Scottsdale Salutes swim instructor, nurse Mary Harden

Mary Harden

Mary Harden

Longtime nurse and city volunteer Mary Harden gives her time and expertise to a lot of entities throughout the Valley, but always leaves time to help others – even if it’s only a sliver.

“If you can give just an hour a week, then you have done something,” said Ms. Harden in a Feb. 17 phone interview.

Ms. Harden, a south Scottsdale resident since 1995, lives by that saying.

“It’s really difficult, sometimes. But I get so much more out of it than I feel like I give.”

Ms. Harden volunteers with the city of Scottsdale’s Parks and Recreation Department during swim season, and is also a health promotion clinical director for the Special Olympics of Arizona. She also serves on a credit union’s board of directors and is an elected official among other things.

She acts as a senior swim mentor, a program open to residents over the age of 55. The two-week sessions run Monday through Thursday, beginning every spring and last throughout the summer.

“I love the staff here, they are phenomenal,” said Ms. Harden of the Eldorado Aquatics Center. She will be starting her fourth year with the program this spring.

“The good Lord has blessed me in many ways, I just want to give back,” she said. “If I can help one person swim and save a life, then I have done my job.”

She got involved in the program when she was at the Boys and Girls Club on Miller Road across from Coronado High School.

“I was just in the office and I saw this thing for swim mentors, so I filled out an application,” Ms. Harden said.

Ms. Harden was not a competitive swimmer, but was on a synchronized swimming team during her high school days in Chicago.

“My parents made sure we knew how to swim, almost from birth,” said Ms. Harden. “We were always at the lake.”

In addition to volunteering with the swim program, Ms. Harden is a registered nurse.

“I have been a nurse for almost 38 years. I retired in 2012, and then ran for the Maricopa County Special Healthcare District Board,” said Ms. Harden. “I represent District 1.”

Ms. Harden graduated from Scottsdale Community College as a nurse in 1978.

“In October I was honored to be a guardian on Honor Flight, an organization that takes World War II veterans to the memorial in Washington, D.C.,” said Ms. Harden.

“It humbles you to be with those men and women who gave it all,” said Ms. Harden.

Residents interested in volunteering with the city of Scottsdale should visit

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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