Contributed by: Laurie Smith, Volunteer In Paradise Coordinator Paradise Valley Unified School District

Desert Ridge residents are invited to join the award-winning Volunteer In Paradise (VIP) program in the 2016-17 school year. Community volunteers, called VIPs, provide academic assistance to students in kindergarten through sixth grade at select schools in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. Children throughout our own large and diverse school district are in need of additional support.

The VIP program was named a 2015 first place Magna Award winner by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) in a national recognition program. Now in their 22nd year, the Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of their students and their communities.

“VIP provides a valuable resource, not only to students, but to teachers at a time when school district budgets are being drastically reduced,” said Superintendent James P. Lee, Ed.D.

Volunteering is good for volunteers, too, and is linked to better physical, mental and emotional health. Confirms one VIP, “I have to say that being a VIP has made a huge difference in my retirement. I love working with the kids, have tremendous respect for the teachers I work with, and have learned so much…My weeks just aren’t as fulfilling when I am not engaged there.”

Residents are invited to attend a no-obligation orientation at the PVSchools district office, 15032 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix. Details and an online registration form are found at You can you reach the VIP Coordinator (and Desert Ridge resident) Laurie Smith at or 602-449-2053.