by Pat Willigrod
In the mid-1960’s, the Maricopa County Health Department was operating out-patient clinics out of various locations in Chandler such as the city court, the police department, the National Guard Armory and the Chandler Women’s Club. Obviously, there was a need to have a more permanent home for the clinics in order to better serve people needing medical care. So, under the leadership of the Rev. Leroy Albo, pastor of the Spanish Nazarene Church and Inez Noel, president of the Chandler Women’s Club, a group of concerned citizens, including the mayor and other city officials, came together to secure a permanent site for the clinic.
Mr. and Mrs. Edward LaMons purchased the old First Christian Church property at 40 E. Cleveland Street to convert into apartments. They donated the sanctuary building of the church to the project, which was moved to 200 West Chicago Street (Oregon and California St.) North of Frye Rd. on the Spanish Nazarene Church property. This building was to be used to consolidate all the Maricopa County Health Department Outpatient clinics into one area. The building was refurbished through a community wide effort of individual donors, civic organizations, churches and the City of Chandler.
The new clinic comprised of a small waiting room, three exam rooms and storage space for supplies, focused primarily on pre and post natal and well-baby care for women and children without health care coverage. Other medical services available were diabetes and cancer screenings, another diagnostic testing, family planning and immunizations.
This was the beginning of the Chandler Christian Community Center (CCCC) now know as AZCEND, which was dedicated on November 6, 1966, with November 7th as the official opening date. Some of the dignitaries attending the dedication included Governor Sam Goddard, Mayor George Nader, several county officials, and the District Superintendent of the Spanish Nazarene Church.
AZCEND, formerly known as Chandler Christian Community Center (CCCC), was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in January 1968. Shortly afterward, the Center sponsored Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Troops, organized a sewing circle and under the direction of Barbara Rosson from Chandler Presbyterian Church a 4H cooking class under the auspices of the University of Arizona Agricultural Extension program. Other programs and activities were added including a small food and clothing bank. The building was also used by a Salvation Army Distribution Center and the Red Cross.
Expansion of Services
Dr. Leroy Albo was the brainchild of AZCEND in the early days and under his guidance, Anna Wilson was the first volunteer manager of the Food Bank. Anna held that position for the next seven years and was Barbara Rosson’s coworker for the cooking classes. The first Board of Governors members were: President, Martha Robinson; Treasurer, Inez Noel; Barbara Rosson and Anna Wilson.
In 1969, Ogden Rico came to Chandler to work as a school counselor for Denver Elementary School and family counselor for the Chandler CAP office. He became involved with AZCEND as an extension of his work with CAP and recognized the need for a food and clothing bank to provide basic essentials for the needy in the community. He solicited $300 from Eddie Basha to purchase basic staples for the food pantry at the Center. Anna Wilson, as manager of the food bank, relied on $10 coupons provided by the CAP office, plus donations from the community. Every week they picked up groceries from the local Bashas’ Grocery Store and beans and flour from the Tempe Flour Mill.
Thus the foundation of AZCEND was laid. While much growth has taken place since our founding, we continue to stand on the shoulders of these giants who founded CCCC 50 years ago.
In November of 1966, a consortium of Chandler churches unified with the common cause of alleviating poverty in their community. Chandler Christian Community Center (CCCC) was born out of a passion “to broaden physical, mental and spiritual horizons, to strengthen family ties; to cultivate goodwill and brotherhood among all races, creeds, and nationalities.”
For the past 50 years, AZCEND has been changing lives by nourishing minds and bodies. Since rapidly expanding services beyond the Food Bank to include Community Action Program, Family Resource Center, Chandler and Gilbert Senior Centers, and I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program), AZCEND continues to change more lives in the Southeast Valley.
As we enter AZCEND’s 50th year, we would like to thank everyone for their generous contributions and inspiring volunteerism. Your contributions are a vital part of AZCEND’s story, both in the past and in the future.
Here are a few highlights from AZCEND’50-year history:
- On November 6, 1966 AZCEND was dedicated by Governor Sam Goddard, Mayor George Nader and other community members.
- In January of 1968, AZCEND was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
- In 1969, volunteers picked up groceries from the local Bashas’ grocery store along with beans and flour from the Tempe Flour Mill.
- In 1976 the California Street Baptist Church donated its property at 345 S. California Street, and the AZCEND moved to our current location. Mrs. Al Barnes, owner of the Chandler Arizonan, a local newspaper in circulation at the time, provided funds for the purchase of the building.
- In 1990, AZCEND became a United Way partner organization.
- In 1996 AZCEND obtained its first walk in refrigerator/freezer. That year, 17,000 persons received food boxes.
In 2009, current CEO Trinity Donovan began her tenure and led an expansion of AZCEND by changing lives through nourishing minds and bodies to create a connected, thriving community. AZCEND programs now include CAP (Community Assistance Program), the Family Resource Center, I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program), and AZCEND oversees the meal (Senior Nutrition) program at the Chandler Senior Center and the Senior Nutrition Program & Activities at the Gilbert Senior Center, (City of Chandler’s Parks and Recreation provide the activities at the Chandler Senior Center).