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April 2024

Hi friends,

The month of April is always a special one here-- although it usually means that the temperatures are starting to heat up, the mountains and desert around us are still full of springtime growth. We are fortunate to live in this special place, surrounded by the unique ecosystems and species that also call the Sonoran Desert home. It's fitting that April recognizes Earth Day, when Tucson looks its best! This month, we've had the chance to reflect on community impact and engagement, and what it means to build partnerships. From recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month and cleaning up the Santa Cruz River to celebrating literacy, mental health, and educational opportunities, there were many ways that we got to see our fellow Pima County residents improving and enhancing the community experience for everyone. As always, we are here to serve, so please feel free to reach out to our office at anytime and follow us on social media for daily updates.



(Para español, haga click en el botón de arriba a la derecha y seleccione el idioma español.)



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Photo courtesy of David Pastoriza

Elizabeth Valenzuela Smith, a freshman from Pueblo High School, is the first ever female state champion wrestler from Pueblo High, the first female state champion for the Tucson Unified School District, and an 8-time All-American wrestler! Elizabeth comes from a family of highly successful wrestlers. Her father, Josiah Smith, won state in 1998, and her grandfather, Orlando Smith, won state in 1974 and 1975. Besides her skills in athletics, she is also an amazing Pueblo Warrior academically, with a 4.0 GPA. Additionally, Elizabeth is an active member of the Diva Warriors club, further showcasing her dedication and leadership skills. She serves as a role model for other students, her teammates, and the community, highlighting the importance of dedication and hard work both on and off the mat. 

Felicidades, Elizabeth!




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Photo courtesy of Grace Trejo/Arizona Daily Star

Desert Survivors, nestled right at the foot of A Mountain, is a unique and incredible business dedicated to the healing and empowering effects of our beautiful natural desert plants on customers and staff alike! Since 1981, Desert Survivors has operated as a plant nursery with a collaborative union of employment for adults with intellectual developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their mentors, who provide support and training. We are honored to count Desert Survivors as one of our D5 businesses and are so proud of the decades of work and advocacy they have shared with the community! 

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Photo taken during the Santa Cruz River Day of Connection

The Santa Cruz River, which runs through the heart of D5 and represents the birthplace of our community, has been declared the #4 Endangered River in America. However, it has a large group of supporters who are advocating for the future of the river, and to celebrate the rich history and cultural meaning of the Santa Cruz for so many in Tucson.  Besides holding regular cleanups, The Wilderness Society, The Sonoran Institute, and neighbors who live in the barrios along the banks of the river are calling for the Santa Cruz River to be declared a wildlife refuge.  Doing so will bring attention to and protection for so many of the endangered species in the ecosystem that relies on the Santa Cruz for survival.


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Every month, D5 will be highlighting an accomplishment that directly meets the goals and priorities of our Somos D5 Strategic Plan.

One of the major pillars in our Somos D5 Strategic Plan is Environment & Climate Resilience, with a goal of enhancing the urban environment at the neighborhood level. The Saturday before Earth Day, over 180 community members and organizations like Tucson Clean and Beautiful, The Tucson Audubon Society, The Wilderness Society, and The Sonoran Institute shared that goal by cleaning up over 5,500 pounds of trash from the Santa Cruz River in the Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood during the Santa Cruz River Day of Connection! There was no better way to celebrate Earth Day and honor the aims of our Strategic Plan than by participating in this event and it was great to see the interest and enthusiasm that Tucson has for making sure that we do our best as stewards of our environment. With the Santa Cruz River listed as #4 on the list of Top Endangered Rivers in America, it is crucial that our community helps preserve such a vital part of our history! 

 Check out our Somos D5 Strategic Plan webpage to learn more about each of our priorities or click the button below to dowload our complete Strategic Plan!


Press Conference on Near-Total Abortion Ban

Women and girls are less free this month than they were last month to make decisions for themselves and their futures. I stand with our community, shocked and disappointed by the horrific ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court to uphold the 1864 near-total abortion ban. Our daughters, sisters, and nieces have fewer rights than their great-grandmothers. Men do not face this reality. We must come together despite the political games that jeopardize our right to choose and ensure safety and freedom for all of us in Arizona.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month Kickoff

Thank you to the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA) for organizing the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Kick-Off Event. It was a powerful morning to join community leaders, organizations, and individuals fighting against sexual assault and supporting survivors.

This month is a chance for us to think about the role we all can play in preventing abuse and harassment for our family, friends, and neighbors who may be experiencing this. It’s only through community collaboration that we can shed light on and improve the conditions where we live to create programs and policies that support our most vulnerable. 

NAMIWalk 2024

An incredible turnout from the community for the NAMIWalk 2024 with NAMI Southern Arizona! This event, supporting the destigmatization and advocacy for mental health support, was a wonderful reminder that those who are experiencing emotional and mental struggles that they are not alone and that there is a huge community ready to offer assistance. Thank you to everyone from NAMI of Southern Arizona, especially Executive Director Briana Felix, for the amazing work you all put into this event and for allowing me to be an Honorary Co-Chair. It’s time to stop the stigma!

Teatro Carmen Visit

An exciting glimpse of the future of the beautiful Teatro Carmen located in Barrio Viejo with Herb Stratford— thank you for walking us through this historic treasure and sharing more about the great work being done to restore this community theater to its former glory!

Get Connected: Friday Night Lights Edition!

A truly spectacular touchdown during Get Connected: Friday Night Lights Edition hosted by Literacy Connects! So great to share space with literacy advocates, educators, and community partners all working towards the same goal of increasing access to education, skills, and resources for everyone in our community. As keynote speaker, NFL Pro athlete, and literacy advocate Malcolm Mitchell said during his remarks, “The most empowering tool a person can possess is the ability to read.” Thank you to everyone with Literacy Connects for really embodying that message!

CommunityShare Student Presentations

Impressed with the presentations from Lauffer Middle School students in Sunnyside Unified School District about the results of a semester-long study of some of our Pima County parks— specifically the Thomas Jay Regional Park and the Brandi Fenton Memorial Park. These students went out with mentors from the University of Arizona and Sunnyside and Desert View High Schools and assessed these parks, their amenities, and their condition. They had some really valuable feedback on how to make these community parks better!

The Drawing Studio Solar Panels Ribbon Cutting

It was great to join The Drawing Studio, Inc.‘s ribbon cutting for their new solar panels! The project was funded by the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona and will help The Drawing Studio meet a significant portion of its energy needs in a sustainable way! Thanks to everyone who made this happen and to the day's speakers:

Frank Velásquez Jr, The Drawing Studio Board President, City of Tucson Vice Mayor Kevin Dahl, Adrian Keller, Solar United Neighbors, and Jenny Flynn, President & CEO, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona

Pathway to Asia Groundbreaking

Congratulations to the Reid Park Zoo on a fantastic groundbreaking celebration for the Pathway to Asia exhibit, coming in 2026 This extension to the zoo will house a new tiger habitat, an aviary, and lots of new animals— including red pandas, a python, and fruit bats. Thanks to the efforts by the Reid Park Zoo foundation, the Zoological Society, the City of Tucson - Government Parks & Recreation, Pima County, the design teams, and community partners and volunteers who have spent years working on this plan— can’t wait for 2026!

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