Newsletter – January 2020

If you’re Denise Resnik, it’s a special family, including a son with autism, a supportive community—and a very big vision. This month’s blog by First Place AZ’s founder and CEO/president reflects on the early days of SARRC’s compelling vision back in 2000 that still holds true for First Place in 2020. Read what has and hasn’t worked over the past 20-plus years—and what we must do moving forward to keep that vision on track.

Spring Symposium Set for April 22–24

Mark your calendars for the First Place Global Leadership Institute’s spring symposium this April in Phoenix. This semiannual, two-day symposium offers a unique opportunity to experience the supportive Greater Phoenix community dubbed “the most autism-friendly city in the world” by PBS NewsHour. Pioneering organizations and families gather for an intensive program focused on determining next steps in communities across the nation and around the world. Learn from and share information with members of the First Place AZ team and various advisors promoting models for public, private and charitable collaboration. We look forward to seeing you in April!

Autism Society of America Visits First Place–Phoenix

We were honored to serve as the host site for the Autism Society of America two-day board meeting and retreat. This was the first board meeting for new president/CEO Christopher Banks and a chance to celebrate retiring CEO Scott Badesch. As a leader committed to diversity and cultural growth, Chris brings an extensive background in human services, including healthcare, to ASA. During the retreat, attendees also enjoyed tours of First Place–Phoenix before joining staff and residents for a BBQ and the chance to learn more about us.

Annual Trip to ZooLights Brightens Residents’ Day (and Night!)

First Place–Phoenix residents, Transition Academy students and staff enjoyed fun visits to the 125-acre Phoenix Zoo and its ever-popular and much-beloved annual ZooLights event this month, taking in lots of bright lights, including many new light displays, throughout the property and around the animal enclosures before watching many of the critters wrap up their day—or come out for the night.

Chef Charleen Shares Her Culinary Crafts

First Place–Phoenix residents enjoyed another visit from Chef Charleen this month, thanks to a Neighborhood Grant from the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. At almost the halfway point in her time with us, she noted steady progress in the culinary skills of all participating residents, along with their confidence to try new things. The shared experience has also strengthened friendships through teamwork and side-by-side meal preparation, as well as those all-important clean-up protocols!

According to Charleen Badman, founder and owner of the renowned FnB restaurant in Scottsdale and 2019 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef–Southwest, “When I came for my first visit, we worked on knife skills and made a salad that no one ate. This month, we made citrus chicken with a side salad using lots of fresh ingredients that we had had planted together in the [First Place] garden—and we had lots of ‘clean plate club’ members. It’s amazing to see them get excited about preparing healthy meals. And I love when they come to the kitchen with fresh ideas of their own.”

Planting Seeds: Rooting in Mindfulness for Thriving Communities

Students, teachers, practitioners and lifelong learners are invited to join ASU’s Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience for its third annual conference March 25 and 26 at the A.E. England Building in Phoenix. Explore the foundations of mindfulness for building and maintaining healthy communities. First Place–Phoenix was the site of last year’s conference, when several of our staff members participated—and benefitted!

Sixth Annual “Night to Shine” Prom Night is Feb. 7

It’s coming up on that time of year again! Time to dress up for a special night of glitz and glam, not to mention dancing and celebrating with friends and peers. First Place–Phoenix residents are eagerly awaiting Tim Tebow Foundation’s sixth annual “Night to Shine” on Friday, Feb. 7—an unforgettable prom night experience for members of special populations ages 14 and older. First Place staff will be on hand again this year to help the ladies with hair and make-up and the gentlemen to look their handsome best. Night to Shine is now an international celebration for approximately 100,000 guests welcomed by 200,000 volunteers at 655 churches around the world. 

Interested in a sponsorship opportunity to help make memories of a lifetime for our residents on this special night? Your support would mean the world—to us all! Click here for details. And thank you for your consideration!

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