Paul's Note - July 27, 2018

With school out, I’ve had more time to do “ride alongs” with some of our social service agencies. I wrote about going out with CHRPA a couple of weeks ago. This time, I went out with Pima Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program.

Both the City and Pima County help with funding the program in addition to $60,000 in private funding. The city distributes $50,000 from federal Community Development Block Grants to Meals on Wheels.

The program is run in conjunction with two of our local faith-based initiatives: Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Community Services.

Given that this is a PCOA program, it wouldn’t surprise you that the program focuses on our older Tucsonans. However, many of the recipients of meals are also disabled neighbors that can’t leave the house.

The program is an important way to keep older and disabled Tucsonans from becoming isolated. The person who delivers the meals is not only delivering food, but a chance for socialization that many of these folks would miss otherwise.

I got to meet some interesting people in my morning delivering meals. One older lady told me that she knew Hume Cronin when he was a young man. I met a 50 year resident of our community. I ended up talking about the World Cup with another. Along the way, I fixed one of their phones too.

Although most of the work is delivering meals and chatting with Tucson’s older citizens, sometimes the people delivering the food encounter clients that need help moving around their homes, or even help with falls. That’s why the people that deliver the food aren’t volunteers but paid professionals.

This means that there isn’t an opportunity to volunteer with the program, but PCOA has a range of programs that assist older citizens and they would welcome your help. They include serving on PCOA’s advisory council, work with the benefits enrollment center, helping with health fairs, special events or healthy living programs, serving as a long-term care ombudsman or Medicare counselor or helping with personal budgeting.

For more information about how to volunteer in one of PCOA’s programs, you can visit their website at pcoa.org, call 305-3418 or email volunteer@pcoa.org.

If you or someone you know would be in need of Meals on Wheels services, call the PCOA help line at 790-7262.

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This isn’t exactly tourist season in the Old Pueblo, but Visit Tucson has released some numbers on our local tourist economy and things are looking good.

Visitor spending in Pima County grew last year by $171 million, which puts it up to $2.354 billion. That’s according to Dean Runyan Associates’ annual Arizona Travel Impacts study released last week by the Arizona Office of Tourism.

The study also found that Pima County’s travel sector added 800 jobs in 2017 to 25,500, while local and state tax receipts from Pima County visitors grew from $197 million in 2016 to $201 million in 2017.

The number of domestic overnight visitors to Tucson and Southern Arizona grew from 6 million in 2016 to 6.5 million in 2017. Our Finance Department still has to confirm the amounts, but preliminary estimates show that bed-tax tax collections grew significantly in 2017-18 to $12.3 million, while hotel surcharge revenue was $7.5 million in 2017-18. The combined total of more than $19.8 million is up more than $1.2 million from 2016-17.

This goes to show that the investment the city makes from its hotel revenue in Visit Tucson is paying off. I think it would be more if we can get more direct flights to Tucson. The city manager, Visit Tucson and I have all been working on ways to get this to happen.

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It’s another hot weekend. Remember that even on cloudy days, you can get dehydrated quickly. Make sure to keep some water with you as you move about our great city.