Facility managers are busy people. They’re constantly on the go. But they’re not so harried that they don’t have time to help others. IFMA’s Greater Phoenix Chapter has a history of working with charitable organizations to make life better for those in need. It also conducts projects that directly reach out to people and help keep Phoenix clean.
Ron Zardus, a retired Motorola facility manager, is chairman of the chapter’s community outreach committee that coordinates all community involvement. Word-of-mouth publicity plays a large role in local organizations’ awareness of IFMA’s efforts. Charities contact Zardus directly asking for help, and he also keeps in touch with various agencies to talk about their day-to-day needs.
Several organizations receive aid from the chapter, including H.O.P.E. Mission in Apache Junction, which serves pregnant and unwed mothers; and Sunshine Acres Children’s Home in Mesa for 5- to 14-year-olds in crisis. In Phoenix, IFMA lends a hand to Maggie’s Place, which serves homeless and pregnant mothers 18 and older; Homeward Bound, which reaches out to homeless and domestically abused families; Sojourner Center, which provides services for domestic abuse victims; and Missionaries of Charity, which serves the homeless and unemployed.
Help comes in the form of excess materials that are donated to the charity, including furniture, equipment and carpeting. Some items are purchased and passed along. For example, Zardus is always on the prowl for used vacuum cleaners that he buys, repairs and donates. Chapter members and contractors from Zardus’ extensive list of contacts also donate their time and expertise for such projects as roof installations and painting.
“My main aim is to help eight to 10 charities,” Zardus says. “We want to help with their day-do-day activities and also want to show them how we can help with their long-range plans.”
Twice he has arranged for the full committee to meet with a charity so everyone can get to know each other, and he plans to do more meetings this year. Zardus starts each year with about $4,000 in chapter money, and says he has yet to be turned down when he requests additional funding several months later.
Quarterly, IFMA cleans up a one-mile stretch of 52nd Street between Thomas and McDowell roads. The most recent cleanup occurred on Feb. 6.
“When we first started the street cleanup several years ago, we took two pickup loads of trash back to the dumpsters,” says Lee Cowan, chapter secretary and construction and engineering services manager at General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale. “Since then, the street has been significantly improved in its appearance and image. The results have gone further than our chapter. It has influenced several in the neighborhood to be more proactive in helping keep the street clean.”
Some residents leave the comfort of their homes to help IFMA members remove trash on 52nd Street.
“I was amazed when at one location, the occupants of the residence came out and assisted in cleaning up tree limbs by their fence,” Cowan says. “Talk about peer pressure.”
Zardus and Cowan say IFMA takes particular pride in its annual Christmas food drive for needy families. Food cards are distributed to a group of families each year. Last December, nuns from Missionaries of Charity helped Zardus identify five families that would receive $125 food cards they could present at Bashas’ and Food City supermarkets. Zardus and Cowan delivered the cards personally. Tears flowed. One woman told them the card would feed her family for an entire week.
“This made a tremendous impact on the recipients and their appreciation was very evident,” Cowan says. “Words alone cannot describe the conditions that these families were living in and going through. These folks were in dire straits, and it made me stop and think just how lucky we are to have good homes and jobs. The nuns that met with (Zardus) and me said these were the poorest of the poor that they were working with in the area. It really touched my heart to see the thanks and appreciation of the families receiving the cards.”