Tag Archives: Granite Reef Senior Center

Helping Hands?

Scottsdale LeadershipAndy Jacobs, Class 27
Associate, Policy Development Group, Inc.

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.

As busy professionals, sometimes it’s hard reflecting on the community outside of our day-to-day lives and those we care about.  But those of us in Scottsdale Leadership Class 27 have bonded quickly, and we seem to be a collection of open-minded and empathetic individuals. That’s why Social Services Day proved to be a rewarding experience and why I believe our class is destined for great things.

Social Services Day was eye-opening and encouraging

As Class 27 discussed issues of poverty and elderly care together at Vista Del Camino, it quickly became apparent that the recession had hit almost all of us in one way or another. It confirmed what we learned about the difference between the stereotype of homelessness and the fact that sometimes we all need help in our lives. And that the sign of a true community is its willingness to play a role in love and support.

Ted Taylor, Executive Director of homeless advocacy group Family Promise, explained that since the recession, many middle-to-upper-income families in Scottsdale are now dealing with problems like homelessness and suicide, just like other communities. Scottsdale has had a much harder time dealing with these types of financial problems because until now they haven’t experienced it.

A visit to the Granite Reef Senior Center showed that despite the physical and emotional support that our elderly need on a day-to-day basis, they are an integral part of our community. The seniors we got to know are active, fun and bring immense value to our city for their contributions. Scottsdale is to be commended for its leadership in assisting with elder and poverty issues. Vista Del Camino and Granite Reef are top-notch operations and private sector leadership from leaders such as Taylor and others contribute to Scottsdale’s compassionate outlook.

Leaders from the City of Scottsdale’s Human Services Department work hard every day to ensure its struggling residents are not overlooked. The Community Assistance Office works with a citizens’ committee to make important decisions on how to allocate funding to charitable organizations collaborating with the city to take care of the less fortunate.

Of course, we can always do more, and that’s what I and others from Class 27 took away from Scottsdale Leadership’s Social Services Day. As we learn how to incorporate community leadership into our already-busy daily lives, there is no doubt we recognize the importance of lending a helping hand to those who are often overlooked.

How can you lend a helping hand?

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Social Services in Scottsdale

By Chris Rivera, Class 26
Project Manager, DMB Associates

The City of Scottsdale’s two senior centers, Granite Reef and Via Linda, are described on the city’s website as an “integrated system of services, resources and opportunities to help people improve their lives, neighborhoods and community through recreation, social services and health and wellness services.” I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at Granite Reef Senior Center and was amazed by the breadth of its services.

The Granite Reef Senior Center’s goal is to provide avenues of connection through the diverse services, groups, and activities they operate as an all‐inclusive conduit for senior adults in the south Scottsdale community. Judging by the variety of food programs available to seniors at the center or through ancillary social services programs, it is clear that the city is committed to providing nutritious meals to seniors in a setting that is most comfortable to them. The programs include bread distribution, home delivered meals, congregate meals, and the ability to pick‐up bagged groceries one day a week. I participated in the grocery bag program, called Scottsdale Brown Bag Gleaners, and in Granite Reef’s lunch time food program.

The Scottsdale Brown Bag Gleaners program runs every Thursday year‐round with the exception of July and August. I met up with other volunteers at the Via Linda Senior Center to pack brown bags full of groceries delivered by truck via St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix. The mix of volunteers ranged from young to mature, some of whom were volunteering so that they could receive a bag of groceries for their efforts. I was struck by how organized the process was and the anticipation of what type of food that would be delivered that day. I was told that on good days the bags will be overflowing with fresh vegetables, bread and canned goods. The day I was there the selection seemed to fall somewhere in the middle. As I packed groceries I imagined the seniors who would receive them and hoped that some of the goodies would bring a smile to their faces. When all of the bags were packed we drove over to the Granite Reef Center to unload and distribute the bags of groceries. It happened to be raining that morning and business was slow because many of the seniors at the center do not have cars. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning with the staff and the other volunteers. I met some interesting new people and hopefully contributed to making someone’s day a little bit better.

I also helped set‐up, serve, and clean‐up during the congregate meal at the Granite Reef Center. The Tempe Community Action Agency provides a hot nutritious meal at the Center Monday through Friday.  The lunch service was also very organized and several volunteers work during lunch every day. I chatted with some of the seniors about their day and their experiences at the center. I struck up a conversation with “June” who was looking at travel books while she was waiting for lunch to be served. I learned that she walks three miles to the center every day so that she can use the library, eat lunch, and catch‐up with her friends. This is especially significant considering that she had little use of one leg and required the use of a modified cane that looked a bit like a crutch. As the volunteers cleaned up the tables, June blushed when I came to her table because she was embarrassed about how much she was eating. Leftovers were available that day and she was taking full advantage of that. We both laughed and I could see that she was happy to be having a big meal. I enjoyed volunteering during the lunch service and hope to return and get to know some of the other regulars at the center.

I also spent some time talking to Tim Miluk, Human Services Manager at the Granite Reef Senior Center. Tim gave me a tour of the center and explained some of the programming available to the seniors. It was clear that there are many additional services Tim would like to offer if funds existed. Community leaders could make a big impact by offering pro‐bono professional services such as legal advice, estate planning/will preparation, technology consulting, etc. Some of these services are available at the center in a limited manner, but they could definitely benefit from additional resources.

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They say you never get a chance to make a first impression…

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.

I have a problem with the ever seeming permanence of the “first impression”.  If life ran only on first impressions, how misguided and short would this run be?  Take me for instance, when I, seated at the back of a large congregation, saw my future wife giving a discourse from the pulpit, I immediately turned to my friend and shared my first impression: “That Caroline is pretty but she is way too serious, I would never date a girl like that”.  I cannot fathom how less complete my life would have been had my first impression not turned out so wrong.  Similarly, Scottsdale Leadership Social Services Day for Class 26 provided us all with the opportunity to build upon our respective first impressions.

Social Services Day started out with:

  • Learning the seemingly paradoxical topic of homelessness in our beautiful city from the executive director of St Joseph the Worker.  I was surprised to find how much homelessness affected everyday families. And did you know the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old.  
  • Discovering from staff who work at Vista del Camino,that poverty hits close to home with 18.6% or 1.2 million Arizonans living below the poverty line.
  • Finding out what a gem we have in the Granite Reef Senior Center! It is world renowned for its leading edge sustainable architecture and its efforts to assist seniors in getting access to disability and food benefits in a timelier manner.

As our social schooling continued, I could not help but reflect upon how incomplete my first impression was of the various social issues.  Homelessness and poverty were things that happen to “them” or that “they” had to deal with.  Instead, I learned that these issues can and do happen to “us” and that “we” ought to deal with it.  80% of homeless people don’t stand at the corner with a cardboard sign which is our first impression. They are like you and me and for whatever reason (loss of employment, death of a breadwinner, medical issue, etc); find themselves without a place to turn and without a voice to be heard.  They become the Silent Majority or even an Invisible Nation.

By the end of the day I was a bit overwhelmed.  Human services needs in Scottsdale seem insatiable when it comes to needing greater awareness, funding, engagement and even time to deal with them all.  We role-played as Human Service Commissioners and even in the short period of time a healthy appreciation of the demands and difficulty in generating funds was evident to our class.

As class 26 continues to debunk our first impressions around the issues that face Scottsdale, I hope that we can internalize “them” so that “they” become personal and our issues.  I believe our class can and will build more positive lasting impression from our experiences.

Nevertheless, how far reaching will our efforts be?  Can our efforts effectively change the many more incomplete “first impressions” out there?  I don’t know.  Do you?

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Scottsdale Needs YOU!

By SUZANNE PAETZER
2009 Scottsdale Leadership Class Reporter

The Scottsdale Leadership Experience
This is the second of a 17 article series recapping Scottsdale Leadership’s nine-month Core Program. The program educates, connects and empowers citizens who are interested in community leadership.

Do you know the face of the person/family in dire need? Do you know how or where to help them? During our Human Services & Youth Issues topic day on September 25, 2009, Scottsdale Leadership Class 24 learned about the hardships faced every day by those unfortunately affected.

Eyes were widened by the remarkable people serving our community with passion, love and selflessness, and to the immense volunteer opportunities, during our visit to Vista del Camino (7700 E Roosevelt Street), Granite Reef Senior Center (1700 N Granite Reef Road) and the Paiute Neighborhood Center (6535 E Osborn Road).

To read the rest of Suzanne’s blog click here.

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