Community echoes

Providing Opportunities


The Santa Cruz Training Programs are dedicated to serving children and adults with disabilities in Santa Cruz County for 50 years. Last year in November, they celebrated their 50th anniversary. The training program was founded by Ana Maria Coppola. An advocate for children with disabilities who started to get other parents involved in starting a program to meet the needs of children with disabilities. It started as a pilot program during the summer of 1968. It was being offered to children with disabilities who were not attending elementary schools within Santa Cruz County. Later the pilot program developed into a year-round schooling program for children with disabilities.   

The program receives direct funding from the state. The number of funds they receive throughout the year depends primarily on the number of members. Donations and grants also help to support the program. Personal donations, as well as big business donations, are accepted, to help keep the program in our community.

Marina Galhouse is the director of the program She is one of 94 employees who work in assisting 78 children and adults with disabilities. The program serves children from birth through adulthood. The training program also provides transportation and many other services to help meet the needs of its members. 

“Our training program is centered on providing quality care to our members. We go out of the way to help our members receive the best vocational and rehabilitation services in Santa Cruz County. Our members are our top priority they are like family to us,” said  Mrs. Galhouse.

One of the services the training program offers is employment to adults with disabilities.  Another part of their programs consists of helping 23 members develop social skills and learn hands-on a specific trade of choice. The training program has a kitchen as well as a Café where members learn to cook, bake, sell, serve, and waitressing skills. The program also has a nursery where adults with disabilities learn about gardening. Members learn about planting seeds, and caring for plants and cultivating vegetables, which are later sold at the Farmer’s Market. 

Groundskeeping is another trade members learn at the training program. The program consists of having members do contract work within the community, such as Unisource, Liberty Waters, and for private contractors.

Another program the SCTP offers is the rehabilitation and recreational with 28 members. This program helps members learn soft skills such as how to communicate and interact with the public. The members participate in a variety of social activities like bowling, going to the movies, visit the Santa Fe Ranch and Nogales Infantil.

These activities are therapeutic helping the members socialize and stay active. La Española DTTA  is a program that provides specialized sensory-motor, cognitive, communicative, social interaction, and behavioral training. The Santa Cruz Training Program has 2 group homes, which includes 24/7 staff who care for our members.

The program for children is different from the adult services they provide. The services they provide to children with disabilities are done at the convenience of their home.  These are basically respite care and rehabilitation services. Children learn occupational skills and personal care. All these types of services are available to families in Santa Cruz County. Not every child or family has the same needs. The services offered to them are dependant on eligibility. 

“All our staff members are dedicated individuals who work the extra mile to provide quality care to members. We work hard to maintain a safe and healthy environment for our members,” said Marina Gallahouse.

The Santa Cruz Training program has grown into a successful vocational training program for individuals with disabilities providing them with an opportunity to live healthy productive lives. For anyone interested in having a loved one with disabilities enroll in our program please contact us at: (520) 287-2043.

Creating Opportunities Santa Cruz Workforce


Santa Cruz Workforce hosted their 6th Annual Santa Cruz Job Fair and Community Expo at the Nogales High School Ray Molera Gymnasium on Friday, October 18th from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Every year Santa Cruz Workforce hosts this annual event to help dislocated workers, and new career job seekers connect with local employers in Santa Cruz, Cochise, and Pima County. This year a total of 522 people participated in the job fair with more than 100 employers were in attendance. The job fair had a variety of vendors participate from healthcare, education, non-profit, government, retail, transportation, and manufacturing industries. 

“We were extremely happy with the outcome of this event. It is our goal to help connect job seekers to local employers. We want to help our members succeed in their career goals. The event is held during the month of October to help local employers find the workforce they need for their peak season. This was an opportunity for potential employees to meet with employers and learn a bit more about the local businesses in the area,” said Maritza Cervantes, WIOA Director. 

According to the Department of Economic Security, approximately 2,124 people filed for jobless benefits during the month of September. Santa Cruz County’s unemployment rate dropped from 12% to 10.6%.  Although, Santa Cruz County remains the second-highest county among Arizona with the highest unemployment rate. This continues to be a big challenge for our local government. The local government is responsible for bringing in new businesses to the area. Arizona@ Work in Santa Cruz County works closely with local businesses and government organizations in Santa Cruz County to help meet their workforce needs.  

The Santa Cruz Workforce not only hosts this annual event but also provides an array of services to the community. For more information on how the Santa Cruz Workforce can help you please contact the office at their local office at:  (520) 375-7670 or visit their site at: 610 N. Morley Avenue, Nogales, AZ.

A Special thanks to:

Santa Cruz County ARIZONA@WORK Staff

Santa Cruz County Manager Jennifer St. John

Santa Cruz County Finance Director Mauricio Chavez

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors: Manny Ruiz, Bruce Bracker, and Rudy Molera

Santa Cruz County Maintenance Department

Nogales High School Administration & Staff

And to all exhibitors who contributed with donations as follows:

South 32

Beacon Group

Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

Gariola Coffee House & Deli

Panaderia La Catedral

Pizza Hut

Quality Hotel Americana


Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office

Starbucks Coffee

Villa’s Market

Pepsi Co.

Dorado Personnel

Santa Cruz County IT Director Juan Balderas  

Meet Your Arizona State Representative, LD2 Rosanna Gabaldόn


State Representative Gabaldόn serves as our LD 2 State Representative, a position that she has held since first elected in 2012.  She is a Ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources, Energy, and Water Committee, and also serves as a member of the Transportation Committee.  While serving at the legislature, she has been fortunate to be selected to participate in several special interim committees that have impacted Santa Cruz County.  State Representative Gabaldόn served on the Sahuarita Town Council from 2009-2012 and accepted leadership roles on several not-for-profit boards.
Representative Gabaldόn was the prime sponsor of HB 2532: critical health information; emergency responders, which was signed into law by Governor Ducey and took effect on August 27, 2019.  The State House first read HB2532 on February 4. In addition to the votes, there were several presentations and outreach to stakeholders throughout the process.  
State Representative Gabaldόn introduced and sponsored several bills related to public safety, the environment, and public education

She supported and advocated for bills that were important for Santa Cruz County and worked on a variety of legislation with her colleagues.  State Representative Gabaldόn advocacy resulted in bringing attention to the funding of repairs needed to the Nogales IOI and Wash.
For the past eight years, Rosanna Gabaldόn has been an adopted daughter of Santa Cruz County. “I feel the family connection that is familiar to me.  Through my volunteer efforts, I have worked with countless people who are an inspiration to me for their dedication and willingness to do so much, and so many times without enough resources.  We do what we can with what we got.  It has been my honor and pleasure to be a voice for Santa Cruz County at the State Legislature,” said State Representative Gabaldόn.
Investment in the economic development of Southern Arizona benefits everyone.  Representative Gabaldόn will continue to address the funding needs for the roads and infrastructure of Santa Cruz County.

State Representative Gabaldόn will encourage the legislature to take advantage of the opportunity to capitalize on the improvements invested in the infrastructure of the State Route 189, Mariposa Road.  “We must find revenue for much-needed road infrastructure, especially in rural communities,” said Representative Gabaldόn.
Her priorities include funding for public education, infrastructure, and working toward obtaining sustainable water supplies.  
According to State Representative Gabaldόn, “We must make sure that the gains we have made for our public schools are expanded and secured for the long haul.  There is a fundamental need to improve our infrastructure, including rehabilitation of our roads and highways.   We must all come together – Republicans and Democrats – and find a long-term solution to Arizona’s water needs.  We have a great history of making smart, bi-partisan water policy, and our future depends on it.”  

The State of Arizona is changing, and in the 2020 election, we may see the Arizona State Legislature change in leadership to include more democratic control.  We must prepare for this change now and make our plans that will make the transition effective.  We can begin by building better relationships with individuals of both political parties.  We won’t get anywhere if we don’t start listening to each other.  Together we must continue to address the funding needs for the Nogales IOI and Wash and keep the attention going for its continual rehabilitation.  Also, let's take advantage of the opportunity to capitalize on the improvements invested in the infrastructure of the State Route 189 Mariposa Rd.

Many organizations have supported  State Representative Gabaldόn throughout the past decade of service to the legislative district.  Most important are the individuals who have helped me by bringing attention to the issues that matter to the citizens of Santa Cruz County.  My appreciation to Chicanos Por La Causa, the Salvation Army, and the local health organizations that have kept me informed of the needs of the area.  I give my wholehearted thanks to the many unsung heroes, individuals who go to work every day, and through their efforts make our community better and better, including service organizations, our business community, and our elected leaders.  It is my pleasure to work with those who provide support and love for our more vulnerable in Santa Cruz County.  

State Representative Gabaldόn was born in Bermuda, from a military family.  Through military life, I have lived in Japan, Michigan, Texas, Panama, and Tucson.  Always moving has taught me to appreciate what I have.  My husband Arturo and I have made Southern Arizona our home, we live in Sahuarita, and our son Andrés works in Tucson.   Her father and mother both come from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, and her father served over 20 years in the Air Force.  She is the youngest of three daughters, and they have each made Southern Arizona their home.  “I am proud of receiving a high school diploma and my diligence in learning about issues.  I express my passion through service to our community.  It has been my privilege to participate in a variety of boards that have a profound impact on our lives and in our community.  I am proud of my time working with children and the organizations that help develop them, it was an honor to work with First Things First from 2008-2012, and today I serve on the board of the Guadalupana Lab Schools working with early childhood development students,” said Rosanna Gabaldόn. 

Bahá'ís Faith of Santa Cruz County


On Saturday, October 26th from 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. the Bahá'ís Faith of Santa Cruz County celebrated the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of the Báb, one of the Twin Founders of the Bahá'í Faith at the Rio Rico Community Center.
The Baha’i Faith is the youngest of the world’s religions.  It is based on the teachings of two Divine Educators, the Bab and Baha’u’ llah.  Both lived during the mid-1800s in Persia and shared revolutionary concepts about the oneness of humanity.  This month the Baha’i community celebrates the birthdays of both the Bab and Baha’u’llah.  This year is significant because it is the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab.
Baha’is believe that there is one God who, out of love for humanity, reveals Himself and His Will through Divine Educators – the Founders of the world’s religions.  Some of these Educators are Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, and most recently, the Bab and Baha’u’llah. The Baha’i teachings tell us that we can know God through studying the lives, scriptures, and guidance of these Holy Messengers.
The Bab (meaning “the Gate”) encouraged everyone to seek spiritual truth with independent hearts and to let go of superstition and dependence on clergy.  He was put to death for His teachings after a turbulent ministry of only 6 years, but His primary objective was fulfilled - to prepare humanity for the coming of Baha’u’llah, who envisioned a future where all of humanity operates as one loving family.
The Baha’i Faith is organized without priests or clergy. Each person is responsible for his or her own search for truth and a relationship with God.  Our purpose in life, according to Baha’u’llah, is to draw closer to God by offering selfless service to others.  Together, we are all citizens and caretakers of one planet.  Baha’u’llah calls upon each individual to actively root out our prejudices and systemic inequalities that divide people of different ethnic backgrounds, national origins, genders, and social classes.

Baha’is believe that lasting social change starts in the family and at the neighborhood level when we build relationships based on love and mutual respect. Baha’is gather in homes and community centers, offering opportunities for all age groups to worship, learn, and serve their communities together. Anyone (regardless of their religion) can participate and even host core community activities, which include:

  • Classes for children that help them discover and strengthen their inherent spiritual qualities like kindness and patience, through stories, songs, prayers, and art.
  • Groups of pre-teens and teens develop wisdom, compassion, decision-making skills and a mindset of service to others.
  • Study circles where adults learn together about the spiritual nature of life and initiate service projects relevant to their communities.
  • Prayer gatherings to nourish souls and inspire meaningful friendships among neighbors.

For more information about the Baha’i Faith go to  For information about local core activities, please contact Jill Moritz at 520-455-7151 or by email at

Making Difficult Decisions


With more than 50 years of law enforcement experience, Sheriff Tony Estrada knows first hand that Nogales, Arizona is one of the most secure areas along the Mexican border. “The crime rate along our border town is extremely low, people are safe walking our streets at night, we take great pride in knowing our community is a safe place for our citizens,” said Estrada.   

On January 1, 1993, Sheriff Tony Estrada was first sworn into office. He was born in Nogales, Sonora Mexico before his family immigrated to Nogales, Arizona when he was just an infant. He comes from a family of humble beginnings who always encouraged him to work hard. Estrada first started his career in law enforcement working as a dispatcher for the Nogales Police Department. He worked his way through the ranks before he retired as a captain for the department in 1991.

Sheriff Tony Estrada is currently serving his seventh-consecutive term as sheriff in Santa Cruz County. At the age of 76-years-old, Sheriff Tony Estrada is debating now whether or not he should retire. “I  have a difficult decision to make this new election season. My family feels I have done and accomplished enough that they feel it might be time for me to retire. I feel extremely healthy and capable to continue in this role but the decision, if I should retire, will be dependent on my family, friends, and work-family. Family comes first they have always supported me and they will support whatever decision I make but I also have to think about them,” said Sheriff Estrada.

According to the County Elections Office, five candidates have filed official paperwork to run for Santa Cruz County sheriff in 2020. “I am aware of the candidates running for this office have started early in their election campaign. It looks like it will be an extremely competitive race. One of the things that are unfortunate about politics and campaigning is it brings out the worst out of some people. People that you consider friends or acquaintances turn their back on you, and then you have those that are nasty or vicious. It is harmful and hurtful to the family because they never want to hear anything negative about your husband, your father or grandfather so having gone through 7 administrations they have been more than supportive but also the support of the community,” stated Estrada.

“Since I took office the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office has grown into an exceptional law enforcement agency in Southern Arizona. As sheriff, I have tailored law enforcement and policies to meet the needs of our county. It is important for our residents to feel safe and I have an obligation to ensure their public safety,” said Estrada.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve my constituents. I am thankful for having the opportunity to work with such a great team of law enforcement people. They are key to many of my successes, they have worked by my side for years, we are a family. I would have never dreamed that someone with my background would have the opportunity to serve such an office,” said Sheriff Tony Estrada. 

Santa Cruz County Embraces the "Choose Love Movement"


On Wednesday, September 18th at 5:30 p.m., Santa Cruz County Embraced the “Choose Love Movement.” Little Red School held a free community event promoting the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement. The event was hosted by CHARM, Superintendent Kathy Romero, and the Santa Cruz County Superintendent's Office. The event was well attended by the public and community leaders. An empowering evening event with Scarlett Lewis, the Founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement!

The “ Choose Love” movement was introduced to the community by a local nonprofit organization called CHARM (Child Health and Resilience Mastery). The nonprofit organization was founded by two local residents Nisa Talavera and Heidi Pottinger. Their mission is to empower children and families to strengthen their resilience in health-promoting ways.

The “Choose Love” global movement started after Scarlett's 6-year-old son Jesse was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. Scarlett Lewis is nationally recognized for her global movement teaching "Nurturing, Healing, Love" to help create safer schools and communities. This global movement is in all 50 states and in DC, as well as 80 plus countries worldwide.

“This was my first visit to Santa Cruz County and aside from being extremely beautiful and peaceful, I would say Santa Cruz County is filled with courageous leadership. Those in positions of power that speak up and out about what is in the best interests of our children. I experienced the warmest welcome from the community during our dinner at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Nogales. Educators, administrations, parents, and business people were stepping up to be a part of the Choose Love Movement and committing to making their schools, homes, and communities safer, more peaceful and loving place - it was an incredible experience,” said Scarlett Lewis.
The event included a dinner catered by Rancho Grande with live entertainment by the Nogales High School Mariachi Apache. For more information on this movement please contact Dr. Heidi Pottinger the Founder and Executive Director and Ms. Nisa Stover Talavera the Founding Vice-Chair of CHARM at:

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