After the Almeda Fire in September 2020, the Ausland team wanted to find a way to provide fire relief and support the people and organizations that were already on the front lines serving the communities of Phoenix and Talent. One of those organizations is Armadillo Technical Institute (ATI) – a charter high school in the center of Phoenix, which serves kids who struggle in more traditional high school settings. Over twenty percent of the ATI student families lost their homes in the fire.
At the start of 2020 ATI had identified that girls were twice as likely to drop out of their school than their male peers. Creating a community closet and laundry room became a priority and a grant from AllCare Health got the project rolling. Within days of the fires destroying thousands of homes around the school (which was untouched, thankfully) Ausland stepped up to donate a new washer and dryer for this space dedicated as the “Fresh” Space.
Immediately after the Almeda Fire, this new facility was available to those fire victims sheltering across the street at the Red Cross Shelter in Phoenix. As those families have relocated, it continues to see steady use. The “Fresh” Space is now stocked with extra clothing, toiletries, food and blankets.
Having extra clothes, a place to do laundry and a place to change for work is critical for ATI students, many of whom are homeless or couch-surfing. When they need these resources, they need them immediately and experience has shown that if kids are sent off-site to get help, often nothing happens.
Ausland’s donation of a washer and a dryer, together with local tradespeople donating service to hook them up, is doing more than just giving kids a place to change for work or get cleaned up. This facility is now a hub of resources where some kids come to do laundry for their entire family and a safe place for using the internet. More importantly, this is a place keeping them connected to finishing their high school work. One young lady who has said that she is going to drop out (repeatedly), continues to come to ATI to use the “Fresh” Space and continues to work on her classes.
In the aftermath of the horrendous Almeda Fire, places like ATI were immediately connecting with families in need of fire relief. By supporting a facility like ATI, Ausland was able to directly help the people most severely touched by this tragedy. Fire victims needed a facility immediately and while whole neighborhoods were destroyed, ATI had full services as soon as the public was allowed to return into the city.
This space is also serving the greater community of Phoenix. When staff at ATI noticed an older man using a walker and carrying his laundry past the school, they asked him, “why?” They discovered he was going across town twice a week to the only public laundromat on the other side of town. Now he can come to ATI. Helping each other is a part of daily life at ATI and Ausland is proud to have been a quick and deliberate partner in helping make this facility a success.
Learn more about Armadillo Technical Institute (ATI) here.
Alan Harper | February 10, 2021