Becky Tolan: A Dedicated Kids’ Closet Volunteer
Becky Tolan said the decision to move to Arizona was one of the best decisions of her life. Part of that enthusiasm encompasses life in SaddleBrooke and the many opportunities to enjoy retirement while also helping others.
Becky and her husband, Roger, moved from the Lakewood area of Colorado more than 10 years ago. They both have volunteered with Kids’ Closet in varying capacities for most of those years. Kids’ Closet is one of several programs under the SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) umbrella that 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.
Becky said she became involved with Kids’ Closet when friends recommended that she check it out soon after her move to Arizona. She said she respects the Kid’s Closet concept. A team of volunteers go on trips to purchase clothing basics like socks and underwear in bulk amounts. The program is therefore able to provide clothing for 1,200 to 1,500 children and teens twice a year.
Becky also appreciates that there are many opportunities for people with differing skill sets and interests. Many of the volunteers help the children select clothing and shoes and thereby get a chance to interact with kids. Becky remembered assisting one little girl who tried on 15 pairs of shoes and was not finding anything to her liking.
“We finally changed out the shoelaces on a pair she had already tried, and she was thrilled,” Becky laughed.
“The SBCO program is a fabulous organization that I would recommend to everyone, especially those that love children,” Becky noted. “The kids you come to meet through Kids’ Closet are so sweet and are just a kick in the pants.”
Most recently Becky has been utilizing her organizational skills by working in the program’s warehouse. Her duties include documenting donations as they come in, restocking items, and conducting inventory twice a year. Roger, Becky’s husband, also volunteers with SBCO carrying out various duties with Tri-Community Food Bank.
In addition to volunteerism, Becky and Roger are passionate about scuba diving. Becky said they like to go wherever there is beautiful water and have explored such places as Singapore and the Caribbean. After retirement and leaving Colorado, they spent a year and a half traveling and scuba diving from their home base on the Island of Pohnpei. After that adventure, the daring couple moved to SaddleBrooke and headed for Florida in a travel trailer where they spent another month exploring and diving. Their most recent diving trip was to Indonesia last October and they are looking forward to resuming those experiences when travel restrictions are normalized.
Becky and Roger have a son, a daughter, and four grandchildren.
A Gift That Will Last Forever
Do you remember all the gifts you gave and received last year? If you’re like me, probably not. This year, consider giving a gift that will never be forgotten—neither by you nor the gift recipients. Consider giving a gift of education to deserving students—students who need help financing their attempt to improve their lives by enrolling in a four-year college, a two-year college or a trade school.
SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) awards up to $3,000 per year to students who meet a strict set of eligibility criteria. In order to continue to receive that funding, they must maintain their grades and take a full load of classes.
Giving is easy: First, you can defer your donation by including the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program as a beneficiary in your trust or estate plan. Secondly, you can reduce taxes on your mandated IRA distributions by directing the financial institution that invests your IRA to forward a portion of your distribution directly to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program. Finally, you can simply write a check.
One SaddleBrooke couple who made a forever gift to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program is Sue and Kurt Gehlbach. Sue and Kurt were happy to learn about SBCO’s community activities when they started spending winters in SaddleBrooke seven years ago. They’ve always been supportive of educational initiatives for the underserved, due in no small part to the fact that Sue spent 25 years as a Special Education teacher in a very economically challenged school district. They’ve long been familiar with the inequities in public school funding and the challenges that must be overcome by disadvantaged students. In the past, they’ve financially supported their niece’s Peace Corps project in El Salvador to fund high school tuition for students who otherwise would cease their education at a very young age. They’ve also provided funds for inner city Chicago students aspiring to attend college.
Therefore, it was easy for them to shift their focus to issues in the area around SaddleBrooke. Sue and Kurt quickly understood the significant need, but what really excited them was to discover the significant talent associated with that need. Kurt joined the SBCO Scholarship Committee and was completely blown away, not only by the academic records and extracurricular involvement of the applicants but also what they had overcome in their backgrounds. He saw that they were highly motivated to improve their circumstances in life, and astute enough to recognize that education would be their key. In Kurt’s view, there was no shortage of great applicants, just a shortage of money to help them.
Kurt and Sue realize how fortunate they’ve been in their lives—made so much easier by the fact that resources were available to them to pursue their educational goals and to ensure their children had the same opportunities. They feel they are now at a point in life when it’s time to pay it forward and continue to support SBCO’s educational programs in the future. They know that a gift of education is a gift that lasts forever.
While SBCO accepts donations of any amount, the minimum donation to the Scholarship Endowment is $5,000. (Always consult your financial advisor as to how charitable donations affect your taxes.) Your gift will never be forgotten because it lasts forever. Only earnings on your donation are used for scholarships, so the amount you donate grows forever and helps generations of students long after we are gone.
SBCO Helps Prevent Hunger for Our Neighbors
Each year SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) provides both financial and volunteer support to the Tri-Community Food Bank. In the spring, SBCO hosts an annual Food Drive that benefits the Food Bank. In 2020, this event raised $91,798 through contributions made by SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch residents. An additional $10,000 in contributions were received after the Food Drive ended.
Every year SBCO also sets aside funds to support the needs of the Food Bank. This year, $60,000 was distributed to the Food Bank over the course of October, November, and December.
This Thanksgiving was a little brighter for many families in the Oracle and San Manuel area when SBCO volunteers assembled and delivered 62 holiday food baskets to those in need. Each plastic laundry basket was filled with traditional Thanksgiving dinner items, including a large turkey and all the trimmings.
According to Cynthia Chevalley, Chair of the Tri-Community Food Bank Board of Directors, “The Tri-Community Food Bank is extremely grateful to SaddleBrooke Community Outreach for their continuing and growing support. In addition to sponsoring the annual Food Drive and Fundraiser, the organization provides funding to provide emergency food boxes to our neighbors residing in Pinal County. The agency would not be able to do what we do throughout the year without these generous funds.”
If you would like more information about the Thanksgiving Food Basket project, please contact one of this year’s co-chairs: Mark Liefke at 971-231-2500 or Mona Sullivan at 520-777-0997.
Donations made to SBCO support all of our programs and also help provide the Food Bank with additional assistance during the holidays. Donations to SBCO can be made on our website at www.community-outreach.org.
SaddleBrooke Ranch Source Book Delivered to Your Doorstep
Robson Resort Community annually produces the Source Book, an official community telephone and local business directory for SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch. Since 2001, the delivery of this directory to each residence has been provided by SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) volunteers. To date, this project has garnered more than $38,000 to fund SBCO programs that benefit local children.
SBCO volunteers sign up to deliver the Source Book in one or two units. After the books are delivered to the SBCO office, volunteers pick up boxes of books and plastic bags, put each directory in a bag and then drive through their assigned units to make deliveries.
Melanie Stout coordinates Source Book delivery for SBCO.
“It’s a big job for our volunteers. Robson requires that each directory be delivered to a front porch, so our volunteers have to pop in and out of cars or golf carts and walk to and from the front door of residence. It’s wonderful how many volunteers generously contribute their time and energy to help raise money for SBCO programs,” according to Stout.
Jan Olsson oversaw the Source Book delivery within SaddleBrooke Ranch.
If you failed to receive a copy of the 2020-21 Source Book, please request a copy at the SaddleBrooke One or SaddleBrooke TWO administration offices in SaddleBrooke or La Hacienda Club in SaddleBrooke Ranch.