“We couldn’t afford beds for the girls, I didn’t know what to do!” This was the comment made by a young couple who just took in their THREE nieces after the Arizona Department of Child Safety removed them from a dangerous home environment. This couple (who had never had children and still stepped up to make a home for these girls) found assistance at the 8,000 square foot warehouse in Scottsdale operated by Arizona Helping Hands (“AHH”). The warehouse exists today to serve families like this only due to a program that is unique throughout the country, the Arizona Foster Care Tax Credit.
Dan Shufelt, President and CEO of AHH tells us, “One of our favorite sayings at Arizona Helping Hands is that THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES, especially when your focus is on doing good for kids in our community! This is so proven by the history of our service to children in foster care. In July, 2013, we stuck a toe in to fill a crucial void in service to foster families. At that time there was no place in Arizona where a family who literally just had children dropped on their doorstep could go to receive a bed or a crib. Children were sleeping on the sofa, on air mattresses, even in business offices – after having experienced disruption and trauma at such a young age.”
Arizona Helping Hands (“AHH”), a small fledgling charity stepped in to try and help by filling this gap in service to families that opened up their hearts and homes to kids in need. In 2013, they were operating as a small band of volunteers, doing their best to make a difference in whatever way they could. The first month of the bed program, AHH provided 7 beds to children who were taken into the Arizona Department of Child Safety system. They had no clue of the demand for this service, and limited resources to be able to provide something as important as a bed to sleep in to these boys and girls.
Then we return to NO COINCIDENCES! Out of the blue, in an unexpected move for a State government that has a dubious reputation for services to children in our State, the Arizona State Legislature passed a tax credit to support organizations whose work is focused on support of foster children. This was a GAME CHANGER for AHH! This monetary support from the State – many would say the most unlikely source, has made expansion of services a possibility – and today a reality!
2016 expansion of the Foster Care Tax Credit program now enables married individuals to donate $1,000 per year to AHH and other programs and receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their Arizona State income tax return. Donations can be made through April 15, 2017 and increase your 2016 State tax refund.
These tax dollars have provided Arizona Helping Hands with resources that provided 2,003 kids a SAFE PLACE TO SLEEP in 2016. The program growth is truly evident in the fact that AHH provided 229 beds in March, 2017 alone – compared with 7 in July, 2013! In addition, clothing, diapers, personal care packages, home safety items and even personalized birthday gifts are provided to let these kids know they are loved and cared for!
“The people of Arizona have made this all possible” says Shufelt. “Our programs continue to expand to serve the basic essential needs of the 17,000 kids in foster care. We do everything possible to ensure that these boys and girls are safe and comfortable in a home environment, they need to know that they are important and their community CARES! We thank all who #StandUp with us to truly make a difference in kid’s lives every day.”
You can learn more about AHH and support their work at www.azhelpinghands.org
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For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, contact Dan Shufelt at firstname.lastname@example.org, 480.889.0604