MARC Community Resources: Serving Adults with Disabilities

Today we toured Marc Community Resources in Mesa. It was wonderful to see how this organization cares for, trains, and helps find employment for individuals struggling with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges.

The MARC Center is at 924 N Country Club Drive in Mesa.
Marc Community Resources is at 924 N Country Club Drive in Mesa.

Did you know? The organization started in 1957 when nine local families who had children with special needs formed a nonprofit corporation to start a school for children. In 1973 the center began providing a day program for adults with disabilities. Later it began opening residential homes and now runs nearly 80 of them in the Valley. It is now the largest provider of employment programs for people disabilities in Arizona.

A sign posted in the adult day care area.
A sign posted in the adult day care area.

Fast Fact: Nearly 30 percent of the 70 million American families have at least one family member with a disability.

A beautiful courtyard is used for parties and outdoor activities.
We weren’t allowed to take photos of the participants, but here a beautiful courtyard is used for parties and outdoor activities.

This nonprofit organization, with a $51 million annual budget, is primarily funded by state government. The agency generally doesn’t do fundraisers or operate with volunteers.

Much of the large facility is dedicated to job training. Here a mock grocery store provides an area for practicing needed job skills.
Much of the large facility is dedicated to job training. Here a mock grocery store provides an area for practicing needed job skills.

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What services does the organization offer? In-home support, community living, community day services, behavioral health, and employment related services.

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In this building adults are able to do meaningful work for pay.

Jobs that Marc participants can do include paid work at the facilities, cleaning Mesa buses, manning the Mesa Library coffee cart, labeling for Pilkington glass manufacturer, removing gum at Mesa Public Schools and helping at the Cubs Spring Training games.

One thing we saw a lot of were Medibags. Working with a local company, Marc participants stuff these bags, label them, shrinkwrap and box them up for retail sale.
One thing we saw a lot of were Medibags. Working with a local company, Marc participants stuff these bags, label them, shrink wrap and box them up for retail sale.

Job coaches work one-on-one with Marc members to help them and their employers navigate challenges on an outside job.

“Our ultimate goal is to get people out working,” said Bill McAllister, business development consultant.

The center is going solar.
This summer, Sun Valley Solar Solutions partnered with Marc to install solar panels for the organization’s Mesa headquarters.

Testimonials from Marc members:

Work is where people generate responsibility towards others and helps with my self-determination.”

Employment is an important part of my recovery. It helped me break out of the paralysis of the disability and stigma in my life.”

For more information, go to: http://marccr.com/

Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.
Members of the Mesa Leadership class who attended this tour.
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Child Crisis Center: Helping Children and Families in Crisis

The tour today with Mesa Leadership was to Child Crisis Center, which recently merged with Crisis Nursery in Phoenix. They will reveal the center’s new name next month.

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What is it? “The Child Crisis Center is committed to preventing child abuse and neglect. We accomplish this by supporting and strengthening families through education and intervention, by providing a safe environment for children to heal, and by recruiting, training and supporting foster and adoptive families” (from the website).

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Joki Stoken, chief development officer, led the tour though the facility.

What do they offer? Emergency shelter, adoption and foster care, family resource center, Just for Dads, and My Child’s Ready in-home support for pregnant woman and families with children under 5. The Child Crisis Center in Mesa has 42 beds but still has to turn away children because of lack of room.

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Outdoor play area for the younger children.

Did you know? More than 8,000 children were served through programs last year.

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Several personal stories were shared about families who benefited from services the center offers.

Volunteers provided 17,000 hours last year. To be a volunteer, a person needs to attend training and commit to helping twice a week for a year. Interested in volunteering? Click here: http://www.childcrisis.org/how-to-help/volunteer/

Interested in organizing a donation drive? A wish list of needed items can be found here: http://www.childcrisis.org/images/new/CombinedWishLists.pdf

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Outdoor play area and basketball court for older children.

Want to know more? Visit http://www.childcrisis.org/

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

Mesa Licensing and Utilities: The City’s Business

It wasn’t the most glamorous tour but we did get a lot of information today during a two-hour visit to five areas within Mesa’s Business Services Department (Business Office, the Credit Services area, Regulatory Licensing/Licensing Enforcement, Payment Processing, and the Contact Center).

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Our tour was directed by Tim Meyer, Business Services administrator.

1. The Business Office works with customers in person to get utilities turned on, turned off and answer any utility questions they may have. In addition, they answer billing questions, sell bus passes and take money for various city departments.

Did you know? There are six ways to pay your bill so you don’t have to go here! http://www.mesaaz.gov/residents/customer-service-my-utility-account/7-ways-to-pay-your-utility-bill

2. Credit services works with customers to get payment arrangements, get more time to pay, etc. They also work return checks and various other credit type functions.

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3. Regulatory licensing deals with all of the licensing for the city other than building permits, including liquor, bingo, fortune-telling, fireworks, and even a license if you want to film a movie here!

Excellent!
Excellent!

Did you know these movies were filmed in Mesa?

Stagecoach, 1939, with John Wayne
Used Cars, 1980 with Kurt Russell
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989 with Keanu Reeves
Vegas Vacation 2002, 1997 with Chevy Chase
Blue Collar Comedy Tour, 2002 with Jeff Foxworthy
Brave in the Attempt, 2003 featuring Special Olympics
Forget About It, 2004 with Burt Reynolds
The Kingdom, 2006 with Jaime Fox and Jennifer Garner

For more information and lots of licensing forms, visit: http://www.mesaaz.gov/business/licensing

4. Payment processing works all of the mail payments that come in via the United States Postal Service and handles all of the other miscellaneous payments that come in through the mail including mainly utility and tax payments. They also handle all of the third-party payments which includes all the banks like Bank of America Wells Fargo and etc. to process all of those electronic payments as well.

Our takeaway: Do automatic online bill pay!

5. The Contact Center handles all of the incoming phone calls and online requests dealing mainly with utility turn on turnoff requests and helping customers with more time to pay, but also appliance or bulk pick-up, trash barrel repair or replacement, Grass to Xeriscape rebate program, and security alarm permits. You might even ask them where to hold your 5-year-old’s birthday party!

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A lot of city’s customer service agents telecommute so many of the cubicles at the Contact Center are empty.

For a list of all the things you can call the city about, go to: http://www.mesaaz.gov/residents/customer-service-my-utility-account

For anything else you want to find out about the city of Mesa, visit: http://www.mesaaz.gov/

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

Sunshine Acres: A loving home for homeless children

Our Mesa Leadership tour Monday took us on a wonderful visit to Sunshine Acres Children’s Home in northeast Mesa.

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Sunshine Acres is at 3405 N. Higley Road.

What is it? “Sunshine Acres provides a loving, wholesome, Christian home for children who are separated from their parents and help them establish long-term relationships with stable parental figures, preparing them for success in adult life” (from the website).

We were given a tour of the property, which is more than 110 acres.
We were given a tour of the facility, which is on more than 100+ acres.

The home began with a miracle and continues with them today. For an inspiring history of the place, watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzeX6tg6AAU

There are seven beautiful homes that each house 10 children.
There are seven beautiful homes, each with 10 children. Boys stay in four of the houses and girls stay in three of them.
The homes are beautifully and lovingly decorated. Here's a sign in one of the children's bedrooms.
The homes are beautifully and lovingly decorated. Here’s a sign in one of the children’s bedrooms.

The place was opened in 1954 by James and Vera Dingman. For 17 years, “Uncle Jim” and “Aunt Vera” prayed for a place where they could care for homeless children. Then the answer to their prayers came in 1953, when they sold their home, and with the help of the Mesa Optimist Club, made a down-payment on 125 acres of Arizona desert with a few run-down buildings.

A barn is home to donated horses and donkeys.
A barn is home to donated horses and donkeys.
The barn was paid for by western movie star Ben Johnson, who lived in Mesa in his retirement.
The barn was paid for by western movie star Ben Johnson, who lived in Mesa in his retirement.
Leadership participants greet the animals.
Leadership participants greet the animals.
The spacious barn is full of horses for the children to care for.
We found that the spacious barn is full of horses for the children to care for.

Sunshine Acres has never taken a penny of state or federal funds. It runs completely on donations and does not solicit in any way.

Children at Sunshine Acres attend church services and are taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Children at Sunshine Acres attend church services and are taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the original chapel.

How long do children live here? “No matter the reason for admission, a child can stay as long as he or she needs a home – even through college. We do not turn away children for financial reasons and we are licensed by the state of Arizona” (from the website).

The children are fed breakfast and dinner on school days in the dining hall.
The children are fed breakfast and dinner on school days in the dining hall.

Fast fact: More than 1,700 have called Sunshine Acres home since 1954.

A BMX track is on the property.
A BMX track is on the property.
There is also a skate park.
There is also a skate park.

The dream of Sunshine Acres continues with the Dingmans’ daughter, Carol Whitworth, who is president and CEO of Sunshine Acres. Last year she was named Mesa’s Woman of the Year. Whitworth continues to see Sunshine Acres grow and hopes someday to have 24 homes on the property.

The facility is going solar through help from the city of Mesa and SRP.
The facility is going solar through help from the city of Mesa, ASU and SRP.

There is also a huge thrift store on the property that sells donated items and the proceeds benefit the children.

There is also a huge thrift store that sells donated items and the proceeds benefit the children.
Donated items are used to help the children and other item are sold and the proceeds provide needed funds.

For hours of the thrift store and information on donating items, go to: http://thrift.sunshineacres.org/

They will also pick up large donations.
They will also pick up large donations.

For more information on Sunshine Acres, visit: http://sunshineacres.org/

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

Salt River Landfill: Providing Solid Waste Disposal and Recycling

The Mesa Leadership tour on Oct. 6 was to the Salt River Landfill, which is at North Gilbert Road at the Beeline Highway.

Salt River Landfill is at 13602 N. Beeline Highway.
Salt River Landfill is at 13602 N. Beeline Highway.

What is it? “It is a comprehensive solid waste management facility that serves the cities of Mesa and Scottsdale and the town of Gilbert (temporarily) as well as the Salt River Pima-Maricopa and Fort McDowell Indian communities. All profits from the landfill enterprise are directed to the Community’s General Fund where they are used for the various services the community provides. The landfill also has been a great source of employment opportunities for tribal members” (from the website).

Oscar Tsingine lead the tour and answered questions.
Oscar Tsingine lead the tour and answered questions.

How big is it? “The facility consists of 200 acres of land of which approximately 144 acres are for landfill disposal. The remaining acreage is used for the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where recyclables are sorted and baled; the facility’s administrative, maintenance and scale house buildings; stormwater drainage and retention; and landfill gas collection and flare station. The landfill site is projected to have capacity until 2032” (from the website).

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The indoor recycling facility.

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Did you know? We were told that 2,300 TONS of solid waste are buried in the land every day! That’s more than 4 million pounds every single day! Takeaway: RECYCLE!

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We were asked not to take photos of the landfill so this one is from the Salt River Landfill’s website.

What specifically CAN or CANNOT a Mesa residents recycle? Our group had lots of questions about that. For a comprehensive list, go to: http://www.mesaaz.gov/residents/solid-waste-trash-recycling-/trash-recycling-for-single-family-homes/blue-recyle-barrel-program

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Mesa garbage trucks drive directly to the landfill to dump their loads.

What is your recycle barrel needs repairing or replacing? Request one online: https://secure.mesaaz.gov/custserv/solidwaste.aspx

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Green waste is made into mulch or compost. Photo from the Salt River Landfill’s website.

What about “green waste”? “The Salt River Landfill accepts yard or green waste which includes leaves, tree branches, untreated and unpainted lumber, grass and plant clippings.  Regardless of whether your green waste is picked up curbside or you bring it to the landfill for disposal, it should NOT be bagged.  Yard and green waste is recycled and made into mulch or further processed and made into compost” (from the website).

For more information about Mesa’s Green Waste Program, go to: http://www.mesaaz.gov/residents/solid-waste-trash-recycling-/trash-recycling-for-single-family-homes/green-yard-waste-program

For more information on the Salt River Landfill, including hours open and fees, go to: http://www.saltriverlandfill.com/

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

Mesa Heritage Wall: A Quick Look at Significant Events

I found this on the Arizona Museum of Natural History’s website and thought it was very interesting for a quick look at Mesa’s history.

In 1999, a group of Mesa citizens was assembled by the museum to create a list of the most significant events to shape Mesa’s development since its founding on Feb. 14, 1878.  Following months of research, discussion and debate, the group came up with 49 items it considered to be history-making events.  Text for the plaques was developed with the help of Valley historian Mark Pry.

These events were then transferred to bronze plaques on Mesa City Plaza’s “Heritage Wall,” located at 20 E. Main Street in downtown Mesa.

To view the online posts, visit http://www.azmnh.org/heritage_wall.aspx