Sun City West PRIDES was organized when it became evident that in order to maintain our beautiful city to the high standards that we all expect, we would need to help out. So, in 1982 PRIDES got organized, volunteers stepped up, and our community prospered. In 2003, the SCW Foundation provided space for PRIDES in its current location alongside Helping Hands. Currently PRIDES is proud to have over 200 members and still going strong.
Founded by Joan Barnett in 1982, with four other Sun City West community members, PRIDES story begins...
The word PRIDES is an acronym for Proud Residents Involved Doing Environmental Services----created by the original board of directors.
In reviewing the history of the PRIDES, I used the extensive documentation found in albums kept by the officers at that time. I also thought it would be a good time to contact some of the PRIDES from that era who are currently listed as inactive members. I found this to be both fruitful and very enjoyable.
In late 1981 and early 1982 many residents were becoming dissatisfied with the appearance of Sun City West, particularly along the area of Bell Rd and R.H. Johnson. I am told that the area in front of the wall running from R.H. Johnson to El Mirage Rd was filled with giant tumbleweeds. The boulevards from R.H. Johnson in were also ladened with tall, ugly weeds.
A group of people started writing Del Webb Corp about the problem. I was told by Owen Moore that Webb spent a lot of time and money on the main entry, which was off of Grand on Meeker and that area looked good. He along with other residents came to the conclusion, things were not going to improve. Enter Joan Barnett, a former recruiter for the WACS in WWII and a natural born leader. She had no intention of sitting along the sidelines and watching this happen. She became the founder of the PRIDES by calling a meeting on Feb 24, 1982. With assistance from four other people---Howard Cain, Charles Barton, Charles Czlapinski (the first sharpener, maintenance person) and Owen Moore they recruited their friends and neighbors in their efforts.
Unfortunately, Joan passed away, one month before our 25th anniversary celebration in 2007 and only Owen Moore is still with us. He wanted badly to be here today but his health just makes it impossible. He has been a most generous PRIDE and exceptionally kind to us in sharing his memories of those early days. At 92 he told me he is as proud of the PRIDES today as he was in 1982. Joan assigned him the task of getting the corporation papers done, and making sure that they included approval as a 501(c)(3) so donors could take tax deductions. He told me this took many letters to and from the IRS. Many months passed until approval was finally received.
I asked Owen if he could describe Joan to me in one word, what would it be----and he said “Oh that’s easy-aggressive.” Joan and her husband had both been archaeologists who worked on over 350 digs over a 24 year career. She started the PRIDES about the same time her husband was diagnosed with cancer and she took him five days a week to the VA hospital. She had plenty reason to let the job to someone else, but that was not what Joan Barnett, our founder did.
If you asked me to characterize this wonderful man, Own Moore, I would describe him as unselfish, humble, and dedicated. He told me over and over about please “don’t give me credit.”
The first work session was set for March 30 and everyone met in the area by the True Value store today, and then the work assignment given and they would go out from there. The only tools and equipment they had was what they brought from home.
Loise Copes, who was active in the early days of PORA, spoke up and suggested that a bank account be started and she donated $5 for that purpose. Someone else donated a four year old Ford van and six months of insurance. Maricopa county was contacted and they agreed to provide trash bags, orange vests and to pick up the trash.
A total of 44 people showed up that first work day on March 30, 1982. One of the first Saturdays they worked they went in mass to that area of weeds along Bell and filled over 150 bags before they ran out of time---and they had not completed the job. They went back the next week and completed it. Some of the weeds were so big they would not fit in bags so the county had to come with pitch forks to load them.
After a few weeks Joan came up with the idea of splitting into sections with a monitor for each section. Fred Hafner, many of know him, stepped forward and asked if he could be the very first monitor for the PRIDES. Fred worked actively as that monitor until last fall, when at 97+ with a wife who was terminally ill, finally asked to go to the inactive list. We still have at least six PRIDES, that I know of, over 90 years old who work each Saturday.
Once the organization got going, Owen went to see Fred Kuentz, President of Del Webb and asked for help and they were given a golf cart and a couple of old white vans. Del Webb also provided a place to park them. After they had collected $5200 in donations, they purchased the first new golf cart.
Let’s look at our organization today. We are led by a nine member board serving rotating three year terms. We have 17 landscaping teams, each led by a monitor with 10 -20 workers each. We have 11 irrigation monitors to cover 26 miles of water lines.
We work closely with Maricopa County, the Rec Centers, PORA, the Posse, and with the SCW Foundation who provide us with our 3,500 sq ft warehouse at Stardust and R.H. Johnson---rent free. Our hours for on the street vary by the season. Winter 7:30 to 9 and summer (April thru Sept) 6:30- 8. We have a half hour general membership meeting the 3rd Sat of the month following our morning work schedule. Free coffee and donuts courtesy of the Sundome Merchants Association. Our work assignments are varied: Not everyone works on landscaping. We have Admin, an e-script and Bashas program coordination, Historian, Irrigation, Maintenance, refreshment team for our meetings, Safety, PR, Sunshine, others including coordinators of our annual luminaria project.
As of now we have 324 coed members. Both full time and part time residents. We come from 36 states and with backgrounds, from a rocket scientist to nearly every profession you can imagine. About 270 of our members are active and the remainder retired members who are no longer able to work actively.
Once a PRIDE, always a PRIDE.
THERE ARE NO DUES AND NO ATTENDANCE IS TAKEN. NO ONE GETS PAID ANYTHING. NO PAID ADVISORS, OR PAID CONSULTANTS. NO UNIFORMS. WE PROVIDE WORK GLOVES AND ORANGE VESTS. Landscape people go directly from home to their work area because the monitors bring the golf cart with all the equipment to each of the sections.Most PRIDES work in a landscaping team which maintains 26 miles of major thoroughfares and medians on Saturday mornings. We have a Tuesday team that takes care of the Helping Hands and
Foundation property at RH Johnson and Stardust Blvd.
We are driven by one simple goal------------keep this community a prideful place to live, work, and enjoy life. It is PRIDE that brings us to work, not attendance keeping, and it is PRIDE, that keeps our members working well into their nineties.
According to County Supervisor Max Wilson’s office, the PRIDES saved taxpayers $483,000 in 2007. Along with these savings, our work adds value to each of our properties. We get enormous cooperation from Maricopa County and the Rec Centers.