Verde Valley Sanctuary Back-to-School Supplies

Celebrating 12 Years of Giving

VVS Executive Director Jessye Johnson, Twice Nice Community Enterprise Director Barry Maketansky, Emergency Shelter Director Jenny Underwood, and donor Sally Van Zwol unpack the 12th annual gift of back-to-school supplies for client families of the Verde Valley Sanctuary.

What a delight when Sally arrives with her vehicle filled to the brim with 100 new backpacks and 100 sets of school supplies! These backpacks are for boys and girls in kindergarten through high school. Sally came representing her teammate and twin sister, Sandy. Everyone is smiling!

Sally Van Zwol and Sandy Van Zwol-Anderson, both retired teachers residing in Phoenix, bargain shop in July when the back-to-school sales happen at Target, Walmart, Costco  and Amazon. This year’s bounty came at the cost of $2,300. Staff open the boxes with delight: backpacks, scissors, colored folders, 3-ring binders, paper, markers, pens, pencils, colored pencils, glue, white board markers.

Jennie’s vehicle is loaded up for a special delivery to the Verde Valley Sanctuary Shelter, Outreach Center, and Legal Advocacy Center. At the start of each school year, children and teens served by the Verde Valley Sanctuary go to school with the essential supplies that are key to academic success. 

This annual gift is in memory of Sedona resident, Lisa Olivia Weber Grondin, who was the victim of a domestic violence. Sandy and Sally went to Glendale High School with Lisa’s parents Jake and Leann Weber, and they became lifelong friends.

On April 27, 2010, Verde Valley Sanctuary’s Twice Nice Thriftique in Sedona dedicated their library to Lisa Weber to keep her memory alive. Lisa was a gifted mother who gave endlessly to her children in love, fun, and discipline — she loved to dance and sing with her children and singing in the car was a ritual — she showed them their world around them. Lisa Weber gave so much of herself to this world, and those who knew and loved Lisa carry on her legacy.

The Verde Valley Sanctuary is blessed by generous donors, like Sally and Sandy, who care to make a meaningful difference every year for the many lives impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. In fact, the Sanctuary received another back-to-school supplies donation of $1,500 from local residents Patty and Roy Juda. All young clients, now and throughout the year, will have new school supplies, school uniforms, and everything they could need to start school with the right stuff.

Verde Valley Sanctuary’s mission is to provide safety, services, and comfort to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. For more information or to make a donation, contact Community Development Director Tracey McConnell at (928) 282-2755,, or visit the website

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