In the Community – Arizona Council on Economic Education

Today’s In the Community check in is with Thunderbirds Big Chief Tim Woods and Elena Zee, President and CEO of Arizona Council on Economic Education (ACEE). Zee and Woods discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, what ACEE is doing to respond to current challenges and what immediate and essential needs they require to continue to provide educational services throughout the Valley and Arizona. The Arizona Council on Economic Education is dedicated to teaching every Arizona student economic and financial literacy, and workforce development to help them in their adult lives. Through their strong, affiliated academic base with universities and community colleges, partnerships with the Arizona Department of Education and the Federal Reserve Bank, ACEE prepares teachers and students so they may learn personal finance, economics and entrepreneurship – all skills young people need as they grow older. Thunderbirds Charities, the charitable giving arm of The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – has been a generous supporter of ACEE, providing monetary funds for operational and capital needs to empower thousands of students each year. During the conversation, Zee spoke about how community involvement is essential to a thriving economic education program. “The number-one key [around […] More
 

In the Community – Positive Coaching Alliance

The Thunderbirds began nearly a century ago with the mission to promote the Valley of the Sun through sport. These days, the primary sport used to raise money for charity and create Scottsdale tourism interest from all over the world is golf, specifically the Waste Management Phoenix Open. But, as we see in this installment of In the Community Conversations, the impact of The Thunderbirds – and their charitable giving arm Thunderbirds Charities – is a positive impact on all kinds of sports, coaches and youth in our communities. Scott Jenkins, 2021 WM Phoenix Open Tournament Chairman, recently sat down with Rich Tomey, Executive Director of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) to discuss the impact of the current health crisis on their organization and youth sports in general and how they’ve continued their mission of creating positive, character-building youth sports environments without direct, in-person contact. “With no school, no sports, no nothing in a lot of states, we had to change the way we do things,” said Tomey. “A lot of kids and coaches are dealing with the disappointment of not playing and we’re trying to keep people together. We had to utilize a lot of technology through Zoom and […] More
 

In the Community – Local First Arizona

In this installment of In the Community Conversations, 2021 tournament chairman Scott Jenkins held a virtual call with Kimber Lanning, President and CEO of Local First Arizona. The Thunderbirds have been long-time partners with Local First Arizona – A statewide organization dedicated to building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable Arizona economy by working with small business. Lanning first spoke about how Local First Arizona has been affected by the pandemic. “A quarter of our overall revenue comes from events, which are obviously cancelled now,” said Lanning. “So, we’ve been able to transition from events to what we call fee for service contract work – technical assistance and hands-on training for small business to be successful and ensure their survival.” While there have been federal assistance programs, Lanning spoke about how not all small businesses were able to take advantage of them. “Federal assistance did help some businesses but some could not take advantage,” said Lanning. “Many of our sole proprietors were not set up to have themselves on payroll, so we set up a small business relief fund and to date we have raised $1.3 million and distributed that around Arizona. We prioritized families with children without another source […] More
 

In the Community – Junior Achievement of Arizona

 As part of The Thunderbirds In the Community Conversations, Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins recently held a digital chat with President of Junior Achievement of Arizona, Katherine Cecala. The two leaders discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and identify how the community can continue to support local non-profits throughout our communities. “Our mission at Junior Achievement is to prepare students to succeed in work and life,” Cecala said. “We serve about 86,000 primarily low-income kids with the help of 9,000 volunteers. We are in 400 schools and we’re teaching money management and career readiness types of skills to help prepare these kids to succeed in the future.” Cecala talked about how Junior Achievement has had to change and mobilize differently due to the impact of the coronavirus. “Because our programs are in the schools, we actually have had more than three months of classes canceled,” said Cecala. “What we’re doing about it is we are greatly expanding our digital offerings. So this was an opportunity to focus more on something we were already doing so that we can have great programs that we can take to kids in their homes.” Cecala then spoke about some of the specific digital programs offered by […] More
 

In the Community – The Phoenix Zoo

The Thunderbirds and Thunderbirds Charities has reached out to our amazing charity partners to help spread their messages to the local communities they serve, rally support and secure vital resources so they may continue to help as much as they can. They are on the front lines doing everything in their power to brighten the lives of so many facing overwhelming obstacles during these trying times. As part of their “In the Community Conversations,” Waste Management Phoenix Open 2021 Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins caught up with Bert Castro, Executive Director of The Phoenix Zoo, to discuss current challenges and how the community can help. “Obviously, with the zoo being closed for business, it’s been a really tough time,” Castro said. “I know we’re not the only ones that have gone through this. We have about 3,000 animals we have to take care of and we make about 5,000 meals a day for those animals. It’s a very, very large infrastructure and facility, so it takes a whole lot to keep the zoo going.” With the park closed, The Phoenix Zoo has incorporated digital and virtual tools to bring the animals and learning environment to children and parents who want to […] More
 

In the Community – Benevilla

As part of their In the Community Conversations, Thunderbirds’ 2020 Tournament Chairman Tim Woods held a virtual discussion with Joanne Thomson, President and CEO of Benevilla. The two leaders discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and identify how the community can continue to support local non-profits throughout the Valley of the Sun. “We started many years ago by a couple of different congregations that were seeing a need for human services in the area,” said Thomson. “Del Webb built these beautiful communities out here for seniors. We’ve since grown into helping every age in the community and are all about enriching people’s lives.” Thomson shared how COVID-19 has made them change their operations. “Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, our during-the-day programs have temporarily closed down,” said Thomson. “But we have staff still on board that are calling our caregivers every week to see how they’re doing and what other resources we could offer.” Thomson also mentioned how virtual access has helped them operate during the crisis. “Anyone can go on our website, Benevilla.org, and go to our virtual life enrichment activities,” she said. “And then we have our home services. We’ve expanded this program into anybody who does not […] More
 

In the Community – Ronald McDonald House

The Thunderbirds are continuing to reach out to local charities during the current health crisis to identify specific needs and rally the community around worthy causes through their “In the Community Conversations” segments. Today’s segment features 2021 WM Phoenix Open Assistant Tournament Chairman Michael Golding and Kerry Schulman, CEO of Ronald McDonald House of Phoenix. They discussed the challenges surrounding business operations during the current crisis and the importance of vigilance and community involvement, especially for non-profit organizations in the Valley of the Sun. The families who benefit from Ronald McDonald House travel far from home to receive treatment for their child at world-renowned pediatric centers located in metropolitan Phoenix. Their child’s treatment may last a day, a month, or sometimes even longer. It’s a long time to be away from home and often times commuting or staying at a hotel is either impossible or financially challenging for a family. Ronald McDonald House is able to help families overcome these obstacles by providing low-cost, temporary housing that is near their child’s hospital or medical center. Schulman spoke about the challenges of operating during the current health crisis. “Now, with COVID impacting everything, only one parent is allowed to be on […] More
 

In the Community – St. Joseph the Worker

Last year’s WM Phoenix Open tournament chairman Tim Woods continues The Thunderbirds’ “In the Community Conversations” with Brent Downs, Executive Director of St. Joseph the Worker. They talked about the challenges surrounding business operations during the current health crisis and the importance of vigilance and community involvement, especially for non-profit organizations in the Valley of the Sun. “We connect clients with employment and then we try to remove every barrier a client needs to go back to work,” said Downs. “So if it’s tools, bus passes, transportation or certifications, whatever those things are that someone needs to start work right now, we provide all those things.” Downs stated the importance of organizations like St. Joseph the Worker, especially during high unemployment numbers created from stay-at-home orders throughout the country. “When one out of every six Americans are out of work, St. Joseph the Worker is needed more than ever,” said Downs. “The staff at St. Joseph the Worker has made the commitment to stay open during these times. And throughout the crisis, we’ve met clients. We met with them now on a more virtual basis when needed so they’re not wandering around going to 50 different places amidst the COVID-19 […] More
 

In the Community – Teen Lifeline

In the latest edition of The Thunderbirds’ “In the Community Conversations”,  2021 Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins held a virtual discussion with Nikki Kontz, Clinical Director of Teen Lifeline. The two leaders discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and identify how the community can continue the fight against teen suicide and provide hope to suffering young people throughout the Valley of the Sun. “Teen Lifeline is probably best known for our crisis hotline services,” said Kontz. “What we do is we take calls and texts from kids and teenagers that are struggling, give them a place to talk – to open up – with no judgment, a place where they are listened to and heard and feel like they can make a connection to hope.” Kontz stated the uncertainty caused by the current health crisis has led to an increase in calls and significant challenges with their operating procedures. “We’re seeing an increase of calls and text messages from kids who are struggling,” said Kontz. “This feeling is exacerbated [by COVID-19] by a feeling of not being able to escape. There’s a certain amount of activity they can do, but they can’t do that in the confines of school […] More
 

In the Community – Arizona Science Center

As part of The Thunderbirds’ In the Community Conversations, 2021 WM Phoenix Open Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins connected virtually with Arizona Science Center Chief Scientist and Curiosity Officer Sari Custer (cool title by the way). The two leaders discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and talked about how the community can rally together and support the Arizona Science Center and STEM education throughout the Valley. The Arizona Science Center‘s CREATE Program builds a science and engineering foundation where children of all ages can experience hands-on learning in an interactive space. It teaches collaboration and inspires creativity for the young people in our communities and introduces them to STEM careers and college and career pathways to build a better future. “Every year, we see about 500,000 people come through our building and we normally have about 300,000 people that we impact offsite as well through our teacher professional development programs,” Custer said. “As you can imagine, much like many other businesses, we’ve definitely been impacted. We’ve had to switch gears to doing strictly virtual programming.” Custer spoke about how the Arizona Science Center aims to use the time to help parents and educators during the crisis. “We knew there was […] More
 

In the Community – Native American Connections

As part of their In the Community Conversations, today Thunderbirds’ 2021 Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins held a virtual chat with Dede Devine, President and CEO of Native American Connections to talk about the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, identify the immediate needs of the organization and find out how the community at large can help support the mission of Native American Connections. Since 1972, Native American Connections has been changing lives, strengthening families, and building healthy communities. They began as a small grassroots organization operating one program for Native American men in recovery from substance abuse. Today, Native American Connections owns and operates 21 sites throughout Central Phoenix, offering a continuum of affordable housing, behavioral health, and community development services which touch and change the lives of over 10,000 individuals and families each year. “We said two things when COVID started. No one will be evicted and no one will go hungry,” said Devine. “We began really helping our residents understand about rental assistance and utility assistance and how they can apply for federal and state programs that can help them.” Native American Connections also has focused heavily on food distribution and making sure their guests have adequate nourishment […] More
 

In the Community – Special Olympics Arizona

As part of our In the Community Conversations, Thunderbirds’ Big Chief Tim Woods checked in with CEO of Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ) Jamie Heckerman via virtual conference call to discuss the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, rally community support and communicate immediate and essential needs so SOAZ can continue to serve the community at large. For people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics Arizona is often the only place where they have an opportunity to participate in their communities and develop belief in themselves. For athletes, Special Olympics sports provide a gateway to empowerment, competence, acceptance and joy. The lessons learned in Special Olympics also impact their life skills. Sports training enhances focus and gives participants a structure for learning important lessons about perseverance, endurance and setting goals. Thunderbirds Charities, the charitable giving arm of The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – has been a long-time supporter of SOAZ, recently providing a $1 million donation to fund the completion of their new State Competitions Distribution and Training Center. “Normally this is our very busy time of year. We have our summer games that are usually right around the corner. Unfortunately, this year that’s not happening,” said […] More
 

In the Community – ICAN

As part of the In the Community Conversations, we shift to Thunderbirds’ 2021 Assistant Tournament Chairman Michael Golding checking in with Shelby Peterson of ICAN via virtual conference call to talk about the challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and discussing ways to support ICAN so they can continue to serve the local youth in our community. ICAN is a free, family-centered youth service in the East Valley that helps to combat substance abuse, gang involvement and juvenile delinquency. ICAN goes beyond being just an after-school program for those at-risk by working with youth on the critical skills they need to be productive and responsible members of the community by empowering them through personal and academic success. “The COVID-19 crisis has caused us to have low attendance for the first time in our 32-year history,” said Peterson. “We’ve had fewer kids coming to the program than ever before, so we are really pressed to deliver our mission in a way that isn’t group based. What we’ve had to do is pivot and start developing curriculum that we’re now putting out to the community with family friendly activities packed all in a two-gallon Ziploc bag.” Peterson stated the biggest thing […] More
 

In the Community – Human Services Campus

Today’s In the Community Conversation is with Thunderbirds Big Chief Chance Cozby and Amy Schwabenlender, executive director of Human Services Campus. Schwabenlender discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, how it has impacted those experiencing homelessness in the Valley and changes Human Services Campus has been forced to make to combat the crisis. The Human Services Campus (HSC) is a collaborative agency on the Human Services Campus and provides resources to individuals experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County. Located near downtown Phoenix, HSC is comprised of a dynamic team committed to assisting individuals with ending their homelessness. We offer a competitive total compensation package including medical, dental, life, paid holidays, vacation and personal time, and the satisfaction of giving hope and transforming lives. Schwabenlender first discussed the importance of having a healthcare provider on the Human Services Campus. “One of the benefits of the Human Services Campus is having a health care provider right here,” said Schwabenlender. “It’s operated by Circle the City and we’ve really leaned on them for medical leadership and their guidance on how to temporarily repurpose our operation to ensure the health and safety of as many people as possible.” Obviously, the current pandemic has created significant challenges […] More
 

In the Community – UMOM

Today, The Thunderbirds checked in with Darlene Newsom, CEO of UMOM, to discuss the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, communicate immediate essential needs and spread their messages to the local communities they serve, rally support and secure vital resources so they may continue to help as much as they can. Since its inception in 1964, UMOM has been an innovative provider of shelter, housing and services for people experiencing homelessness. UMOM provides safe shelter and supportive services for hundreds of families across the Valley by providing access to affordable housing and special Program Centers for its residents. Thunderbirds Charities, the charitable giving arm of The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – has been a long-time supporter of UMOM, providing monetary funds, clothing donations and other basic necessities to combat the effects of homelessness. “It’s not business as usual,” said Newsom. “We are an essential service declared by the Governor, so we will be here no matter what. This last week, our wait list went up by 30 percent, so we have 180 families on our wait list. I feel it’s our responsibility to be able to serve those families, so we are opening up 20 […] More
 

In the Community – Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

Today’s check in is with Thunderbirds 2021 Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins and Marcia Mintz, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley. Marcia discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, how Boys and Girls Club is responding to the pandemic and what immediate and essential needs they require to continue helping people in need throughout the Phoenix area. BGCAZ has been the largest and most trusted childcare provider in the Valley for decades. The organization started in 1963 with one club in Tempe and quickly branched into multiple clubs throughout Arizona, providing a safe, positive, and fun environment for their kids’ out-of-school time. Whether it is during a summer camp, after-school time, or in one of their other enrichment programs, BGCAZ offers unique experiences in the arts, physical fitness, character development, and leadership training. They also provide proven educational programs and academic support — along with plenty of healthy fun and recreation. Thunderbirds Charities, the charitable giving arm of The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – has been a long-time supporter of BGCAZ, providing monetary funds for operational and capital needs to serve thousands of at-risk children each year. “When COVID-19 hit […] More
 

In the Community – Andre House

The Thunderbirds are reaching out to its many incredible charity partners over the next few weeks to discuss their important work and highlight the new obstacles they are enduring as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. We hope that by sharing their messages to the local communities they serve it will help rally support and secure vital resources needed to continue. They are on the front lines doing everything in their power to brighten the lives of so many facing overwhelming obstacles during these trying times. To help as much as they can – and by continuing social distancing practices – The Thunderbirds will be connecting remotely with some of these Arizona charities over the next few weeks to identify their unique needs and where The Thunderbirds and the community can help. Today’s check in is with Thunderbirds Big Chief Chance Cozby and Ash Uss, Advocacy and Partnerships coordinator from Andre House. Ash discussed the current challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Andre House’s immediate essential needs and how the community can rally together and offer support to Andre House and other local charities that are in dire need right now. Since its inception in 1984, Andre House of Arizona has […] More
 

The Thunderbirds to Provide $1 Million in Emergency Community Funding to Assist Arizona Charities

The Thunderbirds  – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – are providing $1 million in emergency funding to assist Arizona charities during this time of great uncertainty. This money is ready to be granted immediately, with funds being donated to Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley, St. Mary’s Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul today. The Thunderbirds will continue to evaluate the situation and will hand out the remainder of the money over the next few weeks as other priority needs arise. “Thanks to the tremendous community support every year of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, The Thunderbirds are able to give to so many worthy charities. We are in unprecedented times. We felt, as an organization, it was imperative to act quickly and get much needed funds to help those in dire need right now.” – Chance Cozby, Big Chief of The Thunderbirds   Listen to the announcement on Instagram from Webb Simpson. More