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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Child Crisis Arizona Raises More Than $850K During 2023 Lunch for Love

Child Crisis Arizona welcomed nearly 400 guests to its annual Lunch for Love fundraising luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at the Arizona Biltmore Resort. And though on Halloween, the event provided more treats than tricks, raising more than $850,000 in just one hour and serving as a springboard for Child Crisis Arizona to announce the continued expansion of its programs statewide.

“Lunch for Love provides an opportunity for Child Crisis Arizona’s board members and major donors to invite friends and colleagues to learn more about the organization’s mission and vision and hear stories about the impact the agency’s prevention, intervention and education programs have on children, families, and the community,” said Child Crisis Arizona CEO Torrie A. Taj. “This year was extra-special, however, as it also gave us an opportunity to announce we are now partnered with Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First to provide resources for every baby born in Arizona by delivering free Parent Kits to hospitals and birthing centers; and that we will soon have staff with boots on the ground throughout Arizona to mentor and support youth with our Extended Foster Care program.”

Torrie Taj, Child Crisis Arizona Chief Executive Officer. Courtesy of Child Crisis Arizona.

Child Crisis Arizona board member Trevor Wilde, MBA, AIF, founder and CEO Wilde Wealth Management Group, and board chair Jeff Friesen, Southwest Region president of Enterprise Bank & Trust, joined Taj on stage to set the tone for the inspirational afternoon, with Wilde sharing his personal adoption story and how it transformed his life and Friesen providing an update on the 38,000-square-foot Child Crisis Arizona Center for Child & Family Wellness currently under construction.

“I stand here as a living testament to the impact that Child Crisis Arizona and other organizations like it are having on not only the children and families we serve, but on generations to come,” said Wilde, recently named by Barron’s to its annual list of top 1,200 advisors nationwide and No. 1 overall in Arizona.

“The Child Crisis Arizona Center for Child & Family Wellness will centralize multiple programs and administrative operations in one location while providing efficiencies and synergies. Programs like Training, Family Education, Foster Care & Adoption, Children’s counseling, and other nonprofits will co-locate in the new center. With conservation and the environment top-of-mind when designing this building, Child Crisis Arizona will be the first nonprofit in Arizona to put sustainability at the forefront and build with the future in mind,” said Friesen of the campus set to be completed in mid-2024.

Several nonprofit organizations with whom Child Crisis has planned strategic collaborations with once the campus is completed were also in attendance, including Ballet Arizona, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Free Arts for Abused Children, Gabriel’s Angels, New Pathways for Youth, one٠n٠ten, and United Foodbank, as were clients of Child Crisis Arizona. Katherine Powers, foster parent and adoptive mother to 6 year old, Jaiden, also attended the event, and spoke to her personal experiences with the organization.

“When I felt the most alone in my foster journey, it was Child Crisis Arizona who gave us the support we needed,” said Powers. “Jaiden, my adopted son, continues to grow and thrive. I’m so grateful for the support from Child Crisis Arizona that has enabled me to give these kids the love they need and deserve and I’m grateful to each of you for supporting the good work they do.”

Gala Attendees & Nonprofit Partners – From Left: Janna Murrel, Assistant Executive Director, Raising Special Kids; Paulina Serna, Family Support Specialist at Raising Special Kids; Torrie Taj, CEO Child Crisis Arizona; Donna Brighton, Chief Ideas Officer, Brighton Leadership Group; Angela Harrolle, CEO 100 Club of Arizona; Dawn Johnson, VP, Bell Bank; Steven Sheets, President & CEO at Southwest Behavioral & Health Services. Courtesy of Child Crisis Arizona.

According to Taj, today in Arizona, there are nearly 10,000 Arizona children and teens in foster care and ONLY 3,000 licensed foster families.

“At Child Crisis Arizona, we are committed to preparing individuals of all backgrounds for the opportunity to become loving parents who understand the value of creating safe and nurturing environments for children in their care. Safety allows children to dream and pursue their passions with the confidence that they are protected and supported,” said Taj. “In addition to this, Child Crisis Arizona provided over 54,363 nights of safety to children this past year through its Emergency Children’s Placement programs.”

The event was sponsored by The Bidstrup Foundation, Desert Diamond Casino, General Dynamics, Jaburg Wilk Attorneys at Law, Toyota Financial Services, Papetti Samuels McKirgan &Weiss, Moon Valley Nurseries, UMB Bank and Wilde Wealth Management Group.

The event closed by announcing the dates for Child Crisis Arizona’s 47th annual gala, which is set for Saturday, March 9, 2024, at the JW Marriot Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa.

For more information, visit www.childcrisisaz.org. Header photo: Gala Attendees & Nonprofit Partners – From Left: Jackie Eckman, Principal at CliftonLarsonAllen; Laura Capello, President and CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona; Laura Bartlett, Sr. VP, BOK Financial; Katie Pushor, Executive Coach, Inner Capital; Holly Hanson, Child Crisis Arizona Executive Assistant; Jami Kozemczak, Executive Director, Ballet Arizona; Josh Hanson, Graphic Designer, Avenue5 Residential; Larry Wilk, Child Crisis Arizona Board Member.

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