When 15 educators launched the credit union in 1939, they likely never envisioned their work would lead to fully funding the 1 Darn Cool School at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH), the local beneficiary of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
As a tribute to their founding teachers, Desert Financial, Arizona’s largest credit union has funded numerous organizations supporting education. In 2020, the credit union began an ambitious pledge to longtime partner PCH with a multi-year, three million dollar pledge to support 1 Darn Cool School.
“Agility, and adapting to change was important in 2020,” said Steve Schnall, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer at Phoenix Hospital Foundation. “But we’re grateful that one thing remained unchanged — the love, care and continued support from our partners at Desert Financial. In a year like no other, they continued to fight for our kids to give them everything they deserve.”
In 2020, 1 Darn Cool School served 4,800 patients and families. With nine certified, Master’s level teachers on staff, the team works with local school districts to help students keep pace with academics while they heal. Homework, the teachers often say, means hope, and gives them a sense of normalcy.
In 2020, in addition to uninterrupted services as teachers continued to work with patients, 1 Darn Cool School accomplished the following:
• Delivered bedside instruction to patients coping with critical illnesses and lengthy hospital stays
• Guided patients through school enrollment, college exploration, disability services, GED and career research
• Developed school reentry videos
• Served patients receiving dialysis treatments
• Worked with schools to develop learning plans, IEPs, homebound instruction and 504 plans
Victor Quijano, a grateful patient at Phoenix Children’s said, “Thank you Desert Financial for everything you do to support patients like me, and for everything you do for this 1 Darn School. The school has helped me achieve my freshman year to the fullest and beyond.”
The gift is the first installment of the multi-year, $3 million pledge, bringing $10 million in total gifts to the Hospital. During the virtual check presentation ceremony, Desert Financial’s Jeff Meshey, President and CEO, and Executive Vice President, Ron Amstutz, spoke about how much the community-focused credit union values the partnership with Phoenix Children’s.
“The challenges of the past year highlighted that our values aren’t just words,” said Amstutz. “What matters is the community and the people we support.”