Volunteers from Blandford Homes and more than 50 trade partners provided all work and materials for a new house dedicated last week at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, 3405 N. Higley Road in Mesa.
Sunshine Acres has been in operation since 1954, when it was founded by the late Rev. Jim and Vera Dingman, according to its website.
“We’ve had 11 homes on-site, four of which are no longer standing, and this is going to be our eighth home,” Sunshine Acres Executive Director Kevin Humphrey said at an April 23 dedication in the Sunshine Acres Chapel.
The house, Bonnie’s Place, is named after the mother of builder Jeff Blandford. The 6,700-square-foot home will house 10 girls and their house parents.
“Sunshine Acres has always been dear to our family’s hearts,” Mr. Blandford said at the dedication in the chapel. “It’s not often that we get to dedicate a new building. In our case, we just build a bunch of buildings and never get to do anything like this. It’s very special to us and our trade contractors. Fifty-two different trade contractors, consultants contributed what they could to that building. Some gave everything and some did what they could,” he said.
The chapel is on a hill at the site, across from where the new house was constructed. Volunteers set up folding chairs in the aisles of the chapel as its pews were nearly overflowing with people at the dedication. Speakers included Sunshine Acres Executive Director Kevin Humphrey, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Sunshine Acres President/CEO Carol Whitworth and Mesa Vice Mayor Chris Glover.
“Lives are made on this small piece of real estate that used to be out in the middle of nowhere and now is part of our community and that’s why people give. Because they see the incredible results,” Mr. Smith said at the dedication at the chapel. “There’s a lot of nameless, faceless people who have given their hearts and souls to make these homes and every day life-changing moments happen here,” he said.
“This is a wonderful day for Mesa, especially for Sunshine Acres,” Mr. Glover said at the dedication at the chapel.
“This home is one we never dreamed of. It’s breathtaking when you go in. And this is truly another miracle,” Ms Whitworth said at the dedication at the chapel.
Sunshine Acres has cared for 1,683 children in total, she said.
“You know, we don’t receive any federal money and we have never ever turned a child away when there’s no money for their care. It’s individual gifts and we get United Way money and corporate gifts, but it’s just people who hear about the work and see the happy children and see their lives change that makes this possible. To help children in need is such a blessing and we want to help many, many more, that they would have the opportunity to break that dysfunctional cycle of their parents, and we have seen that happen with hundreds and hundreds of children,” Ms. Whitworth said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the house were held after the dedication in the chapel.
Jon Bury toured the home. It wasn’t his first walk-through; he was one of the tradesmen who volunteered to construct it, with a crew from Valleywide Fan and Light, he said.
“I did the lighting – the light fixtures,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said of the project at Sunshine Acres. “I’ve been at the end of the Valley for about six years and I wasn’t aware this was even here, until now. And I honestly didn’t understand until we listened to how many kids have come through here and how many lives have been changed the impact that this place has.”
Marjorie Jacobs, a volunteer with Two Hearts Horsemanship who works with horses and more than 40 children at Sunshine Acres, said she enjoyed the tour of the new house.
“Oh, I thought it was fantastic,” she said. “Because these kids need something like this. They need a decent place to live. Some of them have been on the streets living, some of them have been in cars living – they need a home.”
Former Mesa City Council member Dina Higgins, who serves on the Sunshine Acres board, toured the home.
“It’s amazing. I honestly don’t know anyone who lives in a house this nice. Seriously – it’s absolutely stunning,” she said.
Mr. Smith also toured the home.
“It’s awesome,” he said of the home. “This entire place – Sunshine Acres – is a place of miracles and when you look and see what Blandford has done, to step up and create this tribute to his mother and all the work she’s done here but also just what it means for the kids here and for the mission of Sunshine Acres, this is definitely one of the points of pride in our community,” Mr. Smith said.
Blandford Homes is constructing several housing subdivisions in the southeast Valley, according to its website.