By Rusty Bradshaw
Connecting those in need with the resources that can help is more than informing residents.
Agencies providing assistance must know what other organizations offer so they can refer residents if they cannot provide the specific help needed, according to Carole Studdard, Sun City Home Owners Association executive director. Providing inter-agency information is the primary purpose of a new expo offered by SCHOA.
“It is really helpful for all human service agencies to know what the others are doing,” Ms. Studdard said. “In those cases where they can’t help someone, they will know where to send them.”
What is expected to be the first of SCHOA’s resource networking expos was conducted Aug. 15 with a good turnout. There were nearly 20 vendors and more than 50 residents in attendance.
“That was a very good turnout for the first time,” she said. “We hope to get more agencies and residents at future events.”
Ms. Studdard said SCHOA officials hope to conduct the networking expos twice per year. They will be supplements to the SCHOA and Recreation Centers of Sun City orientation sessions. RCSC orientation is an annual event, while SCHOA conducts quarterly new resident orientations. The next SCHOA orientation is scheduled 10 a.m.-noon Thursday, Sept. 14 at Palmbrook County Club, 9350 W. Greenway Road.
Ms. Studdard said the next resource networking expo is planned for February, although a firm date has not yet been selected.
“This (Aug. 15 expo) event is the first with the goal to bring Sun City services and residents together to network and to learn what one another is doing,” Ms. Studdard said. “We believe networking is invaluable and we saw this happening today with exhibitors learning about one another’s services as well as residents.”
The first networking expo highlighted several organizations, including the Sun City Community Fund. The nonprofit group, a part of Sun City for 40 years, partnered with SCHOA two years ago to administer its Personal Needs Fund.
“They (Community Fund officials) came to us because our inspectors are out on the street and meet people who are in need,” said Tom Wilson, SCHOA compliance manager.
He said SCHOA and the Community Fund helped an average of five people per month during the 2016-17 fiscal year. He said agencies knowing what each provides is essential in SCHOA’s efforts to get people in need to the right place.
“Networking works,” he said.
Challenges for some agencies is to respond to a need immediately. The Sun City Community Fund is able to do that through the Personal Needs Fund.
SCHOA officials have used networking through its Business Partner program to help defray the cost of providing service to those in need, Mr. Wilson explained.
The Sun City Community Fund is an agency of Valley of the Sun United Way, but all money raised for the Community Fund stays in Sun City, according to Mr. Green. Carla Snyder, VSUW corporate relations director, said the same is true of her organization.
“Everything we raise stays in Maricopa County,” she said.
Ms. Studdard said about 10 percent of Sun City residents are living below the poverty level. However, she acknoledged that Sun City also has a large number of wealthier residents.
“Part of the networking expo is to get those two together to benefit those in need,” she said.
Ms. Studdard all Sun City churches were invited to the expo, along with some businesses.
“We invited the churches because we know they operate on a budget,” she explained. “By knowing what other agencies offer, they can refer people if their programs are full.”
David Tamb of Bellevue Heights Church, 9440 W. Hutton Drive, agreed.
“This networking will help the churches,” he said. “After all, we are all neighbors.”
Ms. Studdard was surprised to find so many businesses have community outreach programs. Western Bank and Tempus were two such examples at the expo, she said.
“Those programs add to the resources people can turn to in their time of need,” Ms. Studdard said.
Editor’s Note: Rusty Bradshaw is a member of the Sun City Community Fund Board of Directors.