Newsletter – May 2024

Ah, the Polished Pageantry of Prom!

Prom season is always a popular time at First Place–Phoenix when residents can enjoy socializing, having fun—and dancing the night away! It all started with shopping for just the right outfit before the big day when staff and other volunteers gathered for hands-on help with hair, nails and tie-tying. Then it was off to Ability360 in Phoenix for dining, dancing and delightful distractions for the Starry Night theme. Everyone enjoyed delicious fare (and the pièces de résistance for dessert…éclairs!) at tables graced with resident-made, light-up cloud centerpieces. The night was topped off with prizes awarded to Kevin, Emily and Chris B. for dancing the most! 💃🏻🕺🏻 See everyone next year!

Engaging Law Enforcement to Reinforce Trust

First Place–Phoenix residents and staff recently paid a visit to the Goodyear Police Department as part of First Place’s ongoing law enforcement engagement program. Spending time with officers provides the opportunity for mutual understanding, respect and trust to educate 1) adults with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities (A/I/DD) about the role of law enforcement in the community and 2) officers about how to effectively and safely communicate with adults with A/I/DD during any potential interaction. We’ve also spent time with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Gilbert Police Department. Thanks, Goodyear P.D., for spending valuable time with us!

Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division has also teamed up with DPS and University of Arizona to help autistic drivers navigate encounters with police if they’re pulled over. Learn more.

Another SARRC Breakfast for the History Books

The 2024 SARRC Community Breakfast drew crowds of supporters—including First Place AZ Founder and President/CEO Denise D. Resnik—bright and early to the Arizona Biltmore. Decked out in her Vote the Spectrum T-shirt, Denise stands with with Arizona Senator Flavio Bravo (at Denise’s right in photo at right), who championed a specialty autism license plate bill with First Place AZ and SARRC which Governor Katie Hobbs signed into law last month.

Arizona Leaders Are Listening to First Place

Thank you, ArizonaSenator Mark Kelly, for taking the time to meet with members of the First Place Global Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. to discuss new and innovative ways to address the health and wellness needs of individuals with A/I/DD. Our research and development team is also actively working with Arizona leaders—including U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema and U.S. Representative Greg Stanton—to develop an inclusive, responsive clinic model informing the broader healthcare system, ensuring no one is medically misunderstood oruntreated because of their disability diagnosis. We‘re grateful for their help in paving the way!

Vote the Spectrum to Conduct Second Workshop June 25

First Place AZ is partnering with Ability360 in Phoenix, where Vote the Spectrum will host a second voter accessibility workshop, “Spark the Spectrum,” from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25. Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer will join us for this special two-hour event to familiarize individuals with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities with the voting process and accommodations. Ability360 empowers all people with disabilities in innovative ways to live more independently within the community. First Place launched Vote the Spectrum in October 2023—and it continues to build momentum. Read more about this important community event and sign up here.

Chicago-Style Inspiration and Collaboration

Members of the First Place Global Leadership Institute recently landed in Chicago to meet with remarkable leaders and experience the area’s historic, new and promising residential properties and life skills, employment and enrichment programs. We found sources of inspiration and collaboration at innovative, like-minded organizations like Urban Autism Solutions, Keshet, Our Place, Misericordia, Autonomy Works, Center for Enriched Living and Jewish Family & Children Services. 

We thank our enterprising colleagues and their amazing residents and clients for the gracious hospitality. We greatly appreciated the chance to explore how together we can build a sustainable marketplace to ensure residential and community options are as bountiful for adults with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities as they are for everyone else. 

Alive and Well!

When it comes to creative crafting, K2 Adventures Foundation always comes through for First Place–Phoenix. Residents gathered for a Mother’s Day project to choose among spring blooms and add their own unique touches to flower baskets for some very special moms.

First Place–Phoenix offers many avenues for creativity. Judging by a recent activity in our Space to Create, there are boulevards, streets and roads, too! Watch as residents create their own personal street signs—with designs that went in every possible direction. Honk if you love making art!

Residents recently journeyed into new territory with pizza—cooked on the grill! The fearless and ever-popular Chef Titina returned to lead the way, offering residents the chance to add unusual ingredients like chimichurri, blue cheese and chorizo colorado. Judging by their reactions, they may never settle for plain old pepperoni again!

Sunday socials are always a recipe for a good time—and good food! A May gathering featured fresh fare and fellowship as everyone worked together to whip up and enjoy a delicious meal in the culinary teaching kitchen, where there’s always a sense of community on the menu.

With inspiration provided by the Joey Lowenstein Family Foundation and our Space to Create provided by the Leibowitz Family & Friends, residents celebrated National Creativity Day with paint, poetry and pride!

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