Equal Access at Core of  Tucson Urban League

By Claudette Langley

Tucson Urban League's staff carry the message well from left Andrea Biami, 14, student helper, Donna Baker X, employment and training facilitator and Ashlee Pulliam, 26, intake specialist

Tucson Urban League’s staff wear the organization’s message for all to see from left Andrea Biami, 14, student helper, Donna Baker X, employment and training facilitator and Ashlee Pulliam, 26, intake specialist.

For nearly 44 years this Tucson-based organization has been providing services, resources and support to minorities and those most in need with a goal of “empowering communities and and changing lives.” The organization was founded  by a Tucson Chamber of Commerce committee in 1971 as a response to a disproportionately high unemployment rate among minorities.

The League offers a plethora of services to the community including,  employment and training, housing resources, early learning child care, youth and senior services. The work is challenging but so rewarding, according to League staff.

“You have to love what you do,” said Donna Baker X, employment & training facilitator workforce development specialist.

It’s easy to see that “love” walking around the Tucson Urban League,  every corner of the S. Park Avenue facility is buzzing with activity as staff are answering the call of the community for resources and services.

Sometimes  just  keeping the lights and gas on can become a  family’s biggest challenge. David Hinton, utility assistance facilitator does his best  to help those families weekly.

“It is my job to help families in financial crisis,” Hinton said.

Those seeking utility assistance need to call 791-9522 ext. 2519 on Monday mornings, only the first 100 callers names will be taken and follow-up appointments will be made. The program requires several pieces of documentation including a picture ID and Social Security card.

Employment and training is a big component of  Tucson Urban League the agency partners with the state’s One-Stop  centers to provide job placement assistance to the community. In addition, the League offers a Summer Youth Education and Employment program for young people ages 14 to 21 and partners with University of Arizona to provide low-income youth ages 14 to 21 with campus-based after-school employment opportunities.

To assist parents in being able to work, the League runs The Henry Quinto Early Learning Center on Irvington Road. The center is geared to provide  a safe and nurturing environment for children ages 1 to 12. It is also set up to accept DES childcare subsidies.

Seniors are treated to healthy meals and great company at the Quincie Douglas Neighborhood Center through the League’s Seniors’ Breakfast and Lunch Program. In addition to filling their stomachs and getting a chance to socialize, seniors also receive basic support  services, including preventative health services.

Donna Baker X talks about the diaper program at the Urban League.

Donna Baker X talks to Trishnak Trachsel about the diaper program at the Urban League.

In addition to all the services offered by the Tucson Urban League, the organization partners with the Diaper Bank to provide  both diapers and incontinence supplies to the community. The League provides supplies to more than 300 people a year on an emergency basis.

“We will give three emergency supplies per family per year,” said Baker X.  “Right now we have a lot of adult supplies we can hand out as well, and they don’t have to be a senior to get them.”

Diapers are distributed Thursdays between 9 and 11 a.m.

The Tucson Urban League is the 97th affiliate of the National Urban League, which has a long, rich history in the United States. The national organization’s roots lay in the 20th Century Freedom Movement and the migration of southern Blacks into the north. In 1910 the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes was established.

From it’s beginnings the League was an interracial effort. Mrs. Ruth Standish Baldwin, a white widow of a railroad magnate and Dr. George Edmund Hayes, the first African-American to receive a doctorate, from Columbia University were central to the founding of the Committee on Urban Conditions. The Committee later merged with the Committee for the Improvement of Industrial Conditions Among Negroes in New York and the National League for the Protection of Colored Women. The three became the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, which was shortened to National Urban League.

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To find out about all of the services provided by the Tucson Urban League visit their website or call 520.791.9522. The Tucson Urban League is located at 2305 S. Park Avenue.