The Sunshine Club, a charity-driven woodworking group at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center, has been keeping busy providing their unique services to schools, hospitals and individuals in need around the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The group of about 12 local retirees meet every Thursday morning at the ARC to carve, drill and shave special wooden projects they donate to organizations of their choice. They have been doing so since the club was established in 1979.
“We are dedicated to charity work,” longtime member Emil Jansky said.
Fellow members John Cunningham and Jerry Bryan said they like knowing their talent and products are going towards a good cause. Most of the men in the group have worked in the carpentry business before, with the exception of a few. If not, they learn. The desire to make a contribution is all you really need to become a member, Jansky said.
“You get a lot of satisfaction out of supplying people with what they need,” he said.
Most recently, the Sunshine Club constructed more than 300 wooden picture frames for a water safety event at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The frames held a list of rules, reminders and safety tips and were given to children and their families.
The club also made wooden toy replicas of MRI machines for sick children to play with while staying at the hospital. The idea behind the models was to familiarize children with the machines so they could see that they aren’t frightening.
“Playing with the toys is really a mind-easing factor for them,” Jansky said.
The group has also made things like puzzles, block wagons, plaques, bookshelves, tables and chairs for various local organizations, such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Gethsemane Lutheran Church and School.
Besides making things for children, the Sunshine Club recently made improvements around the Rec Center. The men rebuilt a lighted marquee board for the Entertainers’ Club and constructed protective covers for exposed wires in the Game Room.
Knowing that their work is benefiting the lives of others is the most satisfying factor for members of the Sunshine Club.
“We do it because we like feeling that we’re doing something good for people,” said Chuck Hand, another longtime member.
The group is a green club, as well. Revenue for all projects comes from the newspaper recycling bins located in the main parking lot of the ARC, 5001 E. Cheyenne Drive.
All local retirees, regardless of woodworking experience, are invited to join. For more information, visit www.arcaz.net.
Leslie D’Ambrosio is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.