Houses and hoops

From our sixth-story office window in downtown Phoenix looking south, we have a clear view of Talking Stick Resort Arena, a sports and entertainment complex that is home to the Phoenix Suns. Every day we see the scrolling messages on the circular video boards in front of the arena, promoting upcoming concerts and games.

Occasionally, we’ll see promotions for Latin nights, when the team wears jerseys with the words Los Suns emblazoned across their chests and fans receive matching Los Suns t-shirts. They do this to honor the Hispanic culture that has contributed so much to making our city the vibrant place it is. We love that.

But what we love even more is knowing the Suns put their money where their mouths – er, jerseys – are.

Image: On Latin nights, the Suns sport their Los Suns jerseys!

It may not get as much attention as what happens under the bright lights, but off the court, the team is committed to giving back to local charitable organizations. In recent years, that philanthropic work has extended south of the border as well.

Recently, for example, the team dancers and the gorilla mascot went to Hermosillo, Mexico, to perform at a baseball game between the Naranjeros and the visiting Obregon Yaquis. While there, they paid a visit to a pediatric and oncology hospital where they brought smiles to the faces of children – and left them with bags of Suns merch, which will keep them smiling for quite some time.

“A lot of people who come to the games and concerts in the arena are from Mexico,” says Vianey Celestino, who leads the team’s outreach to Hispanic communities and was involved in the team’s two games in Mexico City in January 2017. “We want to be Mexico’s team. So every year we’re doing more and more.

Last year on Giving Tuesday, the Suns partnered with 1MISSION for the first time by offering a matching grant – if we could raise $6,000 in a single day to fund a house, they would match it, funding another. By the end of the day, not only had we reached our goal of funding two houses, but a third was funded as well!

This January, a group of Suns employees traveled to Puerto Peñasco to meet Elizabeth, the 54-year-old woman whose house the team had funded. Not only that, but they got to help with the building process as well.

Image: Elizabeth (left) working alongside Los Suns representatives to build her new house!

Elizabeth works with her brother cleaning houses, a job that pays her $40 per week. Until recently, she lived in a small house in poor condition that offered little security or protection from the elements. She had lived like that for 30 years. Now she has a home she can be proud of – a house she earned by serving her community.

Vianey was part of the group that got to meet Elizabeth. She describes the experience as a “reality check” as she saw the conditions in which families like Elizabeth’s have lived for so long. But she was also amazed, seeing the way local neighbors “worked together with one common objective” – making their community a better place to live.

“It feels good to help other people,” Vianey says. “And these are my people, because I’m Mexican. It warms my heart. It’s something we would love to continue to do.”

We’re grateful to the Suns for their generous partnership and we look forward to continue working together to make a lasting impact in Puerto Peñasco and beyond.

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