Donate now: Together Tempe transforms lives across the city
A ride to a doctor’s appointment. A bag packed with nutritious food. A hot shower. An after-school activity.
Small actions, big impact – all supported by the Tempe Community Council.
What began in 1972 as a grassroots effort to tackle human service issues in Tempe has grown into a vital operation that plays a critical role in addressing immediate and long-term needs throughout the city.
This year alone, Tempe Community Council (TCC) is administering more than $1.2 million in human services funding to 47 nonprofit organizations that serve Tempe residents. This Saturday, Mayor Mark Mitchell's Annual State of the Neighborhood Address will focus on giving back. A Care Fair hosted by TCC will immediately follow his speech, allowing people to both give and receive a variety of services. The events begin at 8 a.m. at Tempe History Museum, 809 E. Southern Ave., Tempe. www.tempe.gov/stateoftheneighborhoods for details.
TCC’s mission – “Connecting those in need with those who care” – means Timothy Mindrup has a safe place to live, eat and shower as he moves from homelessness to a brighter future with assistance from the Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (I-HELP).
That mission means 89-year-old Elsie Mulligan can get to her medical appointments with volunteers from Tempe Neighbors Helping Neighbors. And it means Erica Leasure, a homeschooling mom of six, can shop the shelves at Tempe Community Action Agency’s food pantry for fruits, veggies and other staples for her family.
“There are people from all walks of life here,” said Leasure during a recent visit to the food pantry. “The community is using this. We need it.”
Meeting critical needs
As human service needs continue to grow in the city, a new initiative – Together Tempe – aims to support even more programs to help individuals and families.
Together Tempe is building on the generosity of residents who, for two decades, have helped people in need by donating $1 a month through their water bills.
The original program, “Project H20,” initially used homeowner donations to pay others’ past due water bills. Then the program evolved, becoming “Help to Others,” with a mission to support human service needs instead. TCC, in partnership with the city, became the program administrator.
In the past 20 years, those two programs have generated more than $1.1 million in donations. But awareness and donations have dropped due, in part, to the shift toward electronic billing and the high numbers of people in multi-family housing who don’t receive water bills.
Together Tempe seeks to re-engage homeowners who previously donated, connect with people living in apartments and condos, and appeal to businesses that generally don’t donate through the water bill.
If all 42,000 utility bill recipients donated $1 per month, the program could raise $504,000 annually to support human service needs. Every dollar goes to direct services.
“There are extensive needs in our community,” said Elizabeth Cling, TCC’s board president,
“Almost 22 percent of residents in Tempe live below the poverty line,” she said. “Whether it’s an after-school program, a shelter for homeless youth and families, or assistance for homebound seniors, these are some of the critical services that receive funding from TCC.”
Easy to give back
Here’s how you can support Together Tempe:
•Donate at www.togethertempe.org. Give throughout the year or make a one-time gift.
•Add $1 to the Together Tempe Voluntary Donation line on your utility bill.
•Not all bills include the donation line but the city’s customer service representatives can assist with donations, and can also increase the amount you wish to give each month beyond $1. Call 480-350-8361 for assistance.
Human service needs in the city continue to grow. This year, nonprofit organizations requested more than $2.1 million in funding, up from more than $1.8 million in 2017 and nearly $1.2 million in 2016.
TCC focuses on six target populations: youth, seniors, the working poor, people with disabilities, people who are homeless, and domestic violence victims. Community volunteers with TCC vet funding requests and recommend grants through the Agency Review process.
In addition to distributing funds, TCC operates several programs such as free tax preparation services for low- and moderate-income taxpayers and clothing closets that provide free clothing, hygiene items and school supplies to students in need.
Changing lives across the city
The impact of Tempe’s human services funding is easy to see in the faces of the people receiving help every day.
When they spot each other, Elsie Mulligan and Kay Slaven exchange smiles - the kind that friends share. Slaven volunteers three times a week with Tempe Neighbors Helping Neighbors (TNHN), which matches volunteers with seniors in the community who need transportation, basic home and yard maintenance, friendly visits, and more.
“I don’t have a car anymore,” said Mulligan. “Without this (TNHN), I’d have to call a taxi or one of my kids, and they’re busy. So it’s just nice to have someone available and reliable…Kay’s just been a very good friend.”
Not far away, kids spill into the Ladmo branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley after school, filling the place with a chorus of laughter and chatter. They split off for computer time, art activities, sports, and snacks, spending the next several hours in a safe and welcoming place.
“The club is a window of opportunity,” said Jevin D. Hodge, a former staff member who grew his leadership skills at the branch and now is heavily involved in the community. “It’s nourishment for the mind, body and soul.”
At 47, Timothy Mindrup is thankful for new opportunities. He looks hopeful.
The road has been long from well-paid security consultant to drug and alcohol addict to lost soul sleeping in the park. Hungry and dirty, he welcomed help from the City of Tempe’s homeless outreach team. That led to shelter, regular meals and a mobile trailer where he could shower and do his laundry through I-HELP.
Operated by Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA), I-HELP provides immediate assistance and resources to find employment and regain self-sufficiency. Mindrup needed it all, starting with the shower.
“If you can stay clean, you can wipe the stink off you, the despair,” he said. “You can get the street off you.”
Newly employed as a transportation specialist, Mindrup is grateful for I-HELP.
“It meant everything in the world to me,” he said. “It was literally a ray of hope.”
To learn more about Together Tempe and make a donation, visit Tempe Community Council. See how human services funding impacts the community in this video.