2020 Annual Walkathon Canceled
Since 1997, hundreds of SaddleBrookers have joined in SaddleBrooke Community Outreach’s (SBCO) signature fundraising event, the Annual SBCO Walkathon. The funds raised through sponsorships and registrations are used to provide a multitude of opportunities for kids residing in the Copper Corridor to succeed. Annually, SBCO touches the lives of approximately 5,000 kids by providing new clothes, backpacks filled with school supplies, access to math and reading tutors, scholarships, enrichment programs supporting the school curriculum, holiday food baskets, and the annual food drive.
Sadly, the 24th Annual Walkathon scheduled for November 14 has been canceled. Walkathon organizers have chosen to exercise caution with an event that would be challenged to adhere to CDC COVID-19 guidelines. Walkathon Co-Chair Trish Parker said, “We hope that each of you who have participated in the past as a walker, a sponsor, or both, will support us again when we resume this annual event in 2021. We will keep you informed of our plans as we move into the new year.”
In the meantime, please consider donating to SBCO, as the children we support need us now more than ever before. Donating online is simple; go to www.community-outreach.org/donate.
Karen Malek Assists Kids as an SBCO Volunteer
Meet Karen Malek. A six-year resident of SaddleBrooke Ranch, Karen is an enthusiastic volunteer with SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) having donated time to both the Teen Closet and the Kids’ Closet programs.
The SBCO organization provides food, clothing, and educational opportunities for children and teens in Catalina and surrounding areas. Program recipients are families who are struggling financially and have been selected to participate in the programs.
Karen was introduced originally to SBCO when a group of neighbors invited her to carpool with them on their trip to volunteer. As a relatively new resident of the Ranch, Karen was pleased to spend time with new neighbors, and was curious to learn what SBCO was all about.
Karen’s first experiences were with Teen Closet. She explained that the overall purpose of the program is to provide some school clothing items, shoes, and school supplies, at the beginning of each school term. The teens meet the Closet volunteers at Target and/or Ross, where the volunteers have lists of items for which the students can shop. Over time, volunteers typically are assigned to the same teen, Karen explained. “That is so nice because after a while you get to know them and learn what they are going to like. I also will see them returning to us wearing the clothes they selected the last time, so I know they are using and enjoying their previous selections.”
The teen students, Karen notes, are especially appreciative and grateful to receive the items on their school supply lists because those items can be expensive.
More recently, Karen decided to give working with the Kids’ Closet a try. Like the program for teens, Kids’ Closet provides clothing, books, and school supplies, for children in kindergarten through elementary school.
Karen says she has fallen in love with the younger children. “I really enjoy the little ones, and it’s a win for me,” she laughed. “They get so excited when they find that certain character T-shirt that they like.”
While Karen stresses that volunteering is extremely rewarding, she also admits that it can tug at your heart. “I have seen little boys come to meet us wearing their father’s much too large shoes. It breaks my heart, but it reminds me that this program is very much needed and is very worthwhile.”
Karen encourages everyone to consider volunteering with the SBCO. “These are seasonal programs,” she noted, “and generally take place one time in the winter months and one time in the summer, so a tremendous time commitment is not necessary. No homework is required,”
Karen and her husband, Don, moved to Arizona from Illinois, where they raised their two daughters and a son. In Illinois, Karen worked as a chemical buyer for a soap plant and retired from her career after 32 years. Karen also volunteers with Pinal County CASA. Prior to COVID-19 times, Karen enjoyed water aerobics classes and swimming at the Ranch, and hopes to participate in those activities again very soon.
Home Tour Postponed
Each year, the SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) home tour has proven to be a popular fundraising event that helps SBCO support a variety of food, clothing and educational programs for children in nearby communities. This year, the tour was scheduled for Saturday, April 4.
Unfortunately, while event committee members, homeowners, docents, sponsors and ticket buyers were making plans, the coronavirus developed plans of its own. Like many other groups, SBCO had to postpone this event to a more appropriate time. Initially, the committee thought October 10 would allow sufficient time for the pandemic to arrive and then abate. But the rising coronavirus case load in Arizona has convinced everyone that plan was too optimistic.
The event has now tentatively been moved to April 10, 2021. In the months ahead, the event committee will monitor the situation and determine if this new date will allow the event to be held, while maintaining the safety of homeowners, docents, sponsors and attendees. We will keep you informed of our plans as we move into the new year.
In the meantime, please mark your calendar for the Home Tour on April 10, 2021. SBCO and the children we assist, greatly appreciate your support.
Why We Donated to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program
My wife, Pat, and I have donated to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program because of our deep belief in the value of education. We think that no one should be denied educational opportunities simply because they can’t afford them.
Pat was fortunate to come from a family that valued education and saved money to finance her four years of college. I, on the other hand, was a “need-based” scholarship recipient who likely would not have graduated from college without the generosity of benefactors that I didn’t even know. Neither of my parents graduated from high school, and they thought I was foolish to attend college rather than accept a job in the factory where my father worked.
I’m proud to say that my decision more than fifty years ago not only changed the direction of my life, but also helped Pat and me instill in our children the value of education. They have advanced degrees and are now passing on those same educational values to our four grandchildren.
The gift of education lasts forever. Research has shown that children raised in poverty are 72% more likely to raise their own children in poverty. But education is the great equalizer, providing these kids the ticket to a better life.
Most SBCO scholarship recipients are first-generation college students, who wouldn’t be able to pursue a college or trade school education without financial help. Serving on the committee that interviews and helps select scholarship recipients, I have been profoundly moved by some of the personal stories of some of our applicants. I’ve met bright and motivated high school students who work multiple part-time jobs, but feel guilty saving money for college because their single parent needs every available dollar to make the rent and pay utility bills. It’s not uncommon to meet students who have never owned new clothing and worn only shoes that were handed down from an older sibling. One applicant didn’t apply to her preferred college because she knew her family couldn’t afford the $60 application fee. When four members of the interview committee took up a collection and gave her school counselor the $60 for her fee, she broke down and cried on his shoulder.
A donation to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program not only helps the student who receives the scholarship, but likely makes a difference for his or her children and grandchildren as well. Because only the earnings on donations are used for scholarships, the principle in the fund continues to grow and help future generations of students. Please be generous and make a difference with a gift that keeps on giving. Donate to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program.
Donations can be made through trusts or estate plans, or you can reduce your income taxes by directing your financial institution to forward a portion of your mandated IRA distribution directly to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program. Or you can simply write a tax-deductible check (the minimum donation is $5,000). Always consult your tax advisor about potential tax benefits.
Coronavirus Forces Changes in Teen Closet Procedures
For the past 11 years, SaddleBrooke Community Outreach’s Teen Closet program has served as a way to motivate students to do well in school and help make a difference in their community. Middle school counselors, using financial need as the primary eligibility requirement, distribute Teen Closet permission slips to students. With the permission slips, signed by both the student and his or her parent or guardian, the students pledge to attend school regularly, work towards at least a C average, and complete six hours of community service during each school semester. Students who continue to meet these requirements are invited to shop with an SBCO volunteer in July, and again in January, throughout their four years of high school.
In January of this year, plans were being made for the fall semester Teen Closet shopping trip in late July. The teenagers received their community service forms, the spring school term began and applications from middle schools were ready to be distributed. But when COVID-19 struck, schools closed and typical venues for community services, such as town or church events, were suspended. Despite all of these challenges, the students continued their studies, found new ways to be of service to their communities, and by the end of the term there were 75 eligible Teen Closet shoppers, and a group of dedicated SBCO personal shopper volunteers ready to “shop ‘til they dropped.”
SBCO, balancing the health and safety of our volunteers, the teenagers and their families, determined that in-person shopping with volunteers was not a viable option. Instead, the teenagers were notified that all shopping trips were canceled, but they would be receiving a gift card in the mail.
Throughout the history of Teen Closet, the Target and Ross stores in Oro Valley have been our dedicated allies. Our teens are welcomed, the snack bar area in Target is used as a gathering spot, and if we shop on a Tuesday, they allow our teens the use of our Senior discount. The last week of July, SBCO purchased 75 gift cards from Target, and 75 gift cards from Ross, each loaded with $100 dollars. The cards were then sent to each teen in care of his or her parent/guardian by Certified Mail.
Our students and their parents always appreciate Teen Closet, but this past July they were especially happy that our process accommodated their health and safety concerns.