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Since 2009, the Recreation Centers of Sun City West has conducted a twice-annual citizens’ academy known as TORCH.

An acronym for Tapping Our Resources, Citizens and Heritage, TORCH welcomes about 42 residents per class through an in-depth, seven week program to learn more about their community. From the community’s history and demographics, to its governance structure and finances, the academy covers a lot of ground and includes behind-the-scenes tours and interesting guest speakers. The community’s volunteer-based nonprofits are featured, as are the various recreational departments and the maintenance division.

More than 500 students have graduated from the program, and all of them have had positive comments about what they learned. At least a few times per session, the TORCH Committee that puts on the program hears the phrase: “I had no idea how much there was to learn!” In fact, committee members have been so thrilled with students’ reviews of TORCH, they figured – what better way to advertise the program than through the eyes of its graduates?

That’s the idea behind “TORCH Talk,” a series of columns by our TORCH graduates explaining what they liked about the program, what they thought of it, and why they believe YOU should sign up!

Enjoy our graduates’ perspectives in these personal columns. And if you’re interested, sign up early (classes fill up quickly) by calling Governing Board Manager Sharon Schomer at 623-544-6115. The program’s nonrefundable $20 fee covers the cost of materials, snacks and beverages. The sessions run from 1 p.m. until about 4:30 p.m. on consecutive Thursdays in the spring and fall.

TORCH Talk by Bill & Bonnie Burns:

Bill_Bonnie BurnsWhat makes Sun City West tick? What programs define our quality of life? Who sponsors those programs and how are they staffed and funded? How can we protect and build upon these wonderful amenities?

We learned the answers to these and many others questions by completing the TORCH program this spring. Now we better understand the mission, programs, and professionalism of the Rec Centers, Posse, PORA, PRIDES, and other key organizations – and the importance of volunteerism.

The TORCH program is a terrific community orientation. It introduced us to new friends, and reaffirmed our decision to relocate to Sun City West last year.



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