CARE was founded in 1994 and incorporated as a non-profit 501c3 in 1996 as a vehicle for mobilizing the caring power of community to ensure that all people have opportunities for achieving their optimum health and well-being.
CARE develops individual and community capacity by promoting civic engagement through service, leadership development and advocacy. When people provide service for others, they are valued, they recognize their power and they connect to the community; and as they become safer, healthier and more self-sufficient, our community is strengthened through their contribution.
CARE began in May 1994 as a community organizing effort to address violence and rampant criminal activity, gangs, blight and disinvestments in aging central Mesa Watertower neighborhoods. The neighborhood’s efforts were recognized when Bev Tittle-Baker, the Watertower neighborhood leader and CARE’s founder, was elected to Chair the Building a Healthier Mesa (BHM) coalition.
Coalition representatives from the City of Mesa, United Way, Mesa Public Schools, Mesa Community College, Chamber of Commerce and Arizona State University met with community leaders and chairperson of health, wellness, education and leadership training focus teams each month to identify common goals and action plans. BHM disbanded when it was later handed off to the City where it became institutionalized. Fortunately, the community steering committee had incorporated Community Asset Resource Enterprise Partnership as a non-profit organization which allows stakeholders to maintain and continue to develop partnerships for health, wellness, education and leadership opportunities.
CARE’s focus expanded to broader quality of life issues when the community group conducted over 200 door to door health assessments in partnership with ASU College of Nursing students in the fall of 1994. As we went into homes with dirt floors and empty refrigerators, and without heat, coolers or furniture, we became increasingly aware that family and community violence is often driven by the frustration that people experience when they struggle to survive every day.
Initially, neighbors partnered to help each other by conducting exchange programs for children’s clothing, food and services (childcare, transportation, home repairs, etc.), ridding the community of drug houses, negotiating a truce among rival gangs by establishing work programs, forming tutoring and mentoring programs for children, leadership training, ESL, adult education classes, and more! Based on success since that modest beginning, CARE has recruited resources from the wider community to progressively take on more and more challenges. Through CARE’s efforts, the lives of over 20,000 people are enriched each year with the availability of services that are otherwise unavailable or difficult to gain access to.
A major accomplishment has been the building of the CARE Partnership Opportunity Center. The City of Mesa purchased the land, which was leased to CARE. Neighborhood residents cleared the construction site and worked with the American Institute of Architecture and ASU School of Architecture to design the center. A local firm donated the plans. A licensed contractor donated his services, acquired donated construction materials, and supervised volunteers from all walks of life, including skilled tradesmen, Eagle Scouts, probationers, homeless and others for building the center. Since then, we acquired two and a half additional acres that adjoin our property plus two portable buildings for program expansion.