2021 Thunderbirds Charities Newsletter

The Thunderbirds – hosts of the WM Phoenix Open raised more than $3.8 million through proceeds from the 2021 edition of “The People’s Open”, held at TPC Scottsdale, February 1-7,  2021.   The 2021 version of the WM Phoenix Open was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through reduced attendance and limited building of hospitality venues, but with the help of a strong community The Thunderbirds were still able to put on “The Greatest Show on Grass”, along with generating a significant amount of money for the community at a time when it is needed most. 

“Our Arizona communities prove time and time again they are willing to rally behind this event and the hundreds of charities and non-profit organizations it supports – especially in times of crisis when charitable organizations have been hit extremely hard,” said Scott Jenkins, Tournament Chairman for the 2021 WM Phoenix Open and current Big Chief of The Thunderbirds. “We are exceptionally proud of this $3.8 million raised for Arizona charities during this challenging year, which is proof positive of the commitment and togetherness of Waste Management and the PGA TOUR, as well as our incredible fans, sponsors and volunteers.”

The Thunderbirds and the WM Phoenix Open have raised nearly $100 million ($99,558,224) since 2010 when Waste Management was named title sponsor, and in its history, dating back to 1932, the Phoenix Open has raised more than $165 million ($165,604,790) for Arizona charities.

Below are a few highlights from our Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 grantees as well as a complete listing of grant awards made during the 2021 fiscal year.


Highlighted Stories:

YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix

YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix Meals on Wheels

To see the impact of their work in action, click here to watch this short video.

YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix is pleased to announce the receipt of an impactful grant from Thunderbirds Charities to support their ongoing work to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The funds are specifically for the Senior Meals on Wheels program serving the West Valley and for the YWCA Own It! Financial Education program that empowers participants throughout the Valley.

“Like so many organizations, COVID-19 has caused unprecedented instability for many we work with,” said Debbie Esparza, YWCA CEO. “From homebound seniors facing food insecurity to women facing financial instability to marginalized communities fighting for equity, this pandemic has significantly increased, not lessened, people’s needs for our services. We are so thankful for the Thunderbirds Charities grant. It couldn’t have come at a more important time in our community.”

YWCA’s commitment to social change and community services runs deep. For more than 108 years, they have been at the forefront of most critical social movements, standing against all forms of racism and oppression while working to address the community’s most critical needs. Since March they have served more than 95,000 meals to seniors, and are on pace to serve more than 114,000 meals in a year. Their Prosperity Programs financial education courses were retooled as online and virtual offerings, allowing them to deliver their services to their non-profit partners, clients and expanding to the general public.


Harvest Compassion Center

Harvest Compassion Center (HCC) is pleased to announce it has received a $30,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities. These funds will support the mission of the Harvest Compassion Center West Phoenix to provide free food, clothing, hygiene, and baby items to local families who live in the Valley.

In partnership with Thunderbirds Charities, Harvest Compassion Center West Phoenix welcomes anyone living in Arizona to visit once every 30 days to receive a free shopping trip in their one-stop shops. Families receive recyclable grocery bags, shopping carts and personal shoppers as they are welcome to choose their needed and desired grocery and clothing items. HCC locations provide choice and dignity as well as, fun kids play-corners for families to enjoy while shopping in what they call “Food Banking Reimagined.” HCC, serving the Valley for the past 11 years, currently has three locations in West Phoenix, North Phoenix and Maryvale and has served over 60,000 families! HCC first opened its’ doors to the public in memory of one 23-year-old brother and son, Mitch Swaback. Through one family’s loss, the desire and mission to serve the underserved in Phoenix was born. If the HCC can continue showing guests love through service, our hope is our guests will return this same kindness to others.

“With amazing partners like Thunderbirds Charities, we will continue to feed, clothe and most importantly, love, local families and kids. It has been an honor to have our doors remain fully open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when local needs more than tripled overnight! What a privilege it continues to be to expand HCCs outreach and build stronger partnerships with those like Thunderbirds Charities, who continue be a stronghold throughout Arizona. Thank you, Thunderbirds Charities, for your ongoing support!” commented Nicolee Thompson, HCC CEO and Executive Director.

Harvest Compassion Center Thunderbirds Charities

To see the impact of their work in action, click here to watch this short video.


Hope Women’s Center

To see the impact of their work in action, click here to watch this short video.

Mental health issues have increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing protocols that have been in place for the past year. Hope Women’s Center is responding to this problem with their “Hope Heals” program, and thanks to a grant award from Thunderbirds Charities, HWC can provide mental health support to women and teen girls in Arizona’s underserved communities.

“Isolation, abuse, and job loss have led to increased anxiety, depression, and distress in the women we serve. We launched our ‘Hope Heals’ program last October to provide free crisis counseling, trauma assessment and support,” says Tammy Abernethy, CEO of Hope Women’s Center. “We are so grateful to Thunderbirds Charities for this grant allowing us to provide a therapeutic level of care within the safety and familiarity of Hope Women’s Center.”

Women are referred to the Hope Heals program by center staff. All crisis counseling and crisis counseling support groups are provided to clients without cost or restriction. Gaps between community need and community care are large in underserved neighborhoods, particularly in the areas of mental and emotional health. By providing care for free through the “Hope Heals” program, Hope Women’s Center is bridging those gaps.


Arizona Recreational Center for the Handicapped

The ARCHKids program provides year-round enrichment programs for children with special needs when school is not in session, including after school programming, full-day camps during seasonal breaks, and half-day camps during early release days. Working closely with community service providers, school districts and community transportation services, they serve 200 kids and youth age 8 to 22 with special needs from all ethnicities and walks of life. The $15,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities will cover enrichment activity supplies and ensure that youth with special needs from low income families will have access to supportive care when school is not in session throughout the year. Through programs provide education and socialization opportunities to improve quality of life, enrichment programs to increase independence and personal safety and physical fitness activities to combat obesity and support health and well-being.

ARCHKids Coordinator, Derrick Martinez, said “In our ARCHKids program, we provide our kids with a consistent routine of activities throughout the day and make certain that no parent struggling with the complexities of raising a child with special needs should have to choose between employment and providing safe and reliable care for their child. We are grateful to Thunderbirds Charities for their generous support for our kids and their families.”


Education Forward Arizona

The Mentoring Resilient Students project will enable Education Forward Arizona to continue providing mentoring services and support for up to 800 students who are currently enrolled in an Arizona community college or university and experienced economic hardship during the pandemic. These students meet regularly with a success adviser who helps them set goals, respond to challenges and stay on track with their college education. The program supports mostly first-generation, low-income, minority students.

The project helps students like Fransheska Salgado, who received the scholarship money after she had to move back to San Luis with her family during the pandemic. She now meets with her success adviser Stephanie Capps several times a semester.

“It has helped me remain accountable throughout this school year,” said Salgado, who is studying political science at Arizona State University. “Having Stephanie as my mentor provides a constant reminder that I am working towards my future and getting closer to my goal of graduating college.”

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing how excited my students are after completing the short- and long-term goals we’ve outlined each semester,” said Capps. “It’s wonderful to know that through our support these students will have a lifetime of success, beginning with a college degree.”


U.S.VETS — Phoenix

Thunderbirds Charities generously awarded $100,000 to U.S.VETS — Phoenix, helping to open their new veteran housing site—and forever home in Phoenix this year! For 20 years, U.S.VETS — Phoenix has proudly served homeless, at-risk, and underserved veterans across our community. As the largest nonprofit exclusively dedicated to veterans in Maricopa County and the United States, U.S.VETS — Phoenix provides housing, career development and mental health services, meals and case management to veterans and their families.

U.S.VETS — Phoenix provided more than 50,000 nights of housing last year to homeless and at-risk veterans—men and women who bravely served our country and deserve  our support. “Thanks to the City of Phoenix and dedicated long-time supporters like Thunderbirds Charities, U.S.VETS — Phoenix will be relocating to their new home in May 2022 and expand critical services and housing for Phoenix veterans,” notes Michelle Jameson, Executive Director of U.S.VETS — Phoenix. “We wouldn’t be where we are today, proudly watching our veterans move into their new homes, without dedicated partners like Thunderbirds Charities.” U.S.VETS — Phoenix will continue in its mission until no one who served our country is left sleeping on our streets.


At-Risk Youth & Families

A New Leaf Services for Children & Youth
$250,000
Strengthening Foster, Kinship, Adoptive Families
$10,000
Fostering Success for Children in Foster Care
$25,000
Arouet Opportunity Center
$25,000
Operation School Bell
$20,000
Chandler Food Bank
$10,000
Phoenix Virtual Mentoring Program
$25,000
Billy's Place School Enhancement for Grieving Kids
$10,000
Supporting our Community Youth During COVID-19
$50,000
Mariachi Sones del Desierto
$5,000
Support for Non-English Speaking Kinship Families
$37,000
Surviving to Thriving by Transforming A Home!
$25,000
Pet Therapy Program
$20,000
Maricopa County Forever Families
$5,000
Girl Scout Social Impact Programs
$50,000
The LifeStars Challenge Maricopa County Expansion
$20,000
Life Needs Program
$10,000
Empowering Youth For The Future
$50,000
Hushabye Nursery Grand Opening
$100,000
ICAN's Positive Youth Development Program
$50,000
Career and College Readiness
$50,000
After-School Photography Mentoring & Grads Program
$10,000
Mentor Recruitment & Training to Serve Maryvale
$40,000
Arizona Youth Thriving
$25,000
Healing and COVID-19 Recovery for Foster Children
$30,000
R's of ResilientMe
$10,000
Rising Youth Theatre Arts Leadership Program
$10,000
Swift After School
$5,000
Teen Crisis Hotline/Textline
$200,000
The MVP Leadership Academy
$50,000
Supporting Year Up Arizona Student Advancement
$50,000
Neighborhood Roots Preschool Initiative
$80,000

Community Outreach / Quality of Life

Safely Empowering Independent Living
$30,000
HOPE Services
$50,000
Improving Lives Impacted by Pediatric Cancer
$50,000
The Dementia Care & Education Campus
$150,000
Fuerza Local; Ending Poverty Through Entrepreneurs
$85,000
Meals of Joy
$5,000
Harvest Compassion Center West Phoenix
$30,000
Community Convening™ for Social Reconciliation
$25,000
Support for Military Service Members and Families
$50,000
Teen Art Club
$5,000
Wigs for Women and Children
$5,000

Domestic Violence / Homeless / Poverty

Ending Hunger in Arizona through Innovation
$20,000
Oral Health Services for Homeless Individuals
$75,000
De Colores Domestic Violence Shelter
$70,000
Showering Our Streets With Love
$10,000
Mobile Career Center
$25,000
Emergency Shelter Program
$65,000
ID Empowers Our Community
$75,000
Empowering Homeless Families
$150,000
School-Based Food Pantry Program
$50,000
Hope Heals
$20,000
Community Dental Program
$14,000
Critical Client Services
$200,000
Women Thriving
$10,000
Family Success Center for Homeless Pregnant Women
$40,000
NAC Housing and Services for Homeless Youth
$50,000
Phoenix Indian Center Emergency Rental Assistance
$25,000
Rise Up Program
$20,000
Changing Smiles Changing Lives
$5,000
Feeding Arizona's Food-Insecure Community
$205,000
Employment without Barriers - Jobs NOW!
$150,000
A New Home for U.S.VETS — Phoenix
$100,000
Senior Meal Program and Prosperity Program
$60,000

Education

Empower Tomorrow During and After the Pandemic
$50,000
Arizona Spelling Bee
$18,700
Humane Teens for a Humane Future
$10,000
CREATE on Wheels, Maker Kits and Virtual Programs
$25,000
Techie Empowerment Upgrade Camps
$25,000
Operation School Bell
$60,000
Pipeline of College Access & Postsecondary Success
$50,000
Neighborhood Children's Literacy Programs
$10,000
Bridging the Digital Divide
$150,000
Camp Catanese Summer 2021
$75,000
Children's Garden and KIDchen
$35,000
Building Equity with Access to Sound
$25,000
Youth and Family Enrichment Program
$25,000
Providing Real-World Skills to Low-Income Kids
$50,000
The Page Coach
$25,000
Project Lit: Igniting Literacy in Uncertain Times
$7,500
Children's Place at Burton Barr Library
$250,000
Camp O'Connor and the O'Connor Civics Challenge
$50,000
Every Child Reads
$15,000
2021 Summer Youth Program Fund
$50,000
TFA's Innovative Education Response to COVID-19
$50,000
T4T on Wheels
$45,000
After School Chapter Program - Since You Asked
$10,000

Improving the Lives of the Physically & Mentally Challenged

ARCHKids Year Round Services
$15,000
Neighbors Program
$25,000
Benefitness Adaptive Gym
$25,000
2021 Veterans StandDown Free Dental Clinic
$20,000
Virtual Academy and Summer Skills Intensive
$10,000
Down Syndrome Enrichment - A Continuum of Services
$15,000
Readtopia Expansion
$25,000
Emotional Support Crisis Intervention Project
$25,000
Safe At Home Programming Support
$35,000
Northwest Valley Connect Mobility Transport
$5,000
Scottsdale Technology Programming
$10,000
Safe at Home (S@H)
$25,000
Sponsor-A-Stay Program at Ryan House
$75,000
Service/Therapeutic Companion Dog Training Program
$10,000
Children's Developmental Center
$61,000
2021 Special Olympics Arizona Programs and Competitions
$120,000
Job Training Program for Individuals with IDD
$20,000
COVID-19 Expenses
$25,000