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F.O.R. Maricopa

Food boxes at Maricopa Pantry. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


By Fran Lyons

Wendy Webb, executive director of F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, hoped to get a portion of the financial aid for food banks that came out of the CARES Act.

But that didn’t happen.

In Arizona most federal funding went to the St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, Feeding America and United Food Bank for allocation. Applying to those food banks for distribution of the funds came with challenges that Webb said exposed its own vulnerabilities.

Masked and gloved volunteers hand out food items from F.O.R. Maricopa food bank’s window during the crisis. Photo by Kyle Norby

What F.O.R. did get was more volunteers. Mentored by senior volunteers, new helpers included retired military personnel, teachers “in limbo” or retired residents and kids out of school. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have been willing and eager to help.

“Kids are willing to do anything to help out,” said F.O.R. volunteer Carol Webb, Wendy’s mother. “What needs to be done, needs to be done. We just do it.”

In the midst of crisis, beacons of light emerge. Among these are Maricopa’s local food banks and the donors who contribute to them.

F.O.R. (Food, Opportunity, Resources) Maricopa and Maricopa Pantry have stepped up all aspects of their operations to make sure the community is being served by providing food and nourishment and necessary resources, with care and respect, to individuals, families and senior citizens.

The community need quickly became evident at both food banks. Long lines of cars beyond the usual turn up for distribution days. The increase in April was estimated at 30%-40% and it has continued to grow.

Motorists queue up at F.O.R. Maricopa for the food distribution. Photo by Kyle Norby

At the same time, physical distancing due to COVID-19 made hosting an event for a food drive impossible.

A special program called Copa Cares was launched in March to help facilitate emergency services for seniors and individuals requiring special assistance during coronavirus.

“We have all endured a wound, and we’re here to help heal it,” said Wendy Webb. “While nothing will be solved overnight, we’re looking at the big picture, constantly revising and evolving our programs yet remaining present and taking one day at a time.”

Along with local donations of nonperishables, food banks receive food items from larger alliances like St. Mary’s, which supplies organizations in nine counties. Most of that food is in cans or boxes, so when Webb wanted to provide more fresh fruits and vegetables at F.O.R. Maricopa, she ended up shopping in local grocery aisles.

“People have been hit hard with overwhelm and fear.,” Webb said. “We are here to help relieve suffering by looking toward meaningful things that focus on celebrating moments that bring us joy and reinforcement. What you do today makes a difference today.”

Photo by Kyle Norby

Now located in the Blue Business Building, F.O.R. Maricopa has seen many changes since it began in 2007. Feeding and aiding just a few families has evolved into a full-fledged resource center. With its drive-up windows, the location now makes it easier to adhere to social-distancing guidelines. The staff also follows the guidelines as required as food handlers.

Like the volunteer group at F.O.R. Maricopa, the masked-and-gloved volunteers at Maricopa Pantry spell each other during those heady distribution days and have learned to work with amazing speed.

Maricopa Pantry, aka Mountain View Community Church, was established in Hidden Valley over 17 years ago and founded by Jim Shoaf. He is a man with a mission. Well known around town, he is fondly called “The food bank guy.”

Jim Shoaf of Maricopa Pantry. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

As a critical community resource, Maricopa Pantry provided more than 600,000 pounds of food and commodities in March and April during the COVID-19 crisis. Each distribution day, they are serving more than 700 families.

“We’ve been major busy,” Shoaf said.

During these challenging times for many, people have lined up in cars instead of in person, which has changed the dynamics of how the pantry operates. “We need to talk, because they’ve got stories and they’ve got problems, and even a little prayer would help,” Shoaf said. “That’s what it’s all about, the kindred spirit of the city.”

The situation has taught his crew how to move faster and load boxes of food more quickly, skills that will outlast COVID-19.

The Maricopa Pantry’s well-trained crew quickly puts together food boxes during distribution. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“I don’t think we’ll have near the waits that we’ve had, because these guys are pros now,” Shoaf said. “Even St. Mary’s came down to give us the food the first week they were here. They looked at me and said, ‘You guys are pros. Why are we even here trying to tell you how to do it?’”

For Shoaf and other volunteers with COPD, wearing a face mask has been one of the most difficult aspects of distribution day, because the mask makes it difficult to breathe. Shoaf’s oxygen level went down to 82% on one distribution day, so he only wears the mask if he is on the frontline.

He said the pantry has never experienced an event that caused such need in the community as COVID-19. The Saturday distribution of food boxes usually starts at 8 a.m., but cars have lined up as early as 6 a.m.

Patient residents wait in line in their cars at Maricopa Pantry in Hidden Valley. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

He has a good crew and plenty of committed volunteers who are essential to getting the job done. Groups deliver food to Eloy and Tucson, and individuals deliver boxes to locals who cannot get out. Shoaf had to overcome strategic challenges this year such as AC/refrigeration going down, the theft of diesel gasoline, and the need to purchase two more trailers.

“We also lost over 1 million chicks this spring in six to eight farms, affecting meat from chickens and also eggs,” he said.

Nonetheless, nothing stops Shoaf from “giving a hand up and not a handout.”

Shoaf loves what he does. He is all about his church and his community with the intention to serve so all may thrive and grow. Even when stretched thin, resources always seem to come.

“Right now, we don’t sweat the funds, because they just sort of happen,” he said.

The food banks depend on the generous donors who are integral to feeding and supporting the community. They will tell you businesses, groups and individuals that donate money, food or their time are the “hand up” for all those in need. It is with gratitude and respect that all donations are received.

To qualify to receive services from F.O.R. an individual or family is required to register. The form is available along with a full list of resources.

To qualify to receive services from Maricopa Pantry food bank, one needs only to come and take what they need. They have simply been taking names and addresses. Donations are always welcome.


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.


As the need in Maricopa continues to rise in the COVID-19 pandemic, community partners continue to support one another. With many recent contributions coming into F.O.R. Maricopa food bank recently, Global Water has been the newest business entity leading another effort to give back.

“Global Water is donating a pallet of water to us and also $20,000 to support our efforts helping families in need during this pandemic,” F.O.R. founder Wendy Webb said. “We are both humbled and grateful for the very generous response we received from Global Water. What an amazing community partner we have during this pandemic.”

The $20,000 was provided from multiple facets within the company. Global Water in Maricopa contributed half of the money while the other $10,000 came from the contributions of board members, shareholders and executive team members.

Global Water Resources President and CEO Ron Fleming said this donation was a no-brainer for himself and the company.

“Look, these are unprecedented times,” Fleming said. “Global Water has been an important partner to the City ever since it incorporated. We’re happy to step up and do our part to help the community.”

Fleming explained the steps the company has taken to adhere to social distancing norms and other preventive measures. These include closing the customer walk-in office and having engineers operating out of their work vehicles as opposed to congregating in work facilities. Being an essential service, Global Water has been working nonstop as usual.

“We went to full social distancing pretty early. We’re in our fourth week,” Fleming said. “We’ve had everyone start to work from home where they can. We’ve moved whole departments, including our call center, out of the corporate office to home.”

Continuing to provide adapted service to customers, Fleming believes GWR is in a strong yet comfortable spot that can keep business effective for the foreseeable future of the COVID-19 outbreak.

To continue to grow our local coverage of COVID-19’s impact on Maricopa in the difficult weeks to come while continuing our day-to-day newsgathering, we are partnering with the Local Media Association’s foundation to ask our readers to help with a tax-deductible donation at GiveButter.com/inmaricopa.

Mayor Christian Price asked Vice Mayor Nancy Smith (left) to head up Copa Cares 2020, and she recruited Councilwoman Julia Gusse to help. Photo by Kyle Norby

On top of receiving free roof repairs, the F.O.R Maricopa food bank just received another major contribution in the form of over 1,400 pounds of bulk food items from the La Paloma family restaurant in Eloy. This project came to fruition with the combined efforts of Vice Mayor Nancy Smith and Councilwoman Julia Gusse.

Smith said she was given the mission by the mayor to see what immediate needs there were in the city. “Copa Cares Act 2020” aims to help facilitate services for seniors and individuals who require special assistance. An essential service during this time has been the F.O.R food bank.

“The food bank has seen a 30% increase in the need in just two weeks, and we anticipate that it’ll go up to 50% increase in need,” Smith said. “you can’t find bulk food to purchase at the normal food bank prices.”

The explosive spike in statewide unemployment brought on by the coronavirus outbreak seems to show a strong correlation with the growing food needs of the Maricopa community. With this in mind and the struggle to search for bulk food, Smith recruited the efforts of Gusse in hopes of connections she has through channels such as veterans’ associations.

Executive Order 25: Flexible Food Item & Sale of Goods at Restaurants

Part of the shipment included stacks of boxed cereals. Photo by Kyle Norby


The line went all the way up to Congressman Tom O’Halleran’s office. Gusse gained information that O’Halleran did indeed have a contact in the form of a closed restaurant in Eloy named La Paloma. The restaurant was willing to sell their bulk goods to the city at a discounted rate.

“Julia and I thought, ‘Well, we have discretionary funds, so let’s make this order and get this done,’” Smith said. “We made a huge order. We’ve covered the (food bank’s) effort for a month.”

Rice and canned beans were among the majority of bulk items given to the food bank. Photo by Kyle Norby

Originally, plans were made for the National Guard to deliver the food, but that changed when the restaurant itself offered to make the trip over to deliver it early Tuesday morning.

“This has just been another huge boost for the food bank,” volunteer Gene Bischki said about the multiple contributions the food bank has received.

With the uncertainty of COVID-19 effects in the coming months, additional donations and efforts from other local organizations and entities are expected to continue, including what is said to be a sizeable contribution from Global Water sometime this week.

Gene Bischki showing the shipment items breakdown to Smith and Gusse. Photo by Kyle Norby

Capt. Paul Neumann leads his crew in bringing boxes of clothes to F.O.R. Maricopa. Photo by Kyle Norby

A Maricopa food bank received a large donation from the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department in the form of winter clothing.

Engine Company 574 drove to the food bank and donated a total of 350 jackets and sweaters for F.O.R. Maricopa, with Engine Capt. Paul Neumann leading the effort. Neumann received the clothing from multiple elementary schools in the Peoria Unified School District.

“Some of the schools have lost and found, and they really don’t have the outlet for what to do with them,” Neumann said. “My kids go to school in Peoria, so I was like, ‘If you have no needs from right now, I’ve got a community that can use all these.’”

Neumann said he has been picking up clothes from the schools for a few years now, previously bringing them to a crisis center. The school notifies parents and children of lost-and-found items and after an adequate amount of time to retrieve your found items, the school notifies them that the clothing will be donated.

“The ladies at the front office have partnered with me to be the point to pick up,” Neumann said.

F.O.R Maricopa founder Wendy Webb expressed her happiness with the long-time support from the Maricopa Fire Department.

“We love our fire department; they’re amazing. They’ve always been strong supporters of us, and we couldn’t do what we do without all our volunteers and all of our amazing supporters,” Webb said.

“We are proud of our crews for taking the time to give back to the community,” Deputy Fire Chief Brad Pitassi said. “This was a project they took on by themselves and their efforts will improve the lives of those in need of a little extra support this winter.”

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Photos by Kyle Norby

Ahead of Thanksgiving, F.O.R. Maricopa food bank distributed free turkeys to lines of clients in cars at the Blue Business Building Tuesday. Typically open Mondays and Thursday, the food bank will be closed Thursday for the holiday. Tuesday morning was also the final day to sign up for the Christmas Wish Toy Program. Learn more about the organization at FORMaricopa.org.

A taste of the reality of poverty was on the menu at the inaugural Hunger Banquet at Central Arizona College on Friday.

Those who attended were placed randomly into income levels for the evening – low income, middle income and high income.

The meal they received corresponded with their level of income, Student Services Director Megan Purvis said. Those in low income received rice and water and ate in their chairs rather than at a table. Those in the middle income had rice and beans and ate cafeteria-style at long tables. Those in high income were at fine dining table with centerpieces and table cloths and a full meal of pasta, meatballs, bread and more.

Purvis said it was an opportunity to experience the hunger that is every-day life for a high percentage of Pinal County children. At the end of the evening, everyone received a complete dinner.

The evening was free but benefited F.O.R. Maricopa food bank as guests brought donations of food and money and bought raffle tickets. Donated food also went to the CAC-Maricopa Food Pantry.

Keynote speaker Mayor Christian Price shared the story of a Maricopan and his surprising journey from successful business owner to out-of-work family man benefiting from F.O.R. Maricopa while struggling to pay medical bills.

“’It’s my belief that our family has only stayed together because of the love and support of our community and by the efforts made by F.O.R. Maricopa,’” the mayor quoted from the man’s autobiographical testimony while keeping him anonymous.

Families grappling with economic hardship are seldom obvious in Maricopa like the stereotype of homeless people, he said. There are families living with other families or living in their vehicles. F.O.R. Maricopa, on the other hand, knows them. Not just with meals but with goods and supplies, the food bank serves 300-400 families a year.

“Kindness and generally being kind for the right reasons is critical to the mindful and fulfilling understanding in our role as human beings,” Price said.

Price told the guests that often people are of the mindset that life isn’t fair and people going through a tough time just need to deal with it. But that attitude, he said, often comes from the comfort of a home where basic needs are being met.

“I would submit to you that true understanding, true mindfulness, the proverbial walking a mile in someone else’s shoes all starts with a little perspective and sometimes stepping back so we can grasp the bigger picture.”

The evening’s special guests also included a physician and a dentist to emphasize the impact poverty can have on health and general wellbeing.

The evening was organized by the campus Student Government Association.

Maricopa Wells football Panthers will team up with Desert Wind for a food-donation car wash to benefit F.O.R. Maricopa. Submitted photo

Middle school athletes will wash cars for free next week to benefit a good cause.

High priority items:

  • Powdered baby formula (large cans)
  • Canned meat (tuna, ham, turkey, etc.)
  • Hot or cold healthy cereal
  • Meals in a tin (ex. Dinty Moore)
  • Canned vegetables and fruit
  • Wholegrain pasta and rice
  • Pasta sauce
  • Canned and dry soup

The Maricopa Wells and Desert Wind football teams will hold a car wash Jan. 13 at Auto Zone from 1 to 4 p.m. Auto Zone is located at 20886 N. John Wayne Parkway.

In lieu of payment, the players are accepting non-perishable food donations for F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank, said Maricopa Wells football coach Jonathan Clark.

“We just feel it’s important to do for others and not expect something in return,” Clark said. “I tell the boys all the time that true leaders must be willing to serve first.”

Clark also said the timing of the fundraiser benefits the food bank this time of year, as it often experiences a lull in donations after the holiday season.

It’s the second year the Maricopa Wells team has organized the donation drive car wash. This year the Desert Wind Tigers will partner with the Panthers on the giving.

In 2017, the team collected 680 pounds of food, with a new goal of raising 1,000 pounds next week.

F.O.R. Maricopa needs help Saturday signing up children

F.O.R. Maricopa’s Christmas Toy Drive Sign-up event begins Saturday for eligible children up to 16-years-old.

Wendy Webb, director of F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank, said registration lasts only two days this year.

Registration begins Nov. 4 at the F.O.R. Maricopa Business Center (formerly the Maricopa Business Barn) located at 19428 N. John Wayne Parkway from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Nov. 7 will be the final day to sign-up. Registration will take place at the temporary food bank location at Santa Cruz Elementary, 19845 N. Costa del Sol Blvd., from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Parents and guardians must bring documents proving eligibility, including a F.O.R. Maricopa food bank card, identification and birth certificates, Webb said.

“Anyone who qualifies for food bank need only bring birth certificate for each child 16-and-under and we will sign them up. Some folks have signed up in the past.  We keep their information on file so they don’t have to bring a birth certificate again,” Webb said.

Families who register for the Salvation Army’s Toy Drive are not eligible for the F.O.R. Maricopa program.

Webb also called on the community for help.

“On the 4th we need volunteers to come at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. helping sign-up children,” Webb said. “On the 7th it is 4 to 7:30 p.m.”

Spanish-speaking volunteers are especially needed both days, Webb said. For more information contact 520-251-0226 or info@formaricopa.org.

F.O.R. Maricopa received a zoning permit for its new property.

Changes at the Maricopa Business Barn caused a strong reaction from residents this week after its iconic red hue had suddenly turned blue.

Multiple threads posted to social media showed many community members were displeased, while others welcomed the new look. The bold color will not be the only transformation the area near the business barn will experience.

New landlord Wendy Webb plans to build a structure on the property next to the barn for the F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank in 2018. Webb is the executive director of F.O.R.

She chose the color, “Hawaiian Blue,” to encourage cohesion for her proposed complex.

The metal walls of the new food bank building will also be the same shade of blue. Hopeful for city approval, Webb wishes to someday recruit young artists to paint a mural on the exterior.

Webb said children are a major population the food bank services.

“For me, this is about the kids, so I wanted a positive, upbeat color that the children in our community would appreciate,” Webb said. “We are trying to make (the food bank) a really positive, fun thing that’s a not-so-fun thing in your life.”

The current parking lot of the business barn will separate it from the food bank and will mainly accommodate customers and employees of the business barn. Along with an updated aesthetic, the business barn will also receive a new name.

“It’s going to be called ‘F.O.R. Maricopa Business Center’ or ‘Complex’ we haven’t decided yet,” Webb said.

The food bank will feature a drive-thru. The drive-thru line and food bank parking lot is slated to run west on property Webb is looking to lease.

Volunteers have been updating the interior of the business barn since September to attract business owners to rent its spaces.

“As much of an icon as the red barn was in this community, it wasn’t necessarily an icon to draw a lot of new business,” Webb said.

Webb has signed two new tenants with additional plans to turn a large space in the rear of the building to a conference/meeting room and weekend pop-up shops for local, small retailers.

Despite some negative comments on social media, Webb remained optimistic that the community will accept the changes.

The food bank director herself is no stranger to adaption. The charity’s location has moved twice since being forced from its original building in May.

Food bank workers have set up a temporary space inside Santa Cruz Elementary and plan to open after pending issues with flooring and a new hot water heater.

Artist’s rendering of the future F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank.

An elementary school will offer temporary operating space for a local food bank.

Last week the F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank moved into a space inside Santa Cruz Elementary, 19845 N. Costa Del Sol in the Tortosa subdivision.

The food bank has been temporarily closed since Oct. 3 to accommodate the move, according to the F.O.R. Maricopa Facebook page.

F.O.R. Director Wendy Webb said there are a few issues that need to be resolved with the Maricopa Unified School District before the food bank can open again.

Currently, food bank operators are waiting for the installation of a water heater on Tuesday. Webb said the food bank at Santa Cruz does not have a “firm opening date at this time.”

“We remain hopeful that all can be resolved quickly,” Webb said.

Since May, the food bank has operated out of a small space at the Maricopa Manor Business Center after moving from its original building on Garvey Avenue and John Wayne Parkway. The move was prompted by the upcoming construction of the State Route 347 Overpass.

The down-size resulted in the food bank offering services to residents once a week.

Webb said the move to the larger spaces at Santa Cruz will afford the organization to expand operation hours.

“If it does work out it would mean twice the space for us and we could be able to serve the community twice a week again like we did before in our old location,” Webb said during an August interview.

Upon opening, the food bank will serve community members Mondays and Thursdays from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Operating out of Santa Cruz Elementary will mean longer drives for some, however, as the food bank would move over 5.5 miles from the center of town to Tortosa.

“We know the new location is a little bit farther for some folks,” Webb said. “But overall with the big picture in mind, this will be more supportive for more people while we are waiting on a new building.”

Webb said construction on a permanent location next to Maricopa Business Barn could be completed by April or May 2018.

The food bank director purchased the business barn and nearby property in July. Since September, Webb and volunteers have worked weekends painting and repairing the barn to attract small business owners into the spaces.

Webb has said previously the barn can be an income-driver for the food bank.

The food bank is not the first organization displaced by the overpass to be offered a temporary home in Santa Cruz.

Over the summer, the school opened two of its unused classrooms to groups of seniors who were forced out of the soon-to-be demolished Copa Center building on Honeycutt Road.

“We look forward to our new partnership with MUSD as our landlord,” Webb said. “Superintendent (Steve) Chestnut and Principal (Loraine) Conley have both been so supportive of us moving in.”

For updates follow the F.O.R. Maricopa Facebook Page.

Volunteers help paint inside the Maricopa Business Barn.

Instead of sleeping in Saturday morning, volunteers woke up early to volunteer for a good cause.

Nearly 20 people met to spruce up one of Maricopa’s oldest buildings. The Maricopa Business Barn’s new owner is Wendy Webb, who also serves as director of F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank.

“This building here has had up to nine businesses in it in the past, and so our goal is to get it up to speed and fill it up with as many people as we can because that would generate income that will help support the food bank long term,” Webb said.

The business barn purchase is one of many steps Webb has taken in recent months to fulfill her goal of constructing a new location for the food bank adjacent to the barn.


Earlier this year, the food bank moved from its original location on John Wayne Parkway at Garvey Avenue to a smaller location across the street.

Arizona Department of Transportation will demolish the original building, a former sheriff’s office substation, in coming months in preparation of the overpass.

According to Webb, the location might change again before the food bank can afford to construct a new building. Despite the changes, the food bank has stayed open throughout the transition.

In a previous interview, Webb said the food bank serves 100,000 meals per year to local families.

At one time it helped resident Britney Sias who was one of the first volunteers to help Saturday.

“I have had to use the food bank many times in the past, especially when the recession was bad,” Sias said. “I pretty much had to use the food bank every week so anyway I can pay back the community I definitely try to.”

People of all ages showed up to help. Gracee Clark, 13, and Angie Belruiz, 16, were there earning volunteer credit for school.

It was also a chance for Belruiz to become acquainted with her new community.

“I just moved to Maricopa so I would really like to get to know the city and to help out the city,” Belruiz said.

Not only is the Business Barn expected to help the food bank, but some hope it will stimulate opportunities for local business owners as well.

“It’s important for the city of Maricopa to have cost-effective space for small businesses to rent and this is the perfect place,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terri Crain.

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.


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.


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


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


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


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.
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.


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.
–    4 twin beds
–    Kitchen table
–    Kitchen island
–    Couches
–    Dressers
–    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.


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.