Newsletter – February 2022

Coaching • Connecting • Creating Confidence in the Future

We’re excited to share that Lifelong Networks for Communities of Support (LNCS) sessions are back! LNCS is a group of parents and family members of adults with autism and other neurodiversities, who are helping coach and connect other families to help loved ones achieve their independent-living goals. 

The Wednesday, March 2 in-person/virtual session features a very special guest you won’t want to miss. Matt Miller—avid outdoorsman, ultra-runner, baseball fan, writer, speaker, coach and self-named “survivor”—lost most of his fingers and toes to frostbite during a 2002 mountain-climbing expedition in Mexico. Matt inspires, motivates and offers anyone in need a helping hand while encouraging us to imagine the possibilities and opportunities by embracing adversity. 

A Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC®), Matt is dedicated to helping parents and caregivers of those with special needs or disabilities plan for care while guiding families through complex financial decisions and benefits systems. Join us and connect with other families as we strengthen our community and create greater confidence in our futures! Click here to learn more and register for the March 2, 4–6 p.m. (MT) in-person or virtual session.

AZ Housing Director Tom Simplot Making Things Happen

Kudos to Tom Simplot, confirmed this month by the Arizona State Senate as Arizona Dept. of Housing director after being appointed by Governor Doug Ducey last May. His first nine months on the job are already producing positive pathways for our state. We so appreciate the many ways Director Simplot—also a former longtime Phoenix City Council member—continues to support First Place and SARRC through his passion for and commitment to those with special needs while addressing pressing housing issues throughout our state.

Denise Resnik Added to Illustrious “48 Arizona Women” List

We’re proud to share that First Place AZ Founder and President/CEO Denise D. Resnik has been named one of 2022’s “48 Most Intriguing Women of Arizona.” Sponsored by 48 Arizona Women and the Arizona Historical Society, selection is part of an Arizona Centennial Legacy initiative that recognizes Arizona’s most remarkable women making a significant impact on their communities. The organization’s mission is to transform lives, build stronger communities and help positively shape Arizona and the nation. Denise joins past honorees, including Sandra Day O’Connor, Gabrielle Giffords and Cindy McCain, to name just a few—all of whom have worked tirelessly to enhance the lives of Arizonans. Read more here!

Resumes & Refreshments

First Place–Phoenix’s vocational coordinator, Natasha Grant, has developed a new activity thanks to a generous Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation grant to help residents and Transition Academy students prepare for employment. Each week during “Resumes & Refreshments,” participants learn about different skills for being successful in the workplace through fun, interactive games, and engaging conversations.

Community Life Keeping First Place Crafting, Scoring, Rocking & Hiking

First Place is bustling! Here are just a few of the recent activities keeping residents engaged and on the go…

  • Valentine’s Day craft of candy wreaths for residents’ front doors
  • Gold medal for First Place basketball team at Mikey’s League Special Olympics Four Peaks Area tournament, thanks to Fiesta Bowl Charities
  • Mind-Full Music and First Place’s new rock band
  • Weekend hikes on Phoenix’s Trail 100

A Little “Kindness Box” Goes a Long Way

For Random Acts Of Kindness Day on Feb. 17, First Place–Phoenix residents and Transition Academy students put together “kindness boxes” for First Place community partners, letting them know how much they’re appreciated! In addition to local Rango Honey, coffee from Beneficial Beans, Kindness Coins from Ben’s Bells, SMILE® Biscotti and magnets from Feed my Starving Children, participants included their own handmade candles.

First Place–Phoenix Resident Profiled in GCU Magazine

First Place–Phoenix resident and former Transition Academy graduate Lindsey wrote the February 2022 “My LopeLife” article (page 6) for GCU Magazine. Lindsey talks about her dream of going to college and how the Learning Opportunities for Participation and Engagement in School (L.O.P.E.S.) Academy—a program where individuals with moderate intellectual and developmental disabilities can experience college at Grand Canyon University—made that dream a reality. Lindsey also shares what she’s learning at the L.O.P.E.S. Academy is helping advance her professional goals, including growth in her leadership and communication skills. Way to go, Lindsey!

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