Giving and Leading: Tempe Community Action Agency

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The Tempe Community Action Agency is a social service provider that takes a comprehensive approach to alleviating hunger, poverty and homelessness in Tempe and surrounding communities, responding to crisis situations and working to prevent such situations. TCAA executive director Deborah Arteaga will tell us more about her agency.

TED: TONIGHT'S EDITION OF ARIZONA GIVING AND LEADING LOOKS AT A TEMPE ORGANIZATION HELPING THOSE IN NEED. THE TEMPE COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCY IS A SOCIAL SERVICE PROVIDER THAT TAKES A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ALLEVIATING HUNGER, POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS IN TEMPE AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES. TCAA'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IS DEBORAH ARTEAGA. WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON.

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: THANK YOU

TED: GIVE ME A BETTER DEFINITION OF THE TEMPE COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCY.

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: YOU MENTIONED OUR MISSION STATEMENT. WE WORK TO ALLEVIATE HUNGER, POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS. OUR NAME IS A LITTLE BIT OF A MISNOMER BECAUSE WE DON'T JUST LIMIT SERVICES TO TEMPE RESIDENTS, WE SERVE INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES THROUGHOUT THE EAST VALLEY. ABOUT 43,000 SENIORS, ADULTS AND CHILDREN SERVED BY OUR PROGRAMS EVERY YEAR.

TED: THE IDEA OF A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO HUNGER AND POVERTY, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: WE WORK NOT ONLY TO ADDRESS FINANCIAL AND HOUSING CRISIS THAT INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES MAY BE EXPERIENCING WHEN THEY COME TO TCAA, OUR PROGRAMS ARE DESIGNED TO HELP PREVENT THOSE CRISES IN THE FUTURE.

TED: WHEN WE TALK ABOUT EMERGENCY SERVICES WHAT IS GOING ON?

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: PROBABLY OUR LARGEST AND MOST FAMILIAR PROGRAM IS TCAA'S FOOD PANTRY, OUR FOOD PANTRY PROVIDES ABOUT 40,000 FOOD BOXES TO THE COMMUNITY ON AN ANNUAL BASIS, THE FOOD BOXES ARE SUBSTANTIAL, CLOSE TO 30-POUNDS AND THE EQUIVALENT OF FOOD, PROVIDED TO THE COMMUNITY, IT'S ABOUT 1.2 MILLION MEALS PER YEAR THAT'S BEING PUT INTO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH THE FOOD PANTRY, WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THE FOOD PANTRY IS THAT WE OFFER EVENING HOURS SO THAT INDIVIDUALS WORKING AND STRUGGLING TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR FAMILY CAN ACCESS SERVICES IN THE EVENING AND WE OPERATE TWO COMMUNITY GARDENS AND TAKE FRESH FRUIT AND PRODUCE TO BOOST THE NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF THE FOOD BOXES.

TED: I LIKE THE IDEA OF COMMUNITY GARDENS, ORGANIC FRUITS AND VEGETABLE OUT OF THE GROUND IN TEMPE.

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: THAT'S RIGHT.

TED: UTILITIES AND HOUSING AS WELL?

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: RIGHT, INDIVIDUALS OR FAMILIES STRUGGLING WITH MAKING THEIR UTILITY BILL PAYMENT OR MAYBE FACING A DISCONNECT OR POSSIBLE EVICTION FROM NOT PAYING RENT OR MORTGAGE AND EXPERIENCING FINANCIAL CRISES CAN COME TO US FOR HELP AND WE FIND BY PROVIDING SMALL SUMS OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE WHEN FAMILIES ARE IN NEED, WE CAN HELP TO PREVENT HOMELESSNESS IN THE FUTURE FOR THEM.

TED: I THOUGHT THIS WAS INTERESTING. THE INTERFAITH HOMELESS EMERGENCY LODGING PROGRAM. WHAT'S THAT ALL ABOUT?

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: THAT'S "IHELP." SO "IHELP" IS TEMPE'S ONLY SHELTER RESOURCE FOR HOMELESS ADULTS. IT'S BEEN IN EXISTENCE FOR 10 YEARS AND A UNIQUE MODEL FOR ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS. WE WORK UNDER PARTNERSHIPS WITH 10 DIFFERENT FAITH COMMUNITIES, AND THEY PROVIDE OVERNIGHT LODGING AND SAFE AND SECURE PLACE TO SLEEP AND DURING THE DAY, OUR CASE MANAGEMENT SERVICES COME IN TO PLAY TO ADDRESS BARRIERS TO FINDING A JOB OR PERMANENT HOUSING. "IHELP" IS SERVING ABOUT 565 MEN AND WOMEN ON AN ANNUAL BASIS.

TED: NOW, PLACES OF WORSHIP ARE BASICALLY THE SPOT FOR FOLKS TO GO TO GET HELP?

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: THEY COME TO TCAA FOR ASSISTANCE, WE PUT THEM THROUGH CASE MANAGEMENT AND THEN THE OVERNIGHT LODGING SITES ARE THE FAITH COMMUNITY LOCATIONS. EVERY NIGHT, THERE'S OVERNIGHT LODGING, SERVING 35 TO 40 PER NIGHT AND IT'S A GREAT AND COST EFFECTIVE MODEL FOR ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS.

TED: YOU MENTIONED SENIOR SERVICES, THREE CENTERS IN TEMPE AND SCOTTSDALE.

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: THAT'S RIGHT. ESCALANTE SENIOR CENTER, NORTH TEMPE AND GRANITE REEF SENIOR CENTER. THEY'RE GREAT RESOURCE TO PREVENT ISOLATION AND LONELINESS THAT CAN AFFECT THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF SENIORS AND THEY CAN BENEFIT FROM MEALS, EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES AS WELL AS HOME-DELIVERED MEALS FOR THOSE WHO ARE HOME-BOUND.

TED: AND WE GO TO PRE AND POST-NATAL CARE. THAT'S RIGHT.

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: IT HAS OUTREACH WORKERS THAT WORK WITH LOW-INCOME FAMILIES THAT ARE EXPECTING AND WITH PRE AND POST NATAL CARE, WE HELP TO PREVENT LOW WEIGHT BABIES.

TED: WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: PROBABLY THE CHALLENGE AND THE OPPORTUNITY, THE CONSTANT DEMAND, THE NEED IN THE COMMUNITY WILL 43,000 INDIVIDUALS PER YEAR, WE SEE IT GO UP MORE AND MORE EVERY YEAR, WE CAN'T DO THIS WITHOUT COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS AND THE VOLUNTEERS SO IT TAKES A COMMUNITY TO HELP WITH THE DIFFICULT ISSUES.

TED: WE HAVE YOUR WEBSITE UP.

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: TEMPEACTION.ORG.

TED: NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE CITY BUT A NONPROFIT THAT WORKS INDEPENDENTLY.

DEBORAH ARTEAGA: THAT'S RIGHT.

TED: CONGRATULATIONS FOR GREAT WORK. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

Deborah Arteaga, executive director, TCAA

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