Pat yourself on the back Rim Country; Payson Assisting Displaced Students (PADS) would like to thank you.
With the community’s support, the group was able to help 44 families with 140 children find stable homes and access needed social services.
“Who would want to live under those circumstances?” said Allic Bales, PADS coordinator. “What’s most important (to them) is getting back on their feet.”
PADS assists those families that have hit a rough patch in life.
Bales said these families were going along working a good job that allowed them a nice house, cars and a middle class life, but for one reason or another the bottom blew out. They suffered job loss, domestic violence, divorce or an illness, which swept their lives away.
Bales acts as an advocate to find relief to help these families with daily needs so they can rebuild their lives.
She coordinates donations that provide backpacks full of food to help families get through the weekend until the children return to school and the food program there.
Through Kaitie’s Closet, Bales also provides clothing. The ladies from Chaparral Pines and The Rim Club donate shoes.
With monetary donations to PADS, Bales finds support for medical costs, laundry vouchers, utilities, rent and gas money.
“I give them pre-paid cards to get gas so they can go find work,” she said.
For many — that’s all they need, a little relief to find their way again.
Bales said with donations of toys and cash this Christmas season, PADS and its partners, the Rotary Club, Rim Country Optimist, and the Modified Motorcycle Association, threw a festive party with Fred Carpenter providing DJ music, hot chocolate, cookies and brownies. Santa gave out toys, while the older kids went on a shopping trip.
PADS finds the children in need through the school district and the time Bales spends at the food bank distributing food.
“If the nurse from PES (Payson Elementary School) refers one child, we pick up and support all of the siblings and the family,” she said. “While I am at the food bank, I see who comes and talk to them about their situations.”
Bales calls herself an advocate for the displaced families in Rim Country— and she will do anything to help.
“Mostly it’s advice where the resources are and where to start,” she said.
Bales will listen to their circumstances and then suggest ways the family can find help for their needs.
She has gone to court, arranged meetings with parents and children, and driven students home from after-school tutoring as far away as Gisela.
Sometimes Bales helps the kids find a little counseling.
She talked about one boy who had complained of classmates bullying him, but when Bales sat down with the parents and the child, they discovered he was actually bullying the other children.
“There is a lot of anger with these kids,” she said. “Everything was fine and then it all changed. It affects the children and they get into fights.”
With support and counseling arranged by Bales, the boy stopped taking his frustration out on the other students.
But in Bales’ mind, the greatest stories are of helping a child find their way in life.
She told the story of one young man, abandoned by his parents at the age of 10 in the Valley, who couch surfed with relatives until he landed in Payson.
Bales met the young man after his relatives had decided they could not afford to care for him any longer and his girlfriend had kicked him out.
“She kept everything of his, even his motorcycle,” said Bales. “He was a bit down.”
But Bales said he still wanted to finish high school and had a dream of working for the Forest Service. So PADS found him a place to live so he could finish school.
She now sees him around town working and driving an old clunker, but he has made it.
Bales said she wanted to thank the community for all of its help in making a difference to Rim Country families struggling.
For more information on PADS, please call PADS Director Rich Richey at (928) 595-0704 or Roger Kreimeyer (928) 468-1365.