News Briefs

Attending the AAUW Northwest Valley meeting were, front row seated, Diane Preston, Marilyn Keizer, Jane Trok and Sally Heckt, and standing, Cheryl Anderson, Jessica Hoss, Linda Clancy, Joanne Matlack-Robison, Dorothy Alexander, Karen Hilleman, Mary Beltz, Jane French, Sheryl Thielke and Marilyn Crider. (Photo courtesy AAUW Northwest Valley)

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Sun Lakes Republican schedules next meeting

Border Patrol Agent Art Del Cueto will discuss Southern border issues at the Sun Lakes Republican Club’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, in the Arizona Room of the Sun Lakes Country Club, 25601 S. Sun Lakes Boulevard, Sun Lakes. The public is invited.

Del Cueto has been with the U.S. Border Patrol since 2003, patrolling the Southern border for the past 17 years. He responds to more than 90% of all significant incidents within the Tucson Sector, including shootings, accidents and agent assaults.

As an agent who is fluent in Spanish, he routinely leads the questioning of apprehended subjects.

Music has always been a large part of Del Cueto’s life. Throughout his high school and college years he played in a heavy metal band. His love for live music keeps him engaged with communities throughout the West.

Also during the meeting, Rep. Jeff Weninger will provide a state legislative update.

Info: 480-802-0178,

Jewish War Veterans poppy program continues

Memorial Day, red paper poppies and the Jewish War Veterans Copper State Post 619 have been synonymous for the past 25 years. The Sun Lakes JWV Poppy Program raises funds for local veterans’ organizations in the Phoenix area to offset costs for thousands of men, women and their families who served our country in all branches of the military.

Barbara Eylands, a resident of Freedom Plaza serving on the Plaza del Rio Foundation, awards a spring 2020 scholarship to Marlee Burgess, of Freedom Plaza’s dining services. The four-time scholarship recipient is enrolled at ASU with a goal of earning a business administration degree. (Photo by Marla Levine)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Post 619 will be posted at Chandler/Sun Lakes Fry’s grocery stores on Memorial Day weekend to collect donations.

One of the organizations JWV assists is Veterans First, which helps vets and their spouses, surviving spouses, veterans with compromised health, disabled veterans, and veterans struggling with families with children. Veterans First works to provide food for elderly and vulnerable veterans.

U.S. Vets-Phoenix also benefits from money raised by the poppy sales. Jewish War Veterans Post 619 has donated over $42,000 to the organization.

To donate to the poppy fund, send a check to Jewish War Veterans Copper State Post 619, P.O. Box 13113, Sun Lakes, AZ. 85248.

Info:, 480-588-1827

Plaza del Rio Foundation awards 13 spring scholarships

The Plaza del Rio Foundation’s Spring 2020 Scholarship Awards Presentation honored 13 employees from Freedom Plaza Retirement Community, Freedom Plaza Care Center and Peoria Post Acute & Rehabilitation, all located on the Plaza del Rio Campus in Peoria.

Funded by resident donations, the William T. and Laura Lou Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded $27,763 in scholarships. Founded 23 years ago, the Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund has awarded 436 scholarships, funding $620,082 for tuition and books since 1997.

“Thirteen worthy students qualified for spring 2020 scholarships,” says Gail Poolner, board president. “We do not select the recipients. They select themselves by fulfilling the scholarship requirements. Tonight, we are proud to show the benefits of your donations.”

The spring 2020 scholarship recipients from Freedom Plaza Independent Living include business office employee Kristi Silva; concierge Stephanie Guzman; custom care Alyssa Linares; dining services Marlee Burgess, Courtney Doss, Cristian Jacobo, Lauren Lucas and Ashleigh Perkins; and marketing Erynn Duran; as well as staff from Freedom Plaza Care Center rehab tech Kara Payment; resident programs Deborah Ingram and Sergio Torres; and Peoria Post Acute & Rehabilitation dining services Adelyne Gomez.

“It’s been a true blessing,” says Doss, a five-time scholarship recipient enrolled in the nursing program at Grand Canyon University. “Amazing to start my career as a nurse debt free.”

To learn more about the Plaza del Rio Foundation and William T. and Laura Lou Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund, call 623-815-4013.

The Freedom Plaza Retirement Campus, located at 13373 Plaza del Rio Boulevard in Peoria, features 345 entry-fee independent-living apartments, 65 assisted-living apartments at The Inn with 20 additional apartments providing specialized Alzheimer’s or dementia care, plus skilled nursing and rehabilitation services at Freedom Plaza Care Center. Visit for more information.

Forum friends celebrate centenarian’s good fortune

Masuko Sato, a 15-year resident of The Forum at Desert Harbor, celebrated her 100th birthday in style on February 17. In the Japanese tradition for marking special milestones in life, Sato donned an ankle-length, silk kimono to her coming-of-centenarian-age celebration.

The Forum Center was filled with more than 100 residents and staff singing “Happy Birthday” wishes accompanied by 10-year resident accordionist Shirley Santas. The tunes and an array of appetizers, including sushi and shrimp cocktail, hit a high note before the birthday cake was served.

Another close friend and 15-year resident, Katie Baskett, created two large picture boards featuring the myriad of activities Sato has shared with Forum friends, as well as career highlights. Sato’s workaday world experience began as an interpreter with the U.S. Army, then took flight assisting with the startup of America West Airlines, which later landed her work with a travel agency and a chance to globetrot. In retirement, she attends a great deal of events. Sato was a natural at caring for the roses in her courtyard, picking blossoms to brighten assisted-living and retirement residences.

Masuko Sato, a 15-year resident of The Forum at Desert Harbor, celebrates her 100th birthday festivities in style by wearing a kimono reminiscent of her Japanese heritage. (Photo by Marla Levine)

“Masuko has participated in so many activities and outings throughout the years—all the exercise classes, plus scores of cards, games and parties,” says Margie O’Boyle, The Forum at Desert Harbor’s Lifestyle 360 program director. “She traveled the world extensively. Her zest for life has been so inspiring. She loves everyone and everything.”

The Forum at Desert Harbor is a waterfront retirement community located at 13840 N. Desert Harbor Drive, north of Thunderbird Road at 91st Avenue in Peoria. For more information, call 623-972-0995 or visit

Northwest Valley AAUW celebrates new members

New and prospective members of AAUW Northwest Valley were invited to a new member coffee on February 13. Many of them offered to join AAUW’s many committees. AAUW’s mission is to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education and advocacy. AAUW provides women the opportunity to join a circle of women intent on breaking through educational and economic barriers to enable women and girls to enjoy success in their professional, community and personal lives.

Membership is open to anyone holding an associate’s, bachelor’s or higher education degree from a regionally accredited college or university. For more information, call 623-572-4676.

Southeast Valley AAUW elects new leaders

Candace Cox is joining Mary Humecke to lead the Southeast Valley Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) as co-presidents. They assume their new roles July 1, with Humecke starting the second year of her two-year term.

Members also elected Judi Edmonds and Judy Baur, program vice presidents; Beth Zdeblick, membership vice president; and Debra Austin, secretary, to the branch’s executive board. The Southeast Valley Branch of AAUW draws members from Chandler, Gilbert, Ahwatukee, Tempe and Sun Lakes.

Humecke, who joined AAUW in 2019, has a bachelor’s degree in child development from San Jose State University. After working in the savings and loan business, she spent more than three decades in the telecommunications industry with AT&T, Lucent Technologies and Avaya. Following retirement, she earned a master’s degree in biology from Miami University.

“Our branch is full of interesting women with diverse backgrounds and unique experiences,” Humecke notes. “We work together to further our national organization’s mission of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, training and fellowships. Our informative monthly programs and public policy outreach give us many opportunities to do that, while our varied interest groups help members get to know each other better.”

Cox, who joined AAUW in 2019, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business and marketing from the University of Iowa and the University of Arizona, respectively. She was director of the University of Denver’s Center for Management Development before launching UNIVentures, a consulting firm sourcing and managing faculty/trainers, consultants, U.S. universities and learning events for companies and government entities around the world.

“We’re fortunate to be part of a national organization that’s been advocating for women and girls since 1881,” Cox says. “In the 30 years since our Southeast Valley Branch began, we’ve been actively supporting our communities, awarding local scholarships and promoting opportunities for women.  With nearly 100 members and growing, we see many possibilities for our branch to continue to develop and thrive.”

AAUW membership is open to graduates holding an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university.