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LAS CRUCES CITY COUNCIL

City council awards $400K in grants to nonprofits serving community

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The Las Cruces City Council has awarded $400,000 in health-related public services funding to 16 Las Cruces-based nonprofits.

The nonprofits receiving funding are: Mesilla Valley CASA; CARE (Cancer Aid Resource & Education, Inc.); El Caldito Soup Kitchen; Mesilla Valley Community of Hope; Southern New Mexico Diabetes Outreach; Big Brothers Big Sisters Mountain Region; Casa de Peregrinos emergency food program; Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces; El Crucero permanent supportive housing, Jardin de los Niños daycare and education for homeless and near homeless children and their families; La Casa, Inc. domestic violence prevention program; Roadrunner Food Bank; Catholic Charities; Amador Health Center, which provides health care services to adults and children regardless of insurance status and the ability to pay; Mesilla Valley Hospice; and La Piñon sexual assault recovery services.

Half the nonprofits received $27,500 each. El Crucero, Jardin, La Casa, Roadrunner Food Bank, Amador Health Center, Mesilla Valley Hospice and La Piñon each received $23,500. Catholic Charities received $15,500.

“Our health-related public services contract (with the city) is to serve 28 people experiencing homelessness with Social Security disability benefit application assistance,” said Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH) Executive Director Nicole Martinez. “From July 1, 2020 to April 2021, we have served 35 people. We typically serve double that amount, but with Covid, Social Security offices closed and their staff are working from home, which has delayed the process. Of the 35 we served (still exceeding our grant agreement), five so far have received their approvals for Social Security disability income and Medicaid enrollment,” she said.

“One of the recipients was ‘Peggy,’” Martinez said. “Peggy has been living on the streets with severe mental health issues since the 1990s – over 20 years. She applied for SSI and enrolled in Sue’s House, a permanent supportive housing program operated by MVCH, made possible with Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds from the City of Las Cruces. Peggy received her SSI (and back pay), has insurance coverage and has been housed at Sue’s House for 13 months,” Martinez said.

“This funding from the city has allowed us to make meaningful changes in the lives of people living on the streets, from helping them obtain fixed income, housing and medical assistance,” she said.

Other leaders with Las Cruces nonprofits said this grant funding is important to their operations.

“Jardin's Healthy and Wise program provides health and wellness support through wrap-around services addressing physical, mental, developmental and social issues that are exacerbated by homelessness," said Jardin de los Niños Chief Executive Officer Michelle S. Adames, Ph.D.

“The support from the City of Las Cruces for our Children & Youth Program is appreciated,” said La Casa, Inc. Executive Director Henry Brutus. “We leverage these funds with additional funding to ensure the needs of children and youth witnesses of domestic abuse in our community are met. Statistics indicate that up to 80 percent of children and youth who witness domestic abuse enter in abusive relationships as adults, without intervention. This program is about stopping the cycle of violence.”

“We are so grateful for the funding we receive from (the) city,” said El Caldito volunteer coordinator/kitchen administrator Diane D’Ambrosio. “El Caldito uses these funds on payroll only, which has been great for us since we are having to increase our staff by one.  We appreciate and look forward to every year the city council votes to continue supporting our mission.”

“The city’s support ensures that we are able to continue to provide financial assistance and scholarships to families who are in need of a safe and positive place for their children when they are not in school, but may not be able to afford traditional childcare,” said Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Ashley Echevarria. “Each year, we save Las Cruces families more than $1 million in childcare fees.  It’s our priority to never turn a child away from our programs for the inability to pay, and this funding allows us to maintain that priority. We are grateful for the continued support from the City, allowing us to fulfill our mission of serving the young people who need us most.”

Funding comes from the city’s Telshor Facility Fund, which “received its assets from a pre-paid lease payment the city received for Memorial Medical Center,” the city said in a news release. The city council approved a resolution in November 2019 that earmarks $400,000 a year from the Telshor Facility Fund to help fund health-related nonprofits in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

Year-two renewal applications and program performance were reviewed and evaluated in March by the city’s Health and Human Services Policy Advisory Committee, which voted to recommend all 16 agencies for continued funding for FY22, which begins July 1, the city said.