Newsletter – September 2021

September marks three years since our public housewarming event at First Place–Phoenix. Members from our amazing and ever-growing, supportive community came together full of hope to support First Place residents, families, staff and partners for this huge milestone that has set us on a path of building “a diverse community of pride, purpose and endless possibilities.”

10th Symposium a Milestone for First Place

We’re busy gearing up for our 10th First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium delivered in person and via webinar October 13–15. Participants can benefit from decades of research and community-building know-how, along with experiences and strategies for navigating opportunities and challenges inherent in real estate and community development.

We’re also excited that a powerful, in-depth three-day program will help build like-minded pioneers’ momentum for more supportive communities, vision, funding needs and healthy outcomes—and inspire and engage others to be part of changing the world for those we serve.

A special kickoff event is planned for the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 13, when we’ll be screening In A Different Key: The Movie, the extraordinary, new documentary about autism featuring Phoenix, First Place and SARRC. Movie time is 3 p.m. at the Arizona Center AMC Theatres. Register today!

Say “Yes!” to YES Day for Autism

We’re excited to join the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) for their first-ever YES Day for Autism.™ Join us on Sunday, Oct. 24 from 8 a.m. to noon at Tempe Beach Park for this new, free and fun event focused on raising funds, awareness and acceptance in Arizona.

SARRC has retired its partnership with the annual Autism Speaks Walk and is introducing YES Day for Autism—a chance to come together to proudly celebrate what’s possible when we work together and share resources to say “yes” to people with autism and their families. And all dollars raised in Arizona stay in Arizona!

Everyone is invited and encouraged to join our efforts: families, friends, partners and the community at large who are driven by a desire to create more supportive, inclusive communities for people with autism. Lots of fun activities are planned for all ages, so mark your calendars!

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust’s Multi-Million Dollar Surprise

September was a great month for our community—but specifically for First Place AZ and moving the needle on advancements in housing and community development for people with autism and other neurodiversities—thanks to the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust’s beyond-generous, surprise awards to Valley nonprofits. We are so very grateful for the Trust’s unwavering support and the chance to succeed as we work together to be more resilient during these challenging times and well into the future.

First Place Residents Back Out and About

With the high vaccination rate of First Place–Phoenix residents and staff, everyone is eager to get out and participate in group community life activities. A recent outing includes the Immersive Van Gogh Experience Phoenix (with COVID-19 protocols in place). Thanks to the generosity of a First Place donor, participants enjoyed amazing special effects while surrounded by some of the renowned artist’s most famous works—including Starry Night and Sunflowers—accompanied by music from the Italian pianist Luca Longobardi. This was their first major group outing in many, MANY months—and a unique way to take in some of the world’s most iconic artwork.

First Place Residents Huddle Up!

First Place–Phoenix residents and Transition Academy students recently enjoyed their first flag football session with Mikey’s League, a local organization that fosters inclusivity in sports so that everyone, regardless of ability, can experience the joys of accomplishment—especially in a team setting. For the next eight weeks, participants will practice their flag football skills and increase their training capacity before a weekly Friday game alongside other neurodiverse and neurotypical teens and adults. Everyone is ready to bring their A game!

“…My Work Is Never Done.”

In First Place Founder and President/CEO Denise Resnik’s latest blog, “Building Community with All the Right Pieces,” she explores the importance of continuing to build supportive communities, ensuring their foundations are strong and resilient to meet the needs of diverse special populations—and Legos figure into the equation!

Kind It Forward Initiatives Moving…Forward!

Kind It Forward, our ongoing community kindness initiative, has given everyone a chance to get back out and make a difference through group activities, including organizations like the Arizona Animal Welfare League (spending time with and walking furry friends) and Ben’s Bells (making ornaments for the gift shop). More outings are planned for the fall and into the holiday season, thanks to the efforts of our very busy community life coordinator!

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