Last fall, when the community was still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, burglars targeted The Center for Habilitation, a Tempe organization that serves more than 100 developmentally disabled adults through its day program.
The burglars broke into TCH’s maintenance truck and storage shed and stole catalytic converters from its 12 vans that are used to transport the disabled. They also made off with a surrey bike and the organization’s tricycles.
It was a hard hit for the organization until the Arizona Lottery stepped forward through its Give Back sponsorship program with $25,000 in funding.
“There is this synergy,” said Arizona Lottery spokesperson John Gilliland. “We are on the same team, and when we see a teammate that suffers, we want to step in and help because we are all pulling together to move all of us forward.”
Dawn Hocking, director of development for TCH, said the burglary took place about a week before those served by the organization were to return after a summer break.
“And, of course, it was during the fall when we’re outside riding bikes,” Hocking said. “There were several nonprofits that were hit. We happened to be one of them.”
The damage to the vans was particularly distressing.
“If we had an emergency and we had to utilize one of those vehicles, we weren’t able to until it was repaired,” Hocking said.
Community support and grant funding also helped replace the stolen and damaged items, but Hocking knew there was more to do. She wanted to prevent another such loss to TCH.
“Arizona Lottery saw the story and they reached out and said, ‘We want to support you guys. This is not OK. What do you need?’”
Hocking had a list.
“We realized there were some gaps, where these people had stolen the equipment from, that didn’t have really good security cameras,” Hocking said.
The $25,000 in funding from the Arizona Lottery’s Give Back sponsorship program allowed TCH to make upgrades to its property, including security lighting and better surveillance cameras.
The funds also helped purchase four reusable water-fountain fillers, a big boost since drinking fountains at TCH were closed due to the pandemic and the need to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The remainder of funding from the Arizona Lottery was used to purchase a smaller machine to sanitize vehicles.
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