“We thank you for what you do for our community,” said Joanna Michelin, chairwoman of the Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona board of directors. “You do incredible work every day for those who are the least, the lost and the little.”
Michelin’s comments concluded an hour-long presentation ceremony that awarded seven grants totalling $200,000 to nonprofit agencies providing health and social services in the community.
“You know, it’s just marvelous for us on the Legacy Foundation to hear your stories about what it is you do and what you plan to do with these funds. It just motivates us and makes us feel really good about what it is we do,” said Margaret Hepburn, the organization’s chief executive officer. “Thank you all for what you do in the community, you work hard and you’re invaluable.”
The largest grant awarded Thursday will support construction of a new community center in Winchester Heights — an unincorporated area located northeast of Willcox in Cochise County.
Gail Emrick, executive director at Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center, said the project will make a significant difference in the community.
“Winchester Heights has four unpaved roads and some dilapidated trailers,” Emrick said. “With this money they are going to be able to have a park, a place where kids can play safely, and a community center where people can meet and plan a better future.”
Emrick was joined by Latysha Watson, finance director for SEAHEC.
The Legacy Foundation awarded the organization two $50,000 grants for the next two years.
Funding awarded to the Cochise Family Advocacy Center will help it continue helping victims of abuse and human trafficking. Spokeswoman Brenda Parker said the center has already had five forensic interviews since the start of this year and its services are quickly becoming familiar to law enforcement agencies in Huachuca City, Benson, Bisbee, Willcox and others.
“We don’t need to have people hurt to do what we do, it’s already out there,” Parker said.
She said the advocacy center has started working with area physician services and in local schools to help authorities and professionals identify the symptoms of abuse victims.
“That’s where it starts, with the young kids,” she said.
Jennifer Camano, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said $18,500 received from the Legacy Foundation will further the agency’s efforts to reduce home fires and prepare families for disasters.
She referred to the “pillowcase project,” which teaches children to pack a pillowcase with supplies, to prepare when disaster strikes. The Red Cross is also working with families to install smoke and natural gas detectors in local homes and with other agencies on disaster preparedness, Camano said.
Toni Leo of Whisper’s Sanctuary, said a $8,120 grant from the Legacy Foundation will help the organization fund program that will offer caregivers a break from the stress of the work by providing a place for them to relax and spend a weekend learning more about the profession. Whisper’s Sanctuary offers lifetime care to animals and Leo operates both Sparky’s Cantina, a “no-meat” food trailer; and a bed and breakfast. Together with the program for caregivers, Leo said Whisper’s Sanctuary will provide a place for people to relax, interact with animals and eat really good, all-natural, food.
Legacy Foundation awarded a two-year grant totalling almost $70,000 to the Sierra Vista Boys and Girls Club.
Jay Hamwright and Detric Miles said the funds will help the club continue its work of providing a safe place for kids to go before and after school, to participate in educational and recreational programming.
Hamwright serves as the organization's chief professional officer and Miles is clubhouse director.
The Boys and Girls Club served more than 500 kids in Sierra Vista last year, and currently has 120 children in its after school program, and 140 are signed up for the summer program.
“We really try to work with the kids and make sure they have what they need for a bright future, to achieve academic success, develop characteristics of citizenship and learning how to live a healthy lifestyle,” Hamwright said.