Last fall my husband Bob and I alerted the community to the plight of the mostly elderly, disabled, and low income residents of the Wheel Inn Ranch Trailer Park in South Scottsdale. The park's new owner had told them they must move out by the end of January to make way for his future development. Unfortunately, the majority of the park's mobile homes were too old and fragile to be moved, so residents faced having to abandon their homes, even though many had sunk their life savings into buying and adding extensions to them. Even the homes than could be moved would be expensive to move, plus the costs to move all external improvements (such as porches and carports) were beyond the reach of many residents. Not only were these residents losing their community, many were financially unable to find new places to live. They were frightened of what the future held for them.
Seeing this need, Bob and I reached out to the community for help and you responded! More than 70 of you (many donating anonymously) gave over $19,000 to help. Everyone involved in this fundraising effort was an unpaid volunteer, so all of the money collected went to help the Wheel Inn Ranch residents. We were able to use that money to help residents move not only to new homes but, in some cases to brighter futures.
In addition to our donors there are several other people I want to thank who helped the residents of the Wheel Inn Ranch Trailer Park through this unwanted and difficult transition. Co-chair of the Scottsdale Coalition Nancy Cantor, and Tonolea neighborhood activist Jim Heather, both spent countless hours at the park during the most critical times, working with the residents and helping them navigate the complex and, frankly inadequate state system for assisting trailer park residents forced out of their homes. South Scottsdale neighborhood activist and non-profit executive Cindy Hill collected, disbursed and kept track of the donations. And Councilman Guy Phillips donated his services to help residents with their air conditioning and heating issues.
I also want to thank the City's Community and Human Services staff, who worked with the residents to coordinate assistance from the city, state and federal agencies, such as the Veteran's Administration (many of these residents are veterans or spouses of veterans). Human Services Director Greg Bestgen, Human Services Specialist Jennifer Murphy and Human Services Coordinators Kristine Hahn-McDonald and Angela Bravo Gallagher connected the residents with the resources they needed to help them find and move to new homes.
I also want to recognize Nancy, Jim, Greg, Jennifer, Kristine and Angela for not only helping the residents with administrative matters but for being there for the residents personally during some of their darkest hours. I can't thank you enough for that.
This effort was a terrific example of a community banding together to help fellow residents in their time of need. Bob and I are proud to have been a part of it.