Tag Archives: Big Brothers Big Sisters

Scottsdale Leadership Class 27 Pays it Forward With Six Community Service Projects

Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 27 is poised to leave a lasting legacy.  They recently announced the themes of their Pay it Forward projects, hands-on community service endeavors designed to leave a sustainable and impactful footprint on the community. The class has been divided into six teams to implement the following service projects:

Celebrity Bigs 4 Littles: A Mentor Recruitment Event Connecting Boys to Big Brothers
In partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona, the goal of this team is to create an annual program that focuses on recruiting critically needed male mentors (Bigs) to help reduce the more than 250 boys (Littles) on the Greater Phoenix waiting list.  The first annual Bigs 4 Littles free event will include food, prizes, and autograph and photo opportunities with major league sport celebrities, mascots and cheerleaders.
Where: Amazing Jakes Food & Fun; 1830 East Baseline Road, Mesa
When: Saturday, March 23, 9 a.m. – Noon; Light breakfast fare & buffet lunch to be provided.
More Details and Registration:http://Bigs4Littles.org

Doggie Drive-In
Homeless shelters don’t accept pets …until now! Family Promise, which serves Greater Phoenix, wanted to launch an annual event that would initially demonstrate awareness of the importance of accommodating families with pets.  This team created the inaugural Doggie Drive-In to provide the experience of being homeless in your car with your beloved four-legged family members.  The team is providing all logistics, event planning, marketing, public relations, sponsors and support for this free event (donations accepted).
Where: Scottsdale Community College; 9000 East Chaparral Road, Scottsdale
When: Saturday, March 23, 6 – 9 p.m.
More Details and Registration:http://doggiedrivein.com

Give Kids a Smile
This team is partnering with Arizona Dental Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, in an effort to make a difference in the lives of school-aged children, by offering free dental screenings.  This fun-filled event will give participating children the opportunity to be examined by several of the area’s top dentists, receive fluoride varnish and have X-rays taken, allowing for an internal view of the child’s overall oral health.  For those children who may be in need of further care, Arizona Dental Foundation will follow-up and coordinate additional care regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.  In addition, participants will enjoy age-appropriate education on oral hygiene, character appearances, music and prizes.
Where: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, Hartly & Ruth Barker Branch; 2311 North Miller Road, Scottsdale
When: Friday, March 22, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
To register a child: Interested participants need not be enrolled at the Boys & Girls Club to take part, but must provide parental consent forms in advance of the event.  Contact Marybell Ramirez-Deeds, Director of Outreach Services, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale at (480) 344-5590 or email mdeeds@bgcs.org by Monday, March 18, 2013 to sign up.

TLC (Teen Lifeline Central)
This team identified a disconnect between the vast services available to Scottsdale’s youth and their awareness of these services. TLC’s mission is to, literally, put these services at teens’ fingertips by developing Scottsdale’s first smart phone application geared specifically towards Scottsdale’s youth. The TLC app, backed by the venerable Scottsdale Prevention Institute as stakeholder, is a free, one-stop shop for Scottsdale’s youth which links them directly to those who can, and will, help.  Depression, eating disorders, crisis support, and job opportunities are just a few of the issues teens can gain information about via this application.  The app will be available for download in the Apple App Store by the end of March.

Plant a Seed
The focus of this project is to build and create an interactive garden program and curriculum for the Rose Lane Branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Scottsdale with future potential implementation at the other clubs.  The project includes a complete redesign of a current garden space for youth, an art mural focused on seasonal and local produce that will be utilized by the club for various learning and cooking classes.  There will also be an interactive online curriculum with an annual timeline for how, what and when to plant, and various kid-friendly activities that coincide with the seasonal planting requirements. The project will: 1) Teach children about the importance and benefits of a healthy, balanced lifestyle; 2) Instill responsibility and pride in the children who see, maintain and harvest the garden; and 3) encourage the children to take the knowledge of how to grow and prepare fresh food into their homes and establish home gardens. The unveiling of the new garden with the Green Thumbs Garden and Recycling Club at the Boys and Girls Club occurs in late March.

Life in a Box
This team partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale to launch “Life in a Box.” This project is a one-day workshop with local experts to empower youth with real-life skills they will need as they enter adulthood.  Topics include financial literacy, self-defense, social media skills, interview skills and healthy eating habits.  The keynote speaker will be Andrew Walter, former NFL quarterback and Arizona State University star athlete.
Where: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, Virginia Piper Branch; 10515 East Lakeview Drive, Scottsdale
When: Saturday, March 23, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

All six teams will showcase project results to the community with formal presentations on Friday, April 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc. located at 19001 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.  The public is invited to attend.  Project Pay It Forward Presentation Day is sponsored by the Scottsdale Charros and Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.  A panel of judges will evaluate the projects and the winning team will receive $2,000 from Scottsdale Leadership to be donated to the team’s benefiting organization.

About Scottsdale Leadership
Since 1987, Scottsdale Leadership has graduated more than 850 individuals who are prepared to take on leadership roles in an ever-changing world. Scottsdale Leadership alumni have had a significant impact on the Scottsdale community, spearheading preservation of open space; improving the education system; championing public art; mentoring at-risk youth; and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities. For more information, call the Scottsdale Leadership office at 480-627-6710, or visit, www.ScottsdaleLeadership.org


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Understanding Youth

Mike Binder, Class 27
Marketing and Communications Manager, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce

The Class 27 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

Some of us are closer to the realities of youth than others. Many of my classmates are mere years away from actually being young, so the memories of youth’s struggles remain fresh. I, more often than not, see youth through the eyes of my own children, the youngest being 16. I am incredibly fortunate that the experiences of youth I see most often, through my daughter, are positive ones. The daily realities for many young people however, are much more daunting. That’s why Youth Issues Day was such an eye-opener for me, and for Class XXVII.

We began our day at General Dynamics, where New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development expanded the definition of “youth”. Entering this day, when I thought of Youth Services, I had a mental image of children from perhaps 5 years of age on up to twenty, lumping those younger into a separate category. Ms. Phillips showed us that infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers benefit from specific interactions and tools that help to develop a healthy brain and enter school ready to learn. There can be no understating the benefits these interactions give children as they begin their journey toward “youth”.

Teen Lifeline then outlined one of the most difficult realities of youth, Teen Suicide. When asked if anyone in the class had been affected by suicide, the overwhelming number of hands in the air was both shocking and heart wrenching. The incredible work they do is made all the more effective by staffing the facility with teens, many of whom have also been touched by this kind of tragedy. We discussed the statistics (Each year, nearly 26,400 teens in Arizona attempt suicide; and since 1985, Arizona has ranked in the top 10 states for teens who completed suicide.), risk factors (Divorce, relationships, pressure to succeed), and signs and symptoms (Ominous statements, depression, changes in behavior).  If you can find a silver lining in this very dark subject, it’s the strong success of the program and their volunteers, who donate more than 7,000 hours annually to assist those in need.

Our final area of study for the morning was that of Youth Mentoring. We met two groups doing incredible work: New Pathways for Youth (formerly Greater Phoenix Youth at Risk) as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters. Both groups outlined the very real need for role models in the lives of youths who typically come from a single parent household.

The organizatinos showed a video that demonstrated not only how much a mentoring relationship can do, but how it can also turn into a lifelong friendship. This was reinforced by class 27’s own Jason Ganawardena, who described the value he found in his experience with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. The two biggest themes from these guests were the overwhelming need for mentors (mentees can wait more than 2 years to get paired up), and the incredible rewards that the mentor receives in these relationships.

We enjoyed lunch with many of our next guests, Teen Peer Counselors from Workshops for Youth and Families. The teens at our table were bright, engaging, and eager to share what they do. After lunch, Frances Mills-Yerger, Ph.D., Class 16, the Program Director & Founder of Workshops for Youth and Families, outlined their mission to foster personal leadership and resiliency in youth and families. Their target is teens that seem perfectly healthy on the outside, but may be struggling with personal issues, friends and family on the inside. These kids are bombarded with mixed messages from parents, peers and the media; and the Workshops provide tools to expand social, emotional and life skills; negotiate new demands; and foster a healthy transition through the adolescent years.

To end the day, we took a tour of the Paiute Neighborhood Center, a former Scottsdale elementary school that now provides a safe and diverse environment where people from the adjacent neighborhoods can come together for social, recreational, cultural and educational programs and services. While we were there, the Police Department was showing their equipment, dogs and officers to a rapt crowd of local kids. The families of this neighborhood are mostly lower income, and are in need of the incredible services offered to them at Paiute including: Early Childhood (Bi-Lingual education, early childhood development, car seat education); After-School Programs (Sports, arts & crafts, math & science, tutoring and computers for ages 6-11); Teen Center (Homework help/tutoring, teen council, open recreational activities); Senior Center (Movies, excursions, exercise classes, potlucks, recreational activities); and Social Services (Translations services, notary, food boxes, clothing bank, information & referral). This facility, and the fine staff and volunteers who make it run, are in incredible asset to the city and to this neighborhood

My takeaway for this day was that issues for youth are much more complicated today than they were just a few years ago. It was eye-opening to remove the shackles of my narrow focus and business day, and see this need in our community. Thank goodness there are people and organizations dedicated to being there for those in need, to educate them, support them, and to catch them if they fall.

Youth Services Day was recognition of the challenges of youth, and a joyful affirmation of the spirit of the young.

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To the back of the plane with Youth Issues

Kiem Ho, Class 26
Director of Business Development & Innovation, Laundry Care, Henkel Consumer Goods, Inc.

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

Parking lot traffic, pushing and shoving, indifferent and rude airline employees and don’t forget the crying babies make short flights seem like transatlantic treks. Thanksgiving travel can accentuate the worse in people jockeying for even the slimmest of services abandoning the old adage,” women and children first.” Unfortunately, this bad behavior has spilled over into non-Holiday occasions.

Airlines for example are creating “baby ghettos” in the back of the plane seemingly quarantining families from higher paying passengers according to a recent November Wall Street Journal report. In the search of profits amid shrinking budgets, airlines indiscriminately separate small children as young as 3 years old from parents to satisfy adult passengers.

Forgetting and neglecting youth is something not only common to air travel. During our Scottsdale Leadership Youth Issue Day, we learned that youth programs are not as strong as they once were. Early Literacy Programs, First Things First, After School Programs, Peer Teen Mentoring, Mentoring, Teen Employment Services and Teen Suicide Hotline.

All of the above youth issues were presented with passion and fervent invitations for involvement. At the end of the day, our class divided into groups with the hypothetical challenge of prioritizing how we would support each issue. This was done with surprising efficiency and consistency given we did this without any rebuttal from the respective youth issue experts.

So, the thought kept nagging me, what right do we have after only perfunctory discussion to prioritize anything? Our decisions were based on our best rationale. However, would we have decided differently with each youth subject matter expert present? Better yet, would we have decided differently if one of our own children was directly affected by one of these areas?

Eman Yarrow, Regional Director of NE Maricopa from First things First, put it best when he said that “Politicians probably do not support youth issues because youth do not vote”. To this, I would add that today’s youth are not a huge source for political campaigns either. No wonder youth programs are usually the first to go when it comes to budget cuts.

Being a father of three children, I understand that we can easily default to the airline MO of banishing youth issues to the “back of the plane” hoping they sort themselves out. I’ve learned from real life experience that putting off dealing with children issues at hand usually compound the problem later on.

So I ask, what are you willing to give and/or do to restore the support of our youth in Scottsdale for a better future? We, like the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, probably would give anything to be able to drink from that mystical fountain that restores our youth. Yet we have forgotten how much help we needed when we were young. There is so much need. For example, volunteers, particularly male role models are needed for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Phoenix Youth At Risk. There are many more organizations that need help but only you can decide.

Are youth programs in our community vital? Why or why not ?

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Alumni Leadership Spotlight – Eve Bilotas, Class XXIII

Eve Bilotas

Eve Bilotas

Current place of employment, titleValley of the Sun United Way, VP, Constituent Development

Community InvolvementDesert Botanical Garden, Member of Monarch Society Leadership Team, Big Brothers Big Sisters – Big Sister

How has Scottsdale Leadership enhanced your community involvement? The experience made me much more aware of the key issues facing our community and it inspired me to take action, whether at work or through my personal and professional networks.

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how did you learn it? Leadership is about credibility and relationships. For example, when a project is successful, it is important for the leader to recognize the team’s “win” and not take sole credit but when there is opportunity for improvement the leader should own that publicly and privately coach members towards success.

What do you consider the keys to effective leadership? Be kind, inclusive, honest, forward thinking, have a vision and act with integrity.

If you were interviewing different community leaders, what one question would you ask to gain insight into how they lead? What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how did you learn it?

If you could solve any community issue or need, what would it be? There are so many important issues facing our community but if I had to pick one it would be education. I wish every student in our community, state, and country had access to diverse educational resources such as art and music as well as the opportunity to be taught by passionate and well-trained teachers.

What is your as-good-as-it-gets moment in volunteering? I’ve had many, but the most memorable have been those that allowed me to establish long-term relationships with the youth that I’ve mentored through Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Free Arts 20 Week Mentor Program.

What is your favorite gadget? I don’t use a lot if gadgets but I am addicted to my BlackBerry.

What do you do to recharge your batteries? Hiking, practicing yoga and spending time with friends.

Scottsdale Leadership Safe Communities Day

Safe Communities Day! Pictured from left to right Sanam Nassirpour, Eve Bilotas, Laurel Lawton, Kim Cofer & James Labar

What was your most memorable Scottsdale Leadership Class day and why? Safe Communities Day: Taser demonstrations, wearing turnouts, crawling through a smoke filled building, putting out fires, going 50+ feet up in the ladder -need I say more? Not only was it a fun and exciting day but it also gave me a deeper appreciation of the risks that our fire and police personnel make every day to protect our community.

What advice can you give Class XXV? Go into each Class day with an open mind and really get to know your classmates.


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