Doreen Katz Memorial Cancer Foundation children

Two Doreen Katz Memorial Cancer Foundation children enjoy a day at the Hunkapi program in Scottsdale.

Cox Communications Cox Charities announced on Sept. 30 the distribution of $570,000 in grant funding to 108 Arizona agencies. In the West Valley, three organizations received grants: Doreen Katz Memorial Cancer Foundation of Peoria; Avondale’s Homeless Youth Connection; and WHAM Art Association of Surprise.

The Doreen Katz Memorial Cancer Foundation is a charitable organization which is dedicated to helping children whose parents are battling cancer. Adam Katz is the executive director and founder; starting the Colorado-based foundation in 2011 and expanded to Arizona in 2017. It helps with problems the family might be facing, including funding the child’s schooling, when needed. 

“In Colorado, they use things like classes, field trips, art, science and computers,” Katz said.  “Here in Arizona, we helped a family pay for the child’s high school swim team’s fee.” 

Not only does the foundation help with finances, but they also help with the emotional aspect of a patient going through cancer with therapy. 

“So that way they have a voice outside the home,” Katz said. “Every time we take in a family, they get their own assigned therapist, it is there when needed. Going through anything to expand to our therapy offerings.”

 The nonprofit earned $2,000 from the Cox Charities fund for the third consecutive year. Katz said it was amazing to have won the grant for the third time. With the grant money it received from Cox Charities, it has big plans of collaborating with more therapy ranches, such as Hunkapi in Scottsdale.

“We are putting more people into the program,”  said Katz. “It has an amazing effect on our kids.”

Another Cox Charities recipient is Homeless Youth Connection, founded 10 years ago by Larry Cervarich in Avondale. Cervarich was talking to folks around the community about how some grade school and high school children do not have basic school supplies, such as backpacks and calculators.

 “It really didn’t sit well with him, he wanted to make a difference,” said Dana Bailey, the agency’s chief development and marketing officer. “He was involved with the Rotary and reached out to some Rotary clubs. They rallied and came together and they did some drives.”

The nonprofit serves ages 13 to 21 from over 100 high schools in Maricopa County. In the last 10 years, it has grown to serve about 726 students. 

“The students that we serve come through school districts,” Bailey said. “There is an act under federal law called the McKinney-Vento Act. What that says is when a young person becomes homeless, the school district of origin has to be responsible for getting that child to school.”

Each Maricopa County district school has a liaison who identifies which students are experiencing homelessness and then contacts HYC. 

“We work with students who want to stay in school and want to graduate,” Bailey said. 

This is the nonprofit’s third year receiving the Cox Charity grant to help support HYC’s Empowering Youth for The Future program, which was awarded $5,000. The program provides the youth with basic necessities and case management. 

Also, it helps with supplying school supplies, basic hygiene needs, pay for school fees and finding the student find a home and pay for any school fees that might come about in the school year. The nonprofit also helps the student who has experienced trauma in their lives by consulting services. 

“The HYC eliminates the barriers for students to be able to graduate and works with them to come up with lasting solutions to be able to succeed,” Bailey said.

Cox Charities also gave $3,000 to the WHAM Art Association’s Teen Art Club.

Connie Whitlock created the nonprofit because she loved taking her pottery class at Sun City Grand pottery club. She realized some communities do not have access to art equipment.

“Art isn’t just about selling,” Whitlock said. “It is about connecting with others and that is what gets me out of bed, is thinking who can experience the arts and how it makes them feel.”