New Sculpture Adds Flair to First Place–Phoenix

First Place–Phoenix is the proud new owner of a magnificent, modern Michael Johnson steel sculpture, thanks to the generous donation by Carol Swagel. First Place volunteer art curator and longtime champion Lisa Greve facilitated the contribution and engagement of Scott Talbot and his Art Solutions & Installations, LLC crew who placed this true masterpiece in its new, permanent home. As Lisa observes in her equal gratitude to Carol and Scott, “We can’t thank you enough…for your beautiful commitment to ensuring that art is available in places for people in all walks of life to enjoy.”

Transition Academy Moving Forward with Fall Program

Recent developments in Arizona concerning COVID-19 have necessitated several pivots before the start of the Transition Academy fall term next month—full at 18 participants strong! These include: online orientation starting August 3, including a review of policies and procedures, as well as community activities; and staggered move-ins the week of August 17 to make this exciting event easier and safer for everyone. Contact Marci Muhlestein with any questions about the Transition Academy. Everyone is excited to embark together on our sixth year of the Transition Academy program designed to help adults with autism on their paths to more independent and joyful living!

Summer of Kindness Full of Warmth

Residents, Transition Academy students and staff have jumped in with both feet (and hands!) to participate in some super-fun Summer of Kindness/KinderPHX projects that make a difference both at First Place and out in the community at large. Here’s a sampling—with lots more to come!

  • Making Kindness Bags and Sunshine Boxes full of goodies for First Place friends, neighbors and staff
  • Partnering with Arizona Helping Hands to assemble more than 100 first-aid kits for foster families around the Valley
  • Working with HandsOn Greater Phoenix to make kindness cards of gratitude for frontline workers at Valleywise Health Medical Center working hard to keep our communities healthy and safe (Special thanks to Rick D’Elia of D’Elia Photographic for taking such amazing photos during this activity!)
  • Assembling and packaging facemasks for the Navajo Reservation, a project spearheaded by First Place supporters from the Heard Museum

Take a Virtual Tour of First Place

Join us for weekly virtual tours of First Place–Phoenix on alternating Mondays and Fridays in August. Meet the leadership team, “tour” the First Place–Phoenix community and attend a brief info/Q&A session to learn more about various apartment options and our groundbreaking residential Transition Academy program. Register today—space is limited!

Orange Socks Podcast with Denise Resnik

First Place AZ founder & CEO Denise Resnik was recently featured in a podcast hosted by Orange Socks, a special needs parent community. Listen to Denise share how her 28-year-old son with autism, Matt, inspired her to develop First Place and its sister nonprofit, the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC)—organizations committed to fueling a new wave of real estate and a lifetime of support services for special populations. You can also watch the accompanying video featuring Denise and Matt. After you watch and listen, be sure to check out the cool socks in the Shop link!

“Resident Reflections” Offer Insights into Life at First Place

To stay positive during these uncertain times, some of our residents and students at First Place–Phoenix are taking the time to reflect on the past, present and future. We hope you’ll follow this series of “Resident Reflections” for some added serenity and positivity.

New “Home Matters to Arizona” Initiative Full of Promise

Home Matters®, a national movement redefining the American dream and the concept of “home,” is launching Home Matters to Arizona to build support for a new generation of affordable housing, connected communities and healthier individuals, families and economies. Phase one of the Arizona launch includes a $100 million Home Matters Arizona Fund to finance community development and affordable housing projects that foster more connected and healthier lives. First Place has been closely aligned with Home Matters for several years. Learn more about our early engagement that began in 2016.

New Book Spotlights First Place Residents

Did you know that we spend 90% of our time indoors? Emily Anthes, award-winning science journalist and author, has written a book titled “The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness” that explores those indoor spaces and how they affect our mental and physical well-being, including our thoughts, feelings and behaviors, as well as our productivity, performance and relationships.

Anthes visited First Place during her research for the book and spent time with resident Lindsey Eaton and her family, learning and writing about Lindsey’s challenging journey that ultimately brought her to living in a place of her own. Anthes also documents how ideas about housing for special populations are evolving where “the goal is to create spaces, products, and experiences that serve the widest possible range of people, at every age and along the entire spectrum of ability.”

To stay positive during these uncertain times, some of our residents and students at First Place–Phoenix are taking the time to reflect on the past, present and future. We hope these “Resident Reflections” from a new series help provide you with some added serenity and positivity, too!


Lauren H.

My greatest support systems are my family and the First Place staff. My family always takes the time to have meaningful conversations with me, and the staff at First Place always listen to my struggles and help me navigate through them.


I have done a lot of things lately to improve my self-confidence, like having friends over at my apartment for dinner or just to socialize and spend time together.


“One of the goals I’ve accomplished in the last year was learning to prepare more meals for myself using different tools, like the microwave, oven and toaster.”


“To improve my self-confidence, I’ve been getting more fresh vegetables from the garden to motivate me to continue learning how to cook easy, healthy recipes.”

Transition Academy on Track for Fall

Plans are moving forward for freshmen to begin the fall 2020 Transition Academy program in early August. Enrollment will be capped at 18 participants and we’re nearing capacity. Plans for orientation are underway. If you’re interested in more information, complete our contact us form.

See Our Home from Yours!

Virtual tours run through July on Mondays at 3:30 p.m. and Fridays at 10 a.m. (all Arizona time). We’re eager to meet you and your family, learn more about your interest in exploring First Place, tell you about our community and options for living at First Place–Phoenix, and answer your questions. We look forward to having you “join us” soon!

Summer of Kindness 2020

To stay cool, calm, collected and kind—and to celebrate First Place–Phoenix’s two-year anniversary—our Community Life team has come up with a super-creative plan to involve residents in friendly, fun activities: Summer of Kindness 2020! Throughout July, each week will include various activities following these engaging themes: Resident to Resident, Resident to Family, Resident to Staff and Resident to Community. They’ll be busy with books and movies sprinkling kindness through arts, crafts, games, scavenger hunts—and even over ice cream!

This week also launches of our KinderPHX campaign. We’ll be sharing more about this unique campaign, which starts at home with random and planned acts of kindness and will extend to the broader community as we come together to promote and inspire kindness in the world around us.

Resident Reflections Series

Several of our First Place residents and Transition Academy students are taking the time to reflect on the past, present and future to stay positive. We hope these “Resident Reflections” from a new series on Facebook provide you with some added serenity and positivity, too!

New Video Shows First Place in Action

Catch up on the latest update and watch a quick video showing how we’re working hard to keep First Place healthy—our top priority! Donations to the First Place Pantry are still accepted and always greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Keeping Busy—and Making a Difference

First Place–Phoenix residents are busy with a variety of on-site activities. Arizona Helping Hands has organized several projects for us, including assembling first-aid kits for needy families and writing thank-you notes to healthcare workers on the frontlines. They’ve also been enjoying some much-needed time in the sports pool on these hot summer days, including water aerobics at a safe physical distance.

What Is It Like NOT to Be Yourself?

This compelling question is explored by Patricia Wright, PhD, MPH in her latest blog. Being social under “normal” circumstances is challenging enough for those on the spectrum. But in the era of COVID-19, physical distancing has redefined what it means to be social, creating circumstances with a whole new set of issues to navigate.