PHOENIX -- Investing in the future of Phoenix means investing in Valley children and their education.
That's exactly what Boys Hope Girls Hope Arizona is doing and they're getting some non-traditional help from Donley Service Center, which has deep roots and a vested interest in helping Phoenix be the best city it can be.
Boys Hope Girls Hope is a nonprofit organization designed to nurture the talents of academically motivated low-income, at-risk kids. The organization's residential and community-based programs help students develop the self-confidence, discipline and focus needed to thrive not just in the academic world, but in life, as well.
Dreams that might otherwise have been out of their reach, including a college degree, become possible thanks to Boys Hope Girls Hope.
"The foundation of Boys Hope Girls Hope is providing access to quality education," said Pamela Fronk-Cole, the program director for Boys Hope Girls Hope Arizona.
But it's not just about academics.
"The ability to support our kids with tutoring, counseling and after-school sports is important in their positive social and emotional development," Fronk-Cole explained.
Such a multipronged approach to helping children develop their futures is a massive undertaking. And an expensive one.
The Boys Hope Girls Hope staff and volunteers are extremely dedicated, but they cannot do it alone.
Mike Donley shows off an air-conditioning unit his company donated and installed at one of the Boys Hope Girls Hope homes.
That’s where people like Mike Donley, president of Donley Service Center, come in. His award-winning company handles the plumbing and air-conditioning maintenance on the two Boys Hope Girls Hope houses, including donating and installing an air-conditioning unit at the girls' residence, and they do it for free. It started with Donley doing a friend a favor and blossomed from there.
"I didn't even know what Boys Hope Girls Hope was," Donley said. "I had to learn over time what they did."
The relationship between Boys Hope Girls Hope and Donley Service Center goes back 10 years. In 2011 alone, Donley Service Center donated more than $3,000 in repairs and services.
"With [that] support from Donley Service Center, we were able to channel money into extracurricular activities for our kids that we wouldn't be able to afford without them," Fronk-Cole said, referring to those tutoring, counseling and sports endeavors.
In some cases, part of helping these kids live up to their potential and succeed means providing a stable home environment for scholars who need it, hence the residential program.
Each one of the two Boys Hope Girls Hope houses is home to eight scholars. There's one house for the boys and one for the girls. Those houses are their primary residences. The scholars live there all year long, along with Boys Hope Girls Hope staff.
"If we can't maintain a safe, quality living environment, then we're not doing them [the kids] any service," Fronk-Cole said.
As any homeowner will tell you, problems come up -- a leaky faucet, a blown pipe, an AC unit breaks down in the middle of summer. When such issues inevitably occur at either of the Boys Hope Girls Hope houses, Donley Service Center comes to the rescue.
Pamela Fronk-Cole is the program director of Boys Hope Girls Hope Arizona.
"Having those kinds of services donated to the organization alleviates a lot of stress and anxiety," Fronk-Cole said. "There's a lot of peace that comes with knowing we can just pick up the phone and get what we need."
"We're just a plumbing and air-conditioning company," Donley said. "Our middle name is 'service.' That certainly involves taking care of paying customers, but there's another aspect of it -- serving the community and giving back."
That involvement in the community is one of the foundations on which Donley Service Center is built.
The air-conditioning and plumbing industries in general have bad reputations. Donley doesn't want those sweeping generalizations applied to his company.
"There's a lot of distrust in the community of our industry," he said. "We're just trying to be the 'good guys' in the industry. [Helping Boys Hope Girls Hope] is just another way of showing that we really mean that. We don't just say we're honest, committed and caring. We actually do something."
And that something is much appreciated.
Founded in 1976, long before the current Boys Hope Girls Hope scholars were even born, Donley Service Center is everything a family-owned local company should be. Not only does it take care of its customers, it looks out for and gives back to its community. It truly is a neighbor that can be relied upon, one Boys Hope Girls Hope is thrilled to have.
"Because we are so dependent on the community for financial support to hit our budget every year, when you look at the value of what they have given us, it has empowered us to use our financial resources in other ways for the kids," Fronk-Cole said.
That money Boys Hope Girls Hope have saved thanks to Donley Service Center's generosity has gone to pay for support and enrichment programs that might otherwise have been cut.
"I feel proud that we're able to do what we do," Donley said. "We're just a little piece of the puzzle, helping a little bit."
In addition to the students currently in the Boys Hope Girls Hope Arizona residential and community programs, there are also 12 scholars in college, two of whom will be graduating this year -- one from Gonzaga and the other from Pepperdine.
Eleven more Boys Hope Girls Hope seniors will be going to college next academic year. All of them will be the first in their families to do that.
"One hundred percent of our kids are graduating high school and going to college," Fronk-Cole said.
Boys Hope Girls Hope Arizona, with help from its national and international parent and alumni, continues to support its scholars throughout their college careers, which might be why 92 percent go on to earn their degrees. Fronk-Cole would like to see that number go up to 100 percent.
While education is the core of Boys Hope Girls Hope, the lessons continue outside the classroom. The residential scholars, for example, all have household chores. They volunteer through school. Those who are older than 16 have jobs and are contributing to savings accounts.
"They're teaching them real-life responsibility and skills so they can be successful later in life," Donley. "That has to be part of the reason the success rate is off the chart. To me, as a businessperson, I value that. ... They're going to be successful and be able to give back."
"We have really high expectations of our kids. Any one of them will tell you that," Fronk-Cole said with a laugh. "They all rise to that and they are hungry for the opportunity to challenge themselves. Most kids are if they're just presented with the opportunity and the support they need."
Boys Hope Girls Hope is the most innovative affiliate of the larger organization and Fronk-Cole has huge hopes for the future. With supporters like Donley Service Center, those hopes can become reality.
"Donating services ... is an easy way for us [to give back] and at the same time a meaningful way for an organization like Boys Hope Girls Hope," Donley said.
"There's not only the financial benefit that allows us to do other things with the kids, but there's that peace of mind, too, to know Donley is going to be there," Fronk-Cole said. "That's invaluable. You can't put a price tag on that."
Privately funded by donations, Boys Hope Girls Hope is always looking for volunteers to help with their programs and to be mentors to their scholars. To find out more about Boys Hope Girls Hope Arizona and how you can get involved or make a contribution, visit BHGHAZ.org. For more information about the national/international organization, check out BoysHopeGirlsHope.org.
To learn more about Donley Service Center and the services they offer, visit DonleyService.com.