News Briefs

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Group promotes children’s literacy 

The American Association of University Women, Northwest Valley Girlfriends and More Special Interest Group helped promote literacy for children at the Youngtown Public Library.  

The ladies were greeted by library manager Mary Vass when they brought a trunkload of children’s books. She reads to children weekly and indulged the women in a cute and funny story. 

Among those who attended were Bonnie Boyce Wilson, Melinda Lewanduski, Anne Burris, Nancy Flann, Suzanne James, Fran Pleschet, co-chairs Rosemary Dougherty and Sharon Phleps, and library manager Mary Vass.

The American Association of University Women, Northwest Valley Branch meets on the Third Thursday of each month from September to May. Each meeting features speakers, and the organization hosts special interest groups. 

The organization’s purpose is to raise money for scholarships for women and girls. 

Membership is open to anyone who earned an associate’s degree, bachelor’s or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university. 

To raise scholarship funds, the AAUW will host a fashion show on Monday, Jan. 16, at the Foundation Rooms, 14465 RH Johnson Boulevard, Sun City West. 

Shopping is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. after the luncheon. The meal is $35, and guests have a choice of chicken piccata or pork tenderloin in apricot sauce. Accompaniments include au gratin potatoes, green beans, salad and roll, with a coconut cake dessert. Wine is available by donation.

To join, call Cynthia Ferguson at 774-284-0471.

The Sun Cities Senior Softball Club and the Angels in the Outfield collected food and funds for St. Mary’s and Valley View food banks. From left are Linda Mellon, Nick Missos, Larry Adams and George Lorentzen. (Sun Cities Senior Softball Club/Submitted)

Athletes collect food for less fortunate

The Sun Cities Senior Softball Club and the Angels in the Outfield collected food and funds for St. Mary’s and Valley View food banks. 

The clubs collected $3,700 in food and cash donations during the week of Nov. 7.   

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute expands training, mentoring

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is expanding a virtual training and mentoring program for Phoenix metro area physicians and other primary care professionals to help them effectively treat patients with cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

The Dementia ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a free, 12-week course funded by Maricopa County. Banner Alzheimer’s plans to train up to 250 frontline clinicians over the next 14 months to help them feel more capable in diagnosing and managing memory disorders. The program aims to help patients and caregivers receive more effective care from local providers they know and trust.

“Dementia ECHO leverages technology to disseminate specialist centers’ dementia care knowledge to frontline practitioners,” says Dr. Ganesh Gopalakrishna, associate clinical medical director for BAI’s Stead Family Memory Center in Phoenix. “The Maricopa County grant helps us expand the program, thus helping to reduce disparities in health care access in the community.”

For each one-hour session, program participants will connect virtually with instructors/mentors who specialize in Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Each session will include brief lectures to share evidence-based practices in care across a range of topics such as: remote cognitive testing; medications; behavior management; disease progression; caregiver support; conveying diagnoses, prognoses, and issues such as driving, advance directives, and end-of-life care. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to present their challenging patient cases (de-identified) for expert advice and discussion.

More than 6 million Americans have dementia, and as the proportion of older adults continues to grow in Maricopa County, more Arizonans will be living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Project ECHO, initially developed by the New Mexico Health Science Center, is intended to help lessen these burdens on primary providers while elevating their expertise in specialty care. Banner Alzheimer’s Dementia ECHO launched in 2020 with plans to expand across Banner Health and other health systems, and to attract care providers from a range of disciplines in diverse and underserved communities.

“For patients and families, delayed detection and management of dementia results in worse outcomes, higher caregiver stress levels, and fragmented, often redundant care,” Gopalakrishna says. “For the health care system, a shortage of specialists in this field places a heavier burden on other providers to manage care of these patients.”

Training will involve five cohorts. Medical professionals interested in participating should contact


Optum Opens East Mesa Community Center 

In line with its mission to help people live healthier lives, Optum Arizona opened its doors on October 31 to a new community center designed to be a neighborhood hub for people 55 and older in Mesa.

The new Mesa Optum Community Center joins four other centers located across the greater Phoenix area, along with one in Tucson. Each center welcomes local seniors to come together to improve their physical, social and overall well-being through informative educational seminars, engaging physical activity sessions and fulfilling social events. Optum Community Centers, including the center in Mesa, are unique in offering a capability adaptable fitness facility, classes and living room space, all 100% free of charge for anyone 55 and older, regardless of their connection to Optum.

Optum community center activities are led by local experts in their respective fields. Certified personal trainers teach Pilates, chair yoga, Zumba, tai chi; native speakers host foreign language classes; and, dietitians lead nutrition information workshop. Social opportunities include movie nights and a comfortable living room with tables for cards and other games. 

Additionally, wellness exams, such as annual check-ups, retinal imaging, bone density tests and neuropathy tests, to name a few, are provided at the centers specifically for Optum members. 

Info:,, 1-866-358-8295

Chandler OKs public housing project for seniors

The Chandler City Council on October 27 approved a development agreement with Gorman and Company LLC to co-develop Villas on McQueen, a 5-acre site at McQueen Road and Chandler Boulevard. 

The project will be a newly constructed family and senior multifamily housing site with approximately 157 housing units that will include a mixture of sizes from one to five bedrooms. 

The project also will include a multigenerational community space and park area. Seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans will be given priority to reside at this new housing site. There are 22 senior residents currently housed that will be transitioned to the new site once it’s completed, along with 28 additional seniors.

Funding for Villas on McQueen will be provided through multiple state and federal programs. No funds from the city’s general fund will be used for this project. The site is expected to be completed in early 2025.

In July, the Chandler City Council passed a resolution authorizing staff to explore a public-private partnership known as rental assistance demonstration (RAD) program with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The RAD program and other HUD repositioning programs offer Public Housing Authorities (like Chandler) the ability to reposition their public housing assets by creating public-private partnerships to access funding to improve properties and build at other locations.

With this approved development agreement with Gorman and Company, Chandler is one step closer to its goal of repositioning its current public housing stock, modernizing its aging facilities, and creating much needed affordable housing options for families and seniors.

Gorman and Company has a successful track record of co-development projects in the Phoenix area and across the country. In addition, the city will continue to work closely with Gorman and Company throughout the buildout process while ensuring the maintenance of these properties is held to high standards.