The signs are popping up everywhere in Yuma. They remind residents that “We Will Get Through This Together #YumaStrong.”
The signs were the result of ideas from several community members coming together. Like most great ideas, it grew from a “kernel” found on the internet, explained Jon Perry, owner of Print Zoom and Imaginary Friends Design Studios.
Typically, during these months, a lot of his business comes from high school and other events that require posters, signs and banners, but with all events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “my business, like most, has taken a hit,” Perry noted.
He was looking for ideas for showing support to the community while getting the word out that his businesses are still open.
Then Yuma resident Nicolle Wilkinson saw online that other communities were displaying signs to promote unity, and she suggested someone from Yuma should do that. She tagged Perry, who immediately ran with the idea.
“I absolutely can do this,” Perry said.
But he wanted a cosponsor to help kick it off. Veronica Shorr, regional director of the Arizona Community Foundation of Yuma, reached out to Perry and told him she was interested in helping out. She liked the idea of ACF sponsoring yard signs to promote unity in this time of crisis while at the same time supporting a small business struggling with the situation.
“With COVID-19, we’re all feeling lost, a little out of the loop, off balance,” Shorr said. “We needed something to unify us.”
Shorr decided to order 100 yard signs that ACF would distribute for free while giving people a chance to donate to the foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund, which supports nonprofit organizations as they respond to the impact of COVID-19 within the community.
“All nonprofits are currently in need,” Shorr noted.
Then they went to work on designing the yard signs. They settled on using the colors of the City of Yuma logo and the hashtag “YumaStrong.”
“It’s been floating around for years. It’s a good rallying cry,” Perry said.
The free posters were made available to the public, and in a day, they were all gone. Driving around town, up and down 4th Avenue and 16th Street and “here and there,” Shorr can spot the signs in front of businesses and in people’s yards, and it gives her a thrill.
“The signs are little reminders that we’re in this together, and we’ll get through this together,” Shorr said. “I just want the community to feel united through the hard times. The point is for us to feel like one community.”
The campaign also gives community members a chance to “give where you live,” which is ACF’s longtime motto.
“It’s more important than ever to step up by eating out and purchasing locally, to show support to those nonprofits and essential businesses and those that haven’t closed entirely,” Shorr noted.
ACF set up the fund to help alleviate the need of nonprofits, who are here for the long run. “The community will be affected for a long time. When it is over, people will still be unemployed, they will still need food, they will need help with utilities and basic services,” Shorr said.
This is where nonprofits come in. They help those going through a crisis, whether related to a pandemic or something else.
All the free posters may be gone, but Perry is still making them available to individuals or businesses that want to order them. People are still asking for them.
They can be ordered through yumastrong.org at $11 each or in bulk for a discount. The page also gives people the opportunity to donate to ACF. Donations given at azfoundation.org/COVID19 will be matched dollar-for-dollar, doubling the impact, Shorr said.
Perry is working on a few other projects to help Print Zoom and Imaginary Friends stay afloat past the pandemic. “We’re looking forward to being an active part of the community for years to come,” he said.
He and his employees are making high school senior signs, stickers and posters as well as postcards to help out the postal service, which is also in crisis, he noted.
“Getting mail at home would be a nice touch,” Perry added.
Nonprofit organizations may apply for grants at azfoundation.org/grants. For information, call ACF at 928-539-5343.
The quarantine hours for Print Zoom and Imaginary Friends are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To reach the businesses, call 928-502-0466 or 928-919-6845.