VVHC Strategic Plan
We seek to create a community where the most basic human needs are fulfilled
Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.
This strategic plan presents how the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition will achieve our vision and mission. It is the outcome of hours of discussions about the ways we will care for those in need. Recognizing the need for support services targeting the homeless within our community, willing volunteers gathered together to chart the course for this organization.
In acknowledgement of our past, we outline the process by which we have arrived here. We now have a vision to guide and inspire us to achieve sustainable results. This vision is supported by our mission which outlines what our organization provides to accomplish our vision plus measurable goals and metrics. We use these metrics to determine the success of our endeavors and to provide data and the knowledge through which we drive program modifications. We also present our core values and guiding principles as our approach to those we serve. Our strategies for moving forward are also included with specific goals for each.
The future is dynamic. There will always be change. If we are to lead properly, we must manage the variability of our environment while seizing opportunities and minimizing obstacles preventing us from accomplishing our goals.
Profile and History
As you may be aware, our community’s most vulnerable individuals are not so very different from the rest of us. They often find themselves in homeless situations whether through poor planning, an unexpected crisis, mental illness or addiction. Many of the homeless struggle with unhealthy coping mechanisms in response to life’s circumstances often stemming from traumatic experiences.
Though homeless, each person has their own story and is on their own learning path. The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition (VVHC) believes in treating every person compassionately because they are part of our community. The VVHC seeks to offer a hand up to those in need, understanding that we all need help from time to time.
History of Continuum of Care and the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition
The Continuum of Care (CoC) and the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition started in the early 1990s after the Director of the Arizona Department of Housing approached the Site Director of Catholic Charities and asked that they facilitate the CoC which was at the time nonexistent in the Verde Valley.
Originally the meetings were held on a quarterly basis and facilitated by the Arizona Department of Housing. The goal was always to make sure a continuum of care and housing resources to assist our communities in providing services to the most vulnerable in our community were available. It was always a collaborative effort and involved many other nonprofit organizations as well as state and county agencies.
Through the collaboration of Catholic Charities, City of Cottonwood, Old Town Mission and the Arizona Department of Housing, it was decided a transitional housing project to serve families and individuals was needed. The Department of Housing Catholic Charities was able to purchase what is now called Rio Verde Condominiums, which provided 12 units of transitional housing for families and individuals. Tenants were able to stay up to 18 months and paid a third of their income in rent. They were able to stay in housing as long as they followed program and housing rules and regulations. In addition to the transitional housing, Catholic Charities Community Services through an emergency shelter grant with the Arizona Department of Economic Security were able to rent 4 units of housing for individuals and families which served as an emergency shelter, where they could stay rent free while getting back on their feet. Catholic Charities provided a case manager for both the transitional housing and emergency shelter in order to provide support and services to the housing clients. The emergency shelter was discontinued in 2008 due to lack of funding. The transitional housing was converted to low income housing in 2010 and is owned by Catholic Charities and still serves individuals and families.
In the winter months of 2005, collaboration was tried between Catholic Charities and Mountain View United Methodist Church. MVUMC provided shelter for families along with dinner and breakfast. Catholic Charities provided the screening process and discussed the overnight rules. This collaboration was discontinued after one winter for a couple of reasons: 1) push back from church leadership and 2) lack of families requiring these services.
In 2007 Catholic Charities opened up the LOFT homeless transition center at their offices in the upstairs portion of the building. The center operated on donations and volunteers and was open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 1-5 p.m. Services were provided to individuals and families experiencing homelessness in terms of showers, laundry, computers, telephone, clothing vouchers as well as survival supplies and food. The LOFT closed its doors in February 2017 as Catholic Charities wanted to use the existing space to house women who were reintegrating into the community after being involved with the criminal justice system, having been incarcerated and needing supportive services. It was felt this program was much more in line with their organizational mission.
HUD has required a Point-in-Time Count for all Continuums of Care since 2005. It is required to occur sometime during the last 10 days of January. Sheltered counts are required annually and unsheltered counts are required every other year. The AZBOSCOC started conducting an unsheltered count on an annual basis in 2014. Point-in-time counts are important because they establish the dimensions of the problem of homelessness and help policymakers and program administrators track progress toward the goal of ending homelessness.
In 2010, ADOH in conjunction with CCCS applied for and was awarded a contract for 9 units of Permanent Supportive Housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness specifically for the Verde Valley. It has continued to be awarded funding each year and the geographic focus remains the Verde Valley. In addition CCCS has been awarded additional PSH grants over the years and many have been consolidated thru the HUD NOFA process resulting in two contacts of over 400K that serve both Coconino and Yavapai counties. In addition CCCS administers a Rapid Rehousing contract funded by ADOH Housing Trust funds that serves the entire Yavapai County.
Due to the extensive needs in the Verde Valley, the VVHC is expanding services to the homeless. We have changed from an advocacy group to an active service group and have received 501(c)(3) status. In 2017, an executive director was hired to continue to build the organization. We are a board of volunteers plus one part-time paid Executive Director.
The VVHC provides a safe environment within the day transition center as a resource for informal coaching services, basic needs, and referrals to other service providers. The VVHC serves its visitors on an individualized level, establishing a sense of belonging, empowerment, and building a relationship of trust. The transition center also doubles as an invaluable space to house homeless individuals during inclement weather.
Even with the VVHC operating a Transition Center and Emergency Overnight Shelter from a rented 1400 square foot space on South Main Street in Cottonwood, Arizona, the need for services is greater than we can presently handle.
VISION & MISSION
Accepting, connecting, and opening doors to transformation
We seek to create a community where the most basic human needs are fulfilled. We understand various unavoidable circumstances occur that lead to unexpected hardships for families and individuals. Homeless people disappear from the community’s view, ‘falling through the cracks’. Extreme poverty, homelessness and hunger are manifestations of such circumstances. We are passionate and focused on providing solutions and hope. We envision a future where homelessness, hunger and poverty are eradicated. We hope to inspire others in the community to join us in this effort.
We provide compassionate assistance to the homeless in the Verde Valley.
The mission of the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition (VVHC) is to provide solutions to the needs of the homeless in the Verde Valley working with the support of the entire community. We recognize the importance of effective evaluation of each person’s needs, the matching of needs with services, and the necessity of keeping data on how well we’re doing in meeting the needs. Educating our community on our available services and funding sources is important to maintaining a sustainable organization.
OUR CORE VALUES
- We renew hope that homelessness is solvable.
- We welcome all, period.
- We see beyond the stigma of homelessness, and treat each person with dignity and respect.
- We believe a competent and dedicated staff and volunteers are critical to our mission.
- With community support, we are effective stewards of the human and financial resources entrusted to us.
- We create an environment to empower those we serve.
- We perform a comprehensive assessment of each person’s needs while establishing trusting relationships.
- We continue to be an organization focused on providing solutions to homelessness in our community.
- We serve persons who are facing challenging circumstances and those who may be less likely to receive services as readily through other agencies.
- We focus on collaborating with community organizations for housing, on meeting immediate needs of those we serve, and on providing ongoing services to these individuals and families.
- We provide opportunities for personal transformation to those we serve.
The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition (VVHC) demonstrates leadership in developing and implementing effective approaches in moving homeless persons to housing.
Goal for Strategy 1
- Create a formal, sustainable revenue-generating campaign with active marketing.
- Obtain licensing for Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
- Identify sustainable transitional or permanent housing units.
- Become the exemplary model of homeless services for the Verde Valley.
- Continuous quality improvement at every level of the organization.
The VVHC works to increase the amount of permanent supportive housing options for the homeless.
Goal for Strategy 2
- Lobby/influence cities, towns, unincorporated entities or government agencies to create an annual budget line to donate to the VVHC.
- Collaborate with other providers as a unified voice.
- Seek funding through Yavapai County Community Development Block Grants Program (CDBG) fiscal year 2020.
- Lobby cities, towns, unincorporated entities and government agencies to create an annual budget line to donate to VVHC.
- Create a revenue generating business that operates with VVHC.
- Work with other agencies to procure housing options through other agencies
The VVHC works to raise awareness of homelessness in our communities and promote our efforts to address it. We advocate for policies to end homelessness.
Goal for Strategy 3
- Recruit volunteers who can help spread the word, especially via media channels.
- Increase involvement in the community by attending more community events (Erase the Stigma, etc…)
- Improve social media presence.
- Become more active on social media
- Share impactful stories with the Verde Independent Newspaper
The VVHC continues to optimize its effectiveness and viability.
Goals for Strategy 4
- Create organization chart to identify motivated members with assigned specific objectives.
- Write grants to support financial needs.
- Provide access to SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) to increase access to Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits for eligible individuals who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder.
- Supporting clients through other provider assistance, referrals.
- Partner with Habitat For Humanity to support 3D printed homes as a means of affordable housing.
The inclement-weather and emergency overnight transition center provides a range of services to individuals so they can create realistic goals and chart the steps that will help them to achieve these goals through the following:
VVHC operates a transition center for anyone needing assistance. We also operate an overnight shelter housing up to 20 people when temperatures fall below 35 degrees. We provide Hot meals every day, assist with program service connection and clothing, camping equipment, internet and phones to assist with medical and service contact and placement.
Case Management Services
A case manager meets with individuals who desire assistance to create realistic and achievable goals, objectives to reach those goals, and follows-up with them at least weekly to assess their progress. The goals and objectives are adjusted as guided by the initial comprehensive needs’ assessment.
VVHC refers a variety of counseling classes and life skills classes to individuals that utilize the transition center. Utilizing volunteers to facilitate and instruct a variety of group style classes and counseling sessions.
Access to Computers
VVHC has computers available to individuals for the purposes of conducting job searches, completing employment applications, housing searches, and for staying in touch with family and friends.
Information and Referral
Volunteers are trained to be able to assist individuals with information and referrals to other service organizations.
Clothing or vouchers, shoes, toiletries, toilet paper, personal wipes, food and dog food are provided. One daily hot meal is available. Coffee, drinks, and other supplies such as flashlights are provided as are blankets, tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks.
The VVHC also has life skills programs and personal transformation groups that promote personal development, enhance coping skills and encourage positive life choices.
VVHC offers employment assistance to any who come into the transition center. We assist with job searching, resume building, online search engine registration. We also partner with Arizona Job Service (DES) Goodwill employment services.
Referrals for donated bicycles and limited bus passes when available are distributed.
The VVHC direct-care volunteers complete Mental Health First Aid classes and Fire Extinguisher training.
Metrics We Track
Important in measuring the success of the services provides, we track the following metrics on a routine basis:
- Persons becoming employed
- Persons becoming housed
- Persons provided with a temporary motel room
- Numbers of new visitors
- Numbers of homeless
- Numbers of veterans
- Numbers referred to Spectrum Healthcare
- Tents and sleeping bags given
Sponsors for VVHC
Our Board of Directors
These are people that do the work to help bring the services that are needed day in and day out.
Jordan Ricca - Treasurer
Jordan is a CPA with seven years of public accounting experience with Keegan Linscott & Kenon PC (Tucson) specializing in auditing not-for-profit organizations. Jordan grew up in the Verde Valley but spent 10 years in Tucson and holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in accounting from the University of Arizona. Jordan and his wife and two boys moved north to Prescott Valley in 2018 to be closer to family. Prior to moving, he was active in the Tucson community and currently serves on the Audit Committee for Tucson Symphony Society and has previously volunteered for the Autism Society for Southern Arizona, Habitat for Humanity and Old Pueblo Community Services by participating in fundraising events and community projects. Jordan is passionate about being involved in the Northern Arizona community and in his spare time likes to play golf and spend time outdoors.
Laura Cox - Secretary
A native New Yorker, Laura Cox arrived in Arizona in 1972 and made her move to the Verde Valley after retiring from a thirty-year career at Wells Fargo Bank as a Senior Institutional Trust Administrator and Vice President. She went back to work almost immediately during the summers as the Director of the Outdoor Adventure Program at a girl’s camp in Vermont, and then returning to Arizona in the fall as the Home-Based Visitor for Sedona Head Start. Laura spent ten years on the Cave Creek, Arizona Town Council, serving terms as both Mayor and Vice Mayor. She was a founding director of the Desert Foothills Land Trust and served for eight years on the board of Family Service Agency in Phoenix. She is also an old kayaker and hiker, and still enjoys the out-of-doors.
Babette Cubitt - Board Member
Babette Cubitt is the publisher for Verde Valley Newspapers, covering the Verde Valley & Sedona. Prior to relocating to the Verde Valley she was the General Manager/Advertising Director of the Daily Courier in Prescott and Regional Advertising Director for Western News & Info. Babette served 18 years with the New York Times in various roles; she is member of the Verde Valley Rotary Club, a prior Paul Harris Fellow, and was recognized as a Women of Achievement by the S.C. House of Representatives. Prior non-profit boards & associations include the Boys & Girls Club, United Way , Arts Partnership and Girl Scouts and Rotary. She has won numerous Press Associations awards in various states.
Ryan Bigelow - Board Member
Ryan is originally from Bend, Oregon but has called the Verde Valley home after being hired by
the City of Cottonwood's Parks and Recreation Department in 2007. Ryan continues to work for
the city as the Library Director, a position he began in 2018. He holds a B.S. in History from
Eastern Oregon University and an MLS - Organizational Leadership from Fort Hays State
University. He served seven years on the City of Cottonwood Historic Preservation Commission
and also is a volunteer coach for local youth sports organizations. Ryan enjoys all of the outdoor activities Arizona has to offer with his wife and three children.
Carol Quasula - President
Carol Quasula is President of the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition and Chairs the Fundraising Committee. Carol retired in 2014 after serving as Programs Director for Catholic Charities for 10 years. She was responsible for operations of the Supportive Services to Veteran Families; Permanent Supportive Housing and LOFT (Homeless Drop in Center). Prior to her work at Catholic Charities, she was the Assistant Program Manager in Northern Arizona for the Department of Child Safety. Ms. Quasula has a Bachelors from Arizona State University. She is very involved in her church, Mountain View United Methodist serving on Staff Parish Relations and Outreach Missions as well as helping to serve at risk youth. She volunteers for Rainbow Acres and the U of A Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners Help Desk. Ms. Quasula has lived in the Verde Valley for over 40 years. She has one adult son and two grandchildren.
Peter Flynn - Board Chair
Peter Flynn serves as Board Chair and has played a role in fundraising for VVHC. He is a “snowbird”, spending summers in Edmonton, Alberta, where he did graduate work and then spent 25 years in the Canadian energy industry. For the last 12 years of his career he was a professor at the University of Alberta, teaching business related subjects in the Faculty of Engineering. He has served on the boards of many non-profits, including ten years on the Board of an entity that managed 5500 units of low-income housing and added 400 additional new units during his time of service.
Gareth Braxton-Johnson - Board Member
Gareth Braxton-Johnson began his law enforcement career in 1999 with the Scottsdale Police Department before joining the Cottonwood Police department in 2005. Over the past 20 years he has worked in numerous assignments such as patrol, gangs, bicycle patrol, school resource officer, investigations, internal affairs, narcotics and SWAT. He is a graduate of the 254th session of the FBI National Academy as well as the DEA/Arizona HIDTA Drug Unit Commander Leadership Academy.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Lindenwood University in Missouri, and a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. He has served as an adjunct instructor there in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Along with teaching, he also enjoys outdoor activities, all athletic competition, and reading.
Rob Biggs - Board Member
Rob Biggs is a licensed minister and currently Sr. Pastor at Living Water Foursquare Church. He grew up and went to school, graduating from college in Arizona. He spent 21 years in banking as a Branch Manager at First Interstate Bank (merged with Wells Fargo) and ITT Finance Corp before going into full time ministry 29 years ago. He has a heart for the Verde Valley by currently serving as a chaplain at Verde Valley Medical Center, a certificate holder with NA Health Foundation and a member of a network of pastors/churches in Cottonwood. Living Water supports several community impact organizations such as House of Ruth, Old Town Mission, Cottonwood Community Garden, Mingus High School, as well as VVHC.
Chip Norton - Board Member
Chip Norton retired from the private sector in 2009 and began an encore career as a community volunteer in the Verde Valley of central Arizona. Since that time, Chip has served on more than ten governmental and nonprofit boards and commissions. His focus has been sustainable land and water use, with an emphasis on river and stream conservation. He also served as an officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (Sedona Chapter) and as an instructor of their twelve-week Family-to-Family course. He is currently a Director of the Forever our Rivers Foundation (Colorado) and Chair of the Verde Natural Resource Conservation District. He is also President of Sinagua Malt, Inc., a Public Benefit Corporation.
Tim Elinski - Board Member
Tim Elinski was born and raised in Arizona, and spent his childhood along the banks of the East Verde River north of Payson. After spending time in the Pacific Northwest and Eastern Europe, Elinski moved to the Verde Valley and purchased his home in Old Town Cottonwood where he now lives with his wife Ruth Ellen. Elinski is a licensed contractor who specializes in historic restoration. His hobbies include constantly working on his old home with his patient wife, pulling a vintage trailer along forgotten-about dirt roads in distant corners of our state, and learning by doing. Elinski has formed the Cottonwood Historic Preservation Commission and formerly served on Cottonwood's Planning and Zoning Commission. Currently, Tim is the Mayor of the City of Cottonwood.
Christian Oliva del Rio - Board Member
Christian Oliva del Rio has been with the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce for the past 14 years. During those years he has held various positions for the Chamber and has been promoted to President/CEO. Through his training and years of experience, he has been able to bring a variety of resources to enhance the membership’s ability to utilize current industry technologies. These skills have also allowed him the pleasure of promoting the community he loves, while providing workforce development and economic growth.
A native of California, Christian moved to the Verde Valley over 25 years ago. He has seen many changes, most of which have been for the good of the area. Thankfully, there are things that never change like the community camaraderie and the many wonderful things to do around Cottonwood and the Verde Valley.
Christian is a graduate of Verde Valley Leadership, Class II and served on that Board for two terms. He is a graduate of W.A.C.E. Academy, and US Chamber Institute program. He has served as Board Treasurer for Buena Vista Children’s Services, as well as for the Cottonwood Economic Development Council. He has also served on the Verde Valley Advisory Committee for Yavapai Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
Rhonda Bishop - Executive Director
Rhonda Bishop spent the early part of her working life in different areas of health care with the ultimate goal of finishing her BSN. An offer of training in business management altered the course she had been following and led her to various positions in management and human resources which have given her a large cache of information to draw on in the execution of her duties. Having spent the past 7 years working in treatment facilities has given Rhonda a working knowledge of addiction, as well as mental health concerns which often accompany addiction.
Rhonda is a member of the Cocopah Nation in Southwestern Arizona though her maternal family settled in the Verde Valley in the early 1950’s and except for briefly living in Washington State, the Verde Valley has always been home. She and her husband are local business owners and enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren and taking advantage of the extensive outdoor recreational opportunities in Northern Arizona.
If you have questions about VVHC or just want to send a message to our administration feel free to e-mail us at info@VerdeValleyHomelessCoalition.com or contact our Executive Director at rbishop@VerdeValleyHomelessCoalition.com