Interfaith Community Services has dedicated its new, 1,800-square-foot caregiving wing, a paid-in-full, $440,000 facility on Ina Road that poises the agency to help more people just as demand for services is expanding.
“In essence, we’ve doubled our space,” said development director Monnie Applegate after Thursday’s dedication ceremony.
“This has enabled us to serve our clients better at a time we have more need than ever,” said Ed Jenkins, president of the ICS board. “It really reflects the support we have, and the recognition in the community of the kind of services we provide.”
ICS has 13 full-time equivalent employees and a network of more than 600 volunteers, all of them serving 24,395 clients, according to figures in its annual report.
“Our services are growing by leaps and bounds within the community,” Applegate said.
ICS has more than 600 volunteers, “and we need more.”
With more demand, ICS needed more space.
It moved into the addition just after Memorial Day.
Previously, “we were doubled up with other offices,” said Pete Perona, who coordinates ICS’ mobile meals program.
There’s more space for … everything. ICS’ many services include transportation, emergency financial assistance, mobile meals, a food bank, health advocacy, caregiver relief, handy helpers for minor household repairs, reassurance phone calls, business help, friendly phoning and visiting, and more.
ICS’ mobile meals now helps 104 people — most in their 70s, 80s and 90s — receive two meals a day, one hot and one cold, made fresh daily by hospitals and retirement centers.
“It’s nutritionally balanced,” Perona said, and meals are prepared to an individual’s specific needs, anywhere from puree to gluten-free.
“We buy the meals,” and people are charged on a sliding scale, from $2.50 to $8 a day, depending on ability to pay.
Seventy percent of recipients “pay less than we pay.” ICS covers the estimated $1,500 monthly gap with donations and grants.
Volunteers, typically retired themselves, deliver the meals.
More than 40 volunteers assist with health advocacy, education and counseling.
Most of them have “a health care or social work background,” said Maricela Reynaert, a registered nurse who serves as ICS health care coordinator.
Each month, those volunteers interact with up to 60 clients, evaluating their needs for food, transportation, assistance in the home and perhaps medical care.
“We need to increase our volunteer pool, especially central and east,” Reynaert said.
For the first time, ICS has a conference room, a place where volunteers can train.
“Here, the volunteers provide the direct services,” Kampa said. “Staff support the volunteers.”
And there is a “Garden of Caring,” lined with approximately 200 commemorative bricks sold to honor volunteers and loved ones.
“That’s what we are, a place of caring,” Applegate said. “This is a place of solace and reflection.”
Interfaith Community Services was formed 23 years ago, when six faith communities pooled their resources to help needy people.
Today, there are 45 participating faith communities across Tucson, providing two-thirds of ICS volunteers and the majority of the organization’s financial support.
To help or volunteer, go to icstucson.org, send checks to ICS, 2820 W. Ina Road., Tucson, 85741-2502, or stop by the office.
‘Sobering time’ for those who help needy
This has become “a sobering time” for organizations that help the needy, according to Ed Jenkins, president of the Interfaith Community Services board of directors.
In the last three months, ICS has doubled the number of Community Food Bank food boxes it has distributed. On a Monday morning, it’s not unusual to receive more than 100 calls for help. People who’ve never needed help before, and have never had to “negotiate the welfare system,” are turning for ICS as a place to start, he said.
“We help people get over that hump,” said Mac Fiske, president of the board from 2003 through 2007. The goal is to get them “back on track to being not a liability, but an asset to the community.”
Assistance can range from work boots to a drug test to a bus pass, “any item that helps people get back to work,” executive director Bonnie Kampa said. “We never pay an individual directly. Checks are written to the provider.”