Community leaders honored during Del Webb Museum gala

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Sunshine Service and Lending Hands were honored with the “Spirit of Sun Cities Award” during the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum’s Gala II fundraiser held Nov. 10. From left, Paul Herrmann, Sunshine Service Executive Director Jim Sinclair; Helping Hands Vice President Dick Catlin, Helping Hands Manager Karen Bertelsen and Museum President Edson Allen.

The Sun Cities Area Historical Society honored two long-time service organizations and the retiring CEO of Benevilla during its second annual fundraising gala held last week in Sun City.

“Jubilee Gala II,” a fundraiser to support the society-owned Del Webb Sun Cities Museum, was held Nov. 10 at Palmbrook Country Club.

Nearly 140 attended the event that included a talk by Arizona Highways Publisher Win Holden and awards presented to Sunshine Service, Lending Hands and recently retired Benevilla CEO Michelle Dionisio.

Ms. Dionisio was presented with the “Friend of the Sun Cities Award.” She retired last month after 26 years with Benevilla, a nonprofit organization providing an array of health-care services and family resources to residents in the West Valley.

Ms. Dionisio has served as the organization’s president and CEO since 2000.  Initially a Sun Cities-focused nonprofit offering adult-day care services, Ms. Dionisio led a successful $7.9 million capital campaign to expand the organization’s impact and to build an intergenerational campus in Surprise that today offers adult day health services, preschool for children, a family resource center and Birt’s Bistro.

The “Spirit of the Sun Cities Award” was presented to two organizations: Sunshine Service in Sun City and Lending Hands in Sun City West.

Both organizations lend equipment to residents in the Sun Cities at no cost. Available items include medical supplies such as beds, walkers and wheelchair, as well as temporary beds and supplies to accommodate visiting grandchildren.

Sunshine Service was created in 1961 by the Sun City Civic Association and became an independent chartered organization in 1964. Lending Hands was modeled after Sunshine Service and opened its doors in 1982.

The nonprofit Sun Cities Area Historical Society was organized in 1985 to preserve, protect and promote the history of the Sun Cities.

The society’s headquarters are located in the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum, 10801 W. Oakmont Drive, Sun City. The museum is located in one of the first five Sun City model homes constructed in 1959 by the Del Web Corporation.

The museum is open 1-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Admission is free. Call 623-974-2568.

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Win Holden, publisher of Arizona Highways Magazine, was the keynote speaker for the event. Win shared the history of the magazine and interesting stories along the way. At the end of his talk,  President Allen presented Win with a special collection of museum books.

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A big surprise during the event: Jerry Walczak presented a donation of $5,000 to the museum on behalf of the Friends of the Sun City Libraries. Jerry serves as liaison between the Sun City Rec Centers and the museum’s Board of Trustees. He was previously president of the Friends of the Sun City Libraries.

Sun City West jazzy-poms

Sun City West jazzy poms performed.

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