Newsletter – August 2020

Festive First Week at the Transition Academy

It’s been a busy time at the First Place Transition Academy with the kick-off of the fall 2020 semester and the many events that encompasses. This month, we welcomed new resident students as they moved into their new home here at First Place–Phoenix. Virtual orientation, staff introductions, meeting roommates and some fun activities (six feet apart!) also kept everyone engaged. General community life activities will be limited until next month. But there will be plenty to keep the students busy as they embark on a new semester together—including new friendships and adventures—here at First Place–Phoenix!

Summer of Kindness Going Strong

Our Summer of Kindness program has been so successful that we’re expanding this unique initiative to take us even further in the months ahead. Check out Kind It Forward and the many creative ways First Place–Phoenix residents and staff have committed to sharing enduring kindness and joy. See what’s next—and get involved by connecting us to opportunities, volunteering and donating. 

An Alexa Echo for Every Resident? Thanks, Cox Communications!

Thanks to a generous grant from Cox Communications, every First Place–Phoenix resident is receiving their very own Amazon Alexa Echo as added support through technology on their journeys to more independent living. First Place staff have been working with residents on how to best engage with their Echos, customizing the devices based on their particular needs. Read a recent article in Jewish News and check out this quick video of Denise Resnik’s son Matt demonstrating some of the helpful and creative daily ways he uses his own Echo to stay organized—and entertained!

Take a Virtual Tour of First Place

We’re offering new ways to explore First Place–Phoenix from the comfort and security of your home with our nifty new interactive map. Sign up for a virtual tour, too; we’ve posted dates through October to meet any schedule. Experience firsthand all that First Place has to offer. Then stay for a Q&A with staff. Find out why “We’re the place for that.®

New Book Spotlights Exceptional Leaders, Including One of Our Own

Denise D. Resnik, Founder & President/CEO of First Place® AZ, has teamed up with 13 other leaders serving the neurodiverse community to share their knowledge of how to start and grow a business that serves neurodiverse populations. Learn more in the new book titled Becoming an Exceptional Leader curated by disability-focused business strategist Mai Ling Chan.

Save the dates! Join us October 21 and 22 for the First Place Global Leadership Institute’s virtual fall symposium webinars. Our virtual event this past April was a great success—we hope you’ll join us so that we can pick up where we left off and continue moving forward together. More information to follow!

First Place Welcomes New Staff Members to Our Growing Team

Check out the new faces on the growing First Place–Phoenix team: from as near as the Valley to as far as Australia! We’re thrilled to announce recent promotions, as well as to welcome new employees working in areas ranging from support services and health and wellness to concierge and security.

Somer Messerly has been promoted to Support Coordinator. She will be responsible for training and supervising new support specialists and working on special projects to ensure residents are receiving the specific supports they need to live their best independent lives. Somer holds a degree in social work from the University of Montana.

Jessica Bravo has been promoted to Mental Health Coordinator. Jessica will be assisting residents navigate through family and community resources in support of their acute and ongoing mental health needs. Jessica holds a master’s degree in mental health and wellness from Grand Canyon University. 

Allison Weeks joins the First Place support specialist team assisting residents full time during the week. Allison holds a degree in family and human development from Arizona State University.

Jessica Verdugo teaches during the week from her virtual Zoom classroom and now spends her weekends as a First Place Support Specialist! She holds a degree in special education from Arizona State University.

Brandi Thomas joins the concierge team, working Saturday and Sunday evenings. Brandi holds a degree in elementary education from Montana State.

Jason Greatrex worked security detail in Australia for the past 20 years. First Place welcomes this Aussie to the overnight concierge/security shift.

Share To