News Briefs

by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski and Marla Levine

Plaza del Rio Foundation awards record dollars, scholars

The Plaza del Rio Foundation awarded $44,000 in scholarships for the fall 2020 semester to 18 employees of Freedom Plaza Retirement Community, Freedom Plaza Care Center and Peoria Post-Acute and Rehabilitation, all located on the Plaza del Rio Campus in Peoria.

Due to ongoing concerns posed by the coronavirus pandemic, for the health and well-being of all involved, Freedom Plaza did not hold its semiannual scholarship awards ceremony this season.

“We are sad that we cannot honor our student recipients at a formal presentation,” says Gail Poolner, president of the Plaza del Rio Foundation. “It has been a difficult year given the closings of so many schools and not being able to interface with our employees.

“Yet, it is our biggest year, both in dollars and number of awardees. We have 18 scholarship recipients and will be providing more than $44,000 to their colleges and universities.”

The fall 2020 scholarship recipients from Freedom Plaza Retirement Community include: business office Kristi Silva; concierge Stephanie Guzman; dining services Lauren Bettino, Hailey Bretall, Jaycee Burgess, Marlee Burgess, Monty Gregory, Cristian Jacobo, Lauren Lucas, Vy Nguyen, Ashleigh Perkins, Jessica Valls and Tara Wilson; and marketing Erynn Duran; as well as staff from Freedom Plaza Care Center caregivers Miyako Herrera and Monica Ruehle; nurse Anivi Dragbovie-Johnson; and Peoria Post-Acute and Rehabilitation dining services Adelyne Gomez.

“I am very proud of the hard work of the scholarship committee,” Poolner says. “We are very grateful to our executive director, Jai Larman, and Director of Resident Programs Claudette Morrison and the members of her department.”

In addition to Poolner, the Freedom Plaza residents serving on the Plaza del Rio Foundation include Vice President Barbara Donald; scholarship committee Chairman Robert Duncan; Treasurer Doris Young; finance committee Glenn Bennett and Dorothy Weinland; fundraising Pat Giunta and David Mosley; publicity Barbara Eylands and Paul Meeden; Secretary Ruth Ann Ditto; GED committee Chairwoman Kathy Keay; scholarship adviser Mary Koleski; as well as Bill Zimmerman, liaison to Peoria Post-Acute and Rehabilitation.

Founded 23 years ago, the William T. and Laura Lou Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded 454 scholarships, funding $664,082 for tuition and books since 1997.

The Freedom Plaza Retirement Campus is at 13373 Plaza del Rio Boulevard in Peoria. It 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.

Info: 623-815-4013,

FSL receives $2 to help
with utilities, rent

FSL (Foundation for Senior Living) and Wildfire (formerly Arizona Community Action Association) have agreed to help Phoenix residents who need assistance with their rent or mortgage and utility bills, including electric, gas or city of Phoenix water.

These funds were allocated to city of Phoenix under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Phoenix COVID-19 Program is offered through December 30, to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re so appreciative of this opportunity to help those in need throughout our community,” says Tom Egan, president and CEO, FSL.

“We know Phoenix residents are in need of assistance. If you have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and are struggling to keep up with your monthly payments, please call us to see if you qualify for assistance through this program.”

FSL also has other funds available for Maricopa County residents who need utility assistance and/or appliance repair/replacement.

Call FSL’s Care Design Program at 602-285-0505 ext. 180 or email to discuss qualifications and eligibility requirements for these financial assistance programs.

To learn more about FSL’s programs or make a donation, visit us at FSL has a dedicated page for updates and support on COVID-19 at

Sun City West Broadcast Club gives to Banner hospitals

The Broadcast Club of Sun City West and 103.1 KSCW made a contribution to the COVID heroes at Banner Hospital. This was possible through the generous underwriters and friends in the area who support the club and radio station.

With the partnership of Babbo’s Italian Restaurants and a $2,000 contribution from the club, 225 prepackaged sandwich meals were delivered to Banner Boswell and Banner Del Webb hospitals.

“The doctors, nurses and support staff at these hospitals sacrifice so much to save lives during these trying times. This is a much-needed way that we can say ‘thanks,’” says Joel Piaskowski, KSCW’s director of underwriting.

“Our club’s board of directors, members and area businesses who are an integral part of the Sun City West community created the perfect synergy to show Banner Hospital what they mean to the community,” adds Mark Johnson, president of the Broadcast Club.

New Frontiers for Life-Long Learning fall semester
is underway

New Frontiers for Life-Long Learning is holding most of its classes online this semester due to coronavirus.

Social opportunities exist with outdoor hiking and discussion groups. An MCC student ID card gives NFLL members discounts on MCC campuses and in the community.

NFLL is a peer-led, self-directed organization of more than 400 members operating under the sponsorship of Mesa Community College.

NFLL classes are one to two hours and in some cases over a period of weeks. There are no tests, grades or credits. The fee is $60.

For more information call MCC Community Partnership Office at 480-461-7497 or visit