Three Thousand and Counting — Area Students Unite to Donate Masks During Pandemic

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, local students are leading the charge in the battle to slow the spread of the coronavirus and making a big difference in the community.

Established in March by Cactus Shadows High School junior Angelique Cort, the AZ Mask Project focuses on harnessing the energy of a corps of volunteers to mass produce masks and provide them at no charge to critical care workers and compromised populations in the Phoenix area.

“In March, my mom [Corinne Cort] and I started sewing masks on a small scale,” said Cort. “Soon afterward we were contacted by HonorHealth whose needs were much greater. Arizona State Senator Paul Boyer learned of our efforts and expressed a need for thousands of masks. This was clearly beyond our capability at the time, so I started looking into ways to scale up the operation dramatically.”

Her search for volunteers and donors led to a partnership with Cave Creek Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Debbi Burdick, who put the word out across the district.

“Over 70 volunteers answered the call, and the AZ Mask Project was born.”

The homemade, reusable cloth masks are delivered to front-line healthcare workers, emergency responders and community organizations throughout Greater Phoenix, including Banner Health, Cave Creek Unified School District, HonorHealth, Infinity Hospice Care, Mayo Clinic and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, among others.

Cort says that the Project has special meaning to her because her life goal is to become an emergency-room surgeon. She also says that they couldn’t have accomplished this feat without the Project’s dozens of volunteers.

“The heart and soul of our Project are our generous, community-spirited volunteers,” said Cort. “Spanning the range from students to retirees and drawing from every demographic, resilient and relentless, these selfless individuals daily contribute their time, their energy, and their goodwill to make our community a better, safer, healthier place.

“Regardless of whether they cut fabric, sew masks, make pickups and deliveries, maintain our Facebook page, donate materials, or perform any of a host of other services, they quietly make a difference every day.”

Each week, Cort creates and oversees a staged fabrication process that moves materials through multiple phases of production. She coordinates volunteers, works with donors and interfaces with beneficiary organizations. Jeffrey Filer, another Cactus Shadows junior and patrol leader in Boy Scout Troop 15, proposed and implemented a robust system that enlists three Boy Scout troops (Troops 15, 323 and 3323) to fulfill the logistical needs of the project.

Every week, Patrol Leader Filer’s Scouts deliver materials to volunteers across the Valley, move partially completed masks from cutters to the next production location, pick up finished masks and deliver finished masks to beneficiary organizations throughout the Phoenix area. Together, Cort and Filer have sustained an effort that donates hundreds of masks each week, most recently surpassing the 3,000-mask milestone.

And they are not done yet. AZ Mask Project says that it remains committed to maintaining and expanding its efforts as the need exists, and Cort says that the group is continually in search of new volunteers.

“Everyone is welcome into our Fellowship of the Mask. For those who don’t sew, we welcome your help cutting fabric. We will provide the material and support you need to get started. We provide certificates of community service hours for our student volunteers. If you are already involved in making and donating masks, we are eager to partner with you.”
Residents interested in getting involved may contact Cort by email: chancecort@me.com. The Project also has a Facebook group: search “AZ Mask Project.” |CST


Photos courtesy of AZ Mask Project

Harold’s Corral Donates Nearly 4,000 Meals During Pandemic

—By Sue Kern-Fleischer

Franny Pachuca makes brisket at Harold’s for meals that will be donated to the Foothills Food Bank and Cave Creek Unified School District.

It’s been just a few weeks since Arizona reopened, lifting the “Stay at Home” restrictions put in place to help flatten the curve from COVID-19. And while Harold’s Cave Creek Corral’s dining room is open to patrons, the iconic restaurant is continuing a unique take-out program it started with the help of the Kiwanis Club of Carefree more than two months ago to help feed families in need.

In its nearly 85 years of business, Harold’s had never experienced operating during a global pandemic. But when it became clear that the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19) could endanger the lives of customers and staff, Harold’s shifted into crisis mode, with the goal of helping the community the popular restaurant serves.

Like restaurants across the country, Harold’s temporarily closed its dining room and began to offer curbside and take-out service. But the popular western bar and restaurant took matters a step further, soliciting the help of the Kiwanis Club of Carefree to help fund a unique program to help the Foothills Food Bank and families of the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD).

Harold’s designed its take-out menu to include a unique commitment to the community: For every family-style meal ordered, which feeds four to five people, Harold’s will donate a family-style meal to a family in need through the District’s meal assistance program. Additionally, Harold’s is donating individual meals to the Foothills Food Bank.

Both Harold’s Corral and the Kiwanis Club of Carefree provided funding to start the program. Harold’s prepares the meals and the District and the Foothills Food Bank pick up the meals and distribute them.

Margaret Carver and Danny Piacquadio package meals for the Foothills Food Bank and Cave Creek Unified School District.

From March to May, Harold’s donated more than 3,500 meals, and the unique program will continue this month.

“If you would like to help with this program, you can make direct donations to the Kiwanis Club of Carefree or the Foothills Food Bank and note the donation is for Harold’s meal assistance program. Our goal is to continue to support both the food bank and CCUSD through this time of crisis. Thanks to Kiwanis Club of Carefree, Harold’s Corral and our customers, plus Shamrock Foods, we are able to provide these meals to those in need,” owner Danny Piacquadio said.

Take-out service through Harold’s is available seven days per week, with orders taken from 8am to 2:30pm. Since reopening its dining room in mid-May, Harold’s has been following CDC guidelines regarding sanitization efforts and social distancing. The dining room and outdoor patio is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday from 8am to 10pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8am to midnight.

Harold’s Cave Creek Corral is located at 6895 E. Cave Creek Rd. For more information, call 480.488.1906 or visit www.haroldscorral.com.

To learn more about Cave Creek Unified School District, visit www.ccusd93.org. To learn more about the Foothills Food Bank, visit www.foothillsfoodbank.com. For details about the Kiwanis Club of Carefree, visit www.kiwaniscarefree.org.

Supporting Small Businesses in a Crisis

Chamber steps up to reassure community

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ National Small Business Week has been postponed. The U.S. Small Business Administration event, originally scheduled for May 3–9, is an annual celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation. Never has there been a greater time for innovation in the small business community, nor a better time for recognition at all levels of our local small businesses.

There are more than 550,000 small businesses, (those with fewer than 500 employees) in Arizona, and it is estimated that these businesses employ one million workers, representing 44.5 percent of the state’s private workforce.

Studies show that when residents buy local, it makes a difference. But what happens when a crisis hits — and businesses are closed, or scramble to change their business model in an effort to meet demands or just stay afloat? At press time, Arizona is still under the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” Executive Order, which is set to expire April 30. Whether or not safety restrictions are lifted in May, the small business landscape has been forever altered, and the community is looking for help.

Representing nearly 400 businesses in the Carefree, Cave Creek, Phoenix and Scottsdale area, the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce is just one organization that is stepping up to provide resources for businesses that are experiencing the challenging impacts of COVID-19.

Patty Villeneuve, president and CEO of the Chamber, says that the main challenge that they are helping members overcome is the fear of the unknown.

“Once we truly understand we are all in this together we can breathe a small sigh of relief and buckle in to communicate what unique need one business has versus another.”

To help communicate with the community, the Chamber has created a comprehensive resource page that is easily found on the front page of its website (www.carefreecavecreek.org).

“This information has been gathered from local Congressional delegates, Governor Ducey’s office, the Small Business Association, Small Business Development Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” said Villeneuve. “The information includes where and how to access needed funding for our business community and resources for the employees of our business community.

“As a part of the resource page we also have a comprehensive list of businesses that are open for curbside, the phone number and a link to their website. We are listing all businesses, not just Chamber members. Even though we are a membership-based organization it is important that we offer as much help as we can to our entire community. We are truly, all in this together. We have also invited the community to share in webinars and conference calls so that they have an opportunity to hear directly from the people mentioned before.”

Villeneuve says that additional relief funds have become available for EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) and PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans for the business community, and that the Arizona Chamber Executives, which she is currently board chair of, approached the Governor for one-time funds to be included in the state budget to be delivered directly to Chambers across the state for things like low-cost and no-cost grants.

“I can assure you that every Chamber Executive within the state are lobbying every single day to state and federal officials for increased funding.”

Beyond the support that the Chamber is providing to community businesses, Villeneuve says that the community as a whole can help support the local businesses that it relies upon.

“Continue supporting the businesses that are open for curbside pickup, buying gift cards from all businesses (not just restaurants) that can be used later. When more businesses can re-open, the ones that rely on tips, consider tipping a little more than usual. This will mean a lot to these workers. Continue to support the food bank with donations of food, money or volunteer hours. They need your support now more than ever. Don’t forget our other nonprofits with donations of time and money. Their donor bases are significantly impacted also.

“Finally, be kind to one another. We are all in this together. Kindness will go a long way with reassuring people that everything will be OK.” |CST

It’s Time to Rally for Area Nonprofits

By Kathryn M. Miller ~

Neighbors heading out on an excursion with Foothills Caring Corps, before a time of “social distancing.”

As April begins, the world finds itself living in unprecedented times. In Arizona, schools have been temporarily closed, many businesses are closed or working at half-capacity, events have been postponed or canceled and Valley organizations and institutions — those that serve the most vulnerable among us and those that bring us hope, light and beauty — are struggling to adapt and meet the needs of those they serve.

Some food banks and other social services are feeling extra pressure as Arizona’s unemployment numbers climb amid the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, nonprofits have been negatively impacted by closures and restrictions — with major fundraising events canceled and difficulty obtaining the commodities that they need.

Foothills Caring Crops (www.foothillscaringcorps.com; 480.488.1105) is one nonprofit that has been impacted. The organization’s Taste of Foothills fundraising event, scheduled for March 26, was canceled amidst COVID-19 concerns.

“This cancellation is for one of the most important sources of revenue we use to operate Foothills Caring Corps,” said Debbra Determan, executive director. “The ‘ASK’ and live auction portions of the evening have played a big role in providing us with the resources to fully maintain our operations.”

“We hope that there will be some among you who may want to step up and help us reduce our loss. You have been so supportive in the last 15 years of our Taste of Foothills fund-raisers” [Read more about Foothills Caring Corps on page 18.]

Volunteers help fill bags at Foothills Food Bank.

 

Foothills Food Bank and Resource Center (www.foothillsfoodbank.com; 480.488.1145) is also feeling the impact, but in a different way. Although the food bank has seen a slight increase in area residents in need of their services, finding the items that their clients need has been a challenge.

“We have seen an increase, but not that many, yet,” said Foothills Food Bank executive director Pam DiPietro. “We feel if this virus continues to prevent us from moving back to normalcy, the numbers will grow. We are committed to helping those that live and work in the area we serve.”

“At this point in time, the things we need most are the same items that everyone is looking for: paper towels, toilet paper, disinfectant products, wipes, bleach.”

DiPietro says that while the food bank is always in need of non-perishable food, the items currently most needed are soups of all kinds, tuna, pasta sauce and juice.

The food bank has a dedicated team of volunteers that, even during challenging times, keep up with the community’s needs.

“The majority of our volunteers are seniors; however, every day we manage to have enough people to get the job done. Our volunteers, all 400, are wonderful and we truly appreciate them.”

“We hope to be able to continue to serve those in need, while cautiously maintaining safety. We do not come in contact with the client. They call us, we package the food, set it on a table at our door and the Client drives up and picks up the food.”

But DiPietro reiterates that, right now, the most import way that the community can help: “Find us critical the things that we need!” |CST

New Hospital in Cave Creek Expected To Open Next Year

Artist’s conceptual rendering of Abrazo Cave Creek Hospital. Courtesy of Abrazo Health

Abrazo Health announced in early February that it is set to begin construction a new small-scale community hospital in Cave Creek near the intersection of Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road. Expected to open in 2021, Abrazo Cave Creek Hospital is a new type of neighborhood hospital, sometimes referred to as a “microhospital,” designed with an emphasis on quality medical care, convenience, efficiency and short ER wait times.

Abrazo Cave Creek Hospital will focus on emergency and surgical services, with eight rooms for patients needing overnight care. The single-story, approximately 35,000-sq.-ft. facility at the southwest corner of Carefree Highway and 53rd Street will include a 13-bed emergency department, an operating room and eight inpatient rooms, along with additional services.

“I am thrilled to have Emergency Services available in the area,” said Cave Creek Mayor Ernie Bunch. “I believe this makes Cave Creek a more complete Community.”

Abrazo Health currently operates six Valley hospitals including the acclaimed Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital. The Cave Creek hospital will be Abrazo’s third neighborhood hospital. Abrazo Mesa Hospital opened in October 2019 and Abrazo Surprise Hospital is expected to open later this year. Each is closely integrated with Abrazo’s larger sister hospitals, medical group and community physicians.

“We all prefer to receive care closer to home, and this type of hospital meets a need for access to medical care beyond what’s available at an urgent care or freestanding emergency center. The hospital will offer a 24/7 ER and have the ability to perform surgical procedures, with around-the-clock general surgery, hospitalist and emergency physician coverage,” said hospital CEO Ed Staren.

“Our goal is to provide multiple points of access for those who choose Abrazo for their care. Emergency care and operations like appendectomies and gall bladder procedures, for example, can be performed in the neighborhood hospital setting,” said Staren.

Patients with abdominal pain, sprains and broken bones, minor trauma, lacerations, dehydration, pneumonia and flu are typical of injuries and illnesses expected to be treated in the Abrazo Cave Creek Hospital emergency department.

“We’re anxious to begin providing care for our neighbors and friends in the Cave Creek area,” Staren said. “Providing quality medical care and excellent patient satisfaction are among our top priorities, and we want our ER waiting times to be among the shortest they can possibly be.”

When completed, the hospital is expected to create approximately 50 jobs. General contractor for the hospital is Adolfson & Peterson Construction; the facility was designed by E4H Architects.

For more information, visit www.abrazohealth.com.

 

Cave Creek Museum Honors and Celebrates ‘The Legacy of Gerry Jones’

By Karrie Porter Brace

Gerry Jones at his drawing board.

“Do not seek to dominate nature with your buildings, but cooperate with it to achieve a harmony similar to that of natural creations.” —Gerry Jones

Carefree’s exciting architecture and sweeping vistas draw artists, designers, architects, visitors and residents who appreciate the creative integration of sculptural earth, rock and striking desert terrain. Cave Creek Museum’s 50th anniversary, with the Gerry Jones featured exhibit and a one-day only Home Tour of six unique and stellar residences, celebrates the imagination, aesthetic and resolve that initiated and continues to give the Desert Foothills its wonderful signature character.

Gerry Jones is the Desert Foothills’ distinguished architectural designer and builder who implemented the vision of Carefree’s founders, KT Palmer and Tom Darlington. After serving in the Marines in World War II and Korea, Jones remained in China to study history and philosophy, martial arts and jai alai. There, he observed that ancient Buddhist monasteries were tucked directly into the mountains. The topography had not been altered or leveled. When he began his career in design, he resolved to employ the terrain to its best advantage without destroying the natural mountain contours, just as the Buddhists had done centuries before.

In 1957, on a handshake, Jones helped Palmer and Darlington realize their vision of a planned community in the foothills north of the Valley. A seasoned rock climber, he knew the land well, rough-platting 2,200 acres of Carefree on foot. He laid out roads and lots by leading bulldozers across the land as he wove around native cacti, rocks, outcroppings and trees.

Properties were planned with a mandate that no boulder would be displaced to accommodate a builder’s needs. Furthermore, Jones utilized existing rocks and boulders structurally as supports for the foundations of his buildings and interior features of the spaces he created. Based on his practice of building in harmony with nature, he wrote Carefree’s architectural guidelines. They became the foundation for Maricopa County’s building ordinance, which regulates hillside development, grading and drainage to this day.

His 1974 paper “Must We Destroy in Order to Build?” addressed the issues facing those who loved the natural drama and beauty of their Sonoran homes. House-siting, materials palette, floor-level changes and structural solutions are harmoniously integrated with the rock formations and physical features surrounding a Jones-designed residence. Jones’ own residence is nestled within the northeastern boulders of Black Mountain. For nearly 50 years, he has made Carefree his home. He continues to work from his studio overlooking the broad expanse of this beautiful region. His most recent house, in the Nighthawk subdivision on Black Mountain, was completed in 2018.

Jones perceives how the world around us isn’t separated by interior and exterior dichotomies. He creates timeless architecture with a livable affinity for the extreme terrain in Arizona’s wilderness. He brings bedrock into dwelling spaces and puts homeowners into the living desert.

Experience the innovation and drama of Gerry Jones’ architectural design by touring six of his signature homes on the Cave Creek Museum’s The Gerry Jones Home Tour, March 8. [Read The Gerry Jones Home Tour, page 21.]

Photo: Loralei Lazurek, Images Arizona 

Fine Art & Wine Festival Returns for 27th Annual Winter Event

“Blowhard” by bronze sculptor Jason Napier

More than 5,000 original works of art from 155 juried fine artists will be showcased Jan. 17–19 at the Thunderbird Artists’ 27th Annual Winter Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival. The fine art festival will run along Ho Hum and Easy Streets in Downtown Carefree.

A popular event for locals and tourists alike, Thunderbird Artists’ Winter Carefree show was recently ranked No. 45 among the “Premier 100 Fine Art Events” throughout the nation by Greg Lawler’s Art Fair SourceBook.

“It’s an honor to receive such a prestigious industry accolade, and a true testament to the quality of our show,” said Denise Colter, president of Thunderbird Artists. “We love being a part of the Carefree community — people love strolling through the streets, meeting the artists, tasting wine and listening to live music. It’s a beautiful, serene setting, and our artists provide plenty of inspiration!”

In addition to a wide variety of paintings, sculptures, bronzes, sparkling hand-blown glass, wood, clay, metal, stone, gourds, batiks, scratchboard, one-of-a-kind handcrafted jewelry and exceptional photography, attendees are expected to be especially taken with the oil paintings of the event’s featured artist, Brent Flory.

“Hudson Bay Comfort” 24”x48” oil painting by Brent Flory

Oil painter Brent Flory enjoys learning about and painting the Wild West. Raised in Parker, Flory was always intrigued by the illustrations in picture books. His favorites depicted cowboys, farmers, ranchers, Native Americans and wildlife from the American West.

Flory finds subject matter for his life-like paintings all around him, especially in journal entries or historical books.

“Every life has a story, and some are just amazing,” says Flory. “People did what they had to do to survive. I try to capture that human experience.”

“Aspen Slope” by Nadine Booth

Each of Flory’s pieces are given a well thought out title to help people think about the paintings in a different way.

“Most artists hope that people will appreciate the beauty of their work,” says Flory. “I hope that my work makes people think, and that it makes them appreciate what we often take for granted.”

In addition to meeting award-winning artists and enjoying live musical performances, festival attendees can participate in a world-class wine tasting program. For $10, patrons will receive an engraved souvenir wine glass and six tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets may be purchased for $1 each.

Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival runs Fri. through Sun., Jan. 17–19, 10am–5pm daily. Admission is $3 for adults, and free for all Carefree residents and children 17 years or younger. Parking is free all weekend. For more information, call 480.837.5637 or visit www.thunderbirdartists.com.

Foothills Caring Corps Offers Critical Support to Residents

Volunteers and community partners help make it possible

Longtime FCC volunteer Caroline Turner

Imagine being able to live independently in one’s own home well into the golden years. It’s a dream for many, but the reality is that as people grow older, their needs become greater as resources begin to diminish. Activities like going to a doctor’s appointment or shopping for groceries become challenging when one no longer drives. Social life may suffer too, especially for those who are a widow or widower or a transplant from another state who may not have family nearby.

Fortunately, more than 2,500 people in the Phoenix area have been able to stay in their homes and live more fulfilling lives because of the nonprofit Foothills Caring Corps (FCC).

Since 1999, Carefree’s FCC has helped older adults and those with disabilities live independently while still being a part of the community. Those that the organization helps are referred to as “Neighbors.” These Neighbors live in the organization’s service area, which includes Carefree, Cave Creek, North Phoenix and North Scottsdale.

Executive director Debbra Determan says isolation and loneliness is something many seniors and others living on their own deal with all too often, and that the organization’s goal is, “to help Neighbors build their resources, so they are surrounded by support.”

Studies have shown that isolation can be detrimental to mental and physical health, often resulting in people being forced to leave their homes and move into care facilities. Eighty-five percent of FCC Neighbors live alone, but Determan says that even Neighbors who live with their children need social interaction or transportation — many seniors are home alone all day because their adult children are at work.

FCC’s services include medical transportation, van trips to social events, mobile meals, mobility equipment loans, pet therapy, friendly visiting and phoning, business/computer help, handyman services, caregiver relief, shopping assistance, a lock-box program and more.

History of Foothills Caring Corps
Gail Simmons and Father Steven Dart formed the start-up programs in 1999.  One year later, they received a start-up grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and to hire a small part-time staff.  They were then able to recruit more volunteers and were granted space in Christ Anglican Church. By 2003, the Caring Corps passed the 200-volunteer mark, and in 2004, the organization purchased its first 13-passenger van.

In 2006, Simmons retired and Determan took over as executive director. The year 2007 saw FCC reach a critical milestone. That year, the Caring Corps met the needs of 350 Neighbors with more than 33,000 volunteer hours. In 2009, the Foothills Caring Corps was officially registered as a 501(c)(3), and it established a Board of Directors.

The nonprofit organization moved to its current location in 2010, and later expanded and remodeled the space to accommodate expansive growth. In 2014, the organization served 740 Neighbors with 575 volunteers. One year later, they reached another milestone by raising $600,000, the most ever raised at that point.

Since its start-up beginnings in 1999, the organization has had steady growth in both the number of Neighbors served and the volunteers that have been recruited. Fast forward to 2019 when, as of October, FCC had provided 35,782 hours of service, which included more than 10,400 meals, 5,955 van trips and 4,438 medical-transportation trips.

Getting Started
All of these life-changing services begin with a phone call and an at-home visit by FCC assistant director — Volunteer and Neighbor manager, Nancy Cohrs. Cohrs meets with FCC applicants to make sure the organization is a good fit for them. With 230 plus new participants a year, Cohrs spends a good portion of her workday screening potential Neighbors. She says the organization helps people at a critical time in their lives, adding that the FCC motto — Hugs and Help Happen Here — really holds true.

“I do believe that our service and our volunteers make a huge impact on the community, allowing Neighbors to remain living independently,” she says.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Neighbors who want company can sign up for FCC’s friendly in-person visits or phone calls. They can also take a look at the monthly calendar that lists upcoming van trips. Neighbors are encouraged to sign up for activities that interest them, such as movies, bingo, the library, chair yoga, special events and more.

A van will accommodate five or six neighbors, the driver and the driver’s assistant. Neighbors receive help getting on and off the vans, five of which are equipped with ramps or lifts. The Caring Corps currently has nine vehicles.

Scottsdale resident Caroline Turner is one of several volunteers who drive Neighbors to doctor’s appointments or social events. The Caring Corps provides as many as 85 rides in one week.

“It’s so rewarding,” says Turner, who volunteers anywhere from 60 to 80 hours per month. “The neighbors are so inspiring. If a 90-year-old woman with an oxygen tank can get out and go to chair yoga…that’s amazing. I hope I can do that when I’m that age.”

While the average age of an FCC Neighbor is 82, not all of them are elderly. Scottsdale resident Nathan Holter, who is epileptic and legally blind, is a few decades younger than most of the Neighbors, but he doesn’t mind. He says the Neighbors he has met over the years have unofficially adopted him as their son or grandson.

When Holter and his parents moved to Arizona from Minnesota 10 years ago, he found he didn’t have much opportunity for social interaction with people outside his family. He went online looking for transportation and stumbled upon the van program.

“When I called about the van service, they said, ‘You know this van is primarily for the elderly, don’t you?’ And I said, so?”

Holter takes six to eight van trips per month — fewer in the summer months when many volunteers are away. “I have a whole lot more freedom with the van program, and I enjoy my life a lot more,” Holter says. “I’ve become more confident in myself. I really look forward to these trips.”

Neighbor Doris Rybarczyk moved to Arizona from Maryland in 2003 and has been participating in the van program for 15 years. Rybarczyk’s son lives nearby but works full time and is busy raising a daughter.

“I love it,” she says. “It has given me such a wonderful outlook on life. It gives you a chance to talk with different people and keep your mind active.”

Rybarczyk says once she experienced the FCC van program for the first time, she made sure to tell everyone in her apartment complex about it.

Many Neighbors become good friends on van trips and even exchange phone numbers so they can discuss future trips or just chat.

“When you’re lonely and isolated, that has an impact on your health. You can get depressed and have anxiety. Our goal is to enhance their lives and add social interaction and fun with safety in mind,” Cohrs says.

Regina Bonahoom, a Neighbor and Cave Creek resident, says the Caring Corps has made a huge impact on her life. After becoming a widow, she became less involved in the community and reached out to the nonprofit to help fill that void.

“It was a new chapter in my life, and, without the Foothills Caring Corps, I wouldn’t have known who to turn to,” she says. “I’ve made many new friends. We need to be with friends. That’s what gets us through.”

Krosby the therapy dog

Neighbors who appreciate “furry” friends, can also take part in the pet therapy program. Turner is one of the volunteers who brings her certified therapy dog to visit Neighbors.  Neighbors love visiting with her dog, Krosby.

Volunteer Power
While the Foothills Caring Corps has almost a dozen paid staff, the organization’s volunteers are critical to its success, with more than 1,600 registered volunteers, 475 of which are regularly active.

Cohrs facilitates most of the volunteer orientations and says people have many volunteer options, depending on their interests and the amount of time they can commit.

“Our volunteers are always telling us that they get so much out of the experience,” Cohrs says. “And the Neighbors could not be more grateful.”

Marian and Phil Abramowitz have been volunteering for 15 years. They work together delivering food for the mobile meals program. The organization delivers 60-70 meals per day, Monday through Friday. The food is prepared at Honor Health, Thompson Peak.

“The Neighbors love the food, and they are so grateful to us,” Marian says. “Every house we go to, they thank us over and over again.”

Cohrs says mobile meals is a critical FCC program. Not only do neighbors get a hot meal, but they also get a safety check. Neighbors in the program are required to answer the door and let the volunteer in the house. If no one comes to the door, FCC will call until the person answers. If they are unable to reach a Neighbor within a short period of time, FCC will call either the sheriff’s department or fire department to do a welfare check.

Volunteer Chuck Zontanos has been with FCC since 2005. He started as a driver and now serves as a driver’s assistant.

“Everybody we pick up has a story,” Zontanos says. “They have a lifetime of experience and some of the stories are remarkable.”

The first Neighbor Zontanos ever drove to the doctor was a French woman with a background straight out of a novel. During the ride, she shared that she had worked for the French underground during World War II and helped smuggle Jews over the border into France. She was eventually turned in to authorities by her neighbors, and she spent two years in a German prisoner of war camp. Another woman Zontanos met flew U.S. military planes fresh off the assembly line to make sure they were ready for battle overseas during World War II.

“Everybody has a story,” Zontanos says. “It’s a great pleasure hearing where everybody is from and getting to know them.”

Many of FCC’s volunteers says that while they are the ones donating their time, they feel like they get more out of the experience than they put in.

“Every day I volunteer, I give back to someone,” Turner says. “I can’t imagine what I would do without the Caring Corps in my life.”

To recognize the impact that they have made, all past and present volunteers are invited to celebrate 20 years of the Foothills Caring Corps at a reunion / volunteer appreciation celebration, which will take place in early 2020. The event will include an awards presentation and recognition of volunteers and the debut a video that documents the organization’s history. Food and beverages will be provided.

It Takes a Village
While FCC wants as many people as possible to know about the program, more Neighbors means an increased demand for volunteers and funding. The organization occasionally receives grants for various programs, but the majority of its funds come from private donations.

Also vital to the organization is the support of its community partners and residents. In late November, they partnered with the Town of Carefree and Kiwanis Club of Carefree to launch the “Season for Caring” initiative benefiting the many deserving seniors in the area. Residents are invited to help FCC “bring joy, friendship and a holiday gift to our Neighbors,” says Determan. [Read Season for Caring on page 23.]

The nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization raised $650,000 in 2018–19 and hopes to meet its goal of $720,000 in 2019–20. Community members who would like to help support FCC in its mission can learn more at www.foothillscaringcorps.com.

Library Hosts ‘2019 HITH Showcase’ Exhibit & Preview

Artist Sue Hunter stands with “All Tied Up,” which will grace the cover of the 2019 Hidden In The Hills artist directory.

The annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour & Sale (HITH), the signature event of the nonprofit Sonoran Arts League featuring 197 artists in 47 studios throughout the community, is slated for the last two weekends in November — Nov. 22–24, and Nov. 29 – Dec. 1.

Select artists’ work is on view at the Desert Foothills Library through January in the “2019 HITH Showcase” exhibit. A special behind the scenes preview event will be held Thursday, Nov. 7, 12:30-2:30pm at the library. Go behind the scenes and meet some of the participating artists, try out several different art processes and watch a visual slide tour of artists in action in their unique studios in preparation for the event kick off, Nov. 22.

Now in its 23rd year, HITH is a free, community-wide self-guided tour that provides life-long learners and art lovers the opportunity to see and interview artists at work in their private studios. The “2019 Showcase” is a sampling of some of the artwork available during the six-day event. The “Showcase” exhibit is on view until January 23. The Nov. 7 program will highlight the diversity of media and styles of individual artists. Eight to 10 HITH artists will engage with the public in hands-on demonstrations taking them behind the scenes in a preview of this program that falls on the weekend before and after Thanksgiving.

Desert Foothills Library is located at 38443 North Schoolhouse Road in Cave Creek. For additional information, call 480.488.2286 or visit www.desertfoothillslibrary.org.

Learn more about the Sonoran Arts League and the 2019 Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour & Sale by visiting www.sonoranartsleague.org.

See more on page 35.

Kick off the Arizona Art Season with Thunderbird Artists

“Mardi Gras II” by Jane Boggs

Thunderbird Artists will bring its 26th Annual Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival to downtown Carefree Nov. 1–3. The event will consist of juried fine art, wine tasting, microbrews, festival food and live music.

More than 150 award-winning fine artists from throughout the United States and abroad will display paintings in all mediums and subjects, in addition to small, medium and life-sized sculptures, bronzes, hand-blown glass, wood, clay, metal, stone, gourds, handcrafted jewelry, photography and more.

The festival also combines fine art with an extensive collection of domestic and imported wines for tasting. For $10, patrons receive an engraved souvenir glass with six tasting tickets; allowing them to walk the streets of downtown Carefree sipping fine wines, surrounded by phenomenal art and listening to live musical entertainment.

The 26th Annual Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival takes place in downtown Carefree (101 Easy Street), Nov. 1–3, 10am–5pm each day. Admission is $3 for adults, 18 and over; parking is free. For additional information, call 480.837.5637 or visit www.thunderbirdartists.com.

 GET MORE: Search “Thunderbird Artists” at news.CITYSunTimes.com.

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