The longest partnership in local philanthropy that dates back to the very first days of the community of Sun Lakes itself just took a milestone step recently.
The SLWA’s President Judy Caniglia and Vice President Marjorie Shipe recently came to the Sun Lakes fire district’s station to present SLFD Chief Troy Maloney and Deputy Chief Rob Helie with a check for $39,000.00 to complete the purchase of up-to-date portable radios for the firefighters and paramedics.
In previous years, the SLWA had donated money for the purchase of three other radios. These radios are state of the art with multiple safety and communication features that make the job for SLFD both safer and easier. They are valued at between $7,000 and $8,000 apiece, and without the wonderful assistance of the Sun Lakes Women’s Association, the SLFD would not have been able to furnish these radios in a timely fashion.
The $39,000 donation marks the single largest individual donation in the SLWA’s history. It also raised the total amount donated to the SLFD since 1974 to over $275,000.
The Women’s Association actually started as the Ladies Auxiliary to the (at the time) volunteer fire district in 1974, later changing their name and becoming the Sun Lakes Women’s Association in 1978. But they never wavered from their dedication to helping provide the firefighters and paramedics with the tools and recourses needed to do their jobs.
Though the fire district has been one of the major beneficiaries of this philanthropy, they are far from the only Sun Lakes entity to receive donations from the SLWA. Judy Caniglia, President of the SLWA, says that records show that over $1 million has been donated to a wide variety of causes and organizations since the group’s inception. “I’d say, right behind the fire district, we have donated a lot to the wonderful Sun Lakes Neighbors Who Care organization. They do a tremendous job serving this community and helping our neighbors.”
Caniglia calls her organization the “go-to” group in helping the community, as I interviewed her at their “mini bazaar” as a large crowd of interested shoppers went through an even larger assortment of gently-used furniture to purchase.
This mini bazaar, which occurs in late March/early April, is not to be confused with their three-day huge and wildly-successful bazaar which occurs in late November just before the holiday season. That event has a wide assortment of various items, such as electronics, linens, floral items, Christmas decorations, household necessities, a vintage area and new handmade crafts.
Caniglia says that proceeds from these bazaars form the majority of the monies taken in each year that in turn get put right back into the Sun Lakes community within the same calendar year. “We feel that we have a moral mandate, a goal, to return to the community these funds in a timely fashion to help worthwhile projects and groups.”
In both of these SLWA events and in a variety of other ways, the Sun Lakes Firefighters Union (Local 3560 of the International Association of Firefighters) helps provide manpower for the “moving” of the furniture and other bigger ticket items from the group’s storage area. The union, under the direction of President Ron Puchta, recognizes how valuable the SLWA’s assistance is to their district and is only too happy to provide “mutual aid” to the ladies.
SLFD Chief Troy Maloney takes the SLWA’s donations as a “partnership” and is grateful for their help. “These women are the very heart and soul of Sun Lakes. When we make a request to them, it’s sometimes not for flashy or dramatic large firematic items, but everything that they have helped us purchase through the years you can rest assured helps in our fire suppression or emergency medical care in increasingly unstable economic times for fire districts.”