News Briefs

The Plaza del Rio Foundation raised $22,250 in resident contributions that were presented as fall 2019 scholarship awards to 11 employees of the Freedom Plaza Retirement Campus. Freedom Plaza’s executive director, Jai Larman, front left, Plaza del Rio Foundation president, Gail Poolner, and Foundation Board members honor the scholarship recipients, descending the staircase: Deborah Ingram, Stephanie Guzman, Reyna Duran, Marlee Burgess, Courtney Doss, Kara Payment, Sergio Torres, Erynn Duran, and Sylvia Omwancha. Not pictured are Kristi Silva and Alyssa Linares. (Photo courtesy Marla Levine)

Compiled by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Plaza del Rio Foundation presents 11 scholarships

The Plaza del Rio Foundation honored 11 employees of Freedom Plaza Retirement Campus at its Fall 2019 Scholarship Awards Presentation in Peoria.

Funded by resident donations, the William T. and Laura Lou Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded $22,250 in scholarships to 11 students for the fall 2019 semester. Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, work experience, and financial assistance needed to achieve their goals.

The fall 2019 scholarship recipients from Freedom Plaza Independent Living include: business office Kristi Silva; concierge Stephanie Guzman; custom care Alyssa Linares; dining services Marlee Burgess, Reyna Duran, and Courtney Doss; 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 The Inn Assisted Living & Memory Care caregiver Sylvia Omwancha.

“This is my 12th scholarship presentation that I am overseeing,” says Freedom Plaza’s executive director, Jai Larman. “It never gets old. It is a privilege to be a part of the board. The sole mission is to further education of individuals for the greater good of the community. Students take this opportunity to soar.”

The Riggs Memorial Scholarship Fund has awarded 423 scholarships since 1997, funding $592,319 for tuition and books at the college, nursing or technical school of choice.

“As I go into my final semester, I cherish the special bonds made here,” says six-time scholarship recipient, Reyna Duran. She plans to graduate in December with a speech and hearing science degree from ASU.

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.

Arizona World Travel Expo has raffle prizes

The sixth annual World Travel Expo is returning to the West Valley, near the Westgate Entertainment District, on October 6 featuring an expo hall with travel destinations and expanded content and seminars.

Throughout the expo, exhibitors from the top cruise lines and land and tour operators will offer travel show specials. Ford’s World Travel is the event producer.

Raffle tickets will be $5 each or five for $20 to win a myriad of great prizes, such as hotel staycations, spa services, golf, and the grand prize of a cruise for two. All proceeds for the event will go to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The World Travel Expo is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, October 6, at the Renaissance Hotel & Spa’s Solana Ballroom, 9495 W. Coyotes Boulevard, Glendale. Cocktails will be available to purchase on the showroom floor.

Tickets are free in advance online at or email At the door, tickets are $5.

Willowbrook hosts caregiver support group

Willowbrook United Methodist Church is partnering with Benevilla C.A.R.E.S. to sponsor a general caregiver support group from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. the first and third Thursdays in the church library.

The group features educational speakers and peer support. There is no charge to attend the support group and it is open to all caregivers at the church and surrounding community.

RSVP is required on Sundays or by calling Pastor Sande Kimbel at 623-974-5637. If you have questions about support groups for specific illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, call the Benevilla office at 623-584-4999 or visit its website at Willowbrook UMC is at 19390 N. 99th Avenue, Sun City.

LifeStream at Thunderbird mourns death of Taffy

Losing a pet can be emotionally devastating, especially for seniors who find companionship and a sense of purpose in caring for a pet. That’s why LifeStream at Thunderbird arranged a special service in the community’s chapel to offer support and help residents grieve the passing of Taffy, a beloved canine companion whose recent death was felt across the community.

Attendees enjoyed baked cookies in the shape of dog bones and shared memories of Taffy, and came together to support each other while expressing their love and grief. The chaplain highlighted how she taught all of them the value of friendship, and even joked that when Taffy attended services, he interpreted her barks as an “amen.”

LifeStream Complete Senior Living has a 40-year legacy of serving seniors. As a faith-based, nonprofit organization, it offers a complete spectrum of accommodations and services for the senior adult community in the Valley. Info:

Sunday dancing in Sun Lakes

The Sun Lakes Sunday Dance Club is gearing up to host events featuring live bands featuring music from the 1950s to 1970s, plus ballroom, country and line dancing at Cottonwood Country Club, San Tan Ballroom, 25630 S. Brentwood Drive, Sun Lakes.

Dances run from 6 to 9 p.m.; optional dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is $12; season tickets are available at a discount. The scheduled dances are September 22; October 13; November 10; December 8; January 5, January 26 and March 29.

A formal dance banquet with dinner is March 1. Tickets are $50 and reservations are required.

For more information, call 480-699-7334, email or visit

A dress code is strictly enforced: business casual to formal required. No shorts, T-shirts, frayed or torn jeans, flip-flops or tennis shoes. Ladies must not wear midriff-exposing tops, shorts or dresses above mid-thigh.