Scottsdale Cares can become agent of change through community support

Scottsdale Cares offers residents an opportunity to support families and young people in need looking to make tomorrow better than today for themselves. (Submitted photo)

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and small, positive efforts can change the world are ideas that seem to be the guiding force behind Scottsdale Cares.

The Scottsdale Cares program is a system where for $1 local residents can change the lives of the less-fortunate, and — through empathy and compassion — change the community at large.

“Scottsdale Cares is the city of Scottsdale’s voluntary utility bill donation program that supports a variety of human service programs,” said Justin Boyd, Scottsdale housing coordinator.

“Initiated in May 1995, Scottsdale Cares has received over $1 million from Scottsdale residents — donated one dollar at a time. Scottsdale Cares is an easy way to help neighbors in need by adding $1 to your monthly water bill.”

According to Mr. Boyd, 100 percent of donations received by Scottsdale Cares goes directly to those in need within Scottsdale city limits.
The dollars collected through Scottsdale Cares are granted to local nonprofit agencies that:

  • Promote the positive development of youth, adults and seniors;
  • Strengthen the capability of families and the self-sufficiency of adults; and
  • Assist Scottsdale citizens of all ages in addressing crisis needs.

Mr. Boyd explains Scottsdale has a critical level of outreach need with services ranging from rent assistance to emergency food delivery programs.

“Scottsdale Cares was developed to accept donations to assist nonprofit agencies that provide programs for thousands of individuals facing tough times in our community,” he said.

Scottsdale outreach officials at both the Vista Del Camino Community Center and Paiute Neighborhood Center say in 2018 the amount of need is like a rising tide that doesn’t raise all ships, but rather puts barriers to the American Dream.

About 9 percent, or just over 21,000 human beings, live below the poverty line in Scottsdale, which is defined as a gross annual income less than $21,954 for a family of four, according to the latest Census figures.

And, just as Scottsdale outreach officials are seeing a steady rise to need, Scottsdale Cares is seeing the same trend. A breakdown of the last three fiscal years:

  • In funding year 2018-19, Scottsdale Cares had $150,000 available to allocate as the program received 22 applications requesting $361,036.
  • In funding year 2017-18, Scottsdale Cares had $180,000 available to allocate as the program received 21 applications requesting $390,996.
  • In funding year 2016-17, Scottsdale Cares had $100,000 available to allocate as the program received 28 applications requesting $446,002.

“The corresponding trend for Scottsdale Cares is the need for funding to local human services agencies far exceeds the amount of funding available annually to allocate,” Mr. Boyd said.

But finding a way to help more in need is where the Scottsdale Charros come in to the picture.

“The 2017 grant in the amount of $10,000 received from the Charro Foundation was added to the funding amount available for funding year 2018-19,” Mr. Boyd said of the philanthropic outfit. “This increased the amount available to allocate from $140,000 to $150,000.”

The Scottsdale Cares program helps fund programs putting foster kids together with caring volunteers. (Submitted photo)

Providing community support

For 57 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.

Scottsdale Cares also seeks to improve the quality of life of all residents through helping to fund health and wellness efforts citywide. (Submitted photo)

“The voluntary contribution from residents allows the city to fund numerous social service needs,” said Dennis Robbins, executive director of the Scottsdale Charros, of why the group opted to provide grant dollars to the Cares program.

“Either by design or by default, the city provides services to residents who desperately need them. I think it is a worthwhile program where resident can voluntarily give $1 a month to help other residents in need.”

Mr. Robbins says the program is designed to corral the power of quantity to help improve the quality of the lives of those less-fortunate who live within city limits.

“I think it makes a difference,” he said. “Since its inception, our citizens have donated over $1 million to Scottsdale Cares. The donation is tax deductible and it has helped thousands within our community.”

Mr. Robbins points out the donation is not mandatory and those interested can view the qualified nonprofits who participate in the program.

He says just last year Cares donations made the differences in place like:

  • Mentoring youth in foster care;
  • Boys & Girls Clubs youth programs for low-income youth;
  • Emergency rent/mortgage assistance; and
  • STARS programs for disabled individuals to help find jobs.

“Your donation impacts the lives of each individual this program touches in so many life-changing ways,” he said.

“It certainly does accomplish much with very little effort by our residents. There are approximately 100,000 households in Scottsdale. If each household gave $1 a month Scottsdale Cares would have over $1.2 million dollars per year to help our residents that desperately need it.”

In all, Scottsdale Cares help to provided outreach in the following ways last fiscal year:

  • 1,148 households received mentoring/peer support services;
  • 955 households received adult services;
  • 939 received homeless/shelter services;
  • 132 received job training/work assistance; and
  • 45 received youth support services.

Donations are not limited to $1, Mr. Boyd says, explaining residents can submit a check, in any amount, and make it out to “Scottsdale Cares” and mail it to the Community Assistance Office at 6535 E. Osborn Road, No. 8, Scottsdale, AZ 85251.

To learn more about Scottsdale Cares, go to scottsdaleaz.gov.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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