Chandler nonprofits confront soaring needs The Chandler Arizonan

Chandler nonprofits confront soaring needs

Chandler nonprofits confront soaring needs

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

The numbers at AZCEND’s food bank slowly started to rise as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.

A quarter of the people coming for food boxes have never visited before, AZCEND CEO Trinity Donovan added, suggesting demand could be growing in the community for basic necessities.

Donovan is one of many nonprofit leaders in the Chandler who have had to quickly respond to the complexities of the COVID-19 crisis.

This week, city officials are partnering with For Our City-Chandler to celebrate Chandler Gives Week from April 6–10, asking the community to make a donation of any amount for distribution to local nonprofits with the most need.

Donations can be made at Donations also can be made directly to a nonprofit of choice at

“Chandler’s residents are known for their generosity, especially to those in need,” said Mayor Kevin Hartke. “Due to the coronavirus impacting people’s livelihoods, we’re seeing more people in need and we are asking for everyone’s help to get through this. All donations — small or large — are welcomed and greatly appreciated.”

For Our City-Chandler nonprofits most impacted by COVID-19 include: About Care, AZCEND, Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley, Chandler CARE Center, East Valley Jewish Community Center, FANS Across America, ICAN, Matthew’s Crossing, Neighbors Who Care, Resurrection Street Ministries, Salvation Army and the YMCA.

Supply donation options also will be accepted at the Chandler Salvation Army, 85 E. Saragosa St. for: gift cards from local Chandler restaurants for clients currently staying in homeless shelter; diapers in sizes 4, 5 and 6; toilet paper for homebound seniors; pocket hand sanitizers for the homeless and new or unused craft supplies for youth.

The City also encourages people to connect with it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for daily updates on how the community and businesses are giving back.

Donavan has a large community to serve, yet her team of volunteers must find creative ways to deliver services without contracting or spreading the contagious virus.

Her staff has been told to minimize in-person contact with clients and conduct appointments over the phone.

Before the pandemic hit, AZCEND was already struggling to provide enough rental assistance for residents facing eviction notices.

Gov. Doug Ducey issued a directive last month prohibiting evictions until July 23 for anyone who is impacted by the coronavirus.

“We’re definitely in a period of unknown in terms of what will continue to happen, knowing each week may bring something new,” Donovan said.

Niki Tapia, the city’s community resources supervisor, helps to manage the For Our City coalition and said there’s a “tremendous” need for resources from Chandler’s nonprofits.

The pandemic has not only generated a greater demand for social services, Tapia said, but it’s interfered with an organization’s ability to continue accumulating donations.

“Many nonprofits have had to cancel annual fundraisers that make up a significant amount of their yearly budget for services,” Tapia said. “Many have understandably seen a reduction in volunteers and are concerned about paying for increased staff hours to continue providing basic services.”

The Chandler Care Center, a nonprofit operated under the Chandler Unified School District, is specifically seeking more soaps, shampoos and deodorants to hand out with its food boxes.

Though the center has temporarily suspended most of its in-person services, the nonprofit’s food bank is still open and has already seen its clientele triple in size over the last couple weeks, according to Executive Director Katie Kahle.

“We’re also increasing the amount of food we provide clients as much as we’re able to without depleting our resources,” Kahle added.   

About Care, another Chandler nonprofit, is looking for more sanitary and cleaning supplies to give to 450 elderly residents it serves in Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek.

The organization normally has volunteers driving senior citizens around Chandler to medical offices or recreation centers. But public health officials are advising older residents to stay home, which has prompted About Care to refocus its resources to homebound care.

Ann Marie McArthur, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer, said her 150 volunteers are trying to keep clients home by bringing groceries and supplies to them.

Most of About Care’s clients are low-income residents, McArthur said, and don’t have a stockpile of toilet paper or canned goods.

About Care is also prioritizing the emotional needs of clients by making sure every one of them regularly gets a friendly phone call from a volunteer.

“They’re isolated anyway but now it’s gotten to a point where we really need to make a concentrated effort to reach out to these people,” McArthur said.

Neighbors Who Care, a nonprofit serving up to 600 senior citizens in south Chandler, has had to make some operational changes to help volunteers avoid one-on-one contact with clients.

Bonnie Kosar, a social worker for the organization, said they’re instructing clients to conduct their grocery shopping online and volunteers will drop the food off at their door.

Even the clients who don’t have internet access are being helped over the phone to get the supplies they need, Kosar added. 

My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter near Chandler, is now screening new residents over the phone for signs of the virus.

Someone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 could still potentially stay in a quarantined section of the shelter, even though My Sister’s Place is already operating at its full capacity.

Jean Christofferson, a spokesperson for the shelter, said staff is limiting contact with current residents and the shelter’s communal spaces can only be occupied by one resident or family at a time.

Valley of the Sun United Way launched a “United for the Valley COVID-19 Fund” to support families and businesses impacted by the virus and begged for help, asking for donations at or via texting UnitedFund to 51555.

The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits said a survey found that nearly 90 percent of the 364 members are predicting a loss of nearly $30 million in revenue from canceled events.

   “It’s incredibly difficult to watch this happening and we’re certainly much too early in the process to even try to determine an overall dollar impact, but we do know that organizations reporting revenue impact expect to lose an average of 31 percent of their revenue with reported ranges up to $10 million,” said Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits CEO Kristen Merrifield.

Since 2013, Arizona Gives Day has generated $17 million in donations to Arizona nonprofits with $3.6 million donated in 2019.

Early giving is open at

To contribute to the Arizona Community Foundation:

Despite all the chaos that COVID-19 has afflicted on businesses and nonprofits, Donovan appreciates the goodness Chandler residents have shown.

“Our community is really doing what it can as well,” Donovan said. “It’s been great to see that camaraderie and that teamwork.”

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