Sharing Success Expands During Pandemic
Partnership between AzGT and CoBank delivers more money to more local groups during the challenges of the pandemic
Throughout the year, Arizona Generation and Transmission Cooperatives (AzGT) observes the Seventh Cooperative Principal, Concern for Community, by supporting the charities and organizations that operate in the communities it serves. And each year, CoBank, a financial institution that serves cooperatives across the country, offers a boost to those community efforts through the Sharing Success program. In the past, CoBank has matched up to $5000 of donations to a maximum of two organizations per cooperative from a fund of $4 million. When the COVID-19 pandemic delivered additional hardship to communities across the country, CoBank increased its Sharing Success fund to $5 million, pledged to match up to $10,000 in donations per cooperative, and expanded the number of organizations per cooperative to four. AzGT made use of this expansion with four different donations that totaled $19,000 to the community.
“We’re not only investing in the teachers, we’re also investing in the students,” said Jacqui Clay, superintendent of Cochise County Schools and treasurer for Cochise Education Foundation (CEF). “And if you take care of the teachers, automatically, they’re going to take care of the students. And, overall, that’s a good thing for the whole community.”
AzGT and CoBank have usually supported CEF with a total of $3000 for its Teacher of the Year awards and its classroom mini-grant program, which gives teachers $200 for classroom projects they normally cannot afford. The pandemic continues to impact how schools operate, and CEF needed funding for professional development for teachers to provide online learning as schools decide if and when to reopen classrooms. Therefore, AzGT and CoBank increased their total donation to $5000 to help fund the additional need.
“With sincere gratefulness, we thank Arizona G&T Cooperatives and CoBank for their generous donation of $5000 that’s going to help our students, our teachers, and our communities move forward during this COVID-19 time in history,” Clay said.
Willcox Theater and Arts also received a boost in donations. Its Matinee My Way program, which provides movies at lower volumes and with the lights on for those with challenges that prevent them from enjoying the traditional movie environment, has received the funds in the past. This year, AzGT and CoBank expanded their support from $3000 to $5000 to the theater so that it can also fund its ArtsRageous program for youth and its Creative Aging program for seniors.
“As a theater in this town, I think it’s a big thing. People don’t have to drive an hour and a half or an hour and 45 minutes to the theater to watch first-run or second-run movies, and, we’re not as expensive as the big boys are,” said Gary Clement, general manager of the theater. “To be able to have AzGT and CoBank be able to help us help the community is a wonderful and great partnership.”
Because of the pandemic’s effect on the economy, AzGT expanded its assistance to the Benson Area Food Bank. Joy Riley, the food bank’s president, explained that current demand is exceeding their ability to purchase food for their clients; therefore, they will provide gift cards to allow clients to purchase what they need. As with the two previous organizations, AzGT donated $2500 and CoBank matched it so that the total donation was $5000.
“We have seen an increase in traffic,” Riley said. “You guys have a concern for the community and we’re very willing to help with your donation. Without donations, we can’t feed the people.”
The fourth donation extends the life of something that serves children throughout Cochise County. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is used by Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc. (CCHCI), to provide pediatric dental services. However, the vehicle uses a generator for its electrical needs. AzGT and CoBank provided matching donations of $2000 for a total of $4000 to install a permanent power source, called shore power, from CCHCI’s Benson clinic to the Care Mobile, which will reduce wear and tear on the generator.
“In order to save our generator for those communities where we really need it, where we go to rural areas where there’s no power at all, we’re very fortunate to be able to plug in here, and that will be possible through AzGT and CoBank,” said Dr. Brianna Hillier, DMD, director of dental services for CCHCI. “It’s going to just prolong the Care Mobile’s life that much more.”
“These Care Mobiles are a half-a-million dollar investment, and so, whatever we can do to keep them running for the longest time possible is what we want to do, and the shore power is a step in that direction,” said Kate Maguire Jensen, president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona. “It’s really amazing that you all are funding really important things in your own community, and sometimes these amounts of money get overlooked. It’s really important to spend money where you live. From all of us at the Ronald McDonald House Charities, I want to thank Arizona G&T and CoBank for this really incredible investment.”