A bus service needs money. So does a symphony. And governments. This week, leaders in Marana and Oro Valley town governments are trying to manage the pain caused by shrinking purses. It's hard, frustrating, contentious work. Someone is inevitably harmed, and upset.
In the meantime, a new community foundation has formed in Oro Valley, with the goals of supporting seniors, children, schools, the arts, and more. A similar foundation in the Stone Canyon community has made its first awards. Help addresses need. Generosity and community commitment prevail.
Yet convergence is not complete. Community foundations can't solve the budget issues facing governments, nor should they. The giving of aid must be more direct, donor to good cause.
There is plenty of need, everywhere. No body, no institution, no service, no activity can escape the economic malaise of 2009. Senior services are strapped. The elderly need transportation, hot meals, money to get by, health care, simple companionship. Volunteers do so much, in the communities of the Northwest, and elsewhere. But money always helps.
At-risk children need much the same — mentorship, positive activities, and, yes, a hot meal or three. So many people give of their time, and it is appreciated and welcome. Money, again, further stretches the good.
Activities and places that enrich our lives are struggling, too. You may have read about the financial threats facing Oracle State Park, a fine Northwest place. One of the park's boosters asked a simple question of state government — why not make better use of volunteers? It's a point well made. When we are able, let us allow people who care to fill a hole left by a reduced budget. To further that conversation, how much labor is necessary to keep a state park open? Why not simply allow fee-paying users to find their own path, a hike or a picnic, with no state labor required.
The Tucson Symphony Orchestra is having its own emergency. The TSO's story so typifies that of the arts in this "perfect storm" of economic challenge. Ticket revenue is down. Contributed income is off. Investment revenue has headed south.
In response, the TSO has cut staff, salaries, fees for guest artists and other costs. More ticket sales can't be expected. More cuts "will seriously threaten the orchestra and the music."
Is the TSO of value? Of course it is, and people who care shall rally to its support.
Yet there is need elsewhere, and everywhere. Demand for help may outstrip the supply of resources.
We'll weather the storms. Last Friday, in his State of the Town address, Marana Mayor Ed Honea talked about the bright future ahead for his community. The Twin Peaks interchange project is about to begin, with $50 million in short-term economic stimulus resulting in major improvements for quality of life and economic opportunity. The FEMA floodplain insurance threats have been allayed. It's not just Marana, either; in Oro Valley, Ventana Medical Systems continues to grow, the new Sanofi-aventis building is approaching completion, and the Oracle Road corridor is about to become swifter, quieter, more efficient. Make no mistake; in the short term, and the long run, those works bring money into economies, and create opportunities for more wealth, some of which shall go to the good causes now strapped for cash.
Give, of your time and resources, as you can. We're all the better for it.