Helping Hands: Service Day at Mesa Boys & Girls Club

This is one incredible leadership class! They have been nothing more than a joy to work with and their commitment to our youth is truly inspiring.

Chris Quasula, Branch Executive

Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley – Grant Woods/Mesa Branch


Our Mesa Leadership class had a great service project this morning. We cleaned up around the Mesa Boys & Girls Club at 221 W. Sixth Ave. We mowed grass, repainted the lines on the basketball court and added the adjacent school’s logo. We painted a long section of the block fence where a cool mural will be installed next month for the children. We also cleaned and painted the big cement chair and ramada. ‪We still have more work to do inside but we got a lot done today! #MesaLeadership2016


jill mowing
Photo by Sharon Self Brause.


Photo by Sharon Self Brause




Ya know ya done good when ya got paint on yer face! Photo by Sharon Self Brause.


Photo by Sharon Self Brause.
The new lines look great (and straight!)


Sweet logo! Photo by Sharon Self Brause.


Members of Mesa Leadership class who participated in this project.


A write up about the service project from class member Diana Clevenger:

Mesa Leadership Class 2016 Work Day, 01/30/16

Our class elected to work on the Grant Woods Boys and Girls Club this year.  The work scope was done in partnership with the on-site manager of the Boys and Girls Club.  Many of the elements of the project were deemed to be necessary just through completing a site visit and walk through with the manager.  We have determined the facility needed 4 major areas.  Leaders from the class were identified for each of the categories and have been responsible for the success of their scope of the project.   Each of the leads reports progress, needs and timeline to the project lead who communicates financial need and activities to the rest of the teams and the entire class.

The book club has been collecting supplies and books for the school for the academic enhancement of the students as well as collecting books for students.  They have been doing a great job.

The playground enhancement team had great aspirations for the playground.  They determined the soccer fields need goals, the basketball court needed painted and a new logo, the swing set needs to have the sand removed and the replaced by wood chips. Additionally, the school and Boys and Girls Club would like to have a BBQ set available for the community events they host.

The mural project allows the community and the students to be involved in creating something to enhance the visual appearance of the playground as well as allow the students and families to have a personal vested ownership in the facility.

The office renovation team has struggled as the team lead for this part of the project recently resigned from the class and a new leader emerged to try to accomplish this part of the project. This would update and restore some of the existing office furniture and remove and replace the desk tops that are no longer structurally sound.

The finance/fundraising team has identified several ways in which we can raise the funds necessary to meet many of these projects.  We are selling Jamba Juice buy one get one cards and if all of the card sell we will have $2,500.  We are having a yard sale on February 20th at a Church near Country Club and University.  We have had a number of items donated including paint for the basketball courts and base paint for the mural.  We are working on donations for office equipment and have received donations for all of the office equipment and books.

Our class scheduled a work day at the Boys and Girls Club for January 30, 2016 at 0700 hours.  We had a great turn out from the class and everyone came with tools to work for the day.  It was a cool morning and Jaime came prepared with her friend Jay who brought 4 boxes of donuts! The class broke into two work groups and began cleaning the basketball courts, the playground area around the overstuffed chair and removing weeds and debris from in front of the wall.   Sharon’s husband brought a lawn mower to help remove the grass and weeds in front of the wall.

Everyone brought brushes, paint rollers, trays and their willingness to work.  The wall was painted in no time with more than ten people working on it.  Jill Adair had a great idea that we could use the paint we had to touch up the kid’s favorite chair and shade awning.  Ironically, the paint color we had matched perfectly so we were able to spruce it up easily.

The basketball crew taped off all of the lines on the court and the center court logo was placed after everything had been painted.  The court looked fresh and new and the logo was fantastic.  Great work!

Great job by everyone coming out and working together.  We got so much done.  We will likely have one more work day to assemble the BBQ, work on the mural and the office equipment.  If all goes well we will host a BBQ, family fun day open house in March to celebrate.

Thanks for all the support, we will keep you posted.

Diana Clevenger

Local author donates to Mesa Boys & Girls Club

Plynn Gutman will be donating a set of this book to the Boys and Girls club on Friday at 5:30 pm for our class project.


About Plynn: Much of Plynn Gutman’s creative inspiration has come from the natural world. In addition to Dave the Duck’s deep influence in her life, several other animal friends have captured her heart and made their way onto the pages of her poems and stories ~ like one of her beloved cats, Lucius, a poem in West Wind Review 2011, and Sarah the Chicken in the University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College’s 150th Anniversary Anthology, Animal Companions, Animal Lovers, Animal Doctors. Plynn’s writing has appeared in numerous literary journals over the past twelve years and she is the author of a memoir about her maternal grandmother, The Work of Her Hands: A Prairie Woman’s Life in Remembrances and Recipes, the e-version memoir of My Son Dave (the Duck) and Your Journal Companion: 365 Writing Prompts to Heighten Awareness of Self and Others. Plynn is the owner and facilitator of Your Liminal Space Retreats and has a private practice as an Integrated-Life Coach and Energy Practitioner. Of course, she loves animals of every size, shape and specie, and is deeply dedicated to her husband, two sons and two lovely cats. A transplanted Canadian, Plynn makes her home in Arizona, USA.

What is the book about? In this true story, at a serendipitous moment in her life a woman discovers a baby duck alone on a neighborhood street. Sensing her own sons growing away from her, the emptying hole in her heart fills when Dave (the Duck) imprints her as his mother. Little did she know that this pet duck would take her on the humorous yet moving journey to learning what every would-be empty nester faces – how to love and let go. With sensitivity and wit, Plynn Gutman shares her incredible account of the challenges and joys of adopting Dave the Duck and raising him with the same love and care she gave her own sons. Her observations of his five-month transformation from a little, brown bird to an amazing, male mallard offer a delightful metaphor for all parents who have watched their child grow and mature. Plynn becomes a student of life and the language of “Duck” under Dave’s gentle tutelage. This heartwarming story accompanied by Jessica Lynn Woodson’s beautiful illustrations is a joyful read for people of all ages.

To buy the book, go to Amazon:

Check out Plynn’s books on her website:

Thank You Note

Thank you, Plynn, for your generous donation to the children of our community!

Alumni Give to Helen’s Hope Chest at the Annual Holiday Event


Alumni Give to Helen’s Hope Chest at the Annual Holiday Event

Mesa Leadership Alumni and Members of the Current Class had a blast at our Annual Holiday get-together on Thursday, December 3 at the Mesa Arts Center (MAC) in theIMG_0390 beautiful Brown Sculpture Courtyard. We collected 29 gift cards worth $345 for Helen’s Hope Chest. We also raised $115 for the Scholarship Fund through our raffle activities. MAC Artist Kyllan Maney made sure we were able to express our creative side. We made Shrinky Dinks–IMG_0387google it if you are furrowing your brow in confusion. We also created a Mesa Dream Share Cloud where we shared our dreams for Mesa in the magical balloon cloud tent. All while we learned about the MAC’s Creative Catalysts initiative to get young people, especially those under 40 to get involved in leadership in their community. We enjoyed delicious food from Zappone’s Italian Bistro and grooved to the music of Guitarras Latinas. Special Thanks to the i.d.e.a. Museum, Zappone’s and the MAC for their generous donations to our raffle.


Commemorative Air Force: Airbase Arizona

Great tour today of Mesa’s own Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona, located at Falcon Field (McKellips and Greenfield).


The star of the show is the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress named “Sentimental Journey.”


See more:

This Commemorative Air Force Museum is one of 80 in the nation but at 30,000 square feet and 400 volunteers, it is the largest. But much more than a museum, many of these aircraft regularly take to the skies and thrill those who see them.

Check out this beautiful video of the CAF’s B-17 “Sentimental Journey” and B-25 “Maid in the Shade” over Arizona:


Here are some more photos of the aircraft and other displays:



Members of the Mesa Leadership Class who attended this tour. (Also Sharon Brause and Michael Book).

For more information on this wonderful place that pays tribute to the men and women who served our country and did it in the skies from WWI through the Vietnam War, go to: CAF Airbase Arizona:


Mesa Fire Ride-Along

I really learned a lot today in my Mesa Fire Department ride-along, although it wasn’t nearly as eventful as the Mesa Police ride-along. However, I really enjoyed the afternoon with my friend and former Mesa High School (and even Mesa Jr. High) classmate Bruce McGregor, who is East Deputy and Battalion Chief at Fire Station No. 201, 360 E. First St.


He took a lot of time showing me around the station and we took a drive to some old and future fire stations around Mesa. I really appreciated his time and for teaching me so much about the fire department.

Here I was riding in the backseat of the battalion officers vehicle.

I already knew this but firefighters really are the nicest bunch of caring people that you could have the privilege of hanging out with!

Fire Station No. 201
The ladder truck.
Inside the six-bay station.
More fire vehicles, including the large command center.
A new station under construction will replace this one built in 1957.
In the backseat of the engine on the only call that I went on. A police officer was having chest pains at his desk at the police station downtown. These guys checked him out and sent him to the hospital.

Chief McGregor assured me that as soon as I left they would get plenty of calls, they call it the “curse of the ride-along!” Guess that’s really a good thing.

Thanks, Mesa Fire! You’re the best!

For more on Mesa Fire and Medical, go to:




St. Vincent de Paul: Feed, clothe, house, heal

Mesa Leadership class had a wonderful tour Tuesday, Dec. 6, of St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, just east of 7th Avenue and south of the I-17 freeway.

A worldwide nonprofit organization started in 1946, the main headquarters in the Valley is in Phoenix, with other locations throughout the east and west part of metro Phoenix. It is affiliated but not funded by the Catholic Church

“What do they do?” A good answer is “What don’t they do to take care of the homeless and working poor.”

They have so many charitable programs. Check them out here:

They are funded by 80,000 individual and corporate donors and receive about $35 million annually to help the poor and needy in the community.

Here’s our tour in photos:

Todd C. was our great tour guide!
Giant warehouse of food. St. Vincent de Paul provides 450,000 emergency food boxes a year.
Donated food is sorted and scanned here for inventory.
The huge, walk-in refrigerator was cold!
Thousands are fed in the dining room daily.
More of the dining room. But what did I spy?
Oh, my! I helped make this quilt just a couple of months ago – the one with the vintage looking fabric of blue and pink babies. I even picked the pink yarn to tie it with. It was made at our LDS church’s service group. Our all quilts are donated to A New Leaf in Mesa for their homeless and domestic violence shelters. I wish the quilt could talk! I wonder how it made it’s way to the donation pile in Phoenix. Didn’t look too used.
At one end of the dining room is “The Dream Center” for children so they can read books and get an education to make their dreams come true.
We were told this is the largest privately-owned kitchen in the United States. Here are the pizza ovens.
The head chef with a big heart.


More of the kitchen looking out into the dining area.
I’m sure the biggest stand mixer one would ever see!
These guys were opening a lot of cans of pork!
More of the kitchen.
Here is an area of clothing and shoes donations that needy people can pick from. There is also a shower area that I didn’t take a photo of.
Todd showed us they recycle medicine bottles to fill with shampoo and laundry detergent for homeless to carry in backpacks.
Warehouse full of donated items that will go out to 19 thrift stores in Arizona. They prefer people donate at the stores instead of here but they never refuse anything.
Standing amongst the donated items.
Offices in another building.
Walking around the facility – inside and out.
A peace garden for workers to relax. “We deal with a lot of hard things,” Todd said.
A garden that supplies fresh veggies to the kitchen.
Beautiful cabbage.
Did anyone know that loofahs are the inside of a squash-looking thing related to a cucumber?
They are growing them to sell. 
Hydroponics garden, where plants are grown in water, without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions.
Talipia fish live in the water and provide fertilizer to the plants.
We were given cookies as a parting gift.


Members of the Leadership Class who attended the tour.