Gilbert Cares, P.O. Box 228, Higley, AZ 85236
Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.
We are a Nonprofit, Tax-Exempt, All-Volunteer, Total-Community-Involvement Organization,
and our mission has always been to restore dignity to our seniors and to help build character in our youth by focusing the energy of our youth into refurbishing homes for low income families. Founded in 1996 and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1999, Gilbert Cares fulfills two critical needs of East Valley communities: renovating homes for low-income families and disabled citizens as well as providing community service opportunities and personal development of area youth. The founders served as volunteers on a “Tempe Cares” project designed to renovate homes for low-income elderly in Tempe. Homes were renovated by restoring the structure’s integrity, increasing safety and livability by bringing the old homes into code compliance and thereby improving the daily lives of the elderly homeowners. After considerable research, the founders recognized a need for these same projects in their own town of Gilbert. Although Gilbert had been considered an affluent community, the extremely high growth rate and expansion of this once-rural community had left underdeveloped pockets of older residences. The older areas were negatively impacted by the effects of the rapid growth, often cut off from new development by concrete fences, isolated as blighted islands of deterioration just as is commonly the case with inner city neighborhoods of larger cities. These neglected areas then became pockets of poverty distributed among the affluence and prosperity. The 2010 & 2015 Census indicated that as much as 22.7% of the population of Gilbert were either elderly, disabled, a veteran, or living in poverty. This is over 56,000 people.
Many of the same families who settled the land 75 years prior still reside in the deteriorating Gilbert neighborhoods. Residents were predominately elderly and of Mexican American descent. In 2010, 14.9% of the Gilbert population was Hispanic or Latino. The widening cultural barriers between the new homeowners in modern subdivisions and the older residents rendered the older residents politically and socially silent. In the midst of rapid growth and prosperity, segments of the population can be forgotten; feelings of mistrust and alienation can develop.
Gilbert Cares was formed to recognize that there is a need for Gilbert’s silent minority (senior citizens) to gain back their dignity. To accomplish this, Gilbert Cares provides a two-fold service to the community. First, it employs young men and women as volunteers to rebuild and maintain the homes of seniors who are physically and financially unable to perform this work themselves. Secondly, it provides empowerment, involvement and community service opportunities to local young men and women.
The first Gilbert Cares project was the refurbishment of an elderly woman’s home in Gilbert’s Heritage District, the oldest community in Gilbert. There were extensive carpentry repairs needed (new doors, window frames, porch repairs, etc.), major landscaping needed, and complete painting inside and out. The work was performed by the Explorer Troop of the Gilbert Fire Department and Gilbert Police Department volunteers. All materials were donated by local businesses.
Due to the overwhelming popularity and support from Gilbert citizens, and the citizens of surrounding communities, Gilbert Cares had to expand its volunteer and resident participants to include Chandler and Mesa and later Apache Junction, Queen Creek and Tempe. Twelve “House of Refuge” homes were renovated, and a playground was constructed, at their Williams Field location. To date, Gilbert Cares volunteers have refurbished numerous homes in the Greater Gilbert Community. As of May 31, 2016 upon completion of our Character Building project Gilbert Cares has refurbished over 120 homes in the community. These accomplishments were possible due to the overwhelming generosity and genuine caring of the businesses and citizens of the Greater Gilbert Community.