Zane Grey Youth 3 check donation April 2021

Members from three organizations that each received a $2,000 check from the Zane Grey Youth Advancement Committee to advance their mission to help local Rim Country children. Pictured are members of the ZGYAC board and Suzy Tubbs-Avakian of Payson Community Kids, Jeremy Ruff of the Payson Christian School archery program and Dean Pederson, physical education teacher at the Pine-Strawberry Elementary School where every fourth grade student learns archery. The group met at ZGYAC’s vice president Steve Miller’s home for a barbecue on April 11.

Rim Country nonprofits and school programs suffered during the pandemic, but the Zane Grey Youth Advancement Committee (ZGYAC) came to the rescue for three with $2,000 donations.

The three recipients included the Payson Community Kids’ after-school program and the archery programs at Payson Christian School and Pine-Strawberry Elementary School.

The organization raised the money for the donations from weekly drawings put on by Steve Miller at his auto shop on Main Street for the past five months. Coincidentally, the same time ZGYAC has existed.

But that fundraising success is not unheard of from this board, made up of John Bach, president; Steve Miller, vice president; Terese Bach, secretary; Calvin Henson, treasurer; and Dan Wile, fundraising committee. The five have worked together for years, raising impressive amounts of money for local children’s programs through their former group, the Friends of the NRA.

The ZGYAC board parted ways with the NRA, to keep all the money they raise, local. The national organization required a significant cut from their fundraising efforts in order to use its name.

These donations couldn’t have come at a better time, as each organization had its own unique struggle during the pandemic. All three reported donations and volunteers have dropped as everyone stayed home and forgot children still have needs.

Payson Community Kids has “already spent” its donation, said Suzy Tubbs-Avakian, the president of PCK.

She calls her program the “Boys and Girls Club of Payson.” PCK not only provides enrichment activities after school, but also meals.

For that, they need a stove. But their donated stove wasn’t up to the task recently and “burned up” as volunteers reheated a restaurant’s donated dinner to the kids, said Tubbs-Avakian.

The damage required some electrical work in addition to the new stove, “but it was a blessing in disguise because in doing that issue, we found a major sewage issue,” said Tubbs-Avakian.

All told, the bill came to a little over $2,200 for PCK. The ZGYAC donation paid for the bulk of the need.

Jeremy Ruff of the Payson Christian School archery program said the school program needs to build a shed as the program has increased in popularity.

“It’s one of those sports you don’t have to be the best runner or athlete to compete in,” he said.

The program always needs new arrows and targets, plus entry fees for competitions.

As does the archery program at the Pine-Strawberry Elementary School.

Physical education teacher Dean Pederson has “boxes and boxes of bent arrows.”

“The arrows are aluminum, and they are easily ruined,” he said.

Targets are $300 to $400 each.

“They eventually need to be replaced,” said Ruff.

Every fourth grade student takes part in the archery program after Ruff and fellow PE teacher Margaret Johnson started the program at their rural school out of desperation.

“It is hard for us to compete in, say, basketball with only five or six kids,” he said.

The two tossed around the idea of doing cross-country but decided archery would appeal to more students.

Already, the program has created a national champion, but Ruff feels more satisfaction that the program gets kids into a sport everyone can participate in and have a chance at competitions.

“I’m a firm believer in sports,” said Ruff. “You learn how to compete, and you learn to win and lose.”

All goals the ZGYAC hope to instill in Rim Country youth through its financial support of shooting sports and after-school programs.

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