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Scottsdale looking for donations, volunteers for its 'Beat the Heat' senior program

Philomena Martin is shown with some of the items delivered to her through Scottsdale's "Beat the Heat" program. (KTAR photo/Bob McClay)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- More than 270 homebound senior citizens in Scottsdale, Ariz., are getting care packages filled with gift cards, water and other items, which are provided through the city's "Beat the Heat" program.

Philomena Martin, 91, and her twin brother, David, live on their own at her condo in Scottsdale. David has Alzheimer's and spends his days in a care program at a nearby hospital, but comes back home at night. Philomena likes to watch "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" and read.

She said that her secret to a long life is that in she has kept to a specific diet, especially when she was younger.

"I lived on Italian garden food and Grandpa's homemade Italian wine," she said.

On Thursday, the city delivered a bag of goodies to her.

"I got shampoo, my favorite toothpaste, a toothbrush and a pad. All things that we can use," she said.

Scottsdale city social worker Jennifer Murphy said the bags are also filled $35 grocery gift cards, small snack items, personal hygiene items, stamps and nutritional drinks.

"These donations are all put together at the Via Linda Senior Center," said Murphy. "They put the packages together, and then we deliver them."

The Granite Reef Senior Center also helps with the project.

Murphy said that the Beat the Heat program is about more than just giving out free stuff to seniors.

"It's more about the visit than it is about the goodie bag," she said. "A lot of these folks are homebound. They're not meeting with a lot of people, so it's a wonderful opportunity to connect, and to talk and just have a nice visit."

Scottsdale's senior centers are looking for more donations as well as volunteers to deliver the care packages and visit with the seniors. You can visit the city's website to find out more.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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