B’nai B’rith Covenant House of Tucson is a low-income HUD housing community for seniors that provides safe, affordable housing for 120 older adults in mid-town. Early in the morning on Sunday, May 14, which was Mother’s Day, 40 residents living in building one were awoken to a blaring fire alarm followed immediately by a wall of water from the sprinkler system. Thankfully, with the assistance of the dedicated staff all the residents exited safely, leaving behind all of their personal belongings.
As the president of the volunteer board, I was notified of the incident and arrived to find the residents who were impacted safe yet visibly upset. Within 30 minutes Red Cross volunteers arrived and we worked together to ensure all residents were accounted for and started the task of rehousing individuals who had been displaced. Hotels in the area had no vacancies and it occurred to me that perhaps Handmaker might be able to provide shelter for at least one night for the seven residents we needed to place. Another board member and the Red Cross reached out to Handmaker and moments later, I was in contact with Cydney Turner, the admissions coordinator, exchanging information. The CEO of Handmaker, Art Martin, was made aware of the urgency of the situation and without hesitation offered Handmaker as a place to stay for the Covenant House residents.
The generosity Handmaker extended continued to grow as we now had seven people who had a place to stay yet no transportation. Cydney contacted a driver who came into work exclusively to transport the residents to Handmaker. When the residents and Red Cross team arrived at Handmaker we were welcomed by Cydney who had arranged to have lunch served before folks got settled into their temporary accommodations. During our lunch, the director of nursing, Becky Norsworthy; the assistant director of nursing, Tina Randall; and Gary Lochowitz, the vice president of operations, all came on Mother’s Day to help out and personally welcomed each resident.
We are so fortunate that no one was injured in this unusual occurrence. I am grateful to be in a community that has compassionate partners that step in and lend a hand in a time of need. All of the residents at Covenant House, staff and board members share in our thanks and gratitude to our partner and friends at Handmaker.
— Abbie Stone, B’nai B’rith Covenant House board member