SaddleBrooke Community Outreach Happenings

Scholarship Committee Volunteer Helps Students Reach Their Goals

SBCO volunteer Maria Miller delights in serving as a liaison between SBCO and scholarship students attending UA.

Diane Prickett

“We love our students,” Maria Miller said. “We love seeing them flourish!” Maria was speaking about the SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) scholarship committee, which is near and dear to her heart. She chose the SBCO scholarship committee volunteer focus in memory of her dad. She said, “Education is so important. With an education, they (the students) can have a career. With an education they have options.”

As a child, Maria saw her father modeling the importance of education. She grew up in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, where both her father and mother were pharmacists. Her father’s support allowed children from four local families to go to the university.

When she had graduated from the University of Wisconsin with her master’s degree in chemistry, she had to make a choice between going on for her doctorate or getting married. She chose to marry her husband, now of 41 years, Mike. They moved to St Louis, Mo., for his work. She was hired by the same company and after working there for a short while, they offered her a scholarship. They paid her wages and for her schooling, making Maria a believer in second chances!

Before retiring, Maria and Mike took a vacation here with their daughter and fell in love with the Catalina Mountains. They were not planning to buy, but when they toured the Preserve, they used their last blank check to purchase their home here.

Having a “second chance” is one of the things that makes the SBCO scholarship unique. “Life happens,” Maria says sympathetically. “There are illnesses and troubles in families. Sometimes a student doesn’t make the required 2.0+ GPA because of that. If they don’t make it one semester, we don’t take it away from them. Their money is held in the budget, so they can reclaim it the next semester when their grades are better.”

Another unique aspect of the SBCO scholarship is that it can extend into graduate school if there is room in the SBCO budget. “Our students are needy, and they work very hard. One of our students graduated from University of Arizona (UA) as the top scholar in finance in three and a half years. We gave him the money for his last semester to put toward graduate school.”

Maria’s role on the committee is that of a liaison. She is the communicator and organizer of information and funding between the student and college, as well as between the student and the committee. Although initially she was the only liaison for UA with one student, there are now four liaisons for the UA, and Maria has 12 students she serves, plus one in graduate school. She’s in contact with them at least twice a year and looks forward to the December pizza party where students and liaisons gather. This past April, one of her students, who she is very proud of, made a presentation to SBCO members at the annual meeting.

“It’s a pleasure to be on the scholarship committee. All the people on the committee really care about our students. Last year we had 29 applicants, and this year we have 39 applicants divided between our four-year, two-year, and trade school scholarships.”

In addition to her scholarship committee activities, Maria plays golf with the Lady Niners and plays pickleball. She serves on the prison ministry at her church and the committee for social justice, particularly the immigration ministry.

Maria’s post-retirement life centers on new beginnings. She delights in helping others to begin new chapters of their lives and supporting them as they do so. Sometimes, that means giving them a second chance, just as was done for her years ago.

Longtime Anonymous Donor Explains: Why I Give to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program

As told to Diane Prickett

From the time I was a kid, I knew that higher education would be in my plans. My mother was the driving force in seeing that each of her seven children would attain a college degree. She had attended summer school after high school to earn her qualification to teach. She taught at a rural school that, years later, I attended for eight years. My father was less fortunate. He had to quit school after fourth grade to help on the farm.

What a blessing it was to have the financial help of our parents. We were able to attain our goals. All seven of us earned our college degrees! We were unlike many of the children in our neighborhood. They were kept on the farm to help their parents, just as our father had been. Those children never had a chance to realize their potential.

I see the difference an education has made in our lives. I can’t help but to compare our childhood with those of the many families in our area who are living at or below the poverty level. We were able to achieve so much with just a little help! I am grateful to be in a position where I can offer a little help to those who show promise to realize their goals and dreams.

I am able to contribute to the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Program by gifting the required minimum distribution from my retirement account, and I would encourage you to explore this possibility. You may be instrumental in assisting one or more young people in realizing their full potential.

SBCO Education Enrichment Grant Helps Ray School District Students Create Learning Garden

Nancy McCluskey-Moore

SaddleBrooke Community Outreach awarded a $5,000 grant to the Ray School District for a learning garden. The district, which serves students in Pre-K through grade 12 who live in Kearny and Winkelman, created a garden to teach sustainable living practices through hands-on learning. High school and junior high students enrolled in sustainable living, and similar skills classes were involved in building and maintaining the garden. Younger students planted and helped harvest the garden. Each grade planted a space in the garden, and harvesting helped teach the children about healthy food choices. Students learned about soil testing and methods for improving and conserving soil, along with the principals of vermicomposting. Student projects and journals were centered around the garden. Students also took a fieldtrip to the UA Dairy to learn about the production of dairy products.

The Winkelman Resource Management Center, a subsidiary of the Winkelman Resource Conservation District, partnered with the garden project. Community volunteers also helped with the garden, and all students were eligible to participate in this educational program. Since Kearny is considered a food desert, students in the district had no previous experience with gardening. The district currently serves 500 predominantly Hispanic and white students between the ages of 4 and 19.

The Ray School District contributed $11,000 to this program, which will be supplemented by the SBCO grant. Projects are still in progress and will continue to develop over the coming years.

Save the Date for 24th Annual SBCO Walk for Kids!

Nancy McCluskey-Moore

For 23 years SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) has hosted a Walkathon. This year the event has been renamed to Walk for Kids, since participants do not collect monetary pledges for the distance they walk. The Walk will be held at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29. Despite the name change, this is a signature SBCO event that helps support our food, clothing, and education programs benefiting youngsters along a 100-mile corridor from Catalina to the San Carlos Indian Reservation and Miami school system. Annually, SBCO touches the lives of approximately 4,000 students through new clothes, backpacks filled with school supplies, college scholarships, contributions to Tri-Community Food Bank, and financial support for a wide range of educational enrichment activities.

This year, in honor of SBCO’s 25th anniversary, walkers will receive a special commemorative t-shirt and continental breakfast. Participants also will be able to enjoy musical performances and visit booths featuring information about all of SBCO’s programs and some of its leading business supporters.

Online registration for the 2022 Walk for Kids will begin on Monday, Aug. 1 at The registration fee of $20 per adult and $10 per child (ages 6 through 18) covers the cost of the T-shirt and continental breakfast.

If you choose not to register online, in-person registration begins on Thursday, Sept. 1 and runs through Oct. 1, every Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the SBCO office at Suite L in the Minit-Market plaza. Late registration will be available the day of the Walk, but T-shirts may not be available in your size.

Register by Oct. 1 and talk to your neighbors about forming a unit Walk for Kids team. Walking with friends and local kids while supporting SBCO is a great way to spend a Saturday morning.