Volunteers and organization of the year, grants awarded by the ACF of the Gila Valley

THATCHER — More than $33,000 is being awarded to nonprofits serving Graham and Greenlee counties, courtesy of the Arizona Community Foundation of the Gila Valley.

The grant recipients were announced at the ACF Gila Valley’s first awards ceremony in two years Tuesday at Eastern Arizona College.

“I always knew I would be encouraged, but I think I felt more inspired seeing the real people behind the work,” said Colleen Ialucci, regional philanthropic advisor for the Arizona Community Foundation.

Grant recipients for 2022 include:

● The American Heart Association, which receives $7,988 for school CPR kits and training for Graham County schools

● Families Fighting Cancer Together, which receives $7,000 for its project to help families with cancer and other illnesses

● Gila Watershed Partnership, which receives $7,000 for the Native Plant Nursery Capacity Expansion Project

● Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition, which receives $5,000 for its Sober Wilderness project for House of Hope participants

● The Boys and Girls Club of the Gila Valley, which receives $4,000 from the Thatcher Community Fund for its 2023 Torch Club Youth Summer Program

● Aravaipa Watershed Conservation Alliance, which receives $2,500 to purchase a professional printer for maps and documents

Grant presenters included Graham County Supervisor Paul David, Safford Town Manager John Cassella and Thatcher Town Manager Heath Brown.

The Volunteer and Non-Profit Organization of the Year awards were also presented.

Eva Harper, who serves on the boards of the Community Foundation of Arizona of the Gila Valley and SEACUS, left, presents SECAUS Executive Director Stephanie Nabor with the nonprofit award from the year for Graham County. – Valley of Gila Central Photo

Eva Harper, who serves on the boards of ACF Gila Valley and Unique Community Services of Southeast Arizona, presented SEACUS Executive Director Stephanie Nabor with the Graham County Award for Purpose nonprofit of the year for its work with Meals on Wheels and its services to seniors.

“I’m grateful for the support from the community and everyone who believes in us and allows us to continue doing what we love to do,” Nabor said.

Akos Kovach, Vice Chairman of the Greenlee County Tourism Board, announced that Greenlee County’s Volunteer of the Year was Steve Ahmann, who was unable to attend due to family travel.

Ted Prina, Chairman of the Board of ACF Gila Valley, presented the Ed and Angie Sawyer Volunteer of the Year award to Chris Gibbs.

“It’s not what you are or who you are, it’s what you leave behind,” Gibbs said. “If you touch a person and create a better soul, that’s good.”

The award comes with $1,000 which Gibbs designated as a donation to the Safford Lions Club.

Prina concluded by telling the nonprofits that a Grants Budget Workshop will be held on October 14, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the City of Safford Annex. He also asked everyone in attendance to consider legacy gifts – money left in wills or a portion of life insurance dedicated to supporting a favorite cause after someone dies.

“Talk to us please,” Prina said. “We can take your passion and turn it into something that will stay in this community we love forever. It’s quite incredible.

Ed and Angie Sawyer Graham County Volunteer of the Year

2017 — John Bonafas

2018 — Ruth Powell (posthumous)

2019 — Paulette LeBlanc

2022—Chris Gibbs

Greenlee County Volunteer of the Year

2017—Doug Barlow

2018 — Catie Gross

2019 — Jesus Garcia

2022 —Steve Ahmann

Graham County Nonprofit of the Year

2017 — Safford Lions Club

2018 – Mount Graham Lodging House

2019 — Our neighbor’s farm and pantry

2022 – Southeast Arizona Community Unique Services (SEACUS)

Greenlee County Nonprofit of the Year

2017 – Duncan Pride Society