Despite the heat, Nancy Guyon cheerfully pitched in to help the Central Arizona Board of Realtors at its Change for Change benefit Saturday night at the Oxbow to raise funds for the Rim Country Education Foundation.
She did it because of hope.
“I believe in the college — I have a 16-year-old son,” Guyon said.
Research shows the most expensive part of a college education is room and board. If families, such as Guyon’s, can have their children live at home with them in Payson while they go to college, they can save their family from the onerous burden of student loans. The average U.S. student graduates with an undergraduate degree with $25,000 in debt, according to CollegeInSight.
Most of the 250 guests felt the same as Guyon, hopeful, committed — and hot. Many turned programs into fans as sheriff’s candidate Darrell Stubbs played auctioneer. Items auctioned off will help to pay the $375,000 price tag of completing an environmental assessment required by the Forest Service before it will agree to sell 300 acres for the college. Organizers hope that the eventual developers of the campus will repay some or all of those costs, which will allow the foundation to fund other causes — like scholarships for local students.
One lady came prepared with her own lace fan, adding a touch of elegance to the affair.
The Central Arizona Board of Realtors (CABOR) is spearheading the Change for Change fund-raising effort. Ellie Howard, the executive director of CABOR, has taken on the role of event coordinator and central planner. The realtors have placed cans in businesses around Rim Country to collect change, they have donated matching funds and have planned events such as the Oxbow fund-raiser, collecting about $12,000 to help the foundation.
Howard was thrilled with the attendance.
“Business people, Valley people, Pine, Strawberry, Tonto Basin and Christopher Creek people came out tonight to support the Rim Country Education Foundation,” said Howard.
Guests dressed in casually cool attire treated themselves to a pulled pork or beef sandwich or Chicken Jubilee served by Bob and Ruth Klaver.
“We do this for non-profits,” said Ruth as she slaved behind warm braziers that made the room toastier than outside.
The Oxbow offers a wonderful venue for a party. Multiple rooms and patios open onto each other to allow guests to wander into different spaces.
Howard and her helpers set up the party in the large patio and stage at the back of the saloon, with music, tea lights on the eves and hay bales. Country music filled the gaps between the program.
Richard Johnson, the chairman of the Rim Country Education Alliance, gave an update to attendees on the foundation’s fund-raising efforts.
“All our programs are to obtain significant funds to do the pre-development for the college,” said Johnson. “The cost is $375,000 — we are at just a fraction of that having raised $75,000.”
Contact Ellie Howard to find out about future events and how to help the Change for Change effort: (928) 474-1944.
The Rim Country Education Alliance (SLE) has extended its deadlines several times in an effort to strike a deal with Arizona State University to build a 6,000-student campus here. However, the Alliance has also started discussions without public and private universities, in case ASU cannot move forward soon.