Arizona Serve began as a small group of individuals who saw an unmet need to address poverty and the associated symptoms in Yavapai County. Arizona Serve achieved these goals by starting a VISTA project, which later became a sponsored program of Prescott College. Over the proceeding years Arizona Serve has grown substantially, it is now responsible for many projects throughout Arizona. Although Arizona Serve has grown as an organization we have always focused on our communities to battle poverty and the symptoms which create it.
At the core of Arizona Serve is the unwavering vision that the communities and the individuals who serve them thrive when every person contributes to a sustainable and just existence. We admit that the last few months have been difficult and at times have felt unjust. The national response to the COVID-19 pandemic and tragic murder of black lives at the hands of police has caused many to question how our government and communities are responding.
We are also seeing the impact locally. The racist attacks via social media that have been circulating in our community about Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and faculty at Prescott College, has created a call to action and attention from our Prescott and Yavapai County community.
Tucson and Pima County have also been in the news recently regarding the death of Carlos Adrian Ingram-Lopez while in police custody. We saw hundreds of individuals face the extreme heat to gather and pay their respects in a vigil for Adrian and his family.
These actions have drawn more attention to the racism that has been embedded for many generations in our communities, traditions, laws, and institutions. It causes Arizona Serve immense anguish and sadness to see and hear the pain from our members, partners, and those that we are serving. In solidarity, we join our members, partners, and those we serve to support those who are able to rise up and seek systemic change.
Arizona Serve staff has been working to ask ourselves the hard questions; what is our role in the current climate given the nature of our work as AmeriCorps programs? Historically, National Service has been used to build capacity and provide direct service to agencies that fight systemic racism and poverty on a daily basis; but is that enough? Arizona Serve understands with the absence of racial justice we will see economic, education, and health justice fall short.
Arizona Serve is committed to empowering the voices of our communities and engages individuals in transformative community projects that fight poverty. Through the public support and declaration from our sponsors, Prescott College and AmeriCorps, Arizona Serve supports #blacklivesmatter and declares that racism, discrimination, and hate are not our values.
We affirm and stand with Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ in the fight for racial justice and equity. We are here to listen, learn, and take action together to achieve a sustainable and just existence.
Celia E. Robidoux
Arizona Serve of Prescott College