An old Greek proverb says that a society grows when old men plant trees whose shade they will never sit in.
That perfectly sums up the work real estate investors Randy and Dell Loy Hansen are doing for Advocacy, Support & Assistance Now founders Anika Robinson, Susan Mulhearn and Angela Teachout. The ladies fought back tears, as Randy shared the story.
The Hansens have been involved in real estate investing since 1992 and wanted to help a charity that embodied “true volunteerism.”
“It’s easy to donate money, it’s easy to donate things,” Randy Hansen said. “But donating your life, that to me is the true gift.”
Hansen first read in a newspaper article about the work the ladies did passing Jacob’s law, but the paper had become lost in the recycling.
“They weren’t sponsored by some consultant or pocket money people,” Hansen said. “They wanted a law for a specific reason, these were people that just care a lot as to doing the right thing.”
After two days of googling every possibility of “foster kid” and whatever else he could think of, he finally stumbled upon the ASA Now website.
Since passing Jacob’s Law in 2016, ASA Now has helped thousands of foster kids throughout the State of Arizona.
Jacob, now 22, still lives in a developmentally delayed group home and requires round-the-clock care due to severe physical abuse from his biological parents that deteriorated his mental health.
In 2018, ASA Now opened Jacob’s Mission Community Center located at 7830 East University Drive in Mesa.
There families can connect to support, advocacy, and assistance with immediate needs 24/7, life skill programs and activities for children and foster and adoptive families.
“I feel like each one of us was tasked in this lifetime with doing pretty big things,” Robinson said. “And knowing that God commanded us to help others, and to leave this world better than when we came in.”
Hansen said he visited one Saturday afternoon when the ladies were in the middle of renovating the dilapidated old church with overgrown landscaping.
“They were bringing it back to life through pure sweat and volunteers,” Hansen said.
Hansen said he was so impressed by that simple effort, he made a check out for to buy paint for the building.
Robinson said she called crying that Hansen made a mistake when she discovered the check was for $50,000.
“I was crying so hard right there in the middle of Wells Fargo,” Robinson said.
After getting to know the ladies even more, Hansen said he invited them to a Feed My Starving Children event at the convention center.
Though he doubted they would show up given their busy schedules, Hansen said all three ladies showed up with the dozens of kids in tow.
The ladies have all provided homes for dozens of foster kids over the years. Anika the longest, for the last 15 years.
That moment Hansen realized that these women are angels among us.
“Lo and behold, I don’t remember how many people showed up but it turned out to be a really fun day,” Hansen said. “I was so impressed by that.”
In December 2018, that prompted Hansen to step in and payoff their $1 million mortgage. Hansen said it’s a gift only his wife predicted would happen.
“She knew from day one that we were going to do it,” Hansen said. “That left them on this free and clear so they could put all of their money into finishing the building and serving customers.”
After a year-and-a-half of working with volunteers, in December 2019 they finished renovations on the building.
Then, the calendar turned to 2020 and a pandemic slowed the world down.
“We were only really serving our county,” Anika said. “The pandemic made it to where we have to serve statewide.”
Suddenly it became a mad rush to find volunteers to drive boxes of diapers, clothes, food, etc. around the state.
“We became a 24/7 distribution center,” Robinson said. “It looked like a secondhand store on steroids for over a year.”
In 2020, ASA Now also established Shade Tree Academy and a small class of students at Jacob’s Mission Community Center located at 7830 East University Drive in Mesa.
Shade Tree Academy looks to curb the effects foster kids feel from trauma they’ve endured and create the therapeutic component for kids and helping them gain the tools to cope with their trauma.
“What they really need is someone that can help them work through their trauma,” Robinson said.
Classes officially opened in August 2021 and is now in their second academic year with its trauma-informed education for seven students because that’s all it can provide for now.
The nonprofit hopes to grow the amount of kids they can serve up to 100 students.
Hansen has known charity his entire life, considering his mother was a high school English teacher that developed a reading program for underprivileged kids in Northern Utah.
Over the last 30 years, his family has built a foundation and helped set the standard for building child crisis family support centers in that area. Now, he wanted to help a group in Mesa.
“I wanted something that was true volunteerism with people that are making a difference,” Hansen said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shade Tree Academy became the epicenter for getting help to the 14,000 kids in the foster care system in the State of Arizona.
Much like during the pandemic, the plan is to make Shade Tree the permanent epicenter for distributing training to volunteers throughout the entire state.
“There will be people over the next 10 years, brought into this network to learn how to do a better job to support the needs of your foster family,” Hansen said.
The next issue for the partnership is to work on helping those kids who age-out of the foster care system.
“Once we get the school built, then I want to start at the heart of that,” Hansen said.
Robinson said the Hansens have gifted their school with opportunities they will never see come to fruition.
“That is something that we will never know the impact that it will have for
the rest of their lives,” Robinson said. “But the Hansen family has done that, not only have they touched our lives, they will touch the lives of thousands upon thousands.”
In total, the Hansen brother’s have agreed to donate $4 million to build the 18,000-square-foot school, as well as a swimming pool that will provide aquatic therapy for the kids.
The ladies of ASA Now will have to raise $1 million to break ground for the facility.
“It feels impossible,” Robinson said.
As of September 7, the nonprofit has only raised $153,000, and that’s where the Flight Night Gala on September 23 comes in.
Tickets for the festivities start at $100 per person.
Married couples can get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to $1,000.
The Flight Night Gala will be held at the Mesa Hanger at Falcon Field located at 4517 East Mallory Circle in Mesa on Friday, September 23rd at 5:30 p.m.
For more information, go to www.asanow.org and click on “Attend Our Upcoming Gala.”