Tag Archives: Vista del Camino

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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Vista del Camino Volunteer Project

Jenifer Dymek, Class 26
Executive Analyst, SRP

My normal day: wake up, get ready for work, get my daughter ready for school, remind my husband where he left his keys (and sunglasses), drop off my daughter, go to work, anticipate what today is going to take to keep everything running smoothly, leave work, pick up my daughter, make dinner, bike ride?, do dishes (and any other household chores), bath time, pajamas, story time, bedtime, collapse on the couch and breathe. As you can tell, I am busy. I am so busy that there is no way I could ever find time to volunteer. At least that’s what I told myself.

But then an amazing thing happened. I made time. I made time to volunteer at the Food Bank at Vista del Camino. Vista’s mission is to provide a variety of social services to residents of Scottsdale. This includes services to prevent homelessness, meet the basic needs of individuals or families in crisis, relieve economic and emotional stress and assist individuals so they can remain self-sufficient.

I learned that the Food Bank is staffed almost totally by volunteers. Men and woman who consistently give their time to make sure that someone is there to receive donations and to sort through each item and prepare boxes and bags to be distributed to those who need it. The ladies I worked with show up every week, many for years, to ensure that the Food Bank continues to run and provide the needed services. They work one or a couple days a week for two to four hours, whatever time they have available. They do it because they want to help, and they do a great job. The pantry was perfectly organized by food with lists placed strategically to remind each person what goes in a box or a bag, and a tracking system for how many boxes are created. Once all the sorting and boxing was completed, we even dusted the tops of the cans!

I shared with my co-volunteers that until I went through Scottsdale Leadership, I had no idea that Scottsdale had a food bank. Or that I’d ridden my bike past it a million times while utilizing the greenbelt bike paths. I was surprised (and somewhat pacified) to know that until many of them started to volunteer, they weren’t aware of Vista’s existence either. Vista del Camino does a fantastic job, and their volunteers are amazing. But how much greater could it be if leaders used their connections and leadership skills within the community to let others know that it exists? They could also focus on ensuring consistent food streams. How many other food bank collection boxes do we see throughout Scottsdale? What if even a portion of those donations were directed towards Vista del Camino?

Community leaders can do a lot of good. They can lead, fundraise and spread the word about organizations like Vista. But sometimes, one of the best things they can do is to make time to volunteer. Meet people bringing bags at the door; thank them for their donation, sort and place items in boxes for those who need it. And yes, even dust cans.

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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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To Infinity, and Beyond

Kelly Ries, Class 25
Sustainability Program Strategist, Salt River Project

The very first day of class for Scottsdale Leadership Class XXV (Silver Bullets!), we were told that we would form bonds not only with our fellow class members, project group members, but also with the community of Scottsdale itself.  We all looked around, not believing we would become so invested in each other and in changing the world around us for the better in just two Fridays a month for nine months.  Well, it turns out they were right.

Scottsdale Leadership’s mission – to inform, inspire, and empower leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community – was never more evident to me than during my own Pay It Forward project, the Scottsdale P.E.T. Pantry.

Inform.  One of our very first class days was held at Vista del Camino throughout the day we were informed that Vista del Camino was in great need of many services that, for various reasons, they could not provide their clients.  Right then, many in our class wanted to jump in and get involved.

Inspire.  Once our project group formed, we found we were all inspired that class day at Vista del Camino.  Everyone involved at Vista del Camino really wants to make our community a better place by helping one Scottsdale resident at a time.  We wanted to help them in whatever way we could, so when Vista del Camino’s head honcho Kathy Breen turned our original project idea down and offered another one, we were quick to take it on.  Not only did we bond with our beneficiary but we also bonded with the project.  We took Kathy Breen’s mention of needing a way to feed pets as well as people and ran with it.  We truly wanted to help “keep pets with their people”.  By the end of our project, we had created donation portals, social media outlets, a marketing campaign, a website, and raised approximately $15,000.

Empower.  By project presentation day, the energy was palpable.  I think everyone in Class XXV felt like they could take on any challenge in our community that came before them.  In fact, one member from another team even mentioned that she felt like since this project in such a short period of time, she felt like she could take on the world.  I really feel like this cast of characters from Scottsdale Leadership could go to infinity and beyond when we set our minds on accomplishing a goal.

Community.  Community drives Scottsdale Leadership and Scottsdale Leadership has become integral to our community.  No matter which group won on our Pay It Forward project presentation day, there really were no losers.  Scottsdale is a stronger community because of my class and the projects we implemented.  Together we impacted the children, senior, and mentally and physically handicapped citizens of Scottsdale as well as Scottsdale’s pet population.

I have always been involved in my community, but Scottsdale Leadership gave me the opportunity to impact it in a way I never imagined possible before applying for the program.  While the road wasn’t always smooth for my team, we found that by leveraging our existing skills and contacts along with those newly gained from Scottsdale Leadership, we were able to accomplish our goal of helping “keep pets with their people”.

We truly were able to go to infinity and beyond with our project because of Scottsdale Leadership.


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Help the Hungry Tomorrow!

Scottsdale Leadership Marketing and Resource Development Manager

According to the USDA, over 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger. Saturday, May 8th is Stamp Out Hunger Day 2010!

All you need to do is place non-perishable food products in a bag and leave them by your mailbox tomorrow! That is all! Your letter carrier will pick up and deliver the food to local food banks! The three valley food banks benefiting will be St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, St. Vincent de Paul and the United Food Bank.

If you don’t have time to put together a few cans of food for tomorrow morning, Scottsdale has a local food bank, Vista del Camino in south Scottsdale that will always accept food items. Vista del Camino provides a variety of services to Scottsdale residents to prevent homelessness, meet the basic needs of individuals and families in crisis, relieve economic and emotional stress and assist individuals to maintain self-sufficiency.

For more information on Stamp out hunger visit: http://bit.ly/aoS4ks

For more information on Vista del Camino you can visit: http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/

What will you do tomorrow to help?

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Scottsdale Needs YOU!

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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