharp increase in people visiting its food bank.

“Many thanks to the Sundt Foundation for your continued support of ICS and our Tucson neighbors in need. You continue to make a positive difference in our community,” said Karen Latendresse of Interfaith Community Services.

The Sundt Foundation additionally awarded over $25,000 to nine other organizations across Southern Arizona during its second-quarter distributions. Grant recipients include Marshall Home for Men, Wheels for Kids, Haven Totes Inc., Exodus Community Services, Inc., Sold No More, Therapeutic Ranch for Animals & Kids (TRAK), Autism Society of Southern Arizona, Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona and the TMC Foundation.

The Sundt Foundation awards grants each quarter to nonprofit organizations that support disadvantaged children and families. Grant recipients are selected through an application process, then reviewed by Sundt employee-owners within their local giving area.

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 11:00 AM

SAN CARLOS – As she looked at the Disney characters decorating the walls of the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Dental Clinic and at the smiling, laughing children watching dental health demonstrations, Suzanne Haney thought back to what a trip to the dentist used to be.

“Back then, it was so different, it was in the ‘70s you know, the treatment wasn’t great,” said Haney, a grandmother and primary caretaker for three children under age 8. “It made you afraid to come to the dentist.”

That was just one of the challenges facing health care officials on the San Carlos Apache reservation as they struggled to improve dental health of tribe members.

While 36% of kindergartners in the U.S. experienced tooth decay, according to the 2016 edition of the First Things First’s Children’s Oral Health Report, the average in Arizona was 52%, and among Native children it was even higher. Numbers specific to the San Carlos Apache were not available, but the report said that 76% of Native American kindergartners nationwide had experienced tooth decay.

The San Carlos Apache tribe is looking to change those numbers with events like the Oral Health Month program that Haney and close to 300 others attended in February.

“We decorate the place, and we spend most of the day bringing Head Start children and the community members and let them go through and see the dental department in an environment which is fun rather than stressful,” said Dr. Gregory Waite, the chief of the San Carlos Apache dental program.