COTTONWOOD — Community and nonprofit leaders gathered Monday, April 23, at the Cottonwood Recreation Center to welcome the new leadership staff of Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters in an event sponsored by Arizona Public Service Electric Company.
Darla DeVille, APS’ community affairs manager, opened the celebration by welcoming Tania Simms, executive director of Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity, and Simms’ staff, as well as the interim executive director of Buena Vista Children’s Services, Celesta Saucedo.
DeVille said, “It’s about meaningful partnerships and the way agencies work together in the Verde, to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
“The three agencies we are celebrating today serve children and families throughout the Verde Valley, and without their dedication, many families would continue to struggle. We can all make a positive difference, together,” she said.
Joining the evening were several officials from the City of Cottonwood, including Vice Mayor Kyla Allen, Council Member Karen Pfeifer, Council Member Linda Norman, Financial Officer Rudy Rodriguez, Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Christian Oliva del Rio and Economic Director Casey Rooney. The Town of Clarkdale was represented by Council Member Bill Regner and Town Manager Gayle Mabery.
Scott Mabery, director of Yavapai County Juvenile Probation, also attended the event and said, “None of us or our agencies can make the impact needed without collaborations. The strong partnerships that we have in Yavapai County are essential to influencing the positive changes in the lives of our youth.”
Juliana Goswick, president and CEO of Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters, welcomed John McTurk as the new executive director of Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Erin Mabery as operations director. Goswick also congratulated Michael Smith on his promotion to program director.
A longtime resident of the Verde Valley, McTurk returns to the agency after serving as the Verde Valley fund development manager in 2015 and as the director of fund development and communications for Verde Valley Habitat for Humanity.
“John’s tireless efforts, fundraising talent and heartfelt connection to the mission of YBBBS is well known in the community,” Goswick said.
“I’m so excited to be returning to Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I remain committed to building the strongest community possible to meet the needs of our children,” McTurk said.
Erin Mabery is a native of Cottonwood although raised in the Phoenix area; she spent summers and weekends on the banks of the Verde at the family ranch, which is now the Blazin’ M Ranch Chuckwagon Suppers. She previously served for 15 years as executive director of Buena Vista Children’s Services in the Verde Valley.
“Erin’s passion is to help strengthen the Verde children and families,” Goswick said.
Erin Mabery serves on the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, MatForce Verde Steering Committee, Verde Valley Education Consortium, the Regional CAP Councils in Verde Valley and Show Low and the Verde Valley Forum for Public Affairs.
“I’m excited to be able to serve our children in a different way,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been training my entire professional life for this role. We have a lot of work to do because we have many children in need.”
Smith — after nearly eight years with Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters in the roles of match advisor, recruitment coordinator and, most recently, Verde Valley executive director — was introduced by Goswick in his new role.
“As a strong supporter of the agency’s mission as both a Big Brother and a longtime child advocate, Michael possesses the passion, critical thinking, case management experience and innovative spirit necessary to propel the agency’s Vision of Growth,” said Goswick.
First matched to Joseph in 2011 and now Sergio since 2015, Smith is an example of commitment, loyalty, perseverance and passion for one’s life work, she said, noting his success in child outreach, community partnerships, recruitment and fundraising.
Smith said, “Our agency is perfectly in alignment with the needs of the children in our Yavapai County communities, and we have the right staff, leadership, volunteers and relationships to make sure the children with the greatest needs are identified and matched in our program.”
With offices in Prescott and Cottonwood, Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever, the agency said in its statement. It has served more than 11,000 children since its creation 46 years ago.
— Information provided Yavapai County Big Brothers and Big Sisters