SBCO Encourages Reading
In August, SaddleBrooke Ranch residents delivered 15 handmade bookcases to first grade students at Ray School in Kearny. The bookcases were built by Ranch woodworkers Ron Gustafson, Jeff Hansen, Barry Milner, Scott Saxson, and Dan Carter. They worked nights at the Ranch woodshed to build these sturdy, handsome bookcases.
For many years, the Rotary Club of Kearny helped to finance and construct the bookcases. The program, which has received annual grants from SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO), also provides for each child to receive two books per year (through third grade) to store on the bookcases.
When the Rotary Club backed away from the program, local woodworking/shop class students built the bookcases. Then prisoners in Florence were paid to build them. Finally, SaddleBrooke Ranch residents who enjoy woodworking volunteered their talent and time to build the bookcases for two years in a row.
This year the children also received a framed art piece featuring a quote from Dr. Seuss, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” These pieces were made by Debbie Carter. The bookcases, books, and art pieces are designed to encourage the students to embrace a lifelong love of reading.
SBCO is grateful to the residents of SaddleBrooke Ranch who so generously contribute their skills and resources to support this and other programs.
Volunteers of the Year
Each year, SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) recognizes the outstanding service provided by one or two of its volunteers. This year, the SBCO board of directors chose Pat and Jim Schlote as the organization’s 2020 Volunteers of the Year for their tireless work on behalf of the Kids’ Closet program.
Pat began working as a community volunteer in 2011, when she and Jim relocated to SaddleBrooke from Colorado. While their home was being built, Pat began working with Kids’ Closet as a warehouse re-stocker and for the Golden Goose Thrift Store, a significant source of income for SBCO. In 2016, Jim started working for Kids’ Closet, transporting clothing from SaddleBrooke to the warehouse in Mammoth.
Pat’s involvement with Kids’ Closet led to her serving as co-manager of the Kids’ Closet warehouse for the past eight years, a job that has grown along with the number of students served. In 2012, Kids’ Closet moved from a dilapidated old school in San Manuel, to its own facility in Mammoth. More than half of the “big red building on the hill” is filled with the program’s shoe and clothing inventory—all carefully stored in labeled bins and boxes.
For years, Kids’ Closet purchasing and receiving processes, as well as its inventory, were tracked using Excel spreadsheets. At the end of each year, resolving discrepancies between the items received, distributed, and on hand in the “workbook” was a time-consuming effort.
In 2017, Jim began helping to manage the inventory tracking spreadsheet.
With the growth in the overall program, the Kids’ Closet leadership team knew that continuing to use the spreadsheets for a program that distributes approximately 3,000 wardrobes per year has become untenable. Completing tasks had become challenging for the team and made it almost impossible to recruit their replacements.
In the summer of 2018, the leadership team began investigating a point of sale (POS) system to manage operations. This system would permit the tracking of each item of clothing (via a bar code label) from the time it is received, until it is distributed to a student. This project was an ideal fit for Jim, who had spent 15 years in various global IT management roles, and Pat, versed in all aspects of managing the shoes and clothing distributed by Kids’ Closet. By June 2019, the new system was up and running—after all the data was entered and more than 20,000 items in inventory had been tagged with barcode labels. The POS system has streamlined Kids’ Closet operations, making the volunteer experience significantly better for everyone on the leadership team.
Pat and Jim agree that volunteering has given them a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Jim noted, “It’s great to feel that your skills are needed and wanted. An unpaid job can be very rewarding!” Pat stressed that there is joy in helping children and their families. “There is such a great need. It’s very humbling. One little boy was so delighted to have underwear that he jumped up and down with glee.” Both say that volunteering has been a great way to make a lot of new friends, gain skills, and become part of a hard-working team dedicated to helping children.
There are many ways to become a SBCO volunteer. Helping to dress children at Kids’ Closet, tutoring students in local schools, serving on the education committee, supporting the Walkathon and Home Tour fundraising events, wrapping holiday presents for Adopt-a-Family, or working in the SBCO office, are all options. To learn more, please visit the SBCO website, www.community-outreach.org.
For more than two decades SaddleBrooke Community Outreach’s Kids’ Closet has been providing children with new school clothing to raise their self-esteem and encourage school attendance. Twice each school year, in the fall and spring, thousands of students from nearby rural communities arrive at the Kids’ Closet in Mammoth to choose new clothing. Children eligible to receive free meals at their pre-school or school are referred to the program.
Every successful program needs a committed leadership team. Kids’ Closet is currently seeking volunteers to fulfill two important roles.
The Kids’ Closet co-vice president is responsible for overseeing the entire program’s operations. This position is shared and both members may attend the monthly SBCO board of directors meetings, but they share one vote. Specific tasks of this position include:
* Scheduling an annual meeting with the Kids’ Closet leadership team
* Overseeing preparation of the annual program budget and management of the program’s budgetary responsibilities
* Working with schools to increase participation in the Kids’ Closet program
* Promoting volunteerism at Kids’ Closet in SaddleBrooke Communities and neighboring communities
* Providing managers with forms needed for Closet operations, (e.g. permission slips, inventory sheets, child respect forms, etc.) and instructions for all Kids’ Closet procedures
* Overseeing the care and maintenance of the SBCO Kids’ Closet facility in Mammoth
* Having familiarity with the inventory management system and the ability to use it
According to SBCO bylaws, any volunteer interested in this position must have been an SBCO volunteer for a minimum of one year prior to assuming this role.
The Kids’ Closet day manager oversees operations on a designated day the facility is open to students. The day manager is responsible for:
* Calling any volunteers who have not confirmed they will work that day
* Notifying the scheduler if more volunteers are needed
* Ensuring that all volunteers have been fingerprinted and had their background checked by local authorities
* Providing a carpooling list for volunteers
* Receiving a student appointment sheet, printing ID labels, and preparing a bag and clothing inventory sheet for each student
* Notifying a co-vice president if supplies are running low
* Learning the inventory management system
While it is helpful for the volunteer interested in this position to have previously worked with the Kids’ Closet, it is not required.
If you would like to learn more about these positions, please contact Jan Olsson, Kids’ Closet Co-Vice President, at 520-825-7283 or [email protected]
Education: The Gift That Changes Lives
The SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) Scholarship Endowment Program provides selected students with $3,000 per year for four-year programs, and $1,500 per year for community college and trade school programs. What’s unique about this program is that each donation lasts forever, as only the fund’s earnings are used for scholarships. In this way, each donation continues to help students for generations to come. Research tells us that children raised in poverty are 70% more likely to raise their own children in poverty. For these children in particular, a gift of education not only changes the life of the recipient, but most often his or her children and grandchildren as well.
Scholarship students are carefully selected by a team of SBCO volunteers based on six criteria: financial need, community service, letters of reference, grades, a written essay, and an interview with the selection team.
Angelita Casillas earned an SBCO scholarship and is currently attending the University of Arizona. She graduated first in her high school class with a 4.0 grade point average, served as Secretary of the Student Council, and Co-Secretary of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. She also volunteered with the Tri-Community League and the Pinal County Youth Reading Program.
Angelita says, “It is a great honor to have received the SBCO Scholarship. Since I began searching for colleges, the prices have always scared me. My family does their best to support my brothers and me so the finances of college have always been on my mind. With the help of SBCO, this scholarship allows me to follow my goal of becoming a veterinarian. I do not have to worry about the expense of college now that I have the support of the SBCO Scholarship. I cannot express how much this scholarship will help me in my new journey. Thanks to SBCO, I’ll be able to focus on my studies and do not have to stress over the costs of being a college student.”
If you would like to support students such as Angelita, consider making a donation to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund by including the fund as a beneficiary in your trust or estate plan. Another option, for those over 71 years of age, is to reduce your federal income tax liability by asking your financial institution to forward a portion of your mandated IRA distributions directly to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund. A third option is to simply write a check. The minimum donation is $5,000. Always check with your financial advisor about possible tax benefits.
For more information, email [email protected] or call Ron Andrea at 520-904-4831. Remember, a gift of education is a gift that lasts forever.