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.
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