QC Rotary

The Queen Creek Rotary Club has been steadily growing. (Courtesy Jason Jantzen)

With Queen Creek businesses growing in number and stature, the town has formed its own Rotary club and will begin meeting this fall as a satellite of the Gilbert Rotary. 

“As a satellite club you get to rely on the experiences and strengths of the existing club,” said Jason Jantzen, who chairs the Queen Creek Rotary. 

“For instance, there is an existing board with Gilbert. There is a process for collecting dues, and interacting with Rotary international. There is an existing treasurer, existing secretaries. There’s kind of a learning curve to be an independent club.” 

Rules dictate that the Rotary has to have at least eight members to form a satellite arm. 

The Queen Creek club is currently up to 21 members and will begin the process of stepping away from Gilbert in the not-too-distant future. 

The membership rolls are growing fast. 

“Our members are mostly business owners and professionals, but they are parents. They’re mothers, they’re fathers, they’re counselors, they’re teachers. We have a police officer that’s a member,” Jantzen said. 

Despite being a fledgling upstart and still under Gilbert’s wing, the Queen Creek Rotary is not shying away from difficult subjects. 

In its inaugural meeting, “Raising Resilient Kids,” the Rotary is holding a “parent night event,” and has invited a panel of mental health care professional to focus on teens and the weighty issues they face on a daily basis, including suicide, the prevalence of which has risen dramatically. 

“I know there is some divide in the community of Queen Creek among the parents where a lot of them don’t want to talk about teen suicide,” Jantzen said. “It’s not something they want to acknowledge or even talk about.”

So rather than focus specifically on teen suicide Jantzen says, the event will focus on resources that are available for parents that they can use to help their kids face challenges by building resiliency.  

“Addressing the subject matter of mental health is crucial for everyone, and as a community we must create a culture that’s smart about mental health and suicide prevention,” said Natalia Chimbo-Andrade, Director of Community Education & Outreach for Community Bridges, a social services agency. 

“There are many ways we can work together to address this, but education and awareness is key. I applaud the Queen Creek rotary for taking this on and seeing the importance of speaking up about this crucial subject matter,” she said. 

There has been a sharp increase in demand for behavioral health services nationwide, but there is still a need, especially in rural areas. 

Chimbo-Andrade noted that “83% of communities in AZ did not have enough mental health providers to serve residents in 2021.”

“It is imperative that trusted adults and caregivers recognize that childhood has drastically changed with the advent of the smartphone and other devices we hand our children,” said Katey McPherson, a Chandler educator and a leading advocate for more mental health services for young people.

McPherson pointed out that the stressors kids face today are drastically different than they were a generation ago.  

Academic performance, athletic prowess, bullying on social media and gaming platforms and the increase in youth mental health issues such as anxiety and depression “must be met with a call to action that includes front loading them with prevention and resiliency training to confront these challenging times,” she said. 

Arizona ranks 28th in the nation when it comes to young people diagnosed with major depression, and while the state is roughly in the middle of the pack and not at the bottom, Chimbo-Andrade says there is a lot of room for improvement. 

“Arizona has made some wonderful progress in the last 5 years with legislation that has passed to help face the teen mental health crisis such as the Mitch Warnock Act, Jake’s Law, and the recent Mental Health Instruction Law,” Chimbo-Andrade said.

Fifteen organizations are scheduled to participate in the Rotary’s initial meeting, Sept. 8 in the Queen Creek Community Chambers, including officers from the police department, advocacy groups, counselors and parents. 

“I applaud the Queen Creek rotary for taking this on and seeing the importance of speaking up about this crucial subject matter.” 

People who want more information on the club can email:  info@rotaryclubqc.com.