Estrella and the West Valley look much different than when my family moved here more than 10 years ago.
I've been fortunate enough to learn a lot about the area's humble beginnings and understand what's being done now to prepare for future growth.
In all the hurry and distraction of the holiday, we pause to point out a few of the many things we have to be grateful for here... and to say, "THANK YOU."
10. A HOME FOR VETERANS
This past summer, Goodyear, Arizona was ranked one of the top cities in the United States for veterans by NerdWallet.com, "Veterans in Goodyear have an unemployment rate of 1.5%, the lowest on our top 10 list." Our city leaders, community colleges, and local non profits continually find ways to support those who protect our freedoms. We thank all those who sacrifice - and their families - for serving our country.
9. COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERS
This year, Estrella saw new social events at the Starpointe Residents Club - such as "Pickin' on the Patio" - and a fabulous Happy Hour introduced at the Golf Club of Estrella. (The Ice Cream Social and karaoke were a huge hit, too.) These ideas were brought about by caring residents who were willing to go the extra mile to encourage more activities in Estrella. To all of those who step up to "Be the Solution" in our community, "thank you." (My personal "thanks" to resident HOA board members and volunteers who work so hard and take so much heat. You do an incredible job. Thank you.)
8. GOODYEAR CITY COUNCIL
We're not Glendale. By that, I mean we're very fortunate to have city council members who can work together to find nonpartisan solutions for our city. They may disagree at times... but they move on and continue to work together. By the way, Mayor Georgia Lord is one of the most motivating people I've ever met. You may not realize it, but we're incredibly lucky to have her serving our city. The woman works dawn to dusk... with a motivated attitude to grow our city. (This also is a good place to mention our City Water Resources Manager, Mark Holmes. With a few national awards under his leadership, our water is improving and our future residents have him to thank.)
7. YOUTH SPORTS
Full disclosure, I manage the social media for Estrella Youth Sports. That said, I think we're pretty fortunate having a nonprofit in our community which is able to provide a wide variety of "active activities" to children in our community. Estrella Youth Sports brings out involved, volunteering parents who serve as coaches, caring businesses who donate to help the organization grow, and children who are motivated to give it their all on the field and court. Estrella also is home to the Junior Wolves football team and, of course, many of our kids participate in Goodyear Rec programs.
I don't play pickleball. And, quite frankly, I don't think anyone would ever pick me to be their playing partner. But, Jo does play. And I can tell she loves it. One player recently told me the game is "addictive." The Estrella Mountain Pickleball Club appears to be a fun group of movers and shakers who've brought this rapidly growing sport to Estrella... and represent Estrella well at local competitions. The sport started in 1965 and is played with a paddle and plastic ball.
5. LOCAL SCHOOLS
Not many Arizona communities have it as good as we do in the West Valley. Even though the recent Liberty Elementary School District override failed this election season, we DO have many caring teachers and parent volunteers who are able to keep our schools running smoothly. From PTO's, community volunteer programs, and tax credits, we all have several ways to "be a part of the solution" moving forward.
4. GOODYEAR POLICE AND FIRE
Not only does Goodyear have a low crime rate, we're fortunate to have truly caring people serve in our police and fire departments. These folks don't make a lot of money, but you wouldn't know it by the good deeds they do in our communities. Remember, a lot of these folks will be keeping us safe while we're home eating lots of turkey and dressing with our families and friends.
3. MOTHER NATURE
It's a tie between sunrises, sunsets, and sunny days.
Growing up the mid-west is reason enough to call Arizona "home." Gorgeous winter weather combined with the random rain storm is a unique combination which I'll always cherish.
As the saying goes, "You can't shovel the sunshine."
2. CHARITY SPONSORS
When Jo and I started this page, we took lots of criticism. Lots. One resident accused us of starting the page to raise money for our own endeavors. That was never the case and the criticism motivated us to start up the Estrella Mountain Residents charity program. In our first year - actually, since May - our membership raised over $2000 to give back to local nonprofits and a deserving family. That's pretty incredible. We're humbled.
1. NEIGHBORS WHO STEP UP
Sometimes you just need a lending hand. Estrella has no shortage of caring residents who step up to help each other out. Whether it be giving a left over finger print card to someone who needs one, a fundraiser for a family in need, or taking care of a lost pet till its owner is found, Estrella truly is a great community of people.
~WE WISH YOU ALL A HEALTHY AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING~
Jo and Jen
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Barber is a Goodyear resident resident of almost 20 years and a retired broadcast news journalist. Involved in various nonprofit and city organizations since 2008, Barber has a unique view of what's happening in the West Valley of Arizona.