In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Phil and Carol Lyons have contributed $100,000 to provide rental assistance to low income families, loans to local small businesses, and support of basic needs like food and clothing for refugees. The funds were distributed among five nonprofits serving these needs.
To say that Phil and Carol Lyons care deeply about our community is an understatement.
The Lyons have been active philanthropists and volunteers in Tucson for more than a decade. The couple generously supports continuing education, skill development, and career advancement for underprivileged groups, as well as veteran services and programs that assist refugees. After seeing the impact of COVID-19 on local community members this spring, the Lyons decided to do more.
“The motivation for our donation was a combination of things,” Phil Lyons shared. “I was struck by the reports of ‘everyday Americans’ suffering economic difficulties due to various business closings and job losses. By the same token, our desire to assist small businesses was inspired by the understanding of how much effort goes into running a business and the reality of the risk of losing it all, or – at best – suffering substantial financial losses,” he continued.
With that economic impact in mind, the Lyons recommended grants to Chicanos Por La Causa, Community Investment Corporation, and Family Housing Resources.
COVID-19 has long-ranging implications, not the least of which is housing insecurity. With support from the Phil and Carol Lyons Family Fund, Chicanos Por La Causa will be able to provide rental assistance for marginalized communities that have been affected by loss of employment due to COVID-19. CPLC President and CEO David Adame shared, “Keeping a roof over the heads of these families will provide relief, safety, and a sense of security. Having a comfortable place to live is fundamental for families to live healthy and prosperous lives.”
The funds allocated to Family Housing Resources will support COVID-19 emergency rental assistance for individuals and families experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. FHR Executive Director Meghan Heddings shared, “The effects of COVID-19 are vast and it is still hard to tell what the impact will be long term, particularly for low-income families. This rental assistance is a safety net that FHR is honored to provide to our community.”
Funding will also allow Community Investment Corporation to offer COVID-19 Relief Loans to small businesses in Tucson that have been unable to access other sources of funding.
To address the gap in resources available for refugees, the Lyons recommended grants to Catholic Community Services and International Rescue Committee-Tucson.
“Both my wife and I have volunteered for many years at Amphi Middle and Prince Elementary schools by tutoring ESL students, many of whom come from refugee families escaping bad political situations,” Lyons shared. “Knowing how few of these homes have Wi-Fi or computers, and the fact that none of the bills passed by Congress do anything for ‘non-citizens,’ we saw a tremendous need in the refugee community.”
The grant to Catholic Community Services supports the needs of 200 families and 500 individual refugee and immigrants in need of access to food, clothing, transportation, housing assistance, utility assistance, transportation, and hygiene items. At IRC-Tucson, the grant will support 760 refugee clients, 102 of whom have lost their jobs and the majority of whom do not qualify for any federal assistance.
Barbara Franklin, Development Coordinator for IRC-Tucson, shared the importance of this grant, especially as the challenges of COVID-19 continue to evolve. “Our clients have been the most impacted by COVID-19, especially our single moms and those that are at high risk. Without IRC’s assistance our clients would not be able to provide for their families,” Franklin said. “With the help of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and the generosity of their donors, we will be able to continue our support of refugees.”
CFSA and our generous donor-partners are committed to ongoing support for those most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. “Connecting donors with our community is our passion and we are proud to make important grants such as those made through the Phil and Carol Lyons,” said CFSA Director of Community Investment, Kelly Huber.
Investing in continuing access to care, food, hygiene, shelter, housing and other services for Arizona’s most vulnerable residents, is critical to keeping our entire community healthy. Learn more about CFSA’s COVID-19 relief efforts at cfsaz.org/covid.
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