By Theresa Monaco
MNI TARGETED MEDIA INC.
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver. – Barbara De Angelis
Human Services Day kicked off at Vista Del Camino Services where our incredible Scottsdale Leadership Alumni, Raoul Zubia & Cindi Eberhardt, shared on the staggering need of the less fortunate in Scottsdale.
Our community has ten Title 1 schools (40% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch program); that’s 6,470 hungry children. Tears well up as I think about my own kids and how their biggest lunch-problem is being allowed to only take one treat. (I know two little boys who will be helping with next year’s Back To School event.)
Our 4 goals for the day were:
- Understand the human service needs within our community.
- To learn about volunteer opportunities within our community.
- Become familiar with the role of Scottsdale’s Human Services division and the programs offered.
- To “Feel the Day” (and maybe shed a tear or two).
Starting it off strong, was our first speaker, a 52-year resident of Scottsdale, Ignacio “Nacho” Sarabia. What an amazing man! Nacho, a Mexican immigrant, was not only instrumental in moving an entire community that had been uprooted within Scottsdale, but he also helped to develop the Yavapai School (a Title 1 program). But Nacho didn’t stop there. Armed with an army of seniors, he and his team continue to bring food to the less-fortunate residents within their community. Tears are forming. Kleenex is ready, but we don’t have overflow quite yet…awfully close though.
Next, we hopped on a charter bus, graciously donated by The Driver Provider, and headed to the Vista del Camino Warehouse. Here we DESTROYED class 32’s record and put together something like 350 bags of food for the needy. (It’s not a competition…but it really is.)
Back to the bus where we headed to Granite Reef Senior Center. Whoa! I think everyone was surprised at just how much there is to do here. Free to the public, Scottsdale’s first LEED Certified Green Building won the 2012 Pinnacle Award and is known to its members and staff as “The Greatest Senior Center on Earth.” It’s easy to see why. Donation-based lunches, free social services counselors, support groups, friendship groups, billiards, card-playing groups, baked goods Saturday, paid fitness classes, and on and on. This place has it all…including a SL alumni, Marc Blonstein, who has been religiously volunteering every Friday at the center for 8 years. #WeHeartMarc
After a fun lunch together, four long-time Granite Reef members got up on stage to share their experiences with us. While they were all wonderful, two of them really stole our hearts. Sandy, a beautiful, bubbly woman who proclaimed, “I am happy…so I am healthy!” Amazing.
Then there was Alice, a 100 yrs. young WWII Veteran. She and her husband met during the war and were married for 70 years. They were regulars at Granite Reef & had loads of friends there. After his passing, Alice continued to attend the center because, in her words, “I like to be around people that knew him.” Why hello tears. Where are my damn Kleenex?!
Our next stop was to the Family Advocacy Center, where I think it’s safe to say, we all struggled emotionally. There were a lot of teary eyes, which were a mixture of sadness and anger. Learning about human trafficking, sexual assaults, domestic violence, child predators, etc. within our community isn’t easy. However, knowing that we have a center embedded into the police department that serves to protect and comfort the victims of horrific crimes brings some peace.
We owe a huge thank you to the men and women who have the strength to help these victims day in and day out. It’s hard to even comprehend…yet they still managed to get us smiling and laughing.
Our last stop of the day would be at Scottsdale’s Adaptive Services Center. It was the burst of positive energy we needed. This program and its kids are incredible! Looking around the room, people were smiling ear to ear. There was a fun, playful vibe radiating all around. Claudia, a representative of STARS, shared how they help individuals with developmental and cognitive disabilities enter-into the workforce.
We played games together, visited the sensory room (a Scottsdale Leadership alumni PLIF project) and had ice cream from Leo’s Ice Cream Truck provided by Partners for Paiute.
All in all, Friday was an emotional, soul-filling day. Thank you to all the volunteers & speakers that gave up their time to help educate us about the needs within our community, the volunteer opportunities available, and the role that Scottsdale’s Human Services plays in it all.
I know without a doubt, you will be seeing some of our faces volunteering within the programs, financially contributing to the causes, and sharing our knowledge with those around us. You literally can’t go through this day without being changed…or carrying a wad of Kleenex.