Sandia Gives

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Make a difference where you live and work

NM campaign is Oct. 2-20 • California campaign is Oct. 2-27

See also: What a dollar buys

The Sandia Gives Campaign is the Labs’ annual opportunity to come together and act with the common goal to help our communities through the United Way. For more than 60 years, Sandians have generously volunteered their time and given of their resources to change lives and help our local communities in profound ways. 

The United Way of Central New Mexico’s Community Fund helps those most vulnerable through program grants to qualifying health and human service agencies. The Community Fund supports programs that advance education, health, and self-sufficiency, improving the lives of more than 250,000 of our neighbors. The grants currently support 104 projects and programs, totaling $3.6 million. APS Clothing Bank, NMCAN, and the Rio Grande Food Project are just a few of the programs that are able to provide life-improving services because of Sandia’s contributions.

The APS Clothing Bank

Albuquerque Public Schools Clothing Bank provides clothes, shoes, socks, and underwear to students in need so they can focus on learning

The APS Clothing Bank partners with Goodwill Industries of New Mexico to make sure students can choose their own clothes as many as three times per year.

Sandia helps the clothing bank through the annual Shoes for Kids Program that last year raised enough money to give local families 600 gift cards to take their kids shopping at Payless Shoe Source.

A liaison from an elementary school contacted the APS Community Clothing Bank seeking urgent help for a family whose children had just enrolled in the school. Two students arrived in Albuquerque from Las Cruces with their mom, fleeing a domestic violence situation. They picked up and left without most of their belongings, including all of their clothes. Packing could have tipped off their abusive parent that they were about to leave. The APS Community Clothing Bank rushed over a package including clothing and shoe vouchers to help the family. The school liaison helped the mother find the nearest Goodwill and Payless Shoe Source stores and helped her with bus routes to reach them.

The next week, the boys came to school wearing new shoes and clothes. With so many challenges already facing them in a new school and city, their clothes were no longer holding them back. It was the beginning of a positive relationship between the parent and the school. In a time of great stress, the APS Community Clothing Bank was there to help a family in crisis.

A transformative experience at Sandia

NMCAN helps youths transitioning to independent living from foster care and/or the juvenile justice system achieve successful outcomes.

NMCAN helps youths transitioning to independent living from foster care and/or the juvenile justice system achieve successful outcomes.

NMCAN improves transition into adulthood

Young people aging out of foster care endure poor outcomes with high social costs. At age 18, they leave the system without the life experiences and necessary family supports to become successful adults.

National data provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that by their 19th birthdays, 1 out of 3 experience homelessness, 3 out of 5 have not obtained their high school diploma/GED, and 2 out of 3 are unemployed.

The Brookings Institute estimates Central New Mexico is home to 8,300 young people ages 17 to 24 who are disconnected from their community, school, and work. NMCAN works to address these challenges by improving their transition to adulthood.

Sandia employees help support kids in the foster care system with the annual Holiday Gift drive. Last year, more than 900 kids in foster care received gifts courtesy of Sandia employees. The older children that receive services from NMCAN asked for hoodies, gift cards, and electronics, which Sandia’s generous workforce happily provided.

Megan first connected with NMCAN several years ago when she was on the verge of aging out of foster care. After some initial reluctance, Megan became involved with NMCAN programming, which led to the development of having a safe and supportive community around her. She participated in Opportunity Passport — a comprehensive financial literacy and asset-specific training — a few years ago, and with the support of NMCAN, she identified financial goals to pay off student loans. In 2016, Megan received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of New Mexico and works at a local healthcare organization. With the support of Opportunity Passport, Megan was able to purchase her first home. After experiencing the constant transition of foster care, Megan is leading a stable life surrounded by her chosen family in a home of her own. “I live a pretty busy life so this extra help is a tremendous blessing!” Megan says. “Thank you just oh so much from the very bottom of my heart!”

Members of the Rio Grande Food Project team are committed to ensuring that everyone in the community has regular access to nutritious and affordable food.

Rio Grande Food Project works to prevent and end hunger
for adults and children in the Albuquerque metro area

The Rio Grande Food Project (RGFP) is the largest food pantry on Albuquerque’s West Side located in a “food desert” area where many people do not have regular access to enough affordable nutritious food. Hunger is a chronic condition in New Mexico, which ranks 2nd among all states in childhood hunger and 7th in hunger overall. In Bernalillo County, 1 in 6 residents do not know where their next meal will come from. At RGFP, hungry households can pick up a week’s worth of food once a month.

Denise (not real name) was living near Ruidoso earlier this year and got laid off from her job. The same month, her eldest son was tragically killed by a car while crossing the street. Denise was left with a broken heart, more bills than she could pay, her 16-year old son, and three small grandchildren whose mother left after their father died. The youngest grandchild is deaf and requires continuous medical attention. Since there were few jobs in the small town where they lived, and there was no medical attention for her deaf grandson, Denise moved her family to Albuquerque. They had almost nothing when they were referred to the Rio Grande Food Project. On their first visit, they learned that they could pick up a week’s worth of groceries to fill their empty bellies. They could also get a free emergency phone, enroll in Medicaid, and have their health screened by Blue Cross Blue Shield. For the first time in a long time, Denise felt some relief and was grateful for the emergency support. She planned to return every month until they were back on their feet.

“We make it convenient for employees to participate,” says Roberta Rivera, Sandia Gives program coordinator. “Our community faces so many serious challenges and when I see what we can do together as employees of the Labs, I’m so inspired that we really can and do make a difference.” Sandia’s executive management is supportive and engaged in this year’s campaign and more than 60 employee volunteers serving as Line representatives are ready to answer questions and help communicate the importance of Sandia Gives.