Tag Archives: Dena Jones

Save the Family, Valley Partnership, and Gorman & Co. saw a promising future for a large population of Mesa’s homeless and poverty-stricken community in the Escobedo at Verde Vista development.

Community project lays foundation for homeless, poverty-stricken

Last November, members of the commercial real estate industry helped turn a dilapidated, World War II housing facility into one where a community can thrive.

Volunteers move rubber chips made from recycled tires across the playground.

Volunteers move rubber chips made from recycled tires across the playground.

Just a few months prior to the completion of Valley Partnership’s 2013 community project, the Escobedo at Verde Vista development, it was an abandoned complex that had fallen victim to poverty. Where others saw hopeless housing, Save the Family, Valley Partnership, and Gorman & Co. saw a promising future for a large population of Mesa’s homeless and poverty-stricken community. The three put their heads together and hands to work to bring light and life to this Mesa neighborhood that had been left in the dark.

For the past 26 years, Valley Partnership has selected a nonprofit organization to be the recipient of its community service project. Its 2013 selection was Save the Family, an organization that provides housing and life skills to the homeless and impoverished in the Phoenix Metro.

Long-time community project committee members Ed Hansen, Morgan Realty Advisors, and Janelle Schick, Schick Design Group.

Long-time community project committee members Ed Hansen, Morgan Realty Advisors, and Janelle Schick, Schick Design Group.

Even with 25 years and $3.5M of community projects up its sleeve, the Escobedo project brought new challenges and “firsts.” To begin, it was Valley Partnership’s first ground-up redevelopment project. The existing foundations were crumbling and had to be completely rebuilt.

“The original units were built to be housing for British and black Americans that were training at Falcon Field during World War II,” says Jacki Taylor, CEO of Save the Family Foundation. Post-war, the units served as segregated housing until eight years ago, when the City of Mesa began evacuating the buildings because of decreasing structural stability. Time and money were needed to get the housing to a habitable state and that is where “the dream team” came in.

Save the Family CEO Jacki Taylor, left, project co-chair Dena Jones, center, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Program Associate Erin Goodman.

Save the Family CEO Jacki Taylor, left, project co-chair Dena Jones, center, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Program Associate Erin Goodman.

This development would require extensive construction, which brought Valley Partnership another “first” — the need for city approval and permits for a re-design. Since this was the first community project Valley Partnership had done in the City of Mesa, there were even more new rules and hoops to jump through. Despite the additional work required by all parties involved, the rebuilding of the Washington-Escobedo neighborhood “came together better than we could have hoped for,” said project co-chair Dena Jones.

The 70 units built were filled almost immediately after construction was completed. A waiting list for families hoping to join the community continues to grow. This project “totally changed the complexion of this neighborhood,” said Taylor. What used to be boarded-up, graffiti-laden and crumbling buildings is now a community of homes, classrooms, computer labs and gym facilities.

Logan Simpson Design architects Jeff Lothner and Jay Hicks look over a blueprint.

Logan Simpson Design architects Jeff Lothner and Jay Hicks look over a blueprint.

“We were all committed to making a difference and working together,” said Jones. “The teams from Gorman, Save the Family, City of Mesa, Tofel Construction and the project sponsors were so wonderful to work with and I cannot thank them enough for giving us the opportunity to take part in the legacy of Escobedo at Verde Vista.”

And the public has definitely noticed. Brian Swanton, AZ Market President for Gorman and Company Inc. said the Escobedo project “has been lauded for its success in revitalizing a boarded-up and vacant eyesore in the middle of this single-family neighborhood.”

What is in store for Valley Partnership’s 2014 project? They are in the final stages of deciding whom to partner up with for this year, but Jones knows that whomever they chose, Valley Partnership will be taking much of what they learned from the Escobedo project with them. “Our partnership is comprised of so many talented and hard working professionals committed to giving back. Engaging the committee members during the time we spend together and growing our committee will continue to be a focus for 2014.”

Valley Partnership Board of Directors

Valley Partnership Board of Directors

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Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped recipient of Valley Partnership Community Project

Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped (AFH) today was selected as recipient of the 2014 Valley Partnership Community Project. The event is Nov. 15 at Perry Rehabilitation Center, 3164 E. Windsor Ave.

AFH is a human services organization whose primary mission is to provide quality, individualized services to those with physical or intellectual challenges in the least restrictive environment. It offers programs for adults with physical or intellectual challenges to assist them in achieving desired outcomes.

“This is a great opportunity for our people with disabilities to be able to have access to their own community, and be able to go outside and enjoy a safe environment,” said AFH center Director Robyn Ratcliff. “Several years back we began to develop a dream for our property. We just weren’t able to do it when the economy went in the other direction. This is huge. We are very excited.”

AFH has successfully helped the adults it serves find community employment in landscaping, restaurants, retail stores, hardware distribution and supermarkets. Center-based employment includes assembly, inspection, collation, mail services, sorting and packaging.

“We were so excited that the Board of Directors voted unanimously to select AFH as the 2014 community project recipient that we threw them (AFH) a surprise party to share this great news at our last committee meeting,” said Valley Partnership Project Co-chair Dena Jones, Director of Business Development for Shift Redevelopment.

“I believe that AFH won over many hearts on the selection committee because they work with the happiest people on earth who are truly appreciative of the smallest things in life,” Jones said.

Work at the center will include constructing a built-in grill, seating for outside dining, the re-purposing of a sports court, a landscape screen, and a sensory garden.

The other finalists for the 2014 Community Project were Boys Hope Girls Hope and Valley Life.

One of Valley Partnership’s cornerstones is community service. Each year, it selects a non-profit organization that can benefit from the skills, efforts and supplies provided by its partners to renovate and enhance facilities for children and those in need. Over the past 25 years, Valley Partnership has contributed more than $3.5 million to the community through these projects. For its 2013 Community Project, Valley Partnership selected Save the Family Foundation’s Escobedo at Verde Vista Affordable Housing Development in Mesa.
Perry-Rehabilitation-Center-4

Dena Jones joins Shift Redevelopment

Dena Jones, HeadshotDena Jones joined Shift Redevelopment as the director of business development.

In the business development role, Jones will expand the relationships within Shift’s target markets. She is responsible for all sales activity in the company and ensuring the company reaches its growth objectives.  With the construction industry recovery in the Phoenix market, Shift is forecast to more than triple its size in 2014.  In addition to actively fostering new relationships and clients for the business, Jones is charged with hiring, developing, and training the company’s growing sales force through marketing and communication.  She serves on the executive management team and networks heavily with professional associations that support the commercial and residential real estate industries.

Jones also spearheads the philanthropic endeavors and community involvement for Shift Redevelopment. Community involvement includes nonprofit work on projects, serving on leadership boards and volunteering for charitable causes. She is the community project co-chair for Valley Partnership.

“Shift is repositioning itself for future growth.  We are excited to have Dena Jones on board as an integral member of our team. Her knowledge and her experience will help us position ourselves for anticipated growth,” said Shift Redevelopment’s Managing Director Jim Bailey.
Shift Redevelopment is a full-service general contracting and real estate development Firm that specializes in strategically optimizing commercial and residential real estate.

Since its inception, Shift Redevelopment has earned a reputation as the construction service company of choice for commercial buildings, multifamily communities, and HOA’s.  Their specialty lies in repositioning existing assets through capital improvement projects and tenant improvements (i.e… exterior painting, stucco, asphalt, roofing, flooring, interior renovations).
Shift’s competitive advantage comes by self-performing much of the work.  By keeping their price point competitive and quality controls tight, Shift is an attractive alternative for companies considering taking on large projects in house.  We offer the amenities and accountability of one point of contact with the savings of not having to manage the project.

Most recently, Shift has expanded their services to include emergency fire and water cleanup and restoration.  Their personnel are IICRC trained and certified.