Community Heroes: Partners for Paiute Navigates COVID-19, Neighborhood Needs

By Recker McDowell —

For Lynn Whitman and others involved with the Partners for Paiute community and nonprofit group in Scottsdale, COVID-19 and all its impacts have hit fundraising and prompted some quick pivots.

“We canceled our annual fundraiser which basically is our most significant fundraiser,“ said Whitman, who is president of the Partners for Paiute board of directors.

Partners for Paiute supports programs and services at the Paiute Neighborhood Center in southern Scottsdale. The center and partnering nonprofit groups as well as the city of Scottsdale offer programs and services to families, children, and residents. It is located near 64th Street and Osborn Road.

The center, like other facilities in Scottsdale, has been closed because of COVID -19. Still, the center, its agencies and Partners for Paiute have continued to provide services and helped households in need with diapers, food boxes, and car seats.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, Keogh Health Connection, the Arizona Head Start Association, Scottsdale Bar Association, and city of Scottsdale community services all have programs at the Paiute Center, which was previously an elementary school.

The programs include helping residents finding housing and medical care, assisting women  and children in domestic violence situations, and offering, emergency food boxes, diapers and car seats to families in need.

Partners for Paiute provides ‘gap funding’ to help agencies and other nonprofits at the center with their programs, events, and operations.

Whitman said she has seen increased demand for new car seats from residents in need since COVID-19 hit the community and economy. The pandemic and other upheavals have hit lower-paid workers in industries such as hotels, retail, and restaurants especially hard.

Seventy six percent of the 1.2 million jobs threatened by COVID-19 regionally are in lower wage positions that pay under $40,000 per year.

Whitman said the cancelations of the annual fundraiser deprived her group of revenue streams.

“We have lots of things that generate revenue: raffles, silent auctions. That was basically gone,” said Whitman who is a business advisor and has been involved with a number of other nonprofits and community groups in the Scottsdale area.

Whitman said that impacted smaller, individual, and one-time donors who might have donated because they attended the canceled event.

So, like other nonprofits and community groups, Whitman said Partners for Paiute has pivoted to reaching out to donors and potential donors on social media as well as through its email lists.

“We ended up doing ok,” she said of those efforts.

She said Partners for Paiute’s board is all volunteers. She said group’s focus remains to help fund for programs and agencies operating at the center.

Whitman said the Scottsdale group is looking at holding a fundraiser in the fall. But that depends on the situation with COVID and the economy, she said.

The same dynamic hold true for after school and other programs for kids and families.

“We don’t know what after school is going to look like,” she said.

Click here to see more on Partners for Paiute and to donate.