News

News
 

Thunderbirds Charities Gifts $20K to Make-A-Wish Arizona

Make-A-Wish Arizona, the founding chapter of the international wish granting organization is honored to announce a gift of $20,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities. The money will be used to grant life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses in Arizona. Currently, more than 597 children are working with Make-A-Wish Arizona to plan custom and unique wish opportunities, even with COVID-19 safety restrictions in place. “We are excited that Thunderbirds Charities sees the impact a wish can make on a child who is dealing with a critical illness,” said Elizabeth Reich, president and Chief Executive Officer of Make-A-Wish Arizona. “A wish experience provides a child hope and joy when they need it most and this grant will assist us in continuing our mission, even during the pandemic.” Make-A-Wish Arizona was founded in 1980 when one Arizona boy’s wish to be a police officer was granted by the Department of Public Safety. Since that time, almost 7,000 wishes have been granted in Arizona and approximately a half million wishes have been granted worldwide. Make-A-Wish Arizona This grant is part of the Fall 2020 cycle. View a list of all Recent Grantees. More
 

Thunderbirds Charities Provides $50K Contribution to Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates, Funds Will Assist Vulnerable AZ Students Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates (JAG) program includes classroom instruction, competency-based project- based learning, adult mentoring, summer employment training, student-led leadership development, job, and post-secondary education placement services, as well as 12-months of follow-up services after high school graduation. Due to COVID-19 and resulting school closures, JAG has pivoted to a virtual model to continue providing uninterrupted services to its participants. JAG Coordinators are Trauma-Informed educators who double as mentors in local schools. Despite the disruption COVID has caused, they are continuing to provide critical JAG services, including the follow-up services and mentorship to their students for a full year after they graduate from high school. This is especially critical for the most recent graduating class – the Class of 2020 – as they face the most significant employment challenges in decades caused by the COVID pandemic. “Thunderbirds Charities recognizes the essential work that Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates is doing and the outstanding results we’re achieving, even amid an unprecedented pandemic. These funds will help more local youth disproportionately impacted by COVID to succeed in school, jobs, and life,” said Graciela Garcia Candia, President of Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates. “We appreciate Thunderbirds Charities, who have donated funds to JAG in […] More
 

Thunderbirds Charities Grants $75,000 to Local Nonprofit Ryan House

Ryan House announced the receipt of a generous $75,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities today in support of the nonprofit’s Sponsor-A-Stay Program, which offers short-term, overnight respite care stays that help families take a break from the stress of the constant home care needs of their medically fragile children. “We are so grateful for the continued generosity of Thunderbirds Charities,” said Ryan House Executive Director Tracy Leonard-Warner. “Thanks to their support, we will be able to provide 75 sponsored, free-of-charge 24-hour respite stays for children with life-threatening or terminal conditions.” Ryan House’s world-class care will be offered to 200 children and families over the grant term. Ryan House This grant is part of the Fall 2020 cycle. View a list of all Recent Grantees. More
 

Thunderbirds Charities Donates $10,000 to the ALS Association Arizona Chapter – Gift Benefits the Association’s Living with ALS Program

ALS is a terminal illness that impacts all aspects of a person’s life, often resulting in decreased quality of life at a time when it matters most. The ALS Association Arizona Chapter employs a multi-dimensional approach to support the physical, emotional, and social needs of people with ALS, and their families. The Chapter’s Living with ALS program helps families maintain a high quality of life by providing the following services: Multi-disciplinary Clinics – Regular visits with ALS specialists who coordinate the clinical management of physical disease progression Support groups -Opportunities to share personal experiences and learn strategies for managing the physical, social, emotional, and mental challenges of living with ALS Counseling – Individualized family counseling to address topics related to coping with the diagnosis, conflict resolution, crisis intervention, and healthcare and end of life decision making Certified Child Life Specialist -Helps children who have a loved one with ALS understand the disease, process complex emotions, and learn coping skills Social Connections – Group leisure activities designed to form bonds with others affected by ALS Family Fun Packs – Activity kits that are designed to facilitate positive family interactions and build memories before their loved one dies “We are so grateful […] More
 

Closing the Opportunity Divide with Year Up

“Thanks to Thunderbirds Charities’ generous investment, Year Up Arizona will further our mission to close the Opportunity Divide for young adults in the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. By combining hard and soft skill development, an authentic work experience, and wraparound support services, Year Up positions students for success in the classroom, in the workplace, and in the community,” says Kimberly Allen, Site Director, Year Up Arizona. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of our world, and Year Up Arizona (YUAZ) is working tirelessly to ensure vulnerable young adults in Maricopa County are not left further behind as inequality deepens and as it becomes even more challenging to secure living wage employment. This investment by Thunderbirds Charities will be channeled to support all aspects of Year Up Arizona’s workforce development over the next year as we serve 240 young adults at YUAZ (Mesa/SNHU and PHX sites), which includes ensuring we are able to respond to the shifting needs of our students and emergent challenges throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Prior to COVID-19, the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area was home to 70,300 young adults who were out of school and work. Called Opportunity Youth (OY), these individuals have been systematically […] More
 

Burn Survivors Will Thrive Thanks to Thunderbirds Charities

Arizona Burn Foundation is grateful to receive a $50,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities for the delivery of our Helping Others, Promoting Empowerment (HOPE) Services, which begin the moment a burn patient is admitted to the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise or the Burn Unit at Banner University Medical Center Tucson, and continue until the burn survivor and their family, is independently thriving once again. In the initial crisis, we offer short-term emergency needs, including: lodging, transportation, financial assistance, meal vouchers, and emotional support to families. Upon hospital discharge, we provide long-term transitional services focused on helping burn survivors not just survive their injuries — but thrive in their post-injury life. Every year, more than 1200 burn patients are admitted to the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise and the Burn Unit at Banner University Medical Center Tucson. Thousands more are admitted to area hospitals. A severe burn injury is catastrophic and lasts a lifetime. In spite of months, and often years, of medical treatment and surgeries, the physical scars may never heal. The emotional scars can cause the victim to feel different and withdraw from the life they led before. Without services and programs that provide emotional healing and hope, a […] More
 

Transformational Partnership to Provide Quality Financial and Economic Education for Arizona Children

Thunderbirds Charities and the Arizona Council on Economic Education (ACEE) are partnering to provide innovative and expedient financial and economic education solutions for Arizona students and teachers. A recent $50,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities will help ACEE reach 300 schools and 75,000 K-12 students, many of whom are from low to moderate income families and rural communities. The global pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for families, students and teachers. Underserved communities are bearing an unequal share of the loss of income, food, education and health. Surviving and thriving through this pandemic will depend on individuals’ level of debt, emergency savings and financial literacy. The grant will enable ACEE to offer more support to underserved communities. ACEE’s program offers both on-demand and real-time synchronous digital learning resources. It will train 500 teachers to use new education technology tools to engage their students in online, in-person and hybrid learning environments. The resources will be the first to align with the new Arizona economics and personal finance standards, and social and emotional learning requirements. “With the continued support from Thunderbirds Charities, ACEE is prepared to support schools, children and families to achieve economic equity and social justice through financial and economic education,” said Elena […] More
 

In the Community – Girl Scouts of Arizona

Continuing with The Thunderbirds In the Community Conversations, 2021 WM Phoenix Open Assistant Tournament Chairman Michael Golding held a virtual discussion with Christina Spicer, Deputy Director of the Girl Scouts of Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. to discuss how the ever-popular Girl Scout Cookies program was affected by the ongoing health crisis, how the organization pivoted to continue its services and how the community can help. Spicer first spoke about the history of The Girl Scouts of Arizona “Girl Scouts mission is to build girls of courage, character and confidence to make the world a better place,” said Spicer. “We’ve been doing that over the last 108 years and our council (Cactus-Pine) has been around for a little over 80 years. We aim to install incredible leadership skills in young women through our badges program, organized trips and selling cookies. Spicer went on to speak about some of the specific skills Girl Scouts learn “From a money management standpoint the programs  absolutely incredible about what it teaches these girls because this is a real product the girls want and the community wants,” said Spicer. “There are five skills on the back of the box: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. […] More
 

Thunderbirds Charities Grants $65,000 to Family Promise to Shelter Families Experiencing Homelessness Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic

Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, an organization that serves families with children and pets who are currently homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness, announced it had received a grant for $65,000 from Thunderbirds Charities to support the nonprofit’s emergency shelter program. Family Promise focuses on resolving the family’s immediate crisis by offering social services, helping parents find employment, and connecting them to daycare and school for their children. During the day, Family Promise hosts families at its day centers across the Valley where parents and children receive shelter, food, clothing, and other basic needs. Overnight, Family Promise relies on its network of volunteer churches and synagogues to shelter and feed the families they serve while Family Promise assists these families on their journey back to self-sufficiency. During the coronavirus pandemic, Family Promise has had to temporarily pause its community-based model to protect their volunteers and families from potential spread of the virus and shelter families at its day centers overnight. Family Promise will use the Thunderbirds Charities grant towards their emergency shelter program which ensures families in crisis will have a safe place to put their kids to bed while they work to regain self-sufficiency. “If a family’s life […] More
 

YWCA Receives Transformational Investment from Thunderbirds Charities

YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix is pleased to announce the receipt of an impactful grant from Thunderbirds Charities to support their ongoing work to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The funds are specifically for the Senior Meals on Wheels program serving the West Valley and for the YWCA Own It! Financial Education program that empowers participants throughout the Valley. “Like so many organizations, COVID-19 has caused unprecedented instability for many we work with,” said Debbie Esparza, YWCA CEO. “From homebound seniors facing food insecurity to women facing financial instability to marginalized communities fighting for equity, this pandemic has significantly increased, not lessened, people’s needs for our services. We are so thankful for the Thunderbirds Charities grant. It couldn’t have come at a more important time in our community.” YWCA’s commitment to social change and community services runs deep. For more than 108 years, they have been at the forefront of most critical social movements, standing against all forms of racism and oppression while working to address the community’s most critical needs. Since March they have served more than 95,000 meals to seniors, and are on pace to serve more than 114,000 meals in a […] More
 

Thunderbirds Charities Partners with A New Leaf to Close Opportunity Gaps for Underserved Children in Valley

A New Leaf’s services impact more than 7,800 children and youth in the Valley annually, targeting those who have experienced significant challenges and trauma related to domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, and social, emotional, and behavioral health challenges. A $250,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities will support A New Leaf’s Phoenix Day Early Childhood Education Program and Therapeutic Behavioral Health After School & Summer Programs, providing opportunities for marginalized children to overcome social and racial inequities and to break the cycle of poverty. Phoenix Day is a nationally accredited, 4-STAR Quality First rated, bilingual program located in South-Central Phoenix, providing early childhood education programming for 160 children, ages 0-5, each year. 80% of children represent minority and low-income populations. 85% of graduating children exceed Kindergarten readiness standards or are assisted with developing an Individualized Education Plan. Thunderbirds Charities funding will support programming and facility needs – needs that have been compounded by losses in revenue and extraneous costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A New Leaf’s Therapeutic Behavioral Health After School & Summer Programs provide after school and summer programming for nearly 700 children from low-income families each year who struggle with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Thunderbirds Charities funding will support […] More
 

In the Community Conversations – Fresh Start Women’s Foundation

Throughout 2020 and now into the new year, The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – have reached out to their incredible charity partners to help spread messages of hope and help to the local communities they serve through their “In the Community Conversations”  segments. In this latest edition, 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open  Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins caught up with Heidi Coupland, development manager at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, to discuss current challenges and how the community can help. “Our resource center helps women in the community by equipping them with career and educational skills and tools so they may move forward in their lives,” said Coupland. “Our Family Law Center – funded by Thunderbirds Charities – helps women remove any barriers, whether it be personal or legal barriers, in their lives.” Nearly every business and charity in the country has been impacted by the health crisis. Fresh Start is no different. “The first thing we did was reach out to our most at-risk clients, providing them with safe places to go, safe phone numbers to call,” said Coupland. “We found resources for them. Unfortunately, as quick as we were able to move, the demand for our […] More
 

Thunderbirds Charities Awards Grant to Veterans Heritage Project

A recent grant awarded to Veterans Heritage Project (VHP) from Thunderbirds Charities will support the organization’s award-winning oral history and publication program. The innovative after-school program provides an enriching educational experience by connecting students with U.S. military veterans. Students interview a veteran, research history, and write and publish the veterans’ experiences into a hardbound book entitled Since You Asked.TM Each spring, students organize a community book reception to honor their veterans and present them with the book. Due to COVID-19, this year’s book reception will be replaced by Honor Roll, a drive-thru parade event celebrating veteran and student participants. The April 17, 2021 event will be held privately for the veterans and students, and livestreamed to VHP’s website for the public. The livestream will incorporate several special features, including special recognition of the Arizona National Guard for their significant contributions to the community in 2020. “This program not only honors veterans and preserves first-person accounts of history for future generations, it helps students reach their potential through character development, leadership skill building, and academic skill strengthening,” said Michelle DiMuro, Executive Director. “We are so thankful to Thunderbirds Charities for partnering in this effort.” Thunderbirds Charities funding is supporting critical program […] More
 

In the Community – Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Continuing with The Thunderbirds In the Community Conversations, last year’s WM Phoenix Open tournament chairman Tim Woods held a virtual discussion with Dr. Wayne Franklin, accomplished cardiovascular surgeon, Co-Director of Phoenix Children’s Heart Center and Director of Adult Congenital Heart Disease at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH). The two leaders discussed healthcare challenges surrounding the current pandemic and how PCH modified its operations to stay safe while providing world-class healthcare here in the Valley of the Sun. The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – and PCH have a long-standing friendship. To date, The Thunderbirds have provided more than $2.6 million in donations to PCH from monies raised from the popular golf event including a $500,000 donation in 2015 and a $400,000 donation in 2019 which was used to double the size of the hospital’s cardiovascular intensive care unit and fund new, state-of-the-art equipment. Dr. Franklin spoke about how COVID-19 has impacted the hospital and the cardiovascular unit. “Us in healthcare, we were all really just very challenged,” said Dr. Franklin. “One of the things we were able to do was provide and make sure that both patients and employees were safe. COVID-19 has been terrible, but one […] More
 

The Thunderbirds and Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun Safe at Home

Please take a moment to watch impactful work being done in our Community through Rebuilding Together VOS. RTVOS is a leading safe and healthy housing organization dedicated to preserving affordable housing for economically disadvantaged seniors, families, veterans, and disabled individuals. Working at the critical intersection of health and housing, they provide free critical home repairs, home safety modifications to prevent falls, and money-saving energy-efficient home improvements. Thunderbirds Charities has been supporting their Safe at Home Program for many years, which provides home renovations economically disadvantaged homeowners in need of critical home repairs. Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun  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
 

The Thunderbirds Team Up with Arizona Helping Hands for Back-to-School Mission

To assist Arizona Helping Hands in their mission to provide essential needs for children in foster care, The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – recently visited the AZ Helping Hands warehouse to assemble backpacks chock-full with back-to-school essentials. “We were so excited to host The Thunderbirds,” said Jodie Sprayberry, Arizona Helping Hands CEO. “We had a whole bunch of guys volunteering. They put together bikes, backpacks, first aid kits, everything we could think of. It made such a huge difference and we can’t thank them enough.” Along with financial assistance that hundreds of local charities receive each year from the Waste Management Phoenix Open , The Thunderbirds have been lending a hand in person, going to various charities as a group to offer much needed help to the staff’s by packing food and water to local food banks and the assist they gave Helping Hands to get kids back to schools safely. “It’s a great feeling to assist these charities financially, but even more rewarding in person when you really see the effect is has on so many in need,” said Ed Grant of The Thunderbirds.  “It is a lot of fun to work together alongside […] More
 

The Thunderbirds Team Up with SOAZ Staff to Help Pack ‘Return to Play’ Bags for Athletes

Playing safely is of paramount importance these days, and thanks to The Thunderbirds, when Special Olympics Arizona athletes return to competition, they will be doing so in a safe manner. Recently, The Thunderbirds went to Special Olympics Arizona’s headquarters in Perryville, Ariz. to help prepare 140 “Return to Play” bags full of personal protection equipment like thermometers, masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to assist SOAZ programs start planning to resume activities. “This is why we host the Waste Management Phoenix Open,” said 2021 Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins. “To be able to give back to organizations like Special Olympics is why we work as hard as we do to sell ticket packages and all the other sponsorships available at ‘The People’s Open’.” Take a look at the video to see all the amazing work The Thunderbirds and Special Olympics Arizona are doing in the local community. 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
 

Thunderbirds Charities Helps MAM Expand, Expedite Services to Military Families in Need Across Arizona

It’s rare that our military service men and women would ever reach out for help, but when they do, as a community it is our responsibility to lend our support. Military Assistance Mission (MAM) was awarded $100,000 from Thunderbirds Charities so that the nonprofit can continue its mission of providing financial and morale aid to Arizona’s active duty military, their families and post 9/11 Purple Heart Recipients. On average, through donations such as these, MAM provides support to more than 4,500 Military members and families who benefit financially, as well as take part in MAM’s morale programs and event programs annually. “Receiving this grant from Thunderbirds Charities is a game changer for MAM,” said Trey Vineyard, MAM Board President. “I am excited to see how this funding will help us respond even more effectively to the needs of military families. This support will most certainly change the trajectory of their lives and we are humbled by the opportunity to offer programs to those who have given and continue to sacrifice so much for the American way of life we all cherish.” MAM programs include, but are not limited to: Work for Warriors, Seats for Soldiers, GI Gap Grant, Baby Bundle […] 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