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F.O.R. Maricopa

F.O.R. Maricopa is purchasing the Red Barn and adjacent property as a future home for the food bank. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

After months of uncertainty, the F.O.R Maricopa Food Bank has secured land for its new location.

Construction of the future food bank building is estimated to be completed within six months to a year on property adjacent to the Maricopa Business Barn, according to F.O.R. Director Wendy Webb.

“We are designing as we speak. It will be a big metal building. Our goal is still to offer a drive-through,” Webb said.

This week the food bank purchased the red business barn, as well as property next to the building for $220,000 with help from an Ak-Chin grant and money the charity has been saving.

Webb did not say how much construction of the new building would cost, but did say the city government has offered to help the food bank in other ways.

“The City of Maricopa has been very strong in saying they want to help facilitate this in the best way they can,” Webb said. “Our very pre-preliminary meetings – all the way up to the mayor – have been to support getting us through the process because moving was not our idea.”

F.O.R. was forced from its original location on Garvey Avenue at John Wayne Parkway in May due to future construction of the nearby State Route 347 overpass.

Arizona Department of Transportation purchased the building from Pinal County earlier this year, but the portion of compensation the food bank will receive from it is still unknown.

“We’re waiting to see what ADOT will be able to come forward with; we are hoping that’s a fairly significant amount,” Webb said.

In May, the food bank moved to a temporary location, a 900-square-foot rented room, across the street from its original building.

“We’re happy that we’ve been able to at least get that far, but we’re hoping we can find another space that can be a little bigger until we move,” Webb said.

Throughout the transition, the food bank will still operate a drive-up service at 19756 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 108, on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Webb, who is also the new landlord for the business barn, said the building will stay open.

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Maricopa's floodplain designations have been an obstacle to development of the Heritage District.

The city council voted Tuesday to apply for grant money to conduct a floodplain analysis instead of assisting a local food bank with relocation costs.

The decision to fund a floodplain analysis of the Heritage District, instead of assisting the relocation of F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, came after a contentious debate over where the funds would best serve the city.

The money in question, an approximate $265,000 Community Development Block Grant, is a biannual federal grant awarded to the city through the state and is meant to aid community development needs, in particular the needs of low- and moderate-income persons.

Both the floodplain analysis and the food bank relocation meet the CDBG requirements, a fact which became the main source of contention.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terri Crain spoke on behalf of F.O.R. as the organization’s volunteer director, Wendy Webb, was unable to attend the council meeting. Crain pled for the funds she said would go to assist in the purchasing of property and the construction of a new building.

“If the food bank closes its doors, there will be a serious and immediate threat to the welfare of this community,” Crain said. “For those of you who know what we do, and how it helps our community, you realize that they [F.O.R.] are an essential service in town.”

The council, despite Crain’s urgings, opted to fund the floodplain analysis for multiple reasons. The city’s ability to bring a considerable portion of the Heritage District out of the floodplain is likely the weightiest.

Mayor Christian Price said the choice was not an easy one to make. The decision, he said, came down to the long-term benefits of development for the city.

“That’s kind of an issue for everybody in this area based on a 2007 post-Katrina world, it’s stuck,” Price said. “They can’t adjust their home, they can’t fix it, they can’t tear it down, its grandfathered in, but if you’re a business and you want to come in and create something there, what are you going to do for the floodplain?”

If the analysis deems any part of the Heritage District to be within one foot of the required elevation to be considered safe from flooding, it is possible numerous homes could be removed from the floodplain designation. That elevation could help property owners in the Heritage District, a large number of which are low to moderate-income, sell their homes and increase the value of their properties.

CDBG funds have, in the past, been used to help similar organizations like F.O.R.

Against Abuse found a home in Maricopa because of its access to CDBG funds.

Councilmember Vince Manfredi attempted to highlight the importance of the floodplain analysis by saying he would have voted for it instead of helping Against Abuse had the analysis been an option two years ago.

“If [Against Abuse] was up against the Heritage District Floodplain Analysis that would pull all these people out of the floodplain,” Manfredi said, “I would have voted for the Heritage District Analysis that would have pulled all the people out of the flood plain.”

Councilmember Nancy Smith was the lone advocate for using CDBG funds to help the food bank relocate. Others voiced support for the food bank, but instead voted for the analysis, saying it was the more “common sense” thing to do.

Smith wanted to find a way to do both by using some of the city’s $1 million in Contingency Funds to pay for the analysis. That option would, however, be difficult given that the city is about to transition into the next fiscal year.

The council, in the end, unanimously approved the use CDBG funds for the floodplain analysis.

The food bank has temporarily moved its offices to 19756 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 108, leaving the former county jail building that will be removed to make way for the overpass.

Volunteers remove nonperishable goods from the old county sheriff substation that has been serving as F.O.R. Maricopa's food bank. Photo by Mason Callejas

One of Maricopa’s staple social services presented a heartfelt plea to the city council Tuesday, seeking financial assistance for its forced relocation due to the State Route 347 overpass project set to begin this year.

Representatives of F.O.R. Maricopa food bank asked the council if they would consider helping the organization permanently relocate by granting them funds as part of a Community Development Block Grant program the city may be awarded this summer.

F.O.R. Maricopa volunteer Chuck Morene points across the street to the Maricopa Manor plaza, where the food bank will temporarily place goods until it finds a new home. Photo by Mason Callejas

The $265,000 HUD grant is designed to help low- to medium-income communities implement development projects.

Robert Livingston addressed the council on behalf of food bank Director Wendy Webb, asking them to consider granting the funds to their organization.

Livingston showed little restraint in describing the current plight of the food bank, saying they are “fighting for its life.”

The CDBG funds would only cover about a quarter of what it would take to find the organization a permanent home. An assessment of a site being considered as a likely location has a current price of tag of nearly $1 million, including clean-up and construction.

“We are currently looking at the property with the Red Barn,” Webb said. “We would build something brand new, just a basic metal structure, nothing fancy.”

According to Webb, the current structure on the property is unsuitable for remodeling and thus would need to be completely replaced.

If the city comes through with the grant, Webb said, they will still need to continue searching for a benefactor to help cover the cost gap.

As is true with others forced to relocate due to the overpass, Webb is hoping the Arizona Department of Transportation will consider the organization’s needs and help them cover the costs of their move.

The exact amount they will contribute is unknown at this time. However, Webb thinks it may be somewhere around $500,000, and she is confident they will do the right thing.

“They [ADOT] could actually end up being the hero in this situation,” Webb said. “When it comes down to displacing something like a food bank in a town with no resources, it makes it a little bit harder story to hear.”

Shelves stand empty at the F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, which is moving to a temporary site until it can find a permanent home. Photo by Mason Callejas

F.O.R. received an accelerated move-out notice that sent them scrambling to find a temporary home. They found that temporary location across John Wayne Parkway in the Maricopa Manor shopping center behind Great Western Bank on the northwest corner of Garvey Road and John Wayne Parkway.

Though their relocation was imminent, the exact move-out date, May 4, was dropped on them suddenly, according to Chuck Morene, a volunteer with the food bank. Without proper notice, he said, they were forced to suspend services on Thursday and will suspend them again on Monday while they quickly move to their temporary location.

The temporary food bank is considerably smaller than their previous location, according to Morene. With less than 900 square feet of usable space, the food bank will have to stop providing perishable products like meat and other things that require refrigeration.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Several recipients, who all wished to remain anonymous, were upset there was no notification given to them about the relocation date or the fact they would no longer be providing perishables.

A notification was posted on the food bank’s Facebook page. However, several recipients laughed when told that saying, “if I could afford a computer, I wouldn’t be in line here [at the food bank].”

Most of those who showed up Thursday were still given a small amount of food from a cache of items volunteers left behind specifically for those who might show up unaware and be in need.

As another resource, the First Baptist Church of Maricopa offers a small food bank (contact them for hours of operation). If transportation is not an issue, there are multiple food banks in Casa Grande and Chandler.

Maricopa City Council is scheduled to have a public hearing on the CDBG application on June 6.

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Felipe and Ruth Sanchez were the first in line. Photo by Michelle Chance

By Michelle Chance

An “emergency donut vehicle” arrived in Maricopa, Wednesday, after the community rallied on social media for Hurts Donut Company to travel south from their location in Tempe and sell the pastries out of their food truck.

On the Facebook page for the company’s Tempe location, residents successfully persuaded Hurts to make the trip to Maricopa over other cities.

“Maricopa was the loudest,” said Matthew Berry, co-owner.

Yesterday, Hurts Donut Co. received a quick one-day turn-around from the city approving the licensing and permitting for the event.
The doughnuts were scheduled to arrive at the parking lot north of Children’s Learning Adventure at noon today, but ran about 15 minutes late. A line formed at 11 a.m., and grew to an impressive crowd by the time the truck showed up.

Maricopa residents Felipe and Ruth Sanchez were the first in line and said the doughnuts were worth the wait.

All 150 dozen doughnuts were expected to be sold during the event, dubbed “The Black Friday of Donuts,” with 10 percent of the proceeds benefitting F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank.

F.O.R. has 2 months to find new home

F.O.R. Maricopa's current building, a former county jail, is in the path of the overpass, and the organization needs a new home. Photo by Michelle Chance

By Michelle Chance

With construction of the overpass looming, F.O.R. Maricopa food bank Director Wendy Webb said Arizona Department of Transportation has given the organization until early May to vacate its current location on John Wayne Parkway at Garvey Avenue.

ADOT will demolish the building, formerly a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office substation and jail, to make way for the overpass.

Related story: Overpass-caused demolition, relocation becoming reality

This extension comes after ADOT imposed two prior deadlines on the food bank. Webb said the department originally told her the food bank would need to leave by the end of March. Then, Webb said ADOT moved the date up to the end of February, prompting an anxious search for a new location.

“We’ve been frantically looking,” she said.

Although the deadline has been postponed, a new location has still not been found.

Webb said she is considering two temporary locations. The first is across from the court house, and the second is inside the red business barn.

However, neither site appears to be a long-term option. Webb said she will continue to look for a permanent solution as she works with city and county governments to figure out funding options for the food bank.

Webb leases the building from Pinal County and hopes to receive a portion of the money ADOT is paying the county for improvements she put into the building years ago.

The Maricopa Business Barn is one option for a temporary location for the food bank. Photo by Michelle Chance
The Maricopa Business Barn is one option for a temporary location for the food bank. Photo by Michelle Chance

The city is working with Webb to sublet a temporary location to the food bank.

Throughout the experience, Webb said ADOT’s communication and timelines have been inconsistent and problematic.

“Their communication is challenging, but in a case like this it could put us out of business,” she said.

F.O.R. Maricopa serves 100,000 meals a year, including people from surrounding towns whose communities do not have a central food bank.

Webb doesn’t think the other non-profit organizations in Maricopa could handle the 500 to 600 families per week the food bank serves if it was to shutter.

Another temporary option is a lot across from the courthouse. Photo by Michelle Chance
Another temporary option is a lot across from the courthouse. Photo by Michelle Chance

“This would really devastate this town if we were gone, but sometimes that’s what has to happen before it gets real enough for people,” Webb said.

ADOT spokesman Tom Herrmann said the department is “doing everything possible to assist the food bank during this time,” including paying $25,900 toward the cost of moving.


This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

It’s a light week of activities this week in Maricopa, with the focus on New Year’s Eve on Saturday, which brings a major fund-raiser for F.O.R. Maricopa. For details on these and other events, or to add your own, visit InMaricopa.com/Calendar.


TUESDAY

Coffee with Friends of the Maricopa Library is at 1:30 p.m. at Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road.

Celebrate Recovery Coffee & Karaoke is at 5 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

Celebrate Recovery Large & Small Group Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Maricopa Community Church, 44977 W. Hathaway Ave.

WEDNESDAY

Harrah’s Club 777 Toastmasters meet at 3 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.

THURSDAY

A Ray of Hope meeting of Narcotics Anonymous is at 7 p.m. at Ak-Chin Social Services, 48227 W. Farrell Road.

FRIDAY

Strength & Hope Al-Anon Meeting is at 7 p.m. at Community of Hope Church, 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.

SATURDAY

Mother Mercy is on stage in The Lounge at 8 p.m. at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road.

“Casino Royale” F.O.R. Maricopa New Year’s Eve Ball Fundraiser is from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle, 16000 N. Maricopa Road.

Jeff Gardner is organizing a 5K to benefit F.O.R. Maricopa as his Eagle Scout project.

A Maricopa teen is organizing a 5K run to benefit the F.O.R. Maricopa food bank.

Jeff Gardner, 17, a student at Sequoia Pathway Academy, is working on an Eagle Scout project.

“It is to help restock after Christmas when the shelves get empty,” Jeff said.

Calling it the Maricopa Food-Raiser, he plans a 5K run and one-mile fun run/walk. Entry in the 1-mile run is three cans of food. To compete in the 5K, bring five cans. The food goes “straight to the food bank,” he said.

The event is Jan. 21 at Copper Sky Regional Park. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. The one-mile run sets off at 7:45 a.m., and the 5K starts at 8 a.m.

To re-register or to volunteer for the event, contact Jeff between 3 and 7 p.m. at 480-772-0864.

The Golf Cart Cavalcade in Province benefited the local food bank. Submitted

This year the Province subdivision celebrated its second annual Golf Cart Parade and Food Drive on Sunday Dec. 4, to help F.O.R. Maricopa food bank gear up for the holidays.

On the first Sunday of December a cavalcade of 24 golf carts, some decorated and some not, rambled up and down the luminaria-lined Darter Drive collecting items for the food bank.

Residents served hot food and drinks out of their garages to neighbors and participants.

Dave Bock started this parade last year not just as a way to help the needy but as a way to bring his community together.

“The object of the golf cart parade is to, one, have fun, and, two, collect just as much food as you can for the food bank,” Bock said. “Last year we collected 1,710 pounds. This year we collected 2,309 pounds of food.”

That was in spite of having half a dozen fewer carts this year.

The winner was Dennis McCormac. Photo by Donna McGregor
The winner was Dennis McCormac. Photo by Donna McGregor

Later that night a truck showed up from the food bank and was loaded down with the goodies. Six volunteers from the neighborhood then went with the truck to the food bank to help unload.

“It was a real challenge to get all that picked up. Some carts made three or four trips,” Bock said.

 

Maricopa ACE Hardware employees welcome the F.O.R. Maricopa delivery truck. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Summers are always tough for F.O.R. Maricopa, but this summer has been particularly so.

As with most food banks, the nonprofit gains attention mostly around the holidays. Director Wendy Webb, staff and volunteers eke out the hot months when donations dry up and many contributors head for cooler climes.

Added to the stress this year is the near certain necessity of finding a new location within the next six months. The construction of an overpass, as now planned, will force the razing of the former county sheriff’s substation that F.O.R. Maricopa uses to store and distribute goods.

“Summer is usually our lean season, so we reached out to our big supporters and they understood the implications,” Webb said. “They really came up with some creative ways to support us.”

Sponsoring organizations like ACE Hardware, Orbitel Communications, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center and Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino are thanked by having their logos placed on the side of the F.O.R. Maricopa delivery truck and having their pictures taken with the truck.

According to F.O.R., the truck allows FOR Maricopa the ability to pick-up fresh food and produce from local grocery stores such as Fry’s, Bashas and Wal-Mart and from a few locations such as Costco, Wal-Mart and Target in Chandler. The ability to offer fresh food (not just canned goods) is an important factor.

“Without the consistent sponsors, we just can’t do it,” Webb said. “Without regular money coming in, providing free is challenging.”

Sponsors have not only donated to the food bank but their employees have also hosted food drives to help stock the shelves.

“Business has a local responsibility to aid everyone in our community, and certainly … give back and help those in need,” UltraStar General Manager Adam Saks said.

Outreach by F.O.R. has also rounded up ideas for bringing in more money. That has included grants, fund-raisers and new ways to help. Maricopa ACE Hardware’s “Roundup” in June, rounding up customer purchase totals and donating the difference, brought in more than $2,400.

“What we found was the community still really cares and still wants this nonprofit providing what if feels is an essential service,” Webb said.

While F.O.R. Maricopa is “still trying to figure out what the options are” for a new location, Webb is also planning new ways to raise funds.

That includes a program called “1,000 Heroes,” an effort to draw $100 per person, and a nonprofit tax credit that allows individuals to apply up to $200 of their tax bill to a donation to F.O.R. Maricopa.

“We are really focusing on the tax credit,” Webb said. “If 250 people in town donated their tax credit, that’s $50,000. That’s huge.”

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The team gets ready to move the food they collected to a volunteer's car for F.O.R. Maricopa. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School football team challenged themselves to collect their weight in food to donate to F.O.R. Maricopa’s food bank. They went door to door and to supermarkets to ask for donations to the cause. The Rams said it was an opportunity to give back to the community that has supported them. The season starts Aug. 19 at Willow Canyon in Surprise.

The Rams display the nonperishable food items the collected in Maricopa for the food bank. Photo by William Lange
The Rams display the nonperishable food items the collected in Maricopa for the food bank. Photo by William Lange

Andy Buckband unloads food behind F.O.R. Maricopa, a food bank which may or may not be in the path of a planned overpass.

“We have to get prepared for what the future looks like for us.”

When Wendy Webb talks about the plans of F.O.R. Maricopa, the founder and director of the food bank has to use a lot of question marks. The pending railroad overpass on State Route 347 is a big part of that uncertainty.

Webb does not know if F.O.R. (Food, Opportunity and Resources) Maricopa will have to move or will simply have its access changed dramatically. Relocation seems highly likely, and the nonprofit’s board is looking at options.

F.O.R. Maricopa has a 10-year lease with Pinal County for the building it occupies at 44625 W. Garvey next to Maricopa Fire District administration buildings, the Park & Ride parking lot and a county air-quality monitor.

It is also next to John Wayne Parkway. The building was a sheriff’s office substation and jail before Maricopa incorporated. F.O.R. Maricopa put about $100,000 into the building to fit its needs.

“My understanding is that they do have to help get you into something similar that you can afford,” Webb said. “There doesn’t appear to exist anything like that that I’m aware of.”

Webb asked former mayor Kelly Anderson, who recently finished his tenure on the State Transportation Board, to try to get more recent estimates from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

“So far, it’s still pretty general because the plan is in flux,” she said.
FOR-maricopa
In their design for the overpass, ADOT engineers are working off a so-called Alternative H approach while trying to avoid as many businesses and homes as possible. A most recent concept shows the MFD buildings being spared along with the food bank.

“We still have to have business access, so I think that might be one of our biggest challenges,” Webb said. “If we are saved, how do you get to us?”

ADOT personnel called Webb to discuss the organization’s needs. “We’ve spoken in generic terms,” she said. “We don’t really know. I don’t think anybody knows. I think it probably changes weekly.”

Despite the uncertainty, F.O.R. Maricopa is looking at options in case it has to move.

“We’ve been out there looking for land,” Webb said. “We found on the back side of McDavid behind the high school there is some property there that is really not that far out for us and it’s owned by some investors. So we did talk to two investors to see if they would be willing to parcel out three acres for us so we would have enough room for parking. They said they were open to discussions.”

The board is also looking into land that could become available as a result of construction work at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, owned by the Ak-Chin Indian Community.

“They’re trying to figure out what they don’t need in the future and would that be something they could give us for a temporary place to live until we could afford to build or whatever,” Webb said. “We’re still working with them to see what they think they’ll have available. It was a lovely surprise. I had no idea.”

F.O.R. Maricopa is not banking on either of those possibilities. But Webb has confidence the food bank’s most reliable supporters will step up to help once a plan is finally in place.

“We’re trying to come up with options to make the costs as low as possible in case there is no place for us to go,” Webb said.


This story appeared in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Executive Director Wendy Webb has been trying to find options if the food bank has to move.
Executive Director Wendy Webb has been trying to find options if the food bank has to move.

Residents line up for Thanksgiving food boxes at F.O.R. Maricopa. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank passed out 450 turkeys and meal boxes to local families during their annual turkey drive Tuesday afternoon.

After boxing up the dry ingredients on Saturday, dozens of volunteers came out to pass out the meals to families in need. For the first time, the food bank instituted a drive through pick-up, and the system allowed volunteers to keep the event organized and constantly flowing.

“We’re giving out (450) Thanksgiving dinners to all of our clients,” F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank volunteer Claudia Goldmer said. “This is actually the first time we’ve done the drive through, and it’s working out wonderfully. It’s very fast and very efficient, so we’re getting people done and through.”

As the city of Maricopa grows, so does the need for meals provided by the food bank. The 450 turkeys and food boxes the food bank gathered are the most they have had for one giveaway.

““We’ve grown a little bit every couple of years,” F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank Executive Director Wendy Webb said. “We increase a bit more [each year] because of the need, but we’re probably about maxed right about now for what we can do.”

The turkey drive lasted from noon to 2 p.m. at the F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank location at 44625 W. Garvey Ave. Tuesday afternoon.

F.O.R. Maricopa benefited from a haunted house in Acacia Crossings. Submitted photo

Maricopa resident Matthew Eisele created a haunted house out of his Acacia Crossings home for Halloween.

It wasn’t just for fun. It also benefited F.O.R. Maricopa. Entry to the haunted house styled after the Friday the 13th movie set was a donated item of nonperishable food.

“I do have a desire to thank the residents of Maricopa for coming out and bringing their donations to support the local food bank of Maricopa,” Eisele said.

The haunted house created a line down the block of trick-or-treaters willing to be terrified. It also created a stack of food. He said several hundred people came through.

“We are thinking of doing this again next year, but with a different theme and different style,” Eisele said.

The collection drive at F.O.R. Maricopa for the Pena family met some but not all needs. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The fund-raising effort from the Maricopa Real Estate Company and F.O.R. Maricopa brought new furniture, clothing and home repairs to Vivian and Manuel Peña.

The Peña family has been raising 12 of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the last 13 years. Currently, 10 children still live in their home, but two are young (ages 5 and 7) and require upgraded conditions in order to accommodate stipulations set forth by the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

In order to ensure the Peñas can keep their great-grandchildren, F.O.R. Maricopa and Maricopa Real Estate Company hosted a donation drive.

“I would say it went well on furniture and clothing,” F.O.R. Maricopa Chief Executive Officer Wendy Webb said. “We remain hopeful we can get more cash in for the repairs and the other trailer.  Flooring is going in and the paint is on the walls. We are working on plumbing and air conditioning.”

The housing rehabilitation was spearheaded by MREC Associate Broker Jay Shaver. He and his associates have been working to bring their current home up-to-date, as well as bring another trailer onto the property.

“We are on track to finish the rehab this weekend with the goal to move in all the newly donated items and stage the home for the Pena’s return on Tuesday,” Shaver said.

The funding hasn’t come in for a new trailer yet, but the food bank and Maricopa Real Estate Company will be accepting donations through the holidays.

“We will need to work hard again to get a separate trailer,” Webb said. “This will take longer to accomplish.”

The Pena family needs help keeping 10 children. A donation drive is set up for Saturday. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa Real Estate Company and the F.O.R. Maricopa will join forces on Saturday to host a donation drive for Vivian and Manuel Peña.

For the last 13 years, the elderly couple has brought 12 of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren into their four-bedroom home. Currently, 10 children still live in their home. They have used every penny they made and receive from social security to keep the children with food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs and a roof over their head.

SEE THEIR STORY HERE

In an effort to provide assistance to the Peña family, as well as delay any decision by Department of Child Safety to remove the youngest children, the F.O.R. Maricopa and the Maricopa Real Estate Company have teamed up help.

On Saturday, the food bank will accept donations of clothes, furniture, money and goods at their location at 44625 W. Garvey Ave. from 9 a.m. to noon. The Maricopa Real Estate Company will also host a donation drive for small goods and monetary donations at their location at 21300 N. John Wayne Parkway from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

According to F.O.R. Maricopa, the Peña family needs:

Money to help fix their current home and find another trailer to put on their property for their daughter and her children to live in.
Furniture:
–    4 twin beds
–    Kitchen table
–    Kitchen island
–    Couches
–    Dressers
Clothes:
–    5T shirts and size 10 shoes
–    Size 7 or 8 pants and shirts, and size 13 shoes
–    Size 10 to 12 shirts and pants, and size 5 shoes
–    Large shirt and 28×30 pants, and size 7.5 shoes
–    Medium shirt and 28×32 pants, and size 8.5 shoes
–    Medium shirts and 30×30 pants
Girls Clothes:
–    Small, medium and large shirts
–    Size 6, 6.5, 7.5, 8 and 8.5 shoes
–    Size 16 pants and 14 to 16 shirts
Household items:
–    8 sets of twin sheets
–    3 sets of queen sheets
–    10 to 15 bath towels
–    Kitchen towels
–    Wash clothes
–    10 blankets or twin comforters
–    3 queen comforters
–    7 sets of 58 inch by 45.5 inch curtains (blackout to hold out heat is best)
–    4 sets of 58 inch by 29 inch curtains (blackout to hold out heat is best)
–    1 set of 25 inch by 28 inch curtains (blackout to hold out heat is best)

Peña family simply wants to keep the children at home with family.

“Anything helps,” Vivian Peña said.

pena-needs

Vivian Peña shows some of the sleeping situations for a family of 12 in a small home south of Maricopa. Photo by Adam Wolfe.

Vivian and Manuel Peña gave up their golden years to raise a total of 13 grandchildren and great-grandchildren after tragedy struck their family.

Vivian and Manuel were born and raised in Arizona. They met while working in the fields and were married as teenagers. They worked hard to build a comfortable life for themselves, and planned to retire in peace. However, due to tragic circumstances, they now raise 10 of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren in their four-bedroom home.

Nearly 13 years ago, the Peña family one of their five daughters to a stroke. Since the father of her children had taken his own life a year before, Vivian and Manuel didn’t hesitate to take their grandchildren into their home.

Four years after the sudden loss of their daughter, they had another daughter run into legal issues, and her seven children needed a place to stay. Once again, Vivian and Manuel opened up their home.

“I’ve had them for 13 years now,” Vivian Pena said. “They’re like my kids. Not my grandkids or my great-grandkids, but my kids. I don’t think they’d be happy anywhere else.”

Just as the grandchildren were starting to grow up and leave the house, one of the Pena’s grandchildren ran into legal troubles of her own, and her six children also needed a place to stay. However, Vivian and Manuel were only able to bring two of the children into their home. Their niece was able to take in two more, but sadly, two of the children were sent into the foster care system.

“It broke my heart to only be able to get two, but at least I can see two of the other children as well,” Vivian Pena said.

Due to the young age (5 and 7) of the two great-grandchildren, the Arizona Department of Child Safety has monitored their living conditions closely. DCS determined changes would need to be made to the Pena’s home if the young boys were going to live there.

“My house is too small for all of us,” Vivian Peña said. “They want my daughter to move and take her (six) kids and for us to stay with our four kids.”

After hearing about the situation, Maricopa Real Estate Company associate broker Jay Shaver decided to put together an action plan to help the family. His initial plan is to bring another home onto the property for the Peña’s daughter and her children to live in. This would provide the needed space, but the cost and bringing in new water and sewage lines could be too much.

In an effort to raise awareness about the Peña family among the community, Maricopa Real Estate Company and  F.O.R. Maricopa have teamed up. On Oct. 10, the Maricopa Real Estate Company will be hosting a fund-raiser at their offices from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for members of the community to drop off goods, clothes or money to help the Pena family. The F.O.R. Maricopa will serve as a drop off for large items such as beds or dressers, while also accepting monetary donations into their Wells Fargo account (#9738586511) online through Pay Pal. Since the account is linked to the food bank, all donations will be tax deductible.

“Anything helps,” Vivian Peña said. “We hope the community can help any way they can. With clothing, cleaning the yard, with food or money; anything they can help with helps us.”

For more details on the Vivian and Manuel Peña’s story, look for the October edition of InMaricopa News, available Thursday.