We want to say “thank you” to Martha K. Rothman for her outsized contributions to our community, and especially to its children. But a simple expression of gratitude seems inadequate.
That was our first thought on learning of the death of Rothman, the extraordinary Tucsonan who founded Child & Family Resources Inc. and served as its executive director for more than three decades.
Rothman died at home July 2. She was 89.
When she founded the nonprofit in 1970, it was called The Tucson Association of Child Care, and she said her “original dream was to put Child Protective Services out of business.”
Rothman told the Star 10 years ago when she retired from the organization that her hope had been that her new agency could provide so much education and support to families that CPS, the state agency charged with protecting children in abusive situations, would become unnecessary.
Of course, it didn’t turn out that way. But, as Rothman noted in that 2004 interview, “With all the stress on families and the pressures of today’s society, children are not the top priority” so the need for CPS’ services has continued.
And so, unequivocably, has the need for Child & Family Resources.
The private, nonprofit agency is still headquartered in Tucson, but it also has offices in Phoenix, Sierra Vista, Douglas, Safford, Bullhead City, Kingman, Nogales, Apache Junction, Casa Grande and Yuma, and employs 260 people, according to www.childfamilyresources.org, its website.
Most important, it offers 31 programs to help 34,000 families and children annually. Among the myriad services it provides are child-care programs, parenting classes, meal programs and after-school care.
Rothman was a former editor of the Arizona Jewish Post, and among her many contributions to the community she worked as a volunteer with the National Council of Jewish Women and the United Way of Southern Arizona.
In Rothman’s memory, her family suggested that donations be made Casa de los Niños, the Tucson Pima Arts Council or donorschoose.org (“Teachers ask. You choose.”).
The Martha K. Rothman Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to individuals or groups who, like Rothman, have “a long history of diligently championing the issues of children and families” and have had “deep, far-reaching results” and also “successfully made today a better place for Arizona children.” As Rothman did.
When she retired from the agency 10 years ago (but not from her work in the community; “I’m not retiring from life,” she remarked), Rothman recalled many of its successes — and, of course, some of its failures.
“You have to have heart for this kind of work, because it’s hard,” she said.
There’s no question about it: Martha Rothman’s heart was colossal.