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The Spirit of Giving

BY By Riki Altman-Yee, Lauren Swanson and Helena Kontos | October 31, 2016 | Feature Features National

These Valley locals and top-notch organizations are showing the country that they will never let wishing wells run dry—even in the desert.
Humanitarian Paula Wichterman rarely stops giving her time and energy for causes like Homeward Bound.

Paula Witcherman
Homeward Re-Bound

In the past decade, Paula Wichterman has worn many hats, some figurative and some literal. Between her husband, four kids ranging in age from 11 to 21, and three pugs, she is constantly on the go—and not too long ago, she was also juggling a senior-level banking job. Yet for at least the last decade, Wichterman has also dedicated a great deal of time volunteering locally for countless charities, and she remains involved with Heart Ball, Accel school and Xavier College Preparatory’s annual auction. But her main focus is Homeward Bound in Phoenix, founded in 1990 with the aim of providing homeless families pathways out of poverty. Sticking to its mantra of giving “a hand up, not a handout,” Homeward Bound offers 12 to 24 months of housing and support services, including childcare and budgeting assistance; though residents are required to pay a percentage of their income for rent in an effort to learn accountability. “The only way to break the cycle of homelessness is to educate someone,” she says. For years, the charity’s annual Derby Affair fundraiser, which recreated the Kentucky Derby in the desert (sans actual ponies), brought in quite a bit of money, but the economic climate changed and the fundraising committee decided it was time to take things in a different direction. Wichterman hints that the new annual Homeward Bound fundraising event, planned for spring 2017, might be along the lines of an invitation-only, upscale picnic, and it is expected to draw a very swank crowd. Whatever happens, Wichterman is excited to start getting desperately needed funds into Homeward Bound’s coffers again, since the campus is at maximum capacity and in need of household goods for its existing apartments. “I’ve had a lot of people help me along my way, so I always think about that,” she says, “People helped me when I didn’t have a lot. Everybody needs help now and then.” Homeward Bound,

Anniversary Spotlight
The Board of Visitors’ 102nd Annual Charity Ball

Founded in 1908 by a group of women who volunteered to visit patients at a tuberculosis sanitarium, The Board of Visitors has since donated more than $18 million to help Phoenician women, children and elders with their myriad health care needs. Last year, the organization raised $800,000 via its three major fundraisers, culminating with the Annual Charity Ball, claimed to be the longest-running philanthropic event in Arizona. Recognizing its 102nd anniversary, the Ball is steeped in tradition. Perhaps the most photoworthy example is the presentation of the Flower Girls, a tribute to the group of young ladies who started selling blooms in 1937 to bring in additional funds for the organization. Once the party moves to the ballroom, the dozens of high schoolers who dedicated their senior year to service will partake in a father-daughter waltz. No question, this event boasts elegance in spades. April 8, JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, 5402 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, 602.235.9554,

Number Crunch

The percentage of young adults with autism who intern at Beneficial Beans and become gainfully employed. Beneficial Beans is a nonprofit enterprise that trains and prepares autistic adults by allowing them practical and social experience working in its cafe.®-café

Most Entertaining Gala

Celebrity Fight Night XXIII Next year marks the first time in 18 years that Muhammad Ali will not walk the red carpet as a featured guest at Celebrity Fight Night. The boxing champion, who passed away in early June, has been synonymous with the charity event since its inception in 1993. CFN is one of the largest grossing of its kind in the country, with a whopping $123 million raised to date, most of which go to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. Though none of the VIPs had confirmed their attendance as of press time, the 2017 installment will no doubt attract an impressive roster of A-listers looking to pay tribute to “The Champ.” “We have many well-known celebrities who have told us they wish to attend,” eludes Jimmy Walker, CFN’s chairman and founder. Past performers include Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Bublé, Kelly Clarkson and Rascal Flatts. March 17, from $1,500, JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, 5350 E. Marriott Drive, Phoenix, 602.956.1121,

Year in Review

Just when it seems they have achieved the impossible, local charities keep raising the bar, starting with the Valley of the Sun Active 20-30 Club ( This group of young, local ladies had an immensely successful Annual Wine Soiree last November, bringing in more than $30,000 for Valley Kids Foundation. Grants went to multiple charities, including Child Crisis Arizona, Banner Children’s Hospital and Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped. >> A record-breaking $668,000 was brought in by five competing philanthropists and their teams at the 2016 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year Campaign (, with winners Ruben Alvarez, managing partner of Molera Alvarez; and Geri Farr, senior vice president and regional manager of Nova Home Loans, and their teams wrangling in nearly one-third of the donations alone. >> And breaking its own record for fundraising, the annual PANDA Luncheon (, attended by approximately 1,000 patrons, brought in a whopping $1 million in funds for the PANDA Personalized Pediatric Medicine Project at UA Steele Children’s Research Center. The 18th Annual Children Helping Children Fashion Show and Luncheon returns March 25.

Charity Buzz
Good Service

Those looking for the perfect excuse to indulge in lemon-poppyseed pancakes, Reuben sandwiches topped with housemade corned beef brisket and roasted chile Benedict need only visit The Joy Bus Diner, the Valley’s first nonprofit restaurant. Opened in July by good Samaritan Jennifer Caraway, the eatery serves hearty breakfasts and lunches Tuesdays through Sundays, and every cent earned goes to support The Joy Bus, a four-wheeled welcome wagon that delivers free meals and smiles to homebound cancer patients around the Valley. Local restaurateurs, chefs and others donated funds, supplies, sweat and time to help her create the space. “It is truly a blessing to watch something of this magnitude come together, built by our community in benefit of our community,” she says. “I am hopeful that we can continue and open more Joy Bus Diners across not only the Valley, but the nation!” 3375 E. Shea Blvd., Ste. C-1, Phoenix, 602.595.5884,

Photography Courtesy Of: