Originally Published: September 18, 2012 10 p.m.
At the United Way of Yavapai County campaign kickoff, Sister Simone Campbell with Nuns on the Bus spoke about the importance of trust and commitment in helping each other as a way to move the nation forward during these tough economic times.
"Henry Ford, a person we hold up as the ultimate capitalist, figured out that he needed to pay his workers the unheard of sum of $5 a day," said Campbell, the executive director of Network and a member of Leadership Conference of Women Religious. "It proved a smart business move on his part, because workers could buy his autos. When money gets shifted to the folks who are working hard, it can take off for the whole community."
That's something that holds true today, Campbell said as she encouraged leaders of nonprofits to work together to help solve issues in their communities during the United Way event on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at the Prescott Resort.
"We are now a community impact agency, we are no longer a donation pass-through agency," said Melanie Jacobson, executive director of United Way of Yavapai County. "Why? Because we could no longer justify competing for the same number of dollars that 1,200 nonprofits in this county are looking for."
The community-impact model asks existing nonprofits to work together to address social service issues that they can no longer address on their own, Jacobson said.
"I'm proud to report that we started out with 13 programs and 26 agencies," Jacobson said. "Those 13 programs now have 140 agencies working on those programs. Why? Because they see the impact, they see the program working, and they want to participate."
Gerry Garvey, a community activist, said the new method changed reporting from the number of people served to "measuring outcomes in terms of how they changed people's lives" - a model many state and federal funding agencies switched to as well.
"Now no one is recreating the wheel," Garvey said. "If a service that your client needs is across the street, you don't have to start that service. You have to work with the agency across the street."
Mike Williams, a United Way of Yavapai County board member in Prescott, spoke about a woman who decided to change her life after jail, found work, and help from a transitional living program supported by United Way.
"She was proud to hold up her checkbook with $5,000 in it,"
Williams said of the money she had earned to get her own place. "I just thought, gosh, this is why we work for United Way. We can't save everybody, but we can save people one at a time."
The collaborative process is bringing together nonprofits to determine critical needs within the community and work together to address them, Garvey said.
For example, Prescott Area Women's Shelter has been trying to create more transitional housing for families, but couldn't do it on its own, said Carmen Frederic, director of PAWS.
So PAWS worked with Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans Administration, Catholic Charities, and Journey to Real Estate to help provide housing for one family in transition, Frederic said.
PAWS rents the apartment from Journey to Real Estate, and when the family occupying it includes a veteran then DAV and the VA help pay a portion of the rent to help the family financially as they work and get back on their feet, Frederic said.
A partnership with AWEE and Catholic Charities also helps shelter residents learn about budgeting and job readiness skills, thanks to a grant from United Way, Frederic said.
In the Verde Valley, the Verde Food Council worked out a plan with St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix to distribute food to 12 food pantries and food banks, said Harvey Grady, with the Verde Food Council.
The group is also working with local farmers to supply local school districts with fresh vegetables.
"There are a lot of hidden costs in the global food system - oil, transportation, personnel," said Grady, noting the plan cuts down on those costs and helps the community support its own needs.
A farmer who visited with children and the food service manager at a local school, learned about their needs, and that school lunch was the only meal of the day some children had, Grady said.
Instead of offering to sell the food service manager 1,200 chickens as he originally planned, he said he'd like to sell them 600 chickens and donate the other 600 chickens, Grady said.
The Verde Food Council is also working with schools to create gardens at schools and within the community where people can grow their own fruits and vegetables, Grady said.