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phoenixday

BCBSAZ provides technology sponsorship

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) has selected early education and youth development center Phoenix Day as the recipient of a technology sponsorship. This donation celebrates BCBSAZ’s 75th anniversary statewide outreach campaign, “Arizonans First. Always.,” and commemorates Phoenix Day’s 100th anniversary next year.

Phoenix Day helps improve school performance and introduces exciting career choices to at-risk youth from lower income families who reside in the Central Park neighborhood of South Phoenix. The BCBSAZ technology sponsorship includes providing 12 new computers, a charging station, WiFi, tables, chairs and educational software for the Phoenix Day computer lab. The computer lab will be used for Phoenix Day’s Summer Youth Enrichment Program and by students throughout the year during its Afterschool Program. The computer lab supports the development of language, science, technology, engineering and math skills that are aligned with the Arizona Department of Education’s CORE standards.

“Our year-long outreach campaign is a wonderful way to pay tribute to the diversity of our state and the array of organizations that leave a lasting impact on those they serve,” said Rich Boals, president and CEO. “Phoenix Day is the only academically focused program of its kind in this area of Maricopa County and we are honored to support such an incredible organization.”

“We are so grateful for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s support of Phoenix Day. Providing access to a computer lab outside of school hours enriches and builds upon knowledge gained in the classroom, especially for students who may not have access to technology at home,” said Karyn Parker, Executive Director, Phoenix Day.

“This is particularly important for today’s youth as they are preparing to compete in a society driven by scientific and technological innovations. Long term, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s contribution will support a more educated workforce prepared to compete in the global market.”

In addition to the Phoenix Day sponsorship, BCBSAZ participated in the HandsOn Greater Phoenix Serve A Thon on April 28, which involved a variety of community service projects across Maricopa County. A total of 57 BCBSAZ employees volunteered for activities including painting animal-themed murals and assembling animal beds at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, painting the interior of a group home for disabled individuals with VALLEYLIFE, and gardening at Faith United Methodist Church’s West Alice Community Garden.

The BCBSAZ statewide corporate outreach campaign kicked off in March with Pima County. Following Maricopa County, Santa Cruz and Cochise are the next counties to take part in the celebration. To learn more about BCBSAZ and its 75 years in Arizona, visit azblue.com/birthday.

Valley Partnership Community Project, AZRE May/June 2011

Valley Partnership Annual Community Project

The Valley Partnership Annual Community Project restored the old Phoenix Day playground.

The old playground at Phoenix Day was an assortment of aging equipment — it met state standards for safety but wasn’t quite what educators at the inner-city child enrichment center wanted: a fun, vibrant outdoor learning environment for children who usually don’t have access to great amenities.

All that changed last November when more than 100 volunteers from Valley Partnership descended on the Phoenix campus for the annual Community Service Project. Their goal was to transform the sandy, walled-in courtyard into an outdoor haven for young learners.

By the time volunteers finished, Phoenix Day’s new playground boasted bright, engaging equipment; grassy, green play areas; a sand pit in which to dig and build; a meandering tricycle path; a garden; a brightly painted infant courtyard; and plenty of new plants and trees.

“Valley Partnership helped us realize the dream of a quality outdoor environment,” says Phoenix Day Executive Director Karyn Parker, who is serving her second term overseeing the center. “We wanted an outdoor environment that was a learning environment as well, and now we have one.”

Valley Partnership, AZRE May/June 2011Phoenix Day was a good fit for Valley Partnership’s annual project, which draws volunteers and in-kind donations from the organization’s diverse partners throughout the commercial real estate industry.

“We try to find projects that are the right size for us,” says Ben Shunk, current chairman of the Community Project Committee and a senior project manager at Adolfson & Peterson Construction. “We want to make sure the project’s not too big for us to make an impact.”

The impact on Phoenix Day has been a powerful one, Parker says, and is both immediate and long-term.

The immediate impact of the Valley Partnership project includes:

  • Play equipment that now includes pieces especially designed for toddlers.
  • An infant area that is brightly painted and visually stimulating.
  • A long-dreamed-of tricycle path that allows children to traverse the grounds, all the while riding on different textured surfaces.
  • Synthetic grass with a resilient surface and cushioned padding.
  • A sandpit area with play backhoes.
  • New plants and trees, as well as a brand new sprinkler system.
  • Fresh paint on cement walls.

The long-term benefits are an environment that allows Phoenix Day instructors to teach outdoors, particularly in the garden, where children can learn about sustaining plant life. The center also plans to add features such as a rabbit hutch and a butterfly garden, complete with worms and caterpillars.

“This will allow for seasonal learning,” Parker says, adding that an “indoor-outdoor connection” is an important part of a child’s development.

Almost 80 percent of Phoenix Day’s children come from homes in which the average income is between $14,000 and $18,000 for a family of four, she says. Parents often don’t have the money or the means of transportation to take their children out and about in the community. Now, they have a great spot right in their own neighborhood.

The annual service project is an important component of Valley Partnership’s mission, which also includes networking, education and advocacy.

“Everyone feels great being a part of it,” says this year’s board chair Mindy Korth, anValley Partnership, AZRE May/June 2011 executive vice president at CB Richard Ellis. “At Valley Partnership, we believe even an organization should tithe back to the community.”

While the actual group project takes one day, Shunk says planning for the event starts months before. Committee members typically choose an organization and then spend months preparing, which culminates in a well-coordinated, well-timed workday.

For November’s workday, volunteers from Trudell Design Studios and Wildwood Design surveyed the property and prepared an overall plan.

Then, Valley Partnership volunteers prepared paperwork regulating state requirements for child-care facilities, created a needs list and distributed it to Valley Partnership members.

Partners then stepped up to prep the site, performing such tasks as removing old cement and grading. So on Nov. 8, Shunk says every volunteer knew what to do to finish the work.

Not only is it well coordinated; it’s a lot of fun.

“It’s a great group of people. Everyone is smiling and working hard,” he says. “Everyone checks their egos at the door and realizes what the end result is.”

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Valley Partnership, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Valley Partnership: Ben Shunk, Adolfson & Peterson Construction

Ben Shunk, senior project manager for Adolfson & Peterson Construction, was first attracted to Valley Partnership when he learned about its Community Project Committee.

Six years later, he remains active in all aspects of the organization, and is finding career success in its networking opportunities.

“(Valley Partnership) has helped me in my career because it’s a local organization where people who are trying to make a difference in the commercial industry as a whole can meet,” Shunk says. “This includes architects, developers, contractors, engineers, subcontractors, city personnel, attorneys — basically everyone who touches the private and public real estate industry.”

Shunk hasn’t lost his passion for community service, though, and served as chairman of the Community Project Committee in 2010.

The project Shunk spearheaded was with Phoenix Day, one of three day care facilities in South Phoenix. The team spent the first Saturday in November renovating the facility’s courtyard playground.

Shunk says he believes that was his single best experience with Valley Partnership.

“Even though it was a tough year for the economy, we had a great group of committee members, and it turned out to be an amazing project even in the tough economy,” he says.

Shunk adds that he is proud to be a part of Valley Partnership because he believes the organization serves a vital purpose in real estate, calling it “the voice of industry professionals.”

“If there are issues that the industry is passionate about, (members) can have a voice and an impact,” he says. “If it wasn’t for an organization like Valley Partnership, I don’t think those opinions would be heard.”

Shunk says he has high hopes for the real estate industry after a difficult few years, adding that “2010 was a little rough for everyone. We’re seeing a lot of momentum for 2011.”

For more information about Ben Shunk and Adolfson & Peterson Construction, visit www.a-p.com.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011