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  • CSET bids farewell to two long-serving employees

    Pima County’s Community Services, Employment and Training Department said goodbye to two key staff members with a combined six decades of service helping the neediest members of the community.

    Charles Casey, who has served as CSET’s director since June 2015, started with the county 33 years ago as an eligibility coordinator for the Job Training Partnership Act. In the intervening years, he served as a grants writer, program manager and administrative services manager, among other duties. casey

    Always, though, the best part of those jobs was “helping people in our community,” said Casey. 

    He estimates he wrote at least 150 grants in his time as a grant writer. It was a skill he took with him when he managed the county’s Regional Reemployment Center, which served dislocated workers and was a prototype for the One-Stop Centers still in operation today. 

    Those centers include:
    • Kino Center for dislocated workers, 2797 E. Ajo Way
    • Rio Nuevo Service Center for unemployed adults, 340 N. Commerce Park Loop
    • Youth Employment Center for young adults, 320 N. Commerce Park Loop
    • Kino Veterans’ Workforce Center, the first such center in the United Staes,2801 E. Ajo Way
    • Sullivan Jackson Employment Center serving homeless youth and adults, 400 E. 26th St.
    Rosemary Cora-Cruz retired July 27 as community services manager where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Community Action Agency, which delivers federal, state and local funding for emergency assistance to households in crisis. She also managed the dislocated worker and seminar/workshops unit of CSET workforce programs.Cora-Cruz honored

    The Arizona Community Action Association at its annual conference in July recognized Rosemary Cora-Cruz and three other individuals with lifetime achievement awards “for their contributions to Community Action and ending poverty in Arizona.”

    The four were lauded for having “dedicated their careers to serving vulnerable individuals and families. It is impossible to measure the impact each has made on their organization, their community, and the work of ending poverty, much less articulate their collective impact.”

    In addition to providing basic assistance to low-income families and single adults, the Community Action Agency’s services include: 

    Emergency Assistance

    Food and Nutrition
    Medical Prescriptions and Supplies
    Rental/Mortgage Assistance
    Special Needs
    Support Services
    Utility Assistance

    The agency also administers discount programs for Tucson Water and Pima County’s Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department’s Sewer Outreach Subsidy.

    For Cora-Cruz, the most rewarding parts of her job were, “seeing the direct impact CSET programs have on the lives of the people we serve, keeping the lights on, preventing a household from losing their home, and seeing customers complete their training and getting a job.”

    Despite decades on the job, Cora-Cruz still managed to be surprised at the services agency personnel could provide when they worked together, such as the time they facilitated the purchase of a stove for an elderly resident.

    “I could not believe we could do that!” Cora-Cruz said.

    Working with those colleagues, “seeing their dedication and compassion for people in need of our services” is what Cora-Cruz will miss the most, she said. Casey agreed.

    There’s “never a dull moment” here, he said. But it’s “the great people who work at the county and the various agencies” who he’ll miss the most.

    “Casey leaves Pima County after 33 years of exceptional service within a department that administers critical programs to improve both the lives of the people of Pima County and the economic sustainability of local businesses,” said Jan Lesher, chief deputy county administrator. 

    In 2015, the Arizona Community Action Association awarded Casey its Heart in Hand award for his dedication to the needs of Pima County residents. 

    “His answer to any program services issue is always, ‘How will this impact our clients?’” Cora-Cruz noted.

    In retirement, Casey likely will continue to travel with the University of Arizona Wildcats – as he has for years – on their first-round games in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. The first thing Cora-Cruz plans to do in retirement “is sleep in. And enjoy time with family.”

    Moving up

    Arnold Palacios, program manager of Las Artes Arts & Education Center, is serving as interim director of CSET. He first joined Pima County as the youth opportunity director and became a community services manager, managing workforce development systems. He also spent several years as executive director of Tucson Youth Development.

    Manira Cervantes takes over for Cora-Cruz as program manager. She joined the county in 2016 as a program coordinator with the Community Action Agency. Cervantes spent a short time working for the Crisis Response Center in administration. Prior to that, she worked for 10 years with the state of Arizona’s Family Assistance Administration.
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