May 22, 2020 - Huntsville nonprofit, Phoenix, has long known the challenges facing the people of its community. However, never could they have envisioned the challenges awaiting them in the spring of 2020. Phoenix, having its roots in the 1950s, has actively been providing services to people with disabilities, specifically with an employment focus, for nearly 50 years.

Following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, Phoenix was approached by the Huntsville / Madison County Chamber of Commerce, the Madison County Commission and local hospitals to help address the developing COVID crisis. But what could Phoenix do?

Even though Phoenix has provided employment services for years, they have also built up a sizable base of governmental contracts. Using these contracts as a mechanism to provide quality employment, under the AbilityOne program, they have successfully provided employment for thousands of persons with disabilities. And here lies the answer to how Phoenix could help.

Many of the Phoenix contracts deal with items sewn for Department of Defense resulting in a workforce of highly skilled sewers! The only problem, these sewers were already committed to essential contracts and were also dealing with paralyzing COVID fears. That’s when Facebook entered the conversation asking how they could help.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to help Phoenix and its skilled workforce with needed financial resources to shift gears and fulfill a community need,” said Katie Comer, Facebook’s Community Development Regional Manager. “Huntsville is home to our data center as well as our employees and their families, so connecting with community programs is so important to Facebook, especially in light of the current crisis.”

Partnering with local hospitals and following a quick reallocation of resources, Phoenix was making washable Protective Face Masks for local hospitals. With a $25,000 grant from Facebook, Phoenix was able to provide local hospitals with over 9,000 masks. Combining local industry with major community resources, Facebook has made a major contribution to the creation of a renewable resource to combat one history’s greatest societal challenges!