SaddleBrooke Community Outreach Happenings

Betty Ryan safely distributing gift certificates for children and families to Lydia Smith of Mountain Vista school in Oracle.

Betty Ryan safely distributing gift certificates for children and families to Lydia Smith of Mountain Vista school in Oracle.

Adopt-A-Family 2020

Kim Schweitzer and Betty Ryan, Co-Chairs

For the last 11 years, SaddleBrooke Ranch has participated in the Adopt-A-Family project.

In the past, Ranch residents would choose an angel from our tree which contained the name, age, size, and wish list of holiday items for a child or adult. The names are provided by our local school in Oracle, Mountain Vista.

For the safety of all of us, we were unable to set up a tree or ask people to shop, however the needs and wishes of our neighbors to the north have not changed. In fact, in some cases the needs are greater.

Our residents once again have been incredibly generous. We received $14,189 in cash donations, which enabled us to purchase 109 $75 Walmart gift cards for the children and 43 $75 Bashas’ cards for the families. As in past years, we were also able to send donations of $1,720 to each of our local food banks—Tri Community Food Bank, and Impact of Arizona.

The Adopt-A-Family initiative is sponsored by SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO). Their mission is “to provide opportunities for kids to succeed.” Thank you to everyone for doing just that.

Thank You from SBCO

Nancy McCluskey-Moore

SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) owes SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch residents a heartfelt thank you for the support provided to our organization every year, but especially during the pandemic. We experienced many new challenges in 2020. Two of our annual fundraisers, the Home Tour and the Walkathon, had to be canceled. Then our budget took another hit when the Golden Goose Thrift Store, which divides its income between SBCO and Impact of Southern Arizona, closed and then reopened with physical distancing restrictions that caused revenues to decline.

Fortunately, our community stepped up, raising a record-setting amount of money for the annual Food Drive, benefiting Tri-Community Food Bank. We also received generous contributions to our Make a Difference campaign and the Adopt-a-Family program. Your support has enabled us to continue providing local students with food, clothing, educational opportunities, and college scholarships.

It has been a challenging time in other ways. Some of our educational grants were awarded only to be returned when school programs were cancelled. Students can’t visit Kids’ Closet in Mammoth, so bags of requested clothing are being delivered to local schools. Teens have received gift cards for school clothing because it’s unsafe for volunteers to help them shop.

In-person tutoring has been replaced with remote learning and interviews with college scholarship applicants have proven to be challenging. Every day has required our volunteers to develop creative solutions to new problems. Their unstinting support is invaluable, allowing SBCO to continue to help local students thrive.

Edie Cussick finds great joy in serving as a Kids’ Closet volunteer.

Edie Cussick finds great joy in serving as a Kids’ Closet volunteer.

Valued SBCO Kids’ Closet Volunteer

Nancy McCluskey-Moore

SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) volunteer Edie Cussick was born and raised in Brooklyn and Staten Island, but in 1978, a job transfer brought her and her husband Ed to Arizona. They never left, raising their children here. Today the entire extended family—including four grandchildren—live in Arizona. Edie and Ed moved to SaddleBrooke in 2006 while Edie continued to work in Phoenix for another year.

Upon retiring after 30 years of working for IBM, Edie worked as a Kids’ Closet volunteer for two years, helping to dress the student shoppers. When she began volunteering, Kids’ Closet was still housed in an old closed school in San Manuel. After a four-year stint running her own consulting business in Tucson, Edie retired (again!) and returned to volunteering at Kids’ Closet in its new location in Mammoth. In 2018, she became a day manager, supervising the volunteers who assist children in selecting clothing and shoes.

Edie’s strong love for children led her to provide religious education for students in first through 12th grade and help supervise parental visits for children in foster care.

“Every child that comes to Kids’ Closet deserves a hug, smile, and encouragement,” Edie said. Over the years helping these children has made her feel blessed to have the time and opportunity to make a difference in so many lives.

“I am grateful and have a deep sense of fulfillment from this work.”

Two Kids’ Closet experiences made a big impression on Edie. Three brothers, aged four to eight years, had recently been adopted by a family.

“I congratulated the oldest boy on their adoption, knowing how this would make a significant difference in his life and those of his brothers. He teared up and hugged me.,” she explained. One little girl was so delighted with her new clothing, “she put on her new shirt, pants, shoes, coat, hat, and gloves despite the warm temperature outside. She was so grateful for the new wardrobe she couldn’t wait to wear it,” Edit said.

Edie has taken her own grandchildren to Kids’ Closet to read to other students and help with shoe fittings.

“When your parents buy you three shirts, these kids’ parents can only afford to buy them one,” Edie explained to her grandchildren. “But they look just like us.” they responded.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for them to understand that many children are not as fortunate as they are,” she noted.

Based on her experience, and that of Ed, who helps restock shoes at Kids’ Closet on Mondays, Edie encourages others to volunteer.

“I say do it! You’ll feel a purpose for your life. Serving others is a fulfilling way to give back. As the Chinese proverb says, ‘If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.’ I have found great happiness from helping others,” she said.

If you would like to become a SaddleBrooke Community Outreach volunteer, please visit our website at www.community-outreach.org.

Students from Coronado K-8 who attended the Catalina Island Marine Institute trip in February 2020 were able to snorkel and visit the plankton, shark, and invertebrate labs.

Students from Coronado K-8 who attended the Catalina Island Marine Institute trip in February 2020 were able to snorkel and visit the plankton, shark, and invertebrate labs.

Making a Difference Every Year

Nancy McCluskey-Moore

Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors, SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) was able to make a significant difference in the lives of many children and their families in 2020, despite the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Kids’ Closet provided clothing, backpacks and books to 2,475 children from Catalina in Pima County through the Pinal County Copper Corridor, up to Superior, across to Miami and down to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Gila County. This was about 500 fewer students than 2019 because the Closet closed in March due to a mandatory national shutdown. For the fall, clothing was bagged for children in need and then picked up by their teachers for delivery at the schools.

* Teen Closet increased the number of participating schools to six, covering an area from Catalina to Superior. Eighty-one eligible 8th grade through high school students shopped at the July event in Oro Valley and Globe and 49 teens shopped at the January event in Oro Valley. Qualifying students can spend up to $200 on school appropriate clothing and school supplies. An average of $189/student was spent in 2020. To qualify for this program, teens must submit their grades and hours of community service.

* Scholarships were given to 80 post-high school students. Sixty-one students received a $3,000 annual scholarship to attend four-year universities and 15 students received $1,500 annual scholarships to attend two-year community schools. Four students received scholarships for post graduate work at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.

* SBCO Educational Enrichment programs support academic, sports, travel, and cultural programs in local schools. Supported after-school activities include art and sewing, Future Farmers of America (FFA), 4H, and gifted and talented programs. Funded elective school programs include field trips, math tutoring, AP exam fee support, band programs, and programs for reading, cooking, gardening, and physical education. A grant to Youth on Their Own (which helps homeless youth complete high school) supported Pinal County students enrolled at Coronado K-8 and Iron Ridge High School. COVID-19 caused the school year to end abruptly on March 15. Several summer programs were put on hold or cancelled, while other academic programs were delayed or switched to an online format. Unused funding was returned to SBCO.

* Annual Food Drive was a grand success, despite the fact that the pandemic forced SBCO to suspend the collection of food items and request only monetary donations. A total of $92,000 and 270 pounds of food were collected for the Tri-Community Food Bank. This joint effort between SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch was the highest dollar amount collected in the history of the drive and generous residents continued to make donations for the food bank after the drive ended.

* In addition to the food drive, SBCO also supplies Thanksgiving Food Baskets to families in Oracle identified by school personnel. Each family receives a turkey with all the trimmings and pies. All food is delivered in large plastic laundry baskets that the recipients can continue to use.

* SBCO manages the receipt and distribution of monetary donations for the Adopt a Family and Adopt a Child programs. This allows donors to contribute to a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Usually SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch residents “adopt” families, purchase and wrap gifts, and load them into vans and cars for delivery. The program includes families in the Tri Community area of Mammoth, San Manuel, and Oracle, as well as youngsters on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. In 2020, gift cards were distributed in lieu of wrapped gifts. SaddleBrooke residents also made 120 quilts that were delivered to Apache children.

SBCO is grateful to the residents of SaddleBrooke and SaddleBrooke Ranch who have so generously contributed their time, talents, and funds to ensure that life is much better for people in nearby communities.

Camille and Joe Esterman are proud SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program donors.

Camille and Joe Esterman are proud SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program donors.

Giving Back: The Scholarship Endowment Program

Ron Andrea

Camille and Joe Esterman moved to SaddleBrooke Ranch four years ago from Lisle, Ill. Camille is a retired CPA and Joe worked in marketing and as a financial advisor. Married 51 years, both feel blessed to have received the education that led them to rewarding careers. While neither of their parents graduated from college, both of their daughters have advanced degrees: one holds a masters in labor and industrial relations and the other is a doctor of physical therapy. Their oldest grandchild is now a freshman at Ohio State.

Camille and Joe have reached a point in their lives where they have both the desire and the ability to make a difference in the lives of students who might otherwise be unable to attend college, allowing those students access to the same opportunities they and their daughters enjoyed. Research shows that over 70% of children raised in poverty raise their own children in poverty. Education is the key to breaking that generational cycle. Providing an education for one person not only changes the life of that person, but likely will change the lives of his or her children and grandchildren as well. A gift of education is truly a gift that lasts forever.

As the current Treasurer of SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO), Camille has seen firsthand the impact SBCO scholarships have on students living in our service area. As a former financial advisor, Joe understands the powerful growth potential of a professionally managed endowment account. Annual distributions are made only from a portion of the earnings, ensuring that the principal (the money donated) will remain intact and grow in perpetuity to help future generations of students.

If you, like Camille and Joe, want to make a significant difference in the lives of motivated students who might otherwise not have the resources to attend college, consider making a donation to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program. Scholarship students are carefully selected based on their grades, community service, references, financial need, a written essay, and a personal interview with a team of SBCO volunteers.

Donations can be made in any of three ways: 1) You can delay your donation by making the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program a beneficiary in your living will or trust; 2) For those over age 71, you can request that your financial institution send a portion of your annual required IRA distribution directly to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program; or 3) you can simply write a tax-deductible check. While SBCO accepts donations of any amount, the minimum donation to the Scholarship Endowment Fund is $5,000. (Always consult your tax advisor about the potential benefits of charitable contributions.)

For more information about the SBCO Endowment Program, please contact Ron Andrea at 520-904-4831 or email him at [email protected] For more information about SaddleBrooke Community Outreach, visit our website at www.community-outreach.org.