Hundreds of volunteers work to transform Scottsdale girls ranch

It was only fitting that the largest number of volunteers in history showed up for what turned out to be a record-breaking 28th annual Valley Partnership Community Project.

The 2015 community project Saturday at the Florence Crittenton Girls Ranch in Scottsdale drew almost 300 volunteers on the sunny fall day, Nov. 7.  A record 93 corporate sponsors contributed to this year’s event as more than $400,000 was raised to transform the sprawling grounds at the facility.

More than 25 contractors worked onsite for five weeks to prepare for the make-over.

“This has been such a large project and this is an incredible turnout,” said Cheryl Lombard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership. “This is a demonstration of how all these various partners – construction, development and landscaping crews – can work together to improve someone’s future. The committee’s leadership, organization and forethought on this project have been my biggest amazement throughout.”

The day began with opening remarks by Ms. Lombard; City of Scottsdale Vice Mayor David Smith; Maria Baier, senior vice president with the Phoenix Suns; and Dena Jones, community project committee chairwoman. Even the Suns’ Gorilla was there, giving high fives to adults and children in the crowd. Also in attendance were Scottsdale City Councilwomen Linda Milhaven and Virginia Korte.

One of Valley Partnership’s cornerstones is community service.

Each year, it selects a non-profit organization that can benefit from the skills, efforts and supplies provided by its partners to renovate and enhance facilities for children and those in need. Valley Partnership has now contributed more than $4 million to the community through these projects.

“The community project has been a part of Valley Partnership’s DNA for as long as I can remember,” said Valley Partnership vice chair and board member Molly Carson Ryan with Ryan Companies US. “Seeing competitors and people I’ve never worked with before coming together for a common cause is just beautiful.”

For more than 119 years, Florence Crittenton Services of Arizona has been dedicated to serving at-risk and under-served girls and young women.

It provides them with safety, hope, and the opportunity to succeed. It offers services such as safe shelters and basic needs support; comprehensive medical, behavioral, and health services; family counseling; cash assistance; life skills training; job training and placement; education; and child care.

“I’m just so grateful for the hearts of this great partnership and I feel like they really made history today and helped us live out our mission,” said Dr. Kellie M. Warren, CEO of Florence Crittenton Services of Arizona. “The girls are going to have a place where they can have peace and serenity and we would not have been able to offer that if it wasn’t for the partnership.”

On Saturday volunteers built a permanent barbeque with stone veneer; painted a detailed mural that incorporated Florence Crittenton’s mission; rolled out 5,500 square feet of sod and installed 2,400 square feet of artificial grass; spread 220 tons of decomposed granite; planted more than 700 trees, shrubs, flowers and organic vegetables; assembled a large ramada; installed a therapeutic musical instrument and outdoor games; created a rock labyrinth in the shape of a heart; and assembled and painted outdoor furniture.

Olsson Associates produced the master plan design of the project. Leading the way was Kim Kleski, who runs the Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning department at Olsson, a civil engineering and design firm. Ms. Kleski provided master planning, landscape and hardscape design for this year’s community project. She also consulted on pre-construction and construction services.

“We started putting this design together in June,” Ms. Kleski said. “We took a lot into consideration for this design; knowing where the girls that live here have come from and where they are headed, we wanted to help with that vision of their future.”

The outdoor site was specifically designed to provide the girls with areas that would foster expression, hope, guidance, opportunity, unity, strength and reflection. The shaded areas will provide places to sit and will give the girls the opportunity to spend more time outside. The 20-foot ramada will also serve as a gathering area where classes and group meetings can be held.

The residential style rear patio is intended to serve as the girls’ backyard area providing entertainment as well as reflection.

“I am blown away by the generosity of our sponsors and the commitment of the hard-working committee who inspired, designed, fundraised and created our legacy at Florence Crittenton,” said Dena Jones, community project chair with Fidelity National Title Agency. “It was our intention to create a space for the girls that would show them how much they are cared for so it could create an opportunity for them to hold their heads up high as they move forward in their life. I truly believe that we have done that. I was honored to lead this group of dedicated professionals. I am so proud of the teamwork in this initiative.”

Valley Partnership is an industry group that advocates responsible development. It represents the commercial, industrial and master planned real estate development industry.

Editor's Note: Ms. Cantrell is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

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