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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 Jan Sigler:

Jan SIglerI had heard people rave about the “Torch” classes for several years, but I thought why would I want to take the time to take them. I’ve been a homeowner in Sun City West for 18 years, I volunteer at the Sun City West Visitor Center, and I also volunteer ushering at the entertainment shows for the Rec Center as well as help at their other various functions. I thought I knew a lot about our community–but I found out through the TORCH classes that I had a lot more to learn!

To start with, I became so much more aware of the knowledge, dedication, enthusiasm, and longevity of the paid personnel whose job it is to run and lead our community and plan for the future so that Sun City West will continue to be a first-rate retirement community. There were excellent speakers at our classes to increase our knowledge of how Sun City West is run.

It was so much fun going “behind the scenes” of golf operations, the bowling center, PORA, and the Posse (just to mention a few). We learned how many people are in the Maintenance Department who make sure all the machinery, utilities, and the phone and communications equipment are run smoothly.

We were made aware of how much money is budgeted and spent for all our activities, functions, and buildings that we sometimes take for granted. It is amazing how many events, club activities, and meetings are scheduled “without a hitch” at our Recreation Centers.

You can see that I quickly became a fan of the TORCH classes and would highly recommend the program whether you are a newcomer to Sun City West or have lived here for any number of years!

  1. Caroline Poling says:

    We love your feedback. It makes the time we spend perfecting the program even more important.
    After having gone through my first TORCH class and 3 additional TORCH classes as a member of the committee I still get excited when we tour facilities because I know how good all the presenters are. They enjoy what they are doing….passing along information you weren’t even aware of.
    Hopefully we will continue to recruit more residents to the TORCH program. It’s not only educational but it’s fun.
    Thanks Jan, for your contribution.
    Caroline Poling

  2. Barbara Luzader says:

    Your enthusiastic participation in the Academy was exactly what the goal of TORCH is: residents learning about our great community and having fun.
    Thank you!
    Barbara Luzader

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