Our Story


Nancy Bissell and Gordon Packard began the Primavera Foundation as a response to the growing numbers of homeless individuals on the streets of Tucson, Arizona.

In 1983, they organized a large group of volunteers to begin the St. Martin’s Soup Kitchen. They were guided by the principle that every individual has intrinsic worth and deserves to be treated with respect and compassion. Shortly thereafter, the neighborhood filed a lawsuit to shut down the kitchen. 

Co-Founders Nancy Bissell and Gordon Packard with participants at the
Primavera Men's Shelter.

The court challenge went all the way up to the Arizona Supreme Court, which ordered the kitchen to close. Nancy and Gordon went on to renovate Pueblo Court into supportive housing for people with mental illness. They also raised money to build the Primavera Men’s Shelter, which continues to provide shelter for up to 80 men each night, 365 days per year.

Primavera Foundation now provides: 

  • Emergency shelter and services through a men’s shelter, a women’s shelter, a scattered-site family shelter and two day drop-in centers
  • Participation in coordinated entry through Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness (TPCH) with homelessness intervention and prevention and rapid rehousing
  • Transitional housing
  • Safe, affordable housing at 11 properties with 145 units
  • Community building and engagement through gardens, public policy education and convenings
  • Workforce development through Primavera Works, a temporary staffing agency
  • Homeownership and financial education classes and workshops.
Why Primavera

The Squash Blossom

The squash blossom logo is a reflection of spring -- or Primavera -- in Spanish. It means renewal, rebirth and new beginnings. Our name and logo reflect our mission and shared values in that we work to provide new beginnings to our participants on their journey toward a better future. We believe in the intrinsic value of every individual, where everyone has a voice and the ability to realize their potential.

The Primavera logo is a squash blossom. The squash blossom logo is a reflection of spring -- or Primavera -- in Spanish. It means renewal, rebirth and new beginnings.

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