In 1966, Lupe Esquer and Barbara Norton, two community-minded women, saw a need in Tempe to assist elderly and low-income residents experiencing hardships.
Little did they know that their desire to help their neighbors would result in the Tempe Community Action Agency, which has aided thousands of low-income and elderly people for more than a half-century and has built a network of 1,600 volunteers.
Annually, TCAA serves more than 28,000 people.
In her honor, TCAA has renamed its building the Esquer and Ramsey Center to include the Esquer name.
The building at 2146 E. Apache Blvd. in Tempe initially was named the Norton and Ramsey Center in honor of long-time volunteers and activists Jenny Norton, whose mother helped found TCAA along with Esquer, and her husband, Bob Ramsey. The renaming honors TCAA’s true history and its origins.
“With this new dedication to my mother’s dear friend Lupe, my pride only swells,” said Jenny Norton. “I am beyond grateful that the TCAA and the City of Tempe have enabled this moment for Lupe Esquer.”
Due to COVID-19, the work of Esquer and Norton is needed now more than ever.
“Barbara and Lupe’s legacy are brought to life every day at TCAA as we strive to improve quality of life in Tempe and bring opportunity to marginalized populations served by the agency,” said Deborah Arteaga, TCAA Executive Director.
Tempe Community Action Agency began as Operation Grassroots in 1966. Early programs included a food-buying co-op, tortilla factory, neighborhood credit union, post office and community garden.
Today, TCAA is Tempe’s largest social-service organization. The site hosts the agency’s Community Action Program, food pantry, Neighbors Helping Neighbors Program and Financial Success Center.
TCAA continues to operate nutrition programs for older adults in Tempe and Scottsdale, including the home-delivered meal service, infant and family-health services through Health Start and the Oasis Drop-In Center and I-HELP shelter for the homeless.
TCAA also manages the Escalante and Clark Park Community Gardens.
For more information: tempeaction.org.