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Strategic partnerships maximize resources in Chandler

It's an impossible feat for one organization to take on all issues or to satisfy every need of the community it serves. But if you combine the resources of multiple organizations, you can truly begin to make an impact. That was the logic behind the creation of the For Our City Chandler organization, which was founded in the summer of 2009. 

For Our City Chandler brings together the needs of the City and various nonprofits with the resources of the faith-based community, large employers, business groups and local government. Each month, the group comes together for a host or breakfast meeting to get a better understanding of projects they are working on and the assistance needed. As a result of working together, new perspectives are brought to the table, and six community-based programs have been created. 

The City's Neighborhood Resources Department, led by Leah Powell, takes an active role with For Our City Chandler. "For Our City Chandler is a perfect example of what unity and service to the community looks like," said Powell. "Our lean staff has limited resources, so with these partnerships in place, we are able to offer solutions to our residents' needs." Under of the leadership of Chandler Vice Mayor Kevin Hartke, director of For Our City Chandler, the organization has grown, and the number of people impacted has increased. Hartke believes that there is no limit to the amount of good that volunteers can do for others in their community. 

Here's a quick recap of some of the six initiatives the For Our City organization champions:
  • Let's Pull Together: This program started seven years ago as a result of spring rainfalls bringing excessive weeds to Chandler neighborhoods. Volunteers are assigned to help remove weeds from alleys and public areas as well as assist seniors and disabled residents with their front yard maintenance. Chandler residents may report properties and public areas with excessive weeds. To make a report, call 480-782-4320, or complete an online form at chandleraz.gov/forms/sr.aspx. On the form, under option no. 2, select “Code Enforcement” from a pull-down menu, choose “General Code Violation” and click “Next.” Residents also have the option to make a report using the free “Chandler Public Stuff” mobile app. Residents that are interested in volunteering or know someone in need of assistance may contact the City’s Neighborhood Programs Office at 480-782-4348. 
  • Operation Back to the School Chandler: This initiative is the biggest back-to-school donation drive for Chandler students (K-12) in need. Again, resources and donations are maximized as they get funneled through one organization. The effort ensures that kids have the supplies they need as they start a new school year. Brand new backpacks filled with school supplies, along with essentials such as underwear, uniforms socks and shoes (while supplies last), are distributed in late July. Donations and volunteers are always needed.
  • For Our City Day: Volunteers and residents come together on National Make a Difference Day to revitalize neighborhoods in need. Tasks include painting homes, cleaning alleys, pulling weeds and a variety of minor exterior improvements to enhance homes. Hundreds of volunteers participate to make an impact on a day in late October. 
  • Volunteer Recognition Awards Breakfast: Each year, organizations are asked to nominate volunteers for their service to the Chandler community. The volunteers are honored during an awards breakfast every February. The honorees' bios from this year's event can be viewed at chandleraz.gov/volunteer100.    
  • Holiday Drives: Several Chandler nonprofit organizations that host holiday food and gift drives collaborate to fully use resources, avoid duplication and expand their reach.
  • I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program): The Chandler Christian Community Center oversees this program, which offers dinner, a shower, a comfortable night sleep and breakfast for each client seven days a week. To make this happen, different faith organizations open their facilities one night a week or month. I-HELP provides more than 6,700 emergency shelter nights to homeless adults and a successful case management program to break the cycle of homelessness. Hundreds of volunteers give their time to provide more than 14,000 hours a year.  
See how you can contribute or for more information on the For Our City Chandler initiatives, visit forourcitychandler.org