The ARC Board of Directors honored Mary Guzman and Anna Sanchez for their 44 years of service to the ARC Board and the Training Center at their annual Thanksgiving awards dinner.
A short four days after being honored, Anna Sanchez passed away, Mary Guzman, who has spearheaded every major activity in Superior, for many years, is ill. With the loss of such a good friend to the community, especially the Catholic Church, and the worry over the illness of another, this article, taking primarily from the words Rosalind Padilla shared at the dinner, was submitted a little later than expected.
Forty-four years ago, this past August, Joanne Sanchez, Christina Lopez, Mike Aguilar, Joey Schertz, and Rosie Alvarado arrived on the Ray Elementary campus from Superior; Anna Quiroz and Cherie Tinsdale from Kearny; Billy Apodaca , Kenny Laughlin from Hayden;Joe Blanco, Lora Young from Mammoth; and John Bencomo from San Manuel.
Up until that day in August of 1969, these young persons sat at home, unable to go to school like their brothers and sisters. Anna Sanchez enrolled Joanne in Gompers Rehab in Phoenix for speech therapy. This was when the outskirts of Phoenix was 24th St and it was a long, empty drive on a two lane highway to get there, with no malls, casinos, freeways or anything else to break the monotony; just dirt and cacti.
The ARC of Northeastern Pinal County was formed in July. Mary C. O’Brien, the School Superintendent had realized that services were needed in the Northeastern area of Pinal County and had applied for a grant some months before. A teacher had already been hired, before it was known if services would be established in Florence or Kearny. In August, the word was given that Kearny was the location selected. That was how Pinal Accommodation School, later to be renamed the Pinal Special Ed., began.
Enrollment increased quickly, and it became apparent that a program was needed for older students. Three years later, applications were submitted for an adult program. $5,000 in grant money was awarded to start the Training Program for young adults, with one stipulation: funds had to be matched, dollar for dollar.
The budget included the Pinal Accommodation School, the Centers matching funds, Special Olympics and other activities. The total amount needed was divided by the number of students. This meant that the figures changed each year, but, the fact that the parents had to endure much hardship and come up with hard won finances was a constant. That was a lot of burros, enchiladas, tamales, golf tournaments and bingos.
Anna Sanchez took over this task for Superior and was assisted by her best friend Mary Guzman . They worked side by side for the ARC, 44 year, watching the program grow. Sadly, after all the years worked and hardships overcome, the ARC is back to square one, with budget cuts forcing programs to close.
Joanne Sanchez, who was 15, attended the very first Special Olympics held in Arizona in 1969 at Balz School in Tempe. She was runner, bowler, swimmer, played volleyball, skied and loved to dance.
“All the students are part of the Padilla family and we share great memories of our work with these families. Joe Sanchez was in charge of Little League and his family helped sell the most beautiful Christmas trees. For several years, he delivered them to our hours and we sold Christmas trees, from our yard, for the ARC,” said Rosalind Padilla, in her speech, honoring the fine work of the ARC.
Continuing, she said: “Today, we honor Anna Sanchez for the care and understanding of her daughter, for the many hours of service to the Center and the ARC Board. For all of the thousands of dollars she raised on behalf of the Superior youth who traveled daily to Kearny from Superior, Approx 14,960 days. We appreciate all you have done.”
“Mary Guzman we honor you for standing by your friend Anna. Thank you for 44 years of service to the ARC, The Center Board, for the gallons and bushels of food you prepared and bingo cards you collected.. One thing I learned from working those Bingo Games is that you don’t mess with Bingo Players. How may Tootsie Rolls did you help the Knights sell? Helping Mr. Schertz with his golf tournaments, Donkey Basketball, Pioneer Days and our great Christmas Bazaars. You have held every office of the Center Board, most recently being the membership chairman and without a computer.
Mary you have shared the good times and the bad times with Anna. Every thing I said about Anna, you were at her side supporting her, even in the earlier years before school was available. What a great friend you are to work 44 years With AND For a friend and supporting the Center for Training.”