Two Chandler organizations make local neighborhoods a top priority
Melinda and Paul Gunther are the co-founders of Live Love, a “nonprofit organization working to establish long-term partnerships that build on the strengths and assets of neighborhoods in order to promote stronger caring communities.”
A social worker and a pastor respectively, the couple was inspired by their time spent in Guatemala to work with communities and essentially “live love.”
“When we moved to Chandler in 2006, I called the City and asked if anyone worked directly with neighborhoods,” Melinda Gunther explains. “We connected with Judy Ramos at the City of Chandler and she gave us an in-depth look at what work was being done. It’s only grown from there.”
“The primary neighborhoods we have been working in so far include Pamela Park, Silk Stocking and Armstrong,” she says. “The neighborhood we are just moving in to now is Galveston.”
In 2012, the group purchased a home within one of their target neighborhoods and restored it to working condition. It now serves as the Live Love hub. There, the nonprofit hosts community meetings, karate classes and other events. Once a month, they even host a community workday where neighbors help other neighbors with yard work, home repairs and more. Last month, the group had its first Fall Festival, too.
Gunther adds that Live Love is also in the beginning stages of creating a neighborhood oasis with a plot of land that the group owns.
“The oasis will be a community space,” she says. “It’s all about building a strong community.”
“My heart is so full of joy when I get to watch people of all backgrounds and origins come together and work as one unit to improve our community,” says neighborhood leader and Live Love volunteer Ruth Maya. “This is what it’s like to be part of Live Love and I’m so thankful to be a part of that.”
For more information, please visit, WhatIsLiveLove.com
Christina Atwood’s grassroots group of volunteers—connected together on Facebook through a group called Hope Anchors—is helping refugees make the transition to life in the U.S.
“This past spring I had the opportunity to attend the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations,” Atwood explains. “… After listening to accounts of what was going on in the world… I found my focus shifting to a desire to do whatever a stay-at-home mother of three could do to make a difference.”
Atwood then connected with Hayley Smith of Lifting Hands International and Arian Hatch of Goods For Good AZ, and together the ladies lead a variety of efforts aimed at helping refugees at home and abroad.
Currently, she and other volunteers are focusing on apartment set ups for Valley resettlement agencies.
“It has all been worth it in helping to settle more than two dozen families this past summer alone. Now we have had our first training with more than 50 people in attendance,” she says. “The goal is for others to start doing the set ups; we want these families to have friends, people who aren’t paid to help them, to offer a genuine community welcome and, where possible, help them in learning to navigate this foreign place.”
To help coordinate volunteers and donations, Atwood started the Hope Anchors Facebook group.
“It is a closed group with all welcome who are willing to help refugees arriving in Arizona,” she explains. “It is non-political, non-negative forum that I started rather organically after posting to the Ocotillo Friends group on Facebook and had a huge response from people in Chandler.”
“It has been truly miraculous to see how each person, regardless of how little they feel they can offer, truly makes a difference as they engage in making their community a more welcoming place.”
For more information, please visit, Facebook Group: Hope Anchors or email AtwoodChristina@gmail.com.