Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant: Reclaiming Sewage for Other Uses

Fascinating tour today of the Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant, which serves Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek.

This was something I know practically nothing about so it was quite interesting and, thankfully, not offensive to the nose!

The facility is located at 4400 S. Greenfield Road in Gilbert.
The $150-million facility is located at 4400 S. Greenfield Road in Gilbert.

What is wastewater? “Commonly known as sewage, wastewater is the water that goes down the drain from sinks, bathtubs, floor drains, toilets, and various piping located in homes and businesses throughout the City of Mesa. Wastewater travels for miles through an array of various sized pipes, known as the wastewater or sewer collection system, located in the ground, typically under roads” (from the website).

Bacteria is the No. 1 agent in cleaning the water. Here Mike shows up the area when the little bugs do their job!
Bacteria is the No. 1 agent in cleaning the water. Here Mike shows up the area when the little bugs do their job!

Did you know? The wastewater treatment process is an accelerated form of nature’s treatment process. At the facility alone about 12 million gallons go through the process from start to finish every day!

Under this area of the facility is about 10 million gallons of water.
Under this area of the facility are 10 million gallons of water where bacteria are munching away.
This plant is just one of three wastewater treatment facilities serving Mesa.
This plant is just one of three wastewater treatment facilities serving Mesa.
Surprisingly few employees man the automated plant.
Surprisingly few employees man the automated plant.
I really was hoping I wouldn't see or hear the word
I really was hoping I wouldn’t see or hear the word “sludge” any more today!
Guess what they find a lot in the
Guess what they find a lot in the “sludge”? Plastic toys!
The facility is enormous and has room to grow.
The facility is enormous and has room to grow.
One of the last processes involves UF rays.
One of the last processes involves UV rays.

Care to learn about the entire water treatment process? Go to http://mesaaz.gov/residents/water-resources/services/water-treatment-process

I think he may have just warned us not to fall in!
I think he may have just warned us not to fall in!
What's leftover from the cleansing process is loaded into trucks here and taken to the land fill.
What’s leftover from the cleansing process is loaded into trucks here and taken to the landfill. Mike said this area often gets pretty messy!
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Mike showing us the “Common Activated Sludge Microorganisms Chart.” Wow, maybe I liked it better when I didn’t know anything about this!

So what is the “reclamed” water used for? Mesa’s three wastewater treatment facilities reclaim the water for reuse on golf courses, crop irrigation, greenbelt irrigation and for recharge (underground water storage).  By reusing the water, the City of Mesa conserves on the consumption of fresh water that can be used in our drinking water system (from the website).

We were also told the water from the Gilbert plant benefits the Gila River Indian Community.

Some of the gases from the
Some of the gases from the “digestion” chamber are expelled and burned off. ‘Nuff said!

For more information on Mesa’s water reclamation, go to: http://mesaaz.gov/residents/water-resources/services/wastewater-treatment-reclamation

Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.
Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.
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Article in Arizona Republic: Mesa Leadership teaches serving with passion

Find something you are passionate about. Is it possible?

According to people and volunteers who are involved in local charities and Mesa nonprofits, of course it is.

“What matters is your passion,” says Patti Oskvarek, a Mesa Leadership participant and employee with the city of Mesa. “If you don’t have passion, then why are you here?”

Read more here:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/mesa/contributed/2015/09/18/mesa-leadership-teaches-serving-passion/72324906/

Women’s Networking Group: Smitholator Cookie Shop

As Mesa Leadership participants, we were given free passes to five events that the Mesa Chamber of Commerce puts on monthly and we were encouraged to attend. One was for a networking meeting and I thought it would be fun to attend the Women’s Networking Group.

So when I got an email that stated the meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22, would be cookie decorating at a cute little cookie shop downtown, I figured this one was for me. Did someone say “cookies and milk”?!

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Heather Smith was a perfect hostess to the Women’s Networking Group, providing cookies and milk, and a lesson in cookie decorating.

What a wonderful time with a wonderful group of very friendly and welcoming women! It was so nice to meet the other ladies!

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Under the tutelage of Mrs. Smith, we learned to decorate like a pro (almost!).
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Sharon may have found her talent!
My flower cookies went home to the hubby and a granddaughter!
My flower cookies went home to hubby and a granddaughter!
Mrs. Smith-O-Lator also provided a fantastic door prize for one lucky winner (me!!). Everything we need to make Halloween sugar cookies! Thanks, Heather!
Mrs. Smith-O-Lator also provided a fantastic door prize for one lucky winner (me!!). Everything we need to make Halloween sugar cookies! Thanks, Heather!

It was really a delightful afternoon and I recommend the shop for your cookie needs (and sometimes we really NEED a cookie!)

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I even got home with a bottle of rootbeer-flavored chocolate milk. My kids are going to love this!

The Smitholator Cookie Shop is at 124 W. Main St., Mesa. Find the shop on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SmithOLator

For more information on the Mesa Chamber’s Women’s Networking Group, go to http://www.mesachamberofcommerce.org/benefits-of-membership/monthly-events/women-s-networking-group

East Valley Adult Resources: Serving Seniors

Our tour today took us to the Red Mountain Multigenerational Center, 7550 E. Adobe, which is also the site of East Valley Adult Resources.

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Red Mountain Multigenerational Center in East Mesa.

While Mesa’s Red Mountain Multigenerational Center offers an array of services: a fitness center and programs, (Aerobics, Cycling, Kick Boxing, Zumba, Silver Sneakers, Yoga, Pilates) a gym, exercise equipment, special interest classes, climbing wall, Kids Club, youth activity center and rooms for rental, it was really the senior services that we were introduced to.

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And there are a lot of services!

There are a lot of services and activities offered every day for seniors.
Monthly services and activities are posted on the bulletin board, online and in a monthly calendar.

Just check out this month’s calendar: http://www.evadultresources.org/what_we_do/red-mountain-active-adult-center.html

Walking through the facility.
Walking through the facility.

What do they do? “East Valley Adult Resources exists to provide services to seniors and their family’s and bring change to the lives of those we serve in our community. Our website furthers our mission by providing ways for you to learn more and get involved. Located in the East Valley, our dynamic and diverse Active Adult Centers and community-based programs offer a variety of opportunities for older adults to remain healthy, independent, and connected to the community. Whether it’s learning a new language, finding the right exercise class, or simply sharing a meal, our ultimate goal is to be welcoming and fun!” (from the website.)

Books are cheap and many are donated again once they are read.
Books are cheap and many are donated again once they are read.
Many seniors just meet and mingle at the center.
Many seniors just meet and mingle at the center.

The mission: “East Valley Adult Resources values the experience of the generations by providing opportunities to connect, contribute and care for each other.”

Getting ready for the Silver Sneakers class. That is a really large group!
Getting ready for the Silver Sneakers class. That is a really large group!

A hot lunch is served everyday for a donation of $3. There are free health screenings, games, support groups, exercise classes, legal help, transportation, SNAP assistance and care giver support. There’s an outreach program to help seniors at home, including light housekeeping, medication reminders, Meals on Wheels, Meals While You Heal, and more! If you don’t know where to begin to access the many services, there is an outreach coordinator that will meet with you or your family. Call the center at 480-218-2221. They are there to serve local seniors!

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These ladies crochet and donate to the gift shop to raise money for the programs.
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That’s a nice stash of supplies!

Oakwood Creative Care runs an adult day care center at the west end of the Red Mountain Multigenerational Center with a drive-through drop-off. For information, go to http://www.oakwoodcreativecare.org/

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Here we each thanked Alvin G., a WWII vet, for his service to our country. He spends time during the day at the Oakwood Creative Care center.

Did you know? East Valley Adult Resources need volunteers for a variety of jobs. Do you have a few extra hours a week?

For more information on East Valley Adult Resources, visit the website at: http://www.evadultresources.org/ or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/East-Valley-Adult-Resources-575853075779860/timeline/

For more information on the Red Mountain Multigenerational Center, visit: http://mesaaz.gov/things-to-do/red-mountain-multigenerational-center or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/RedMountainCenter?fref=ts

Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.
Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.

Junior Achievement: Educating Young People on Economics

The Mesa Leadership Class toured Junior Achievement of Arizona Thursday afternoon, and while the facility is located in Tempe, it serves schools and students throughout Mesa.

Class members are given a tour of BizTown.
Class members are given a tour of BizTown. Photo by Michael Book.

What does this organization do? “Junior Achievement educates and inspires young people to value free enterprise and understand business and economics to improve the quality of their lives” (from the website).

Photo by Michael Book.
An impressive facility! Photo by Michael Book.

Established in 1957, how does JA accomplish its mission?  “By developing the desire in young people to value education and stay in school, by developing positive attitudes in young people toward work; and business and education partnerships that create a bridge between the classroom and the workplace” (from the website).

Class members taking "a ride" on the airplane in BizTown!
Class members taking “a ride” on the airplane in BizTown! Photo by Michael Book.
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Vacations await!

Here’s a video to give you a better idea of what happens at Junior Achievement’s BizTown. Check it out! JA BizTown on AZ NBC Affiliate, KPNX Channel 12 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW76xu9x3zQ&feature=youtu.be

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Valley Metro is here too! Photo by Michael Book.

Did you know? JA lessons are taught at local schools by parent helpers or community volunteers. Volunteers need 2 hours of training, 30-45 minutes per lesson and complete 5-6 lessons.

“Throughout JA’s sequential and integrated kindergarten through grade 12 programs, students use information, apply basic skills, think critically, and solve complex problems to prepare them for life as adults” (from the website).

Did you know 48 Arizona kids drop out of school every day? JA works to keep them in school and planning for their future.

How can you get involved? Become a volunteer and teach a pre-planned class once a week for five weeks at a Mesa school. Volunteers are GREATLY needed at Hawthorne Elementary, Salk Elementary, Rhodes Jr. High and Skyline High School.

For more information or to volunteer, visit the website at http://www.jaaz.org/

Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.
Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.

Class 2: Mesa Leadership participants learn about serving with passion

By Jill Adair

Find something you are passionate about. Is it possible?

Of course it is, according to a variety of people and volunteers who are involved in local charities and Mesa nonprofits.

“What matters is your passion,” says Patti Oskvarek, a Mesa Leadership participant and employee with the city of Mesa. “If you don’t have passion, then why are you here?”

Oskvarek says that has been impressed upon her mind as she and other class members have toured facilities during the last few weeks and heard from volunteers who spoke to the class during the second session of the leadership program Sept. 11.

The second Mesa Leadership class was held Sept. 11 at Benedictine University in downtown.
The second Mesa Leadership class was held Sept. 11 at Benedictine University in downtown.

Recent tours included AZBrainfood, a nonprofit organization that packs bags of food each week for needy elementary students to take home over the weekend; Helen’s Hope Chest, which is part of Mesa United Way and provides clothing and other essentials to local foster and kincare children; United Food Bank, that serves Mesa residents and much of eastern Arizona with around 51,00 meals each day; and the Grant Woods – Mesa Branch of the East Valley Boys and Girls Clubs, a facility in central Mesa that serves neighboring children with afterschool and summer programs and promotes the Mesa Arts Academy charter school.

All of these organizations are run by passionate, dedicated people who are committed to helping others.

Many are volunteers.

“It’s impressive how much can be done by volunteers,” says Wayne LaMarre, a leadership participant and another city of Mesa employee.

LaMarre said he signed up for the leadership class this year because he wants to learn more about the city he works in.

“It has really opened my eyes,” he says.

Oskvarek and LaMarre are two of 26 class members in this year’s Mesa Leadership Program, which seeks to get local residents more involved in the city by making them more aware of the challenges and opportunities in their community.

Leadership classes are held once a month in all-day seminars August through April and a variety of tours are scheduled on weekdays and Saturdays. Students are encouraged to attend as many tours as possible.

The second class, which was held Sept. 11 at Benedictine University in downtown Mesa, focused on diversity, social services and advocacy.

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Inside the modern Benedictine campus. The original structure housed the Southside Hospital, which was Mesa’s first community hospital that opened in 1920.

Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh spoke about his work as an advocate of diversity that began shortly after he was elected to city council in 2008, when he pushed for domestic partner healthcare benefits and visitation rights.

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Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh spoke about his work as an advocate for policy supporting diversity.

He said proposing and garnering support for new policy takes determination and patience.

“You have to understand what the opposition says and why,” he says. “It takes time.”

He encouraged members of the leadership class to propose ideas to elected officials and then advocate for them.

“Of course, you have to understand budget issues,” he says.

Class members also toured the Benedictine University, which is in its third year in Mesa.

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Jo Wilson gave participants a tour of the campus, which is in its third year.

Senior Administrator Jo Wilson explained that under the direction of former Mayor Scott Smith, liberal arts colleges around the country were invited to consider Mesa as a location and Benedictine was one of four that came to the area.

The university, located at Hibbert and Main Street, has 335 undergraduate and graduate students this year and nearly half are minorities. An 18-month MBA degree is offered at an introductory tuition rate of $10,000.

“Bringing this institution here really did serve the community,” says Wilson.

She explained that she thought she was retiring after a long career with Mesa Community College when Benedictine officials tapped her for their new branch campus.

“Always take advantage of opportunities that present themselves to you,” she says. “You’ll never know where they will take you.”

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Jo Wilson spoke about her personal journey to unexpected involvement in one of Mesa’s newest colleges.

An afternoon social services panel included Dr. Michael Fleming, board member for Paz De Cristo and the human resources manager for St. Vincent de Paul, and Angela Booker, president of Mesa Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Committee. Each spoke of their journey to being involved in their communities through volunteer opportunities.

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Dr. Michael Fleming, a board member for Paz De Cristo and the human resources manager for St. Vincent de Paul, and Angela Booker, president of Mesa Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Committee, spoke of finding passion in community involvement.

Fleming said he retired from Banner Health when he was asked to help at Paz de Cristo, which feeds about 250 individuals nightly at the outreach center, 424 W. Broadway Road, Mesa.

One opportunity led to another and he found himself busy again.

“It’s amazing how much energy you find when you believe in the mission,” he says.

Booker says her organization helps “foster, promote and sustain social justice” in the community and hosts the annual MLK Jr. Day parade and festival.

“Find something you would do for free, or you would do when you retire, or what you’d do on your deathbed, and that’s the thing you should go for,” says Booker. “Find what you’re passionate about and go for it.”

Mesa Boys and Girls Club: Providing hope and opportunity to young people.

The Mesa Leadership class visited the Grant Woods – Mesa Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

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The Grant Woods – Mesa Branch is at 221 W. Sixth Ave. in Mesa.

How did it start? “The Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley has been around since 1963, back when it began as one club site – the Tempe Boys Club. A group of dedicated Tempe citizens started the club in those early years and paid to keep it open and available to the children because they recognized a need for a place for boys to go to escape the boredom and dangers of the streets. In 1980, the Tempe Girls Club merged with the Tempe Boys Club. In 1984 the club changed its name to the Boys & Girls Club of the East Valley. This new site was the first club organization in the state to become a Boys & Girls Club, providing valuable after-school programs to both girls and boys. It is now an organization that now serves over 43,000 children and teens annually at 11 branches” (from the website).

A sign over the door.
A sign over the door.

The club’s mission: “We have made it our No. 1 priority to fill the opportunity gap and provide kids who come to us with a chance to build their talents, learn the value of contributing to others, and realize their dreams. The Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley is looking forward to many more years of providing hope and opportunity to young people” (from the website).

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Gathering to start the tour.

Fast Fact: The club has been serving children and families of Mesa since 1986.

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Branch Director Chris Quasula leads the tour and shows the group around the facility.

Fast Fact: The Club offers an after school program, summer program, youth sports leagues, teen leadership programs, homework and tutoring help for only $25 a year.

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The spacious gym gives children a lot of room to exercise and play sports.

Who is Grant Woods? Grant Woods served as attorney general of Arizona from 1991 until 1999.

Grant Woods is the founder of the Mesa Boys & Girls Club and the Mesa Arts Academy.
Grant Woods is the founder of the Mesa Boys & Girls Club and the Mesa Arts Academy. (online photo)

The Mesa Boys and Girls Club is located in the heart of the community it serves.

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Last year the club fed Thanksgiving dinner to nearly 600 people from the neighboring community.
Donated clothing, shoes and school supplies are available to the children who attend the club.
Donated clothing, shoes and school supplies are available to the children who attend the club.

At the same location is a charter school called Mesa Arts Academy. Arts classes vary by grade level, with younger children taking a variety of arts classes, including Drama, Musical Theatre, Dance and Visual Arts. Older children select from elective classes, including Beginning and Advanced Art, Guitar, Dance, Photography, Yearbook, Drama, Service Learning, Multimedia and Musical Theatre.

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Mesa Arts Academy principal Sue Douglas explains about the adjoining charter school, Mesa Arts Academy, which serves about 240 students in K-8.
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The school’s academic program emphasizes the arts and technology. Student artwork won ribbons at the Arizona State Fair.
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We agree – “Mesa rocks!”

For more information on the Grant Woods – Mesa Branch Boys and Girls Club, visit http://www.clubzona.org/locations/mesa/

To find more about the school, go to: http://www.clubzona.org/locations/mesa_arts_academy

Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.
Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.

United Food Bank: Nourishing Arizona Communities

Next up: United Food Bank tour today. The warehouse and administrative offices are located at 245 S. Nina Drive in Mesa. According to United Food Bank’s website, last year the organization distributed 22,398,097 pounds of food to Arizona residents – yes! that is more than 22 million pounds of food! That’s enough food to provide more than 51,000 meals each day.

Mesa Leadership 2016 visited United Food Bank Sept. 2.
Mesa Leadership 2016 visited United Food Bank Sept. 2.

Fast Fact: In Arizona, statistics show that 1 in 4 children may go without adequate food; 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 7 seniors.

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Melissa Forrester shows class members around the massive warehouse.
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While many of the long rows of shelves are filled, many are not! Donations are needed and food drives by any local group, church, business or organization are encouraged.

Want to help? Join in Spoontember, a social media campaign during September to engage the public and help raise awareness of the 1 in 6 Americans struggling with hunger. Spoontember supporters can share a ‘spoon selfie’ – an image of themselves balancing a spoon on their nose – along with hunger-related statistics and challenge a friend to do the same. For details, go to: http://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/campaigns/hunger-action-month/spoontember.html

Beans are a good source of protein.
Beans are a good commodity as a source of protein and they are easy to store.

Fast fact: For every $1 donated to United Food Bank, five meals can be provided.

Local bread companies donate bread to the food bank.
Local bread companies donate bread to the food bank.

Helpful link: Four major food banks serve Arizona. To find the one that serves a particular area, go to: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/

The food bank's large refrigerator stores items that need to be kept cold.
The food bank’s large refrigerator stores items that need to be kept cold.

The food bank’s programs, which serves the East Valley and eastern Arizona, include emergency food boxes, network distribution, “Helping Hands” for first responders who find needs, “Food for Thought” for helping hungry students, and “Kids Cafe” for evening meals/snacks in afterschool programs or community centers.

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Forrester explains the food bank’s various programs that serve the community.

Did you know? Help Yourself is a weekly food purchase cooperative for those in our communities on fixed incomes and limited resources. Held on most Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. the $17 cooperative offers fresh meats, produce and a variety of dry goods to create five meals. As available, Help Yourself clients can also make selections from a variety of complimentary items like bread & pastry, assorted dairy and deli products. The program offers a great opportunity for anyone who’d like to make the most of their food budgets; weekly or monthly. There’s no qualifying, no limits and no restrictions.

Help Yourself is located at the Volunteer Annex at:
358 E. Javelina Ave.
Mesa, AZ 85210

For more information on United Food Bank, go to the website: https://unitedfoodbank.org/

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Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.