Pictured Left to Right are members of the Vail Family University, Rev. Dr. Candace Lansberry, Lead Pastor, Desert Sky United Methodist Church, New Vail Campus; Heather Stough, Vail School District Community Liaison; Pastor David Hook, Christ Lutheran Vail Church; and Sister Noelle O’Shea, CSJ, St. Rita in the Desert, Vail.

The Vail Family University (VFU) is an example of local faith-based organizations and the Vail Unified School District (VUSD) working together with a singular goal in mind: service to families. Each year the community is invited to a free of charge program offering the tools to strengthen families. John Carruth, Associate Superintendent for VUSD, states “The faith community and public schools are often viewed by what they are prohibited from doing together.  This event instead demonstrates our common goals of building resilient children, families, and community.”

“The VFU event brings together our schools, our non-profits, and our churches for no other reason than to strengthen Vail families.  The variety of sessions that we are offering, along with the dynamic message that Doug Fields will convey, paired with our new Back to School Resource Fair will equate to a well-rounded event that will give each attendee a sense of empowerment that will bolster them throughout the school year,” said Heather Stough, VUSD Community Liaison.

“As a member of the committee of Vail faith-based leaders, I am grateful to the Vail School District for providing the opportunity to work with others to help strengthen families in our community. The VFU and the associated Vail Resource Fair represent a focus of our group,” said Cole Thies, President of the Tucson, Arizona Rincon Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  “It is a blessing to work with others in this forum to provide support for the event and be a part of the mission of serving our neighbors.”

Returning for a second year as the keynote speaker is nationally known Doug Fields. Doug Fields is a graduate of Vanguard University and received his MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has served for 30 years as a staff member of several California Churches. He is the publisher of more than 60 books dealing with marriage, family, and parenting. Fields has served since 2011 as the Executive Director of HomeWord’s Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University.

The program will kick-off with two, 20-minute sessions. Participants will be able to select two sessions from the 16 offered to attendees and led by local experts. The breakout sessions will include Family Organization and Communication led by Sarah Bates and Michelle Marsalek, Technology Addiction by Rachelle Hodge, Foster Care and Adoption led by Jeff Vanderford, Single Parenting led by Joan Grecchi and Helen Howel, Homework – with or without parental supervisor led by Dennis Barger, and Raising Your Grandkids led by Ann Nickels. Also, Why It’s Okay to Fail, by Gloria Bernal, Setting a Clear Vision by Josh Reich, Marriage by Andres and Marisol Malo, Emotional and Mental Health by Roger Daniels, Commitment to Family, by Carol and Steve Langford, Finance by Jeff Logsdon, Nutrition for your Brain, led by Javier Gomez, and Parenting by The Oasis Pastor, David Gainey.

“I often refer to the greater Vail community as a four-legged stool. One leg is the Vail School District, one leg is the Faith-based community, one leg is the business community, and the fourth leg is the community at large. It takes all four groups working together to make this community what it is today – a community that cares for one another and wants the best for the entire community, ” said Mark Tate, President of Greater Vail Community ReSources (ReSources).

“In 2017 we decided to go one step further to help our students be ready for school. With state funding shrinking each year, the faith-based community decided to support a resource fair as a part of the VFU event. For those families who need a little assistance, we will be providing backpacks filled with school supplies. We also are providing things like haircuts, teeth hygiene, fingerprinting and much more. We want to help make sure our students, who can use a helping hand, can receive it and be ready for a great school year. We are blessed to be a blessing,” said Mark Tate.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, July 22nd beginning at 9:30 am to 12 pm at Cienega High School, 12775 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way, followed by a Back to School Resource Fair from 12 pm to 2 pm. Child care for infants through 13 years of age will be provided at no charge. Preregistration is required for both the event and child care.  Attendance at the event is required in order to attend the Resource Fair. To register, go to vailfamilyuniversity.org. The deadline to register is Friday, July 14th, or a maximum of 500 registrations.  For further information, call (520) 879-3915.

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