April 8, 2014

Peter Madrid

Valley Partnership Reviews Sites for 2014 Community Project

Inspiring and heart-rending.

Those two words stuck in my mind all day as the Valley Partnership Community Project Committee toured the sites recently and met with officials of the three finalists for the 2014 event.

All three nonprofit organizations opened up their worlds to us and gave us an opportunity to learn more about them and those they serve.
• Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped;
• Boys Hope Girls Hope;
• Valley Life.

The day began at AFH, 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.

This is the first year that AHF responded to the request for proposal from Valley Partnership. AHF offers programs for adults with physical or intellectual challenges to assist them in achieving desired outcomes. The facility is in need of major upgrades. Built in 1956 as a school, the facility sits a few blocks from the intersection of Thomas Road and 32nd St.

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.

The 18 committee members then toured Boys Hope Girls Hope, which serves promising, highly motivated children-in-need with alternative housing, private school tuition, college scholarships, and the resources to break the cycle of poverty.

BHGH was named one of the top 10 U.S. college prep programs for disadvantaged students by the Educational Policy Institute. Eight boys and eight girls live in separate housing that provides family-like situations for children of significant need. Their need is an adequate outdoor area with a sports court and site work at the boy’s facility.

The third stop was Valley Life, a community-based organization that provides services to individuals with disabilities. And as its CEO said, “Giving dignity to the life of people.” On its wish list is a sensory garden at its 27th Ave. facility.

All three finalists have stories that inspire. But at the same time, it’s heartrending when you realize there are groups and individuals with needs that go unattended.

The annual community service project is a cornerstone for Valley Partnership and this is the first year that I have been involved in the entire process. I can already see the benefits of engaging in the committee early on instead of volunteering solely for the annual community project. Visiting with the groups that so desperately need our help gave me a whole new perspective.

Going on my first tour made me realize what Valley Partnership is really all about: partners giving back to the community.
“I am so proud of this committee and feel that it gives us all an opportunity to collectively make a huge impact,” said committee co-chair Dena Jones. “We have 10 new companies represented within the committee this year and it keeps growing.

“This committee is comprised of committed, hardworking, servant leaders who lead by example and invite other partners to get involved. I feel so fortunate to work alongside of so many professionals committed to giving back.”

The committee partners that gave of their time:
Dena Jones, NAI Horizon; Chris Patton, Rick Engineering; Janelle Schick, Schick Design Group; Jorge Pierson, CSHQA; Ben Shunk, Gorman and Company; Todd Howgard, Thomas Reprographics; Ed Hansen, Morgan Realty Advisors; Katie Reiner, Pacific Aquascape; Julianna Norvell, Marc Taylor Inc.; Heather Markham, Markham Contracting; Doug Craig, Norris Design; Kim Kleski, Olsson Associates; Kent Norcross, Dibble Engineering; Mark Beal, Ryan Companies US; Mike Markham, Markham Contracting; Lisa Rowe, Work Spaces; and Matt Marcus, Ninyo & Moore.