Rural AZ Communities Take on Hunger

Rural AZ Communities Take on Hunger

            The Yavapai County VISTA Project (YCVP), of Prescott College, was founded in 2006. YCVP envisions that, “healthy, compassionate, engaged and vibrant communities are able to meet their own needs and create their own visions for a sustainable and just future.” Currently, over 40 National Service members are working with 30 providers and community groups across Yavapai County towards this vision.

            Yavapai County is nearly the size of Massachusetts and of the 35 communities within its boundaries, only 8 are incorporated. The remaining 27 non-incorporated communities have limited or no public infrastructure. Each of these incorporated and unincorporated communities have specific and varied needs. However, these communities share the burden of poverty. In every community families are food insecure and children are skipping meals. Food security programs have seen a tremendous increase in demand over the last two years. One program, Open Door, a Prescott based meal provider, has seen an increase of 132% since last year.  This countywide issue will be the focus of our 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance programming.

            Prescott College’s partners include: The Coalition for Compassion and Justice, Prescott Area Leadership, First Things First of Arizona, Prescott United Methodist Church, Humboldt Elementary School and the Humboldt School District, Head Start, Yavapai County Habitat for Humanity, The Prescott Area Women’s Shelter, People Who Care , Neighbor 2 Neighbor, Yavapai College and the Retiree Connection, Yavapai Community Health Services and the Medical Reserve Corps, Northern Arizona State University, The Call to Duty Foundation, Beaver Creek Regional Council, and The City of Prescott.

            Our 9/11 Day of Service programming will honor and remember the service given following the tragic events of 9/11 by continuing to inspire Americans to answer the call of service. Our 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance activities will help to present hunger, including childhood hunger, as an ongoing tragedy that needs the immediate and active response of our compassionate community.

Poverty in Yavapai County

According to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 1.4 million Arizonans live in poverty. For a family of four, this means an annual household income of less than $21,954. The poverty rate for Arizona children is even more alarming. At 31.3%, Arizona is second only to Mississippi for the highest child poverty rate in the United States. 28.4% of all children (age 18 and under) in Yavapai County live below the poverty level. In three schools within our county more than 90% of students are on the free or reduced lunch program.

Sources:

U.S. Census Bureau: Yavapai County. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/04/04025.html

Kids Count Data Center: Yavapai County.

http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/stateprofile.aspx?state=AZ&group=Featured&loc=211&dt=1%2c3%2c2%2c4

 

            Starting on September 1, 2011 The Yavapai County VISTA Project and our partners, will lead a county wide food drive initiative with the goal to engage a minimum of 400 people in service providing valuable non perishable items to our local food banks and food security programming. Volunteers are expected to generate over $10,000 worth of dry goods and over 2,000 items for the food banks. Levels of service will range from minimal (donation) to considerable (site coordination).

            Food Collection sites will be set up with partnering organizations all over the county. A minimum of 20 collection sites will be developed with a “Site Coordinator” at each of the service locations. These volunteer Site Coordinators will be responsible for the management of the site including recording appropriate and required participant information. Three of these sites will be highlighted as signature sites for the 9/11 Day of Service: (1) The Beaver Creek School in the Rimrock/Lake Montezuma community. The Rimrock/Lake Montezuma area is considered an unincorporated area and the Beaver Creek School acts as a community center in addition to a school for grade P-K to 8. (2) The City of Prescott will be the largest service site with the goal to gather over 150 people on September 11, 2011 (the concluding event). (3) US VETS and the VA Center in Prescott, AZ.  In preparation for the September 22, 2011, Stand Down US VETS will also be collecting underwear, socks and undershirts on September 4, 2011 during their “Undie Sunday” event. These items will be directed towards the veterans Stand Down and made available to veterans and their families in need.

            On September 11, 2011, the 11 day food drive will conclude with an afternoon service of remembrance and a volunteer run sorting and collection event at the Prescott United Methodist Church. Remembrance activities will be open to all people in the community and geared toward honoring and remembering those that lost their lives and those that found a commitment to service in the days the followed 9/11.

            To engage media and maximize exposure of the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 events and the National Day of service, we will utilize existing media relationships and activate our “Media Team” of youth and adults who have supported our community wide events in the past. Our Media Team has been influential in making sure we are able to get local earned media. Other outreach efforts will include participation in community presentations, displaying information on the Yavapai County VISTA Project website and blog (www.ycvp.org and http://blog.ycvp.org/), utilize social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as be incorporated into the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) network of 9/11 activities (i.e. Serve.gov).

            Additionally, local broadcasting services such as Yavapai Broadcasting provide free Public Service Announcements for organizations, and we are in communication with local media outlets such as The Daily Courier out of Prescott and The Journal Extra out of Cottonwood to promote the day’s events. We anticipate media promotion to begin no later than one month prior to the 9/11 Service event.

            Building off of our prior successes with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service we are confident in our ability to bring new and renewed commitment to the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance and integrate this National Day of Service here in our rural communities.