Category Archives: Local Topics

Bashas’ taking donations for Wallow Fire victims

The Wallow Fire is now officially the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history. While many of us in the Valley may not ever see the devastating effects of these fires up north, we have the potential to step up and help, as many individuals and local corporations already have.

In the early days of the fire’s outbreak, Bashas’ stores in fire-afflicted areas stayed open to local customers and donated food to firefighters on the scene. Now, they are making it easy for others around Arizona to bring relief to Wallow Fire victims.

Bashas’-owned stores around the state — including Bashas’, AJ’s and Food City — are currently accepting donations at the register to aid those displaced or otherwise affected by the Wallow Fire. Customers can add any dollar amount to their grocery total, and 100 percent of the funds will be donated directly to Wallow Fire relief.

Every dollar helps, and they can all add up to make a real difference in the lives of the Wallow Fire victims. So next time you make a trip to the grocery store, please reach out to help your fellow Arizonans. — Sadie Smeck

RAK Archives
The Basha family has a long history of giving back to the community. Read our “AZ Generations” article on this longtime Arizona family to learn more.


ICAN breaks ground with help of Justice O’Connor

Sandra Day O'Connor.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be the guest speaker at a groundbreaking ceremony for a project that will allow the ICAN Community Center to expand its services to at-risk youth by 55 percent.

The ceremony will take place at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 18 at Folley Memorial Park in Chandler.

For more than 20 years, the ICAN Community Center has offered preventative programming to at-risk youth, providing free academic and recreational programming and empowering kids to avoid drug use, gang activity and crime and become active contributors to the community. About 150 youth per day are currently being served.

O’Connor’s “commitment to youth and children’s rights, and her continued recognition of social equity for kids” makes her alignment with the project particularly significant, says ICAN Community Center CEO Christy McClendon.

Also present at the ceremony will be Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, members of the City Council, ICAN’s board of directors and contributors to the project.

ICAN’s current facility, located in the Chandler Redevelopment Area, has 6,000 square feet of space. The 5.6 million dollar new facility will grow that area by 15,000 square feet, sitting on 2.5 acres in its new location at Folley Memorial Park.

It will include six classrooms, a half gym, a learning center, offices and conference rooms. Construction is scheduled to wrap up in the summer of 2012.

The groundbreaking ceremony will include a virtual tour of the new facility, which will be outlined on the ground at the site, as well as the interment of a 20-year time capsule.

Light refreshments and food will be served during the groundbreaking event, which is free and open to the public.

For more information about the event, or about ICAN, call 480-821-4207 or visit — Sadie Smeck

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor talks about the Our Courts project, a website designed to boost interest among middle schoolers about civics education. With interactive games for students and curriculum builders for teachers, O’Connor’s vision is to inspire students of the 21st century to remain active participants in our democracy. RAK Podcasts.

Fathers of the Year – Bradley Parker, senior vice president of US Bank

The Phoenix chapters of the American Diabetes Association and the Father’s Day Council will honor five outstanding Valley dads as 2011 Fathers of the Year at an awards dinner and celebration Thursday night.

These prominent Phoenix businessmen were chosen on the basis of their demonstration of responsible parenting, exemplary ability to balance family and work life and strong commitment to serving the community.

After accepting the honor, each of the five will make a pledge to raise research funds for the American Diabetes Association by calling on friends, family and colleagues to make donations to achieve their fundraising goals.

I had a chance to speak with each of the five outstanding fathers about the honor, diabetes and their families.

Bradley Parker, senior vice president of US Bank

Bradley Parker, senior vice president of US Bank (Mark Skalny photo).

Growing up, Parker watched his grandmother suffer from diabetes. He says he didn’t realize how “big” it is until until he began researching the disease soon after learning he would be receiving the ADA award.

“It seems like everywhere you turn, you uncover new information and you also uncover people that you know that you didn’t know had it,” Parker says.

He was driven to participate when he saw the impact the disease can have on the lives of children. Parker saw connections to his own experience with a rocky entry his twin sons experienced when they were born eight weeks premature.

“Whenever I see the children connection, it definitely pulls on my heartstrings,” he says. “So that was a big impact for me and a big reason I wanted to get involved after I realized what an impact it had on children, especially.”

Parker’s three kids are all different, all interested in different things.

“My kids are incredible,” Parker says, laughing tenderly as he talks about his own three children. “They light up my life every day. It’s amazing. I love watching them grow, and every single one of them absolutely inspires me every day to get better at what I do.”

When he is with his family, he enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors and just “doing whatever.”

Parker says this honor has sparked discussions in his family about the importance of community service.

“It’s always been a little bit of a challenge trying to explain to [the children] why we do what we do [charitably], but I think that this process — with me and my wife both being so involved, and just all the work we had to do around it — gave them a better understanding of why we do what we do,” he says.

The Parkers will most likely spend Father’s Day at his wife’s parents’ house here in town, where he said they usually end up having a Father’s Day pool party.

Tomorrow: Mike Tully, CEO of AAA Arizona

Website shows ways to serve

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently launched a new online resource,, in response to decreased funding for support services due to the economic downturn.

Brewer, who introduced the website in her “Call to Serve” letter to Arizona residents in January, hopes that the new resource will help organizations and members of communities across Arizona collaborate to address the needs of those affected by funding changes.

ArizonaSERVES seeks to engage local faith-based and nonprofit organizations to maximize support for those in need, including the elderly, disabled and poor.

Over the past year, the ArizonaSERVES Task Force has worked to evaluate how existing resources and programs can be utilized or repurposed to provide maximum support in service areas devastated by decreased funding.

The initiative aims to provide a forum for opportunities around the issues of Service, Engagement, Responsiveness, Volunteerism, Encouragement and Support (SERVES) in communities around the state.

It focuses on five main areas: foster care, affordable child care, Child Protective Services, transportation for those in need and
elderly independence or grandparents raising grandchildren.

The website itself contains information about service opportunities, a listing of other online community resources, minutes from all meetings of the Task Force and Issue Team and community news. is a collaborative, long-term effort to centralize resources in an attempt to facilitate community service efforts for individuals eager to reach out in a difficult financial climate. Visit the site today to see how you can serve.

Nonprofits seek water donations for Valley’s homeless

Images of bottled water

Image via Wikipedia

With another scorching hot summer nearly here, the danger of dehydration is very present and real, and this health risk is even greater for the Valley’s homeless, who often do not have access to life-sustaining water.

Nonprofit groups across the Valley are committed to providing these at-risk individuals and families with the water they desperately need to survive another triple-digit summer.

The Department of Economic Security reported in 2009 that nearly 7,000 children and youth in Arizona experienced homelessness and received services from state nonprofit organizations.


There are more than 8,000 homeless individuals in Maricopa County alone. The Human Service Campus, a group of 15 homeless service providers, has created the “Thirst Aid” program in an effort to reduce incidences of heat-related death among the county’s homeless population. They hope that the community will support them in their goal of collecting and distributing 500,000 bottles of water between May 1 and September 30.

Tax-deductible donations can be made online at, or by mailing checks payable to the Humane Services Campus to 204 S. 12th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85007.

Cases of bottled water can be donated directly to one of the following three locations:

Human Service Campus Office at the Success Center

  • 204 South 12th Ave., Pheonix 85007
  • 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday -Friday

Central Arizona Shelter Services

  • 203 South 12th Avenue, Phoenix 85007
  • 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday -Friday, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturday

Lodestar Day Resource Center

  • 1125 West Jackson Street, Phoenix 85007
  • 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday -Sunday

Pickup services are also available in some areas. For more information or to schedule a pickup, contact Holly at 602-229-1242.


For the fifth year in a row, the City of Mesa will partner with local nonprofit groups to provide bottled water to the city’s homeless in the sweltering summer months through the Hydration Donation Program. Residents donated and distributed over 100,000 bottles last year.

The program’s five drop-off locations will receive donations of bottled water beginning June 1 through September 16. These locations include:

Mesa Fire Department Volunteer Center

  • 2830 E. Adobe (located behind Fire Station 206 at Lindsay and Adobe)
  • 24 hour drop-off in parking lot

Red Mountain Multigenerational Center

  • 7550 E. Adobe
  • 5:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Friday; 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday

United Food Bank

  • 245 S. Nina Drive (north of Broadway between Extension and Alma School)
  • 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday (collection bins available on weekends)

Paz de Cristo

  • 424 W. Broadway
  • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday; 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday – Sunday

A New Leaf – MesaCAN

  • 635 E. Broadway
  • 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday in the lobby

Give the life-giving gift of water to homeless children, adults and families in the Valley! — Sadie Smeck

Shop for a cause

If your family is in the market for some new electronics, Friday, May 27 is the day to shop!

Best Buy stores in Scottsdale will be hosting the second annual Customer Appreciation Day to benefit cancer research, in association with Mirabel Hope for the Cause. A percentage of the store’s earnings for the day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., will support the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare, which has conducted research and provided cancer care since 2001.

Special pricing will be available on items throughout the store.

Participating Best Buy stores are located at 15448 N. Pima Rd. and 10330 N. 90th St. in Scottsdale. — Sadie Smeck

Know someone who deserves a Hon Kachina Award?

Nate Anderson of Ear Candy at last year's awards dinner.

Nominations are being accepted through April 1 for the 35th Annual Presentation of the Hon Kachina Volunteer Awards. The annual awards honor seven of the Valley’s finest volunteers who have dedicated their time to different causes.

Last year’s winners included Nate Anderson of Ear Candy, Donna Bartos of the Purple Ribbon Council, Fred Christensen of the Navajo Volunteer Literary Program at Navajo Elementary in Scottsdale, Charles Finch of Stepping Stones of Hope, Kim Mills of the AZ Compassion in Action (Phoenix Fire Department), Bill Smith of A Stepping Stone Foundation, and Michael Young of Swing Fore Kids Golf Classic, which supports Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Animal Assisted Therapy Program.

“People may be involved with social and human services, organizations, arts organizations, pets, or homelessness,” says Pam Betz, executive director of the event. “Truly, it runs the whole gamut of the nonprofit sector, excluding advocacy or political-based organizations.”

The celebration of volunteerism will take place on Saturday, Oct. 1 at Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa, in Scottsdale. Winners will receive a hand-carved Hon Kachina doll and a cash award for their nonprofit organization.

“The Hon Kachina doll is representative of the award and is the most powerful of the healing kachinas, according to the Hopi Indian culture,” says Betz.

To nominate someone you know, visit