Tucson now has another philanthropic funding source to assist in the aftermath of disasters.
The nonprofit Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has established the Southern Arizona Emergency Relief Fund. The goal is to facilitate immediate assistance following a natural disaster, from wildfires to floods, or an emergency like a terrorist attack, said Clint Mabie, president and CEO of the Community Foundation.
Previously the grant-making organization had responded episodically after a local disaster, connecting donors wanting to help with those involved in relief efforts, Mabie said.
“What we haven’t been is proactive in creating a vehicle to be able to respond in a quicker way,” he said. “Every emergency is different and affects a different part of the community.”
The fund could offer support to agencies working on emergency housing for disaster victims or the Red Cross or animal-welfare agencies, he said.
“Each one of them, while they have resources, needs additional resources to be able to address these (incidents),” Mabie said. “None of them are part of any planned budget.”
The idea was modeled after a similar fund set up by a community foundation in Amarillo, Texas, Mabie said.
Clay Stribling, president and CEO of the Amarillo Area Foundation, said a wildfire fund set up a dozen years ago soon morphed into a general emergency-response fund to meet varied needs in the region.
The fund sometimes gets unexpected requests.
For instance, after a particularly brutal wildfire season, a local volunteer firefighter department said it primarily needed sunscreen and bottled water, Stribling said.
“This fund gives us the ability to be really flexible and react quickly when something pops up in our area,” he said.