‘Tis the Season 8

Giving Back During the Holidays

There is something magical about the holiday season here in the Valley. That something goes well beyond the sidewalks and streets lined with luminarias and the twinkling lights that adorn saguaros and palm trees just as frequently as they do spruces and evergreens. What is truly special resides within those groups in our community who embody the season of giving, but whose efforts are felt year-round. They may not be in it for the recognition, but we feel they should get a bit.


“Hearing the stories is gut-wrenching, but then you get to know the faces and become thankful to know that they are one of the ones that are saved and given another .” —Ivy Ciolli, co-chair, Childhelp Drive the Dream Gala


Nearly 33,000 Arizona children are victims of abuse. With their national headquarters in Phoenix, Childhelp is hard at work trying to reach every impacted kid they can, which is something they have done since the 1950s. The organization has helped more than 10 million children across the country through programs focused on prevention, intervention and treatment.

Funded primarily through donations and sponsorships, The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1.800.4.A.Child) is staffed 24 hours a day, every day and offers crisis intervention, information and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service and support resources for anyone in need.

Locally, the Childhelp Children’s Advocacy Center of Arizona Dedicated to Linda Pope serves abused and neglected children by providing treatment, intervention and investigation services. Brightly colored with fun paintings on the walls, and stocked full of stuffed animals and toys, every detail of the center was constructed in the spirit of helping each child it serves to feel safe and secure while also providing medical treatment, mental health therapy, efficient investigational resources and victim support services to address the immediate safety.

First Place-Phoenix

“We don’t want to tell people what is possible—we want to show them. People with disabilities have a far greater potential than most people ever thought.” – Denise Resnik, founder and board member, First Place AZ


As children with autism transition into adulthood, they often struggle to find their way in a world where the resources that may have helped them growing up may no longer apply, and their challenges in daily life suddenly have little to no support. Enter First Place-Phoenix, a new $15 million residential property for adults with autism which broke ground last December. Located in Midtown at Third Street and Catalina Drive, the complex will have 55 apartments with varying layouts designed to promote safety and security, and offer a variety of programs that enhance residents’ skills and abilities to live, learn, work and relax.

Slated to open in early summer 2018, First Place-Phoenix will also offer a two-year transition academy in conjunction with Gateway Community College for residents whose ultimate goal is to live more independently, as well as a leadership institute for medical professionals and researchers when it is complete.

Aid to Adoption of Special Kids

“If you can provide a child with a safe, stable relationship with a trusted adult, you can have a positive impact on every other aspect of that child’s life.” – Julie Turko, director of development, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids


Kids placed into the foster system have been through a lot and often find it hard to craft a healthy and trusting relationship with adults as a result. Because of that, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids has made it their mission to ensure every foster child has someone in their lives who cares. Through programs focused on adoption, fostering and mentoring, AASK seeks to match kids with families and individuals best suited to complement their specific individual needs to help them through the process toward stability.

Committed adults who may not be in a position to adopt or foster are making an impact through the mentorship program. Mentors provide dependable companionship while participating in enjoyable activities which can mean so much to kids, and by providing a needed role model, can help set an example for older youth to emulate as they transition into adulthood.