With the purchase of a house immediately behind their facility on West Wade Lane, Payson Community Kids has gained some much-needed growing room.
The house, located at 407 S. Tonto Street, will be used for additional office space, handicapped accessible classroom and kitchen space, and will also provide housing for two single mothers. It sets on land that will allow the nonprofit organization to expand its playground, add a parking lot and provide a parcel on which Habitat for Humanity can build a single-family home.
"The older lady (Daloris Luebbers) who owned it kept holding it for me for two years, and I kept saying I can't afford it," Marcy Rogers, Payson Community Kids president and director, said. "She lived here 20 years and she wanted us to have it because she had watched our program and she'd come and eat with our kids."
The organization's board finally decided it couldn't pass up the opportunity.
"We need more parking, and I wanted the kids away from the street," Rogers said. The new playground area will be well away from West Wade Lane.
The house comes complete with two balloon payments, one of $25,000 at Christmas and another for $65,000 in May.
"I have half of it, and we have the radio-a-thon coming up," Rogers said. "Last year we made $4,000 on that. I'm also writing grants. The Kayla (Floyd Memorial Fund) money, the Arizona Women's Partnership's Wine, Women and Jazz event -- all that money can go toward the house. We made $3,000 on a yard sale in April, and Lutheran Thrivant matched it with $1,600."
Rogers, the town's housing and redevelopment coordinator, founded Payson Community Kids when she moved to Payson eight years ago after organizing a similar group in Tucson. The program currently serves 50 to 60 children ranging in age from babies to teenagers, providing counseling, after school activities and a host of other programs for children with special needs.
Rogers originally ran the program out of her two-bedroom apartment on Bonita Street, but three years ago she bought a 28-year-old split-level house on West Wade that backs up to the downtown trailer parks where many of her children live. The entire lower level has been turned into a place where "Marcy's kids" can come after school, where they get ready for church every Sunday, where enrichment and other classes are held, and where meals are served.
Other recent Payson Community Kids developments:
- After-school classes have recently been expanded thanks to the efforts of Ginger Schoettinger.
"We're getting more professionals in to talk to the children, and we're doing a lot more crafts," Rogers said, "a lot more fun activities and learning experiences. (Schoettinger is) enthusiastic about helping the children."
- Schoettinger has also created a website for the organization: paysoncommunitykids.com.
- Older Payson Community Kids are actually being paid as student teachers to work with the younger children, thanks to the support of the Wallace Foundation, which funds all the organization's paid teaching positions.
- The new playground will be called the Kayla Floyd and Cassandra Ward Memorial Playground in honor of two Rim Country children who recently died.
"We're going to start with great big boulders so they'll have a climbing rock place, then we'll get a real sturdy swing set, they'll have a full-size basketball court, and we'll do a couple of memorial trees for the girls," Rogers said.
Floyd's parents designated Payson Community Kids the beneficiary in lieu of flowers.
"You know, for a month checks came into the office every day, and it came up to $4,565," Rogers said.
- Lutheran Thrivant funded a new storage shed on the property, which the kids have turned into a small game room. Rick and Karyn Nelson, owners of Karik Construction Company volunteered the labor.
- The live KMOG radio-a-thon will take place Oct. 14 at Chapman Auto Center.
- Marcy's kids will run the children's activity (painting pots and planting flowers) at the Rim Country Western Heritage Festival on Oct. 15. Plant Fair Nursery is donating the materials.
- Wine, Women & Jazz, the Arizona Women's Partnership fund-raiser, will be held on Sunday, Nov. 6 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Zelma Basha Salmeri Art Gallery of Western American & Native American Art in Chandler. The nonprofit organization is "sensitive to the needs of underserved and disadvantaged women and their families." For more information and tickets, go to azwp.org.
- Rogers was recently recognized at another Arizona Women's Partnership fund-raiser, Getting Our Just Desserts.
Payson Community Kids always needs volunteers. For more information on how you can help, call Rogers at (928) 474-5242, ext. 2269.
Checks should be made payable to Payson Community Kids and either brought to the Town of Payson Community Development building or mailed to Payson Community Kids, 303 N. Beeline Highway, Payson, AZ 85541.