Tag Archives: VALLEYLIFE

Paper Clouds Apparel logo

Paper Clouds Apparel Raises Money For Special Needs Schools, Organizations

Five years ago in Northern California, one visit to his mother and a drawing displayed on her fridge was all it took to spawn the idea for the Phoenix-based T-shirts company Paper Clouds Apparel (PCA).

“(She) had a drawing on her fridge that really caught my eye,” says Robert Thornton, founder of PCA. “She told me a little girl on her route would draw the whole ride to school and would often give them to her. The drawing had me mesmerized. I woke up the next morning with the idea for Paper Clouds Apparel.” And after saving money for two years, Thornton started PCA and officially became a business in December 2009.

However, Paper Clouds Apparel (PCA) isn’t your typical clothing company. It raises money for schools, habilitation centers and learning centers that work with special needs individuals. And, it just launched its new website this week with a brand new line of merchandise created by individuals with special needs. Every two weeks, PCA teams up with a different special needs school/organization. First on the list, from January 7 through January 21, is the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). Here’s a list of some of PCA’s upcoming projects:

Q&A with Robert Thornton of PCA:

Robert Thornton

Scottsdale Living (SL): On PCA’s website, it states that the long-term goal is to raise money for at least one school, learning center and habilitation center in every state. For how many states so far has PCA raised money?

Thornton: PCA currently has 16 special needs schools and organizations as members of our family. Teaming up first with an amazing organization like the Center For Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) on our new website really expands our reach to a new level. They have satellite centers in 16 states and one in New Zealand and another in Australia.

We also have a future project in which we are teaming up with Autism Speaks, which is in every state and worldwide!

SL: How much has been raised for schools/organizations since PCA’s inception?

Thornton: We don’t like to give out actual amounts for our past projects, but we do have a new ticker on our website that will show how much has been raised for the current project and will also have a running yearly total.

I will say that Margaret Stephens-Reed, head of fundraising for VALLEYLIFE, made the comment that without the money we have raised for VALLEYLIFE, they wouldn’t even have an art program!

SL: How are the schools/organizations chosen?

Thornton: We reach out to special needs schools and organizations we love on our own, describe what Paper Clouds Apparel is all about and ask if they are interested. Most special needs schools and organizations rely on government funding and private donations to keep operating. The government has slashed the total they give out dramatically the past three years. VALLEYLIFE, for instance, has seen their government funding cut by almost 20 percent over the past three years. So we want to fill this void and give these amazing special needs schools and organizations the funds they need to give all these amazing individuals the tools they need to thrive.

SL: Could you talk about how the products are eco-friendly and sensory-friendly?

paper clouds apparel

Thornton: We use bamboo for our shirts, which is such a better fabric than cotton.

  • The typical cotton shirt requires 700 gallons from planting to finished shirt ― and that’s for ONE shirt! Bamboo shirts require around 34 gallons in comparison.
  • Cotton shirts require 1/4 pound of chemicals and pesticides, while a bamboo shirt requires none of these nasty products.paper clouds apparel
  • Plus, after the cotton is harvested, you have to fill up the air with exhaust and chemicals from tilling the land. Bamboo roots continually sprout new shoots, so you never have to till the land.
  • Bamboo fabric also feels like a cross between silk and cashmere ― super soft to the skin.
  • Bamboo fabric offers comfort, is highly absorbent, hypoallergenic, has wicking abilities, more paper clouds apparelbreathable than cotton and a natural sheen. That makes it perfect for a large number of individuals with autism who have sensory issues.

SL: What are PCA’s goals for 2013?

Thornton: Paper Clouds Apparel just wants to continue growing. We want to reach as many people as we can and inform them of what we are doing.

Individuals with special needs are all too often made to feel like they lack the ability to contribute to society. We want to show the masses the amazing talents they posses. By doing this, we want to bring hope and raise the self-esteem of a portion of the population that can be made to feel less than others.

Paper Clouds Apparel wants to spread awareness and acceptance of all people. PCA is also hiring individuals with special needs to package our shirts. Steady employment is very hard to find for this part of the population. Ninety-three percent of all individuals of working age that have special needs are unemployed. We hope to sell as many shirts as possible and keep increasing our workforce. Providing a way for someone to make a living is such a huge part of what we are about.

SL: Could you describe one moment when you knew you were touching lives with PCA?

Thornton: I have been really moved by emails I have received from parents of children with special needs that belong to a school or organization PCA is teaming up with. The emails have thanked me for this project, parents telling me this project has completely changed the dynamic in their home. Their child in now inspired and excited to know that people appreciate and want to buy something they have created. I was completely unprepared to receive something like this. Every time I get one of these emails, it really hits me emotionally. That has been the most rewarding development and has made the five years struggling to get to this point completely worth it.

For more information about Paper Clouds Apparel, visit papercloudsapparel.com.


SRP Selects Six Valley Nonprofits as Finalists to Receive Solar

SRP is inviting its customers to decide which nonprofits, from a list of six finalists, will receive a solar energy system. The 10-kilowatt systems will enable the nonprofits to help offset the cost of electricity and save money on their monthly electric bills. The savings they see will help them direct more funds to the communities they serve.

The six nonprofit finalists are:

  • The Boys & Girls Club of the East Valley/Thunderbirds Branch
  • Child Crisis Center
  • Chrysalis Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence
  • Mercy Housing Southwest
  • The Phoenix Zoo

Between now and December 31, SRP customers can vote online at www.srpnet.com/votesolar or at various events in which SRP participates around the Valley. The top vote-getters will be announced in January.

SRP EarthWise Energy is a voluntary program in which more than 5,000 SRP customers participate for as little as $3 per month, with 100 percent of the funds used to provide solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to Valley nonprofit organizations.  In addition to helping nonprofits save money, the program contributes to the growth of solar energy in the Valley and educates customers on the importance of renewable energy.

“We are grateful to our EarthWise customers who provide the funds to assist these important and vital non-profit organizations,” said Lori Singleton, SRP director of Emerging Customer Programs for Solar, Sustainability and Telecom. “Thanks to their generosity, these organizations are able to reduce their electric bill and redirect their limited dollars to the needs of their communities.”

Since 2007, the voluntary fees paid by EarthWise Energy customers have funded projects for community-based programs including Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix, Hospice of the Valley, the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center, Desert Botanical Garden and Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona.

For more information, call (602) 236-2922 or email earthwise@srpnet.com. To sign up for the EarthWise Energy program, go to www.srpnet.com/earthwise.

The Arizona Chapter of FEI held its fourth annual CFO of the Year Awards

The Arizona Chapter Of FEI Held Its 4th Annual CFO Of the Year Awards

The Arizona Chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI) held its fourth annual CFO of the Year Awards on Nov. 4. FEI Arizona presents the CFO of the Year Awards to financial professionals for outstanding performance in their roles as corporate financial stewards. The nominations and awards recognize exemplary financial management in all types of businesses: public, private and nonprofit. An impressive set of independent judges from local business and academia selected the winners based on their contributions to their respective organizations and their involvement in the community. The following CFOs were honored at the event:

Nonprofit CFO of the Year

Mary Jane Rynd Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Virginia G. Piper Charitable TrustMary Jane Rynd
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust


The talent and drive that Mary Jane Rynd put into becoming the first female partner of a national accounting firm in Arizona is now benefiting one of the state’s largest nonprofits.

As executive vice president and chief financial officer, Rynd she oversees the investment management of the approximately $500 million endowment of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. She also supervises the trust’s investment consultants and staff in the investment committee of the board of trustees.

For more than a decade before Virginia Piper’s death, Rynd served as the philanthropist’s tax adviser. As a result, Rynd has a full understanding of Piper’s approach to her philanthropy — and translates that every day into the work and spirit of the trust.

“I think I’m really lucky, because the people that I work with are highly motivated, extremely good professionals,” Rynd said.

Among her achievements at the trust is the identification, purchase and complete renovation of the nonprofit’s current offices. Over the past four years, she also has managed the diversification of the trust’s investment portfolio.

Private Company CFO of the Year

Tim Einwechter Chief Financial Officer Ascent Healthcare SolutionsTim Einwechter
Chief Financial Officer
Ascent Healthcare Solutions


In his 13 years as chief financial officer, Tim Einwechter has guided his company from a small startup to the $160 million corporation it is today.

When Einwechter began his tenure at the company that was then known as Alliance, he had to deal with cash shortages and other various financial struggles. He aggressively pursued investment capital that allowed the medical device company to take advantage of opportunities in its market. He also initiated a merger in 2005 that allowed the organization to continue growing, and played a key role when Stryker Inc. acquired the company, now known as Ascent Healthcare Solutions, in 2009.

“Life as CFO is not one of simply saying no,” he said. “Rather, it is one of bringing sense of reason to the discussions, understanding the business drivers and supporting what is important to drive the success of the business.”

Beyond the financials, Einwechter is committed to maintaining the ethics that make Ascent a success. In fact, the company’s mission statement of “Results, Integrity, and Quality” was coined by him. Einwechter’s understanding of what makes a business successful, along with a strong focus on ethical behavior, has created a shared ownership of the company’s commitment to integrity.