SBCO Celebrates 25 Years of Making a Difference
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Such was the case with SaddleBrooke Community Outreach. What took root from a living room conversation in 1996 among six women who wanted to give back to the local community has grown into an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a wide array of programs supported by hundreds of volunteers and many more donors.
Dorothy Steffano, Harriett Schultz, Roberta Spector, Cyrene Schochet, Marcia Weitzman, and Anita Eagle, SBCO’s “founding mothers,” were united by a desire to help others in some tangible way. The group quickly grew in size as word spread. A research committee set out to determine the needs of Tucson and southeastern Pinal County, discovering that everything was needed. Local needs ran the gamut from education, counseling, and parenting, to food, homelessness, domestic abuse, and clothing.
Eventually a clear-cut need was found when Laurie Steffano, a teacher in San Manuel, explained the impact students’ lack of clothing was having on school attendance. Children were coming to school with tattered, ill-fitting clothing and shoes that were either too large, too small, or held together with duct tape and rubber bands. Mammoth Elementary principal Diane Lemley told of families with so few items of clothing that their children had to alternate who went to school on any given day.
The women, who initially called themselves the SaddleBrooke Women’s Organization (SWO), found their focus: providing children in the Tri-Communities (Oracle, San Manuel, and Mammoth) with appropriate clothing to help boost their self-esteem and improve their school attendance. A modest clothing bank, initially offering clothing purchased at local thrift stores, was born. With financial support from SaddleBrooke residents, by mid-1997 the group had enough money to distribute new clothing. Today’s Kids’ Closet annually provides about 3,200 wardrobe (new shoes, clothing, and underwear) and hygiene products to children from preschool through eighth grade along the 100-mile “Copper Corridor” from Catalina to San Carlos.
With the growing involvement of men, SWO quickly became SaddleBrooke Community Outreach. In addition to the clothing bank, SBCO also responded to emergency calls for food, clothing, medication, and hygiene products. The Adopt-a-Family Program began in 1997. And fundraisers were initiated: recycling aluminum cans, a dinner theater, a fashion show, participation in SaddleBrooke’s annual rummage sale, and SBCO’s annual Walkathon.
In 1998, SBCO hosted its first annual food drive, a project that has continued every year since. Pre-COVID, the food drive collected monetary donations in addition to canned and packaged goods that well-organized, energetic volunteers sorted, boxed, and delivered to the Tri-Community Food Bank. Although only monetary donations have been permitted in 2021 and 2022, the plan is to accept food and money in 2023.
The success of today’s SBCO and its ability to offer a wide range of programs that provide food, clothing, and educational opportunities for local children is due to its founding mothers, the many residents who have provided the labor and money to support its programs, and those who donate and shop at the Golden Goose Thrift Store. The Goose splits its proceeds between SBCO and Impact of Southern Arizona and has enabled SBCO to provide holiday meals to Oracle residents, fund educational enrichment programs, and give college scholarships to local students.
Through 25 years of making a difference in local communities, SBCO’s focus has never changed: providing local children with the basic necessities and opportunities they need to succeed. “It’s All About the Kids.”
Note: Ten years ago, Rick Cato documented the history of SBCO based on personal interviews. The complete eight-part series is provided at community-outreach.org/about-sbco/history-of-sbco.
Help Stop Hunger: The 24th Annual SBCO Food Drive
Between Feb. 19 and March 19, SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) will hold its annual food drive to benefit the Tri-Community Food Bank (TCFB) based in Mammoth. TCFB serves needy families living in Mammoth, San Manuel, Oracle, and the Dudleyville/Aravaipa area. Many in these communities are very poor, and the nearest grocery store is 28 miles away. Our community’s donations helped to provide bimonthly emergency food boxes to 468 households (1,120 people)—387 children and 298 seniors—for the past calendar year. Each emergency food box provides nine family meals and TCFB spends $10,000 per month on food purchases. All monetary contributions go directly to grocery purchases and related expenses.
SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch residents collaborate on the annual SBCO Food Drive.
Last year, our residents were so generous that TCFB was able to upgrade its protein storage capacity with the installation of a new $70,000 walk-in freezer. After losing the use of warehouse space for nonperishable food storage, TCFB plans to build a new $80,000 storage facility onsite. It will be a big improvement over the previous storage space and will facilitate the movement of stored items from the warehouse to the food bank building.
Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID, the 2022 food drive will be limited to monetary contributions made online or with checks. Perhaps in 2023 we will be able to return to donations of food in addition to money.
You can make a donation online using a credit card or by writing a check. Make your check payable to “SBCO Food Drive” and write your unit number on the memo line. You can either mail or deliver it to SBCO, 63675 E. SaddleBrooke Blvd., Ste. L, Tucson, AZ 85739. Online donations can be made at community-outreach.org using a credit card. You don’t need a PayPal account to make an online donation.
All monetary contributions go directly to grocery purchases and related expenses. SBCO and TCFB are all-volunteer organizations and are IRS 501(c)(3) and AZ nonprofit charitable organizations, so donations made to these organizations are tax deductible. Please give generously so no one goes to bed hungry.
If you would like to volunteer for the food drive or have questions about this event, contact Andrea Stephens in SaddleBrooke at [email protected] or 616-901-6893, or Betty Ryan in SaddleBrooke Ranch at [email protected] or 425-260-4418.
SBCO Celebrates Holidays with Scholarship Recipients
SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) provides college scholarships to deserving local students. Financial assistance is currently being given to 86 students. Scholarships are renewed annually for students maintaining a 2.0 GPA as a full-time student taking a minimum of 12 credits. Each student is assigned a liaison from the committee to monitor their progress and offer support.
Annually, the committee hosts a pizza party at the Kid’s Closet in Mammoth for students receiving scholarships. The gathering enables the students and their liaisons to meet in person. Due to COVID, the party has been canceled for a couple of years. This year the committee changed the event to be a holiday party, allowing students to attend during the semester break. This change resulted in the largest gathering ever.
The invitation allowed for students to bring a guest and most students chose to include their parents or a sibling. A total of 44 students and their family members attended this year’s party. It was wonderful for scholarship committee members to see the pride of family members as the students filed in and registered for prize drawings.
As usual, the crowd was served pizza, soft drinks, and homemade desserts. Each student received a Visa gift card to help pay for their gas and a drawing was held for three $100 gift cards.
Committee liaisons were able to meet their students and talk about their university experiences and goals. This is an extraordinary group of young people who are changing their lives through their dedication to further education. Their majors are varied and ambitious, including pre-med, electrical engineering, veterinary science, and pre-law. It is a privilege for SBCO to be able to support them in their endeavors. And this event was a wonderful way to celebrate their successes, along with the holiday season.
Scholarship Recipient Credits SBCO for Helping Her Reach Goals
Leticia Velasquez Maestas, a graduate of Pima Community College’s radiology program, credits the SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) scholarship program with shepherding her through her post-high school education. After graduating as salutatorian from San Manuel High School, Leticia started her college studies at Pima Community College, where she pursued studies in health care. It took her three years to complete all of the prerequisites for her chosen field of radiology. She then applied for a program of study in radiology where she was waitlisted for a year before being able to start. She was finally able to begin in 2019. Not only was the coursework challenging for her, she worked, planned a wedding, and had to surmount the difficulties imposed by COVID. But she knew she had to keep going. She states, “I was more at ease knowing that with all that was going on, my college tuition was taken care of. The SBCO scholarship was there for me from the very beginning.” Leticia also appreciates the liaison that she had throughout her pursuit of her program of study. She describes the liaison as regularly checking in with her and encouraging her as she worked to pursue her goals.
Leticia has completed her degree in radiology, passed the radiology state exam, is married, and has started her career. “I will be forever grateful for the SaddleBrooke community, not only because of their contribution, but also how much they care for us and our education.” She encourages other students to keep going, not give up, and not to let anything, even a pandemic, get in the way of reaching one’s goals and making dreams come true.
If you would like to help students like Leticia, please consider making a contribution or providing a gift to the SaddleBrooke Community Outreach Scholarship Endowment Program.
All contributions to the endowment fund must be made payable to the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona (CFSA) and designated for the “SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund.” CFSA’s Tax ID Number is 94-2681765. The minimum contribution to the fund is $5,000.
Tax-deductible donations to the Endowment can be made in any of four ways:
* A personal check—sent directly to CFSA—made payable to Community Foundation of Southern Arizona with “SBCO Endowment” in the memo line.
* A distribution from your IRA to CFSA—for the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund.
* Include CFSA as the manager of the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund as a beneficiary in your trust or estate plan.
* In-kind contributions (e.g., stock, securities, real estate, autos).
Send donations to:
The Community Foundation of Southern Arizona
SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund
5049 E. Broadway Blvd., Suite 201
Tucson, AZ 85711
For more information, send an email to [email protected] or call the SBCO office at 520-825-3302.
Volunteers Key to Success
Casey and Stan Domalewski moved from Jersey City, N.J., to SaddleBrooke at an auspicious time—10 days before 9/11. They were seeking a warmer climate, free from snow shoveling and icy roads. You might think that after long careers helping others—Casey as a nurse for 26 years and Stan as a fireman for 28 years—they’d be ready to put their feet up and relax. But you’d be wrong. The Domalewskis chose SaddleBrooke after looking at several communities. What sealed the deal was four pages listing volunteer opportunities in the community. “We knew this was a special place,” Casey says.
“A neighbor, literally while I was unloading moving boxes from the car, came over and said that volunteers were needed to help make boxes for the food drive,” Casey recalls. That was the beginning of the couple’s 20-year commitment to the SBCO Annual Food Drive. “That first year, when we arrived at the parking lot, I was flabbergasted by the community spirit,” Stan says. “There were lots of volunteers—I only expected a few to show up—food was being unloaded from cars and everything was well-organized.”
Over the years, Casey has made boxes, assembled boxes and, for the past 10 years, served as unit captain. She says, “Stan and I do the job together. We walk around the neighborhood distributing flyers, which is good exercise. It’s great to have a positive, altruistic project that we can do as a team. We enjoy the whole experience and it gives us a great sense of purpose.”
Both Casey and Stan say, “This program runs like a Swiss watch. Volunteers feel appreciated because they are put to work with no time wasted. It gives us a sense of community, helps people locally, has immediate impact, and meets a basic need. What could be more basic than ensuring people have nutritional food?”