The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Phoenix has been selected as recipient of the 2017 Valley Partnership Community Project. The annual event, which brings together hundreds of community leaders from the real estate and development communities for a day of service, will take place on November 4, 2017.
For the past few years, the St. Vincent’s has been operating an urban farm near their campus in downtown Phoenix, on the Human Services Campus. The one-acre farm grows fruits and vegetables that are used to feed families in their community kitchen and they are distributed in food boxes for families to prepare at home. As the recipient of Valley Partnership’s 30th community project, St. Vincent’s believes that the enhancement of the Urban Farm will further their mission. Ryan Corry, Development Officer with The Society of St. Vincent DePaul explained, “This project impacts SVdP’s ability to improve health, food sources, wellness education, and connection to employment for our most vulnerable populations. We couldn’t be more proud to be working on these important initiatives with Valley Partnership.”
Valley Partnership’s initial plans to improve the urban garden will include installing an irrigation system, electricity, adding shade to allow for an extended growing season, and planting. Raised planter beds, an outdoor classroom, a meditation area, site furniture, fruit-bearing trees and signage for the farm have also been requested.
“Every year, the Valley Partnership board looks for opportunities where our members can apply their expertise for the benefit of a nonprofit. St. Vincent de Paul’s Urban Farm offers our members and their volunteers an opportunity to tackle a large-scale urban farm and transform it into an operation that can increase its food production and support families in need,” said Kim Kleski, the Co-Chair of Valley Partnership’s Community Project Committee and Landscape Architect with Kleski & Associates.
“Many of our members have been involved with St. Vincent de Paul over the years so our board was familiar with their work and their impact on the families struggling with homelessness. For the next five months, our developers, contractors, and associated companies will have the opportunity to dig in, plan out this project and create something that will live on and serve the community for years to come,” said Cheryl Lombard, President and CEO of Valley Partnership.
Longtime development leader Steve Gervais has taken on a role within St. Vincent de Paul and encouraged the organization to apply for the longstanding program. “I’ve seen first-hand the impact that Valley Partnership makes with their Community Project. They raised tens of thousands in cash, gather thousands more in in-kind contributions and then bring it all together with 250-300 volunteers on one incredible day to transform a site. There’s nothing else like it and I’m excited to see all of our plans for the Urban Farm come to life in just a few months!”
“St. Vincent’s urban farm will be the perfect charity partner to celebrate our 30th year. The community project tagline is ‘Together, We Build a Stronger Valley.’ The unanimous decision of St. Vincent’s as Valley Partnerships 30th community project recipient brings this full-circle. Increased food production, educational and service opportunities along with re-integration of the homeless back into the workforce will be a catalyst for sustainable growth at St. Vincent’s,” said Dena Jones of Fidelity National Title and Valley Partnership’s Board Liaison for the Community Project.
This November Community Project day will also mark the 12th anniversary of the Human Services Campus.
Valley Partnership sponsorships have already started coming in. Several companies have already committed to generously donate their company’s time and services to this year’s initiative. Kaylynn Primerano of Norris Design will be their project manager for the project. A longtime supporter of the community project Chris Patton of Rick Engineering is doing the site survey. Tod and Dylan Whitwer of Allwyn Consultants have donated the phase 1 environmental site assessment. The Arizona Diamondbacks gifted a bobcat, their mascot, to St. Vincent’s to use at the urban garden as have been longtime supporters. ASU’s School of Sustainability has been collaborating and studying this farm and Valley Partnership will work with them as they develop the plans for this project. Valley Partnership’s support of St. Vincent’s Urban Farm will allow them to exponentially grow their farm apprenticeship program. This is the program which connects homeless men and women back into the workforce through a partnership with Steve Martori of Martori Farms where they are offered comprehensive training program and gainful employment.
More than a dozen non-profit organizations in the Valley applied for the 2017 community project. This year, Valley Partnership will celebrate its 30th year of the Community Project, dedicated to community service which is the legacy arm of the organization. Each year, it selects a non-profit organization that can benefit from the skills, efforts and supplies provided by its partners to renovate and enhance facilities for children and those in need. Over the past 30 years, Valley Partnership has contributed more than $4 million to the community through these projects.