Sickles honored for fight against poverty in Wickenburg, surrounding communities

Patty Sickles (third from left) receives the Heart in Hand Award from Wildfire for her work to help fight poverty in the Wickenburg area. She was congratulated by Maricopa County Director of Human Services Bruce Ligget (from left), Assistant Director of Human Services Sandra Mendez, and Program Director of Wickenburg CAP and Senior Center Charlie Petersen.

By Elizabeth Wagner

Sun Writer

Patty Sickles is well-known for her enduring dedication to charitable causes in the community of Wickenburg, and she recently received recognition for those efforts on a statewide level.  

Sickles was honored with the Heart in Hand Award from Wildfire (formerly known as the Arizona Community Action Organization.) The Heart in Hand award is given to individuals who are making contributions to anti-poverty initiatives in their volunteer or professional work. They have to be nominated directly by one of the 11 local or regional Community Action Agency with which they are associated, and they have to have distinguished themselves through individual and collective efforts in leadership in Community Action, special challenges encountered, and length of time contributing in the low-income community.

“Our Heart in Hand honorees truly reflect our expanding mission to ignite lasting change in communities across Arizona,” said Wildfire executive director Cynthia Zwick. “These folks are making a difference every day in their communities without fanfare and often without acknowledgment. They are motivated only by their desire to do what’s right and to offer a helping hand.”

The awards are presented at the annual conference, a two-day event under the theme “Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona,”  Wildfire website shares that Arizona has the 44th highest poverty level in the country, and 25% of children in Arizona live in poverty.

Sickles was selected because she dedicates multiple efforts to individuals in Wickenburg and nearby communities who have a need for clothing, shoes and food. As president of the Wickenburg Community Services Corporation (WCSC) since 2011, she heads several ongoing projects that address these needs. WCSC’s back-to-school drive provides clothing and shoes to more than 300 students, improving the well being of their families and helping an estimated total of 1,200 people each year, according to Charlie Petersen, program director of the CAP Office and Wise Owl Center in Wickenburg . She is also instrumental in putting on a free Thanksgiving meal for about 100 people and the Christmas Food Basket Program which provides food items to more than 300 families during the holiday season. These programs serve people in Wickenburg, Agulia, Morristown, Congress, and Wittmann, and are provided each year. Patty also volunteers with the Mobile Food Pantry monthly through the CAP Office, Petersen said.

While the Heart in Hand Award recognizes individuals who work to fight poverty, Sickles’ dedication to helping others is also evident in additional projects and groups with which she is involved. Her work with the Wickenburg Community Services Corporation expanded when the group became a contracted vendor with the state of Arizona to provide support services to adults and children with developmental/intellectual disabilities. Those in this line of work know that obtaining a contract can be a challenging feat; she is proud of this accomplishment.

“It’s something I’d wanted to do for years...and finally got the right team of people together, and it’s been a success,” Sickles remarked, acknowledging the power of the group effort when motivated individuals are involved. She is also involved with the Friends of the Library, which was instrumental in keeping the Wickenburg Public Library open. Sickles serves as treasurer, and the group continues to fund raise to support the library. She is vice president of Life Changers, a local organization which offers financial support for specific circumstances during life-changing events. In addition, she sits on the board of directors of the Wickenburg Ducks in a Row Foundation, a local advocacy organization for individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities.

All of that keeps her busy enough, while she and her husband Everett own and operate two businesses in town. In addition, she is a driving force behind WCSC’s purchase and remodel of the building that will be the new location of the Wise Owl Senior Center and associated services – to be called the George and Vi Wellik Wickenburg Community Services Center. “We couldn’t do what we do without the volunteers...and our generous donors, too,” Patty said, after describing all of these projects.

She said she is excited that the Heart in Hand Award will help spotlight the important work of WCSC, the ongoing fundraising need for the new building that will help house the programs for low-income families, and the group’s spirit of volunteerism.

Sickles has been volunteering since junior high. Following this early start, she and her husband Everett Sickles were volunteers with The Wranglerettes in Yarnell after they were married. This group did fundraising for several community projects, such as maintaining the Genung Memorial Cemetery, buying firefighters’ helmets, and providing street signs. Helping those in the community who are in need has always been an interest of hers, and she has always enjoyed it.

“That’s how we were raised,” Sickles said about giving back. “I like giving back, I like making people happy, (and) making a difference in my community.” Patty described volunteerism as “the heart of the community.” She added that it’s important to have her husband support her in volunteer interests. “He’s been there right by my side helping,” she said.

Patty was nominated by Charlie Petersen, Program Director of the CAP Wise Owl Office. She was presented the Heart in Hand Award during a ceremony at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Resort and Casino on July 19, 2019, as part of the Wildfire Statewide Conference on poverty. Wildfire was formerly called the Arizona Community Action Association. She and nine other volunteers from around the state were recognized.

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