Stories of Impact

Each year, the Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County invites area nonprofits, schools and tribes to apply for grant funding to support their missions and programs.

These are a few of the projects that have changed lives for the better in our communities.

With support through ACF of Yavapai County...

Eleanor Kohler

ELEANOR KOHLERAs a Prescott resident, Eleanor Kohler always held an appreciation and love for animals. She and her husband traveled the world together, where he would photograph animals they encountered on their trips. Eleanor would return from the trips and turn the photographs into paintings of her own. The profits she made off her paintings would pay for their next trip. 

Eleanor always wondered how she could maximize her retirement income to have a positive impact on the causes she felt close to, like the Yavapai Humane Society, Heritage Park Zoo and Canine Companions. When she stumbled upon the work that the Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County does with charitable gift annuities, she knew leaving a great impact on the organizations she cared about was possible. 

Once Eleanor signed up for a charitable gift annuity, she knew she would have income for life, as well as a charitable income tax deduction. "I get to fund my charities past my life," said Eleanor. Giving through charitable gift annuities allowed Eleanor to make a difference on the animal-related causes she has cared about throughout her lifetime. Eleanor passed away in May 2019, but her legacy as a philanthropist in our community lives on.

To learn more about charitable gift annuities and how you can fund your passions, contact ACF of Yavapai County Regional Director Lisa Sahady at 928.583.7815.

Gabriel's Angels

Gabriel’s Angels brings friendly companion animals to at-risk children in Arizona, allowing them to safely and comfortably engage with them to teach valuable social skills and end the cycle of abuse. The only program of its kind, Gabriel’s Angels partners with over 115 agencies and serves more than 13,700 children each year. A grant from the Yavapai County Community Foundation will allow them to reach even more children by recruiting and training two additional pet therapy teams.

In Yavapai County, Dottie and her therapy dog, Lance, visit shelters, schools and other agencies that serve abused and neglected youth. During one visit to the Yavapai Juvenile Detention Center, they met a withdrawn 14-year-old girl who said after being bitten by a dog in the past, was afraid of all dogs. Lance sensed her insecurity and was exceptionally warm and friendly with her, until eventually she asked to throw a ball for Lance and even give him a hug. She said Lance was the only dog that did not scare her, and she was visibly more at ease at the end of the visit.

Impact in Our Community

Gabriel’s Angels currently has seven Pet Therapy Teams actively reaching out to at-risk youth in Yavapai County, serving 700 children annually. The addition of two more therapy teams supported with funds from the Yavapai County Community Foundation will allow them to serve 200 more children.

Learn more:

Yavapai County Jeep Posse

When the wind is blowing, stoking the flames of a wildfire, knowing when it might be time to evacuate is knowledge critical to families’ safety. Equipped with a repeater radio system purchased with funds from the Yavapai County Community Foundation, the Yavapai County Jeep Posse was able to support the Sherriff’s Office in notifying and evacuating families in a very large area threatened by the Doce and Yarnell Hill Fires in 2013.

The Yavapai County Jeep Posse is an all volunteer organization dedicated to serving the needs of the citizens of Yavapai County in Search and Rescue missions, as well as County-wide Forest Fire evacuations. The repeater radios they purchased with a grant from YCCF not only assisted in the safe evacuation of hundreds of people, but was also essential in providing responders with information about the fire’s path and behavior, keeping them and the evacuees safe in the face of extreme danger.

Impact in Our Community

The Posse’s Communications and Command Vehicle team used the radios in responding to the Yarnell Hill Fire as they assigned missions, monitored team status and provided updates on weather conditions. When conditions became too dangerous for even responders, the radios were used to order all Yavapai County Jeep Posse evacuation teams to leave the field for their own safety.

Learn more:

Yavapai Food Council

The Bagdad Community Food Pantry is a small, rural pantry challenged by limited access to fresh produce. With a grant from the Yavapai County Community Foundation, the pantry’s director was able to negotiate a procurement strategy for fresh foods from local farmers, benefiting both hungry families and local businessmen and women.

In remote, rural communities like Bagdad, fresh produce can be much more expensive than shelf-stable items like frozen or boxed prepared meals. Families of modest means are sometimes hesitant to spend their food budget on produce, especially if it is something they have never tasted or don’t know how to prepare. 

One family that frequents the shelter has four generations living under one roof, and resources are so tight that they are often short on food, and fresh produce is an exceptionally rare treat.

“The first day we gave our beautiful vegetables, the elderly grandma cried with joy and disbelieve that someone would give her such a treasure,” said Amy Aossey, the pantry’s director. “She now comes faithfully every week to get produce for her family.”

Impact in Our Community

With funding form the Yavapai County Community Foundation, the Bagdad Community Food Pantry was able to pilot their unique procurement program and provide fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need for five months. Now that the program is in place, it will continue and grow to serve more families with local, healthy produce.

Learn more:

Mark Kille

MARK KILLEFor many students who pursue a post-secondary degree, the process is stressful as they consider potential career paths and financial implications. Prescott Valley attorney Mark Kille knows this feeling well from his own time at university, which inspired him to assist students financially by funding scholarships for those pursuing law degrees. 

Mark's inspiration to enter the field of law was slightly unconventional; he was inspired by Tom Cruise's performance in the movie,The Firm. He walked out of the movie theater knowing that practicing law was his destiny. Upon receiving his undergraduate degree from Truman State University, Mark spent two years working at the law office, affirming his decision. Soon after, he graduated from the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law to pursue his destiny. 

While Mark's path to practicing law may seem simple, he faced some challenges. He graduated from law school with a mountain of debt and minimal mentoring and financial backing from his parents. These challenges have since fueled his desire to not only alleviate financial burdens for students, but also to mentor them through the process of selecting a career path.  

Mark is active with the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce's annual career fair. The event allows professionals to coach students and help them learn more about potential career paths. When Mark mentors students as they contemplate a career in the field of law, there are two things he tells them: First, pick a profession that you enjoy and the money will come. Second, apply for scholarships. As Mark became more involved as a mentor, he ultimately decided to fund a scholarship at ACF of Yavapai County for students pursuing a career in law.

Alzheimer's Association, Desert Southwest Chapter

The stigma of Alzheimer’s can prohibit caregivers from seeking outside assistance. With funding from the Yavapai County Community Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association, Desert Southwest Chapter, facilitates trainings and support groups through its Family Care Consultation Project. It offers one-on-one consultation sessions for family caregivers that allow them to seek advice and support as they step into a new and emotionally challenging role. The project also offers clients access to more structured educational sessions that help family caregivers identify the values of care and increase effective communication between themselves and their family member.

One woman attended a Family Care Consultation session with persuasion from family members. She felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for her loved one and needed suggestions for caregiving strategies and stress management. After several one-on-one sessions, she enrolled in EPIC, an Early Stage 8-week education program. Through the process, she overcame her feelings of failure, self-doubt and shame by sharing her fears and struggles in a safe environment. She now attends a weekly support group, volunteers, and mentors other caregivers.

Impact in Our Community

The Family Care Consultation Project has been a program of the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for two years. In that time, it has served 1,200 individuals with education and moral support as they embark on the journey of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Prescott Area Shelter Services

The Yavapai County Community Foundation recognized Prescott Area Shelter Services with the Extraordinary Community Service Award and a $10,000 Prize at the 2014 Joy of Giving Philanthropic Awards Luncheon. In the spirit of honoring best practices and extraordinary community impact, the YCCF Advisory Board selected Prescott Area Shelter Services as the outstanding organization to receive this recognition and financial support.

In June 2007, a community conversation focused on the critical need for a drop-in shelter for homeless women and women with children. The Prescott Area Women’s Shelter opened in December 2007 as a winter shelter, but within four months of opening, it became clear that the community needed a year-round shelter to accommodate the women and children in Yavapai and surrounding counties.

Impact in Our Community

Prescott Area Shelter Services operates two programs, the Women’s Shelter, and the Family Shelter. The Women’s Shelter served 39 women and seven children within the first four months of opening, providing them with a place to stay and helping the women apply for jobs and public assistance. To date, it has served more than 1,500 women with 85% transitioning to permanent housing. The family shelter is the first and only of its kind in Northern Arizona and serves six families at a time. Since its opening, the family shelter has served 21 families and 40 children with 95% transitioning to permanent housing. 

Learn more:

Yavapai College

College for Kids is a summer program for the youth of Yavapai County. Funds from the Yavapai County Community Foundation provided scholarships for low-income families who wanted their children to be able to access this high-quality education programming.

One College for Kids course provided an opportunity for children to learn about cooking and food safety, one that is hard to come by in Prescott, especially during the summer. Working with Chef Molly Beverly, College for Kids put together four cooking classes called Kids Cook Real Food with two sections for younger children and preteens. The children learned about food preparation, nutrition, kitchen safety and food preparation as they cooked and ate together.

Yavapai College makes their programming accessible for students of special needs, providing additional aides and interpretation when necessary so all students can participate. This makes College for Kids a program that does as much to promote social inclusivity as it does to prevent summer learning loss.

Impact in Our Community

Yavapai College’s College for Kids program provides a selection of classes to local youth, offering 28 classes to more than 200 students in 2013. The Yavapai County Community Foundation provided funds that allowed 44 students to attend College for Kids classes without concern for cost.

Learn more about College for Kids.