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“How can I help?” “Who should I help?”

“How can I help?” “Who should I help?” With thousands of non-profits in Southern Arizona and an ever-increasing need for our community, it can be overwhelming to determine the best place to provide support.

However, as Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona (WFSA) supporters know, it’s important to invest in organizations that not only create change, but also impact a wide spectrum of people. For example, in 2017, through grants awarded to community partners, WFSA invested over $700,000 that resulted in 9,286 women and girls increasing their income and assets by $4.6 million through higher wages, decreased debt and increased savings. This means that for every $1 invested creates $6.62 for women in Southern Arizona.

Over the years, some of those partnerships have included Literacy Connects, the Community Food Bank, Planned Parenthood, the International Rescue Committee, Earn to Learn, and many more. These partnerships aren’t just numbers and outcomes on sheets of paper. Each partnership represents countless stories of neighbors, mothers, and friends in Southern Arizona who are better off—and whose entire families and communities stand to benefit—from their success. And these are some of their stories:

Marcela & Primavera Foundation
Marcela came to Primavera Foundation in 2014 as a participant in the Her Family program, a financial empowerment program for mothers and daughters.
Life-Changing Outcome: Marcela graduated from the program in 2015 and wanted to buy her first home. Since her income was too low, she didn’t qualify for a loan, but that was not the end of Marcela’s first-time homebuyer journey. Celia Mendivil, Primavera’s co-director of HomeOwnership, worked with other organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, to help Marcela realize her dream of homeownership. Marcela completed her sweat equity time with Habitat while taking Homebuyer Education classes at Primavera. Today, Marcela owns her own home, which was purchased in 2016 using a 0% interest loan from Habitat. Primavera set Maricela up for success as a first-time homebuyer by educating her on how to manage her money and maintain her home. Maricela’s story is a testament to her hard work and perserverance, as well as to the role that collaboration plays in Primavera’s work to help women gain financial stability.

Jailene & Youth On Their Own
By the time Jailene started working with Youth On Their Own, she and her brothers had already lived in 5 or 6 different homes. Her mother worked a minimum-wage job due to her lack of a high school diploma, and didn’t have enough money to support the family. One day, Jailene’s mother moved to Canada, leaving Jailene and her siblings with different family members.
Life-Changing Outcome Despite an unimaginably difficult childhood, Jailene fought against low expectations and overcame obstacles. She graduated Desert View High School with a 3.09 GPA in 2017, and is now attending the University of Arizona with a dream to become a pediatrician. In the end, what she wants most is to make a change in this world.

• Myesha, a sophomore at Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC), has a dream to become a cardiologist or an orthopedic doctor to help people on the Tohono O’odham Nation. She has been interested in a medical career ever since noticing that many on the Nation suffer from heart problems and diabetes complications.

Myesha participated in the Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC) sponsored Future Health Leaders high school based health career club and attended the Future Health Leaders summer camp at TOCC, a partnership of SEAHEC, TOCC and the Tohono O’odham Department of Health & Social Services. Building on those successes, this past year WFSA funded SEAHEC to design the first ever public health and health careers course. Building on successes of the Cankdeska Cikana Community College on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota, SEAHEC and TOCC designed a course designed to expose students to a wide array of life experiences and help them explore professional career paths. Through this partnership, young women like Myesha can achieve their dreams of a career in a medical field while helping their communities.

While the mission of WFSA focuses on collaborating to achieve social, political and economic change that empowers women and girls, ultimately all members of the community—regardless of gender, race and economic status—benefit. So when someone asks “How can I help?” You can proudly state “Support the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona.”