Like most service organizations, Sun City Community Assistance Network officials are working to restore their services to full operations.
However, some will take more work than others.
The CAN office, 10195 W. Coggins Drive, is open again to walk-in traffic but staff and volunteers are trying to take care of as many issues as possible via the phone, according to Hugh Duncan, Sun City CAN board president. They also are taking calls for services that can be conducted remotely. The appointments are scheduled in such a way as to limit the number of people in the office, according to Lynn Rode, CAN executive director. There is also a staff component to the appointment scheduling.
“We are limited because two of our volunteer staff are unavailable due to health reasons,” she said. “We’re not getting a lot of calls right now, but that will change when Medicare enrollment starts.”
Medicare enrollment typically begins the first week of October.
One program CAN officials hope will be available to residents is the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, which has volunteers helping residents file their income taxes free of charge. While volunteers were trained and the program began earlier this year, it was suspended when Gov. Doug Ducey instituted a “stay at home” order in March shutting down many businesses and nonprofit organizations.
If AARP Foundation officials give the go ahead to restart the program, it will looksomewhat different than in the past, according to Jim Graff, Tax-Aide coordinator in Sun City. If the program does restart, the number of volunteer stations will be cut in half to facilitate social distancing in the small Sun City CAN conference room where the filing work is conducted, he explained.
“That will mean it will limit the number of returns we can do in a day,” Mr. Graff said. “But we are looking at ways to reduce the time it takes to do the returns and we are researching the possibility of being open on Saturdays.”
However, he stressed these plans are preliminary and dependent on whether AARP Foundation officials allow the program.
Training volunteers could also present a problem due to space. Last year training was conducted at one of the Recreation Centers of Sun City facilities.
“Plus at this point I don’t have any idea how many of the volunteers will return if we do have a program,” Mr. Graff said.
When the Tax-Aire program returns, whether it be in 2021 or the next year, residents will have to make an appointment to have their taxes filed through the program.
“The days of waiting in line are over,” Mr. Graff said. “AARP will not allow the program unless it is 100% appointment-driven.”
When the program is available, residents can make appointments online or by calling the office, 623-933-7530.
“We will provide help to those people who don’t do well with computers or don’t have one,” Mr. Graff said.
Sun City CAN’s other services remain available, including the water rebate for condo owners and help with electricity bills for low-income residents.
Mr. Duncan said officials are in the process of applying for grant funds from Arizona Public Service Co. for the electricity program. Southwest Gas, which does not have a grant application process, donated $1,000, double the company’s normal amount, for the Crisis Assistance program.
Funds from that program are used for the water rebate, electricity, gas, taxi ticket and “Paint the Town,” a new program just added.
“It is nice being an independent agency and financially stable enough that we can add programs when we want,” Mr. Duncan said.
Like other businesses and agencies, Sun City CAN took a financial hit as donations dropped from their normal levels during the pandemic.
That put CAN into a roughly $10,000 deficit compared with the same time last year, according to Mr. Graff, who is also CAN’s treasurer. But the organization has a strong enough funds to absorb that, plus another letter campaign fundraiser will be conducted soon, he added.
“I anticipate us breaking even or maybe even being a little in the black a little bit,” he said.
CAN officials also hope to increase their exposure to the community, providing more opportunity for residents to understand what the organization offers.
Ms. Rode told the board during its Sept. 8 meeting that Radiant Church, 10701 W. Boswell Blvd., new to Sun City, conducts a regular community open house-type event in which other service organizations can participate.
“We are looking into being involved with that when we can,” she said.