As part of their In the Community Conversations, today Thunderbirds’ 2021 Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins held a virtual chat with Dede Devine, President and CEO of Native American Connections to talk about the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, identify the immediate needs of the organization and find out how the community at large can help support the mission of Native American Connections.
Since 1972, Native American Connections has been changing lives, strengthening families, and building healthy communities. They began as a small grassroots organization operating one program for Native American men in recovery from substance abuse. Today, Native American Connections owns and operates 21 sites throughout Central Phoenix, offering a continuum of affordable housing, behavioral health, and community development services which touch and change the lives of over 10,000 individuals and families each year.
“We said two things when COVID started. No one will be evicted and no one will go hungry,” said Devine. “We began really helping our residents understand about rental assistance and utility assistance and how they can apply for federal and state programs that can help them.”
Native American Connections also has focused heavily on food distribution and making sure their guests have adequate nourishment and a safe place to eat.
“We really began organizing around getting food distribution out to our communities,” said Devine. “At first, the schools got really active in making sure there are still meals and everything for children, but some of that is beginning to close now. We’re really makings ure there’s enough food for all the children and families.”
In addition to food service, Native American Connections is bolstering their substance abuse and residential programs during the crisis.
“On the substance abuse recovery side, we have residential and outpatient programs and we didn’t want anyone that was in our residential program to have to leave and go out in the street,” said Devine. “We’ve kept our treatment centers open and we’re sheltering in place, both with our housing residents and our behavioral health residents so we can keep our employees, residents and clients safe.”
How can the community help Native American Connections?
“We have a volunteer coordinator and if you go to our website, nativeconnections.org, you can connect with our volunteer coordinator,” said Devine. “[We] need everything [you can find] in your home. Anything that’s donated helps them take care of their family better, stay stably housed, keep together during this tough time. They need cleaning products and hand sanitizer and toilet paper and canned goods and food.”
Native American Connections
4520 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85012