A Busy Fall for QC Students

Welcome to QC Enews Empowerment

All of us at Quality Connections hope that you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

We thought it might be nice to look back at all that our students and the participants in our employment training programs have accomplished this fall (and there was a lot!) We also wanted to share a little more about our friend Anne Marie, who you met last month in this video promoting #GivingTuesday.

Speaking of #GivingTuesday, thank you again for your generosity to Quality Connections that you showed on that day. We really appreciate it. And if you didn’t have a chance to donate then, please consider a gift before the end of the year, when you can use it as a tax break on both your federal and state taxes (details below).

– Armando Bernasconi,
Co-Founder and CEO

A Busy Fall for Quality Connections

A radio station, a newspaper, computer classes, learning CPR, playing with the Northern Arizona University marching band – it was a packed season for participants in Quality Connections’ programs.

Here are some highlights:

  • Students launched their own online radio station, Route 66 The Ghost, and are making playlists, recording transcripts, and creating their own radio shows (including an in-house weatherman). You can listen here.
  • We printed the first edition of our in-house newspaper, Outlooks. Right now it’s only in print, but we’ll have an online PDF version of the paper added to our website soon. Stay tuned!
  • Our students have been getting ready to earn their CPR certification by taking online courses, completing written practice tests, and building up their strength for the physical aspects of performing CPR by doing large motor movement exercises.
  • We had a nice crossover event between two of our programs on Halloween. The Quality Connection students took our QC Training Bus and turned it into the ultimate Trunk-or-Treat experience. Throughout October, they created scarecrows in sewing class, rainbow corn in jewelry class, and painted pumpkins in gardening class. Then they took the bus out to our preschool, Evergreen Academy, so the kids there could walk through our fall harvest bus. Everyone loved it!
  • Fall, of course, means big college sporting events, which wouldn’t be complete without a marching band. Our students, working with mentors from the Northern Arizona University marching band, learned about rhythm, melodies and teamwork. They practiced their instruments every week and capped off the program with a half-time show at NAU.

From music to mass communications to learning skills that translate into employment opportunities, Quality Connections continues to empower individuals with disabilities to become independent and productive members of our community.

'Here I'm Allowed to Just Be Me'

When we asked Anne Marie Rivera to star in a video for #GivingTuesday last month, we were pretty confident she’d be a natural. 

She said she was nervous; being filmed made her “thumbs turn to noodles,” which is now officially our favorite phrase to describe being camera-shy.

But she was eloquent and candid, a born communicator, and pretty much got that 2-minute video done in one take.

We wound up talking with Anne Marie for about 15 minutes during that filming session, and she made so many wonderful observations about how Quality Connections has impacted her life, we wanted to share them with you.

Anne Marie has autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability. She marvels about how easily people talk about autism now – “Autism is now on TikTok and Instagram!” – and wishes those social media resources had been around when she was in middle and high school, struggling to be understood.

“But Quality Connections is teaching me that it doesn’t matter what background you’re from,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the brains and the genius of Albert Einstein, or if you’re still struggling with emotional stuff. They teach you, and that is priceless.”

For Anne Marie, one of the biggest challenges was understanding and coping with emotions – her own and other people’s. It could be overwhelming; if she thought someone was “blatantly mad” at her, she’d hide in a bathroom.”

I’m learning how to control myself better,” she said. “[Quality Connections] is helping me in the ways of anxiety, because I have big anxieties. I try my hardest not to show it, but I’m an anxious soul. I’m lucky I’m learning these skills now, instead of five years from now.”

Anne Marie is active in many of Quality Connections’ initiatives, such as the online radio station Route 66 The Ghost, and employment training classes, such as creating a resume and participating in mock interviews.

For the past few months, she’s been working at Savers, which has been a tremendous success.

“I’ve had several of my coworkers say, ‘You are our best coworker.  You’re the best worker. You do the best,’” she said. “And to me that means a lot because I’ve never been told in previous jobs, ‘Hey, you did good.'”


That’s not to say that she never is frustrated or worried, she says, she just copes with it better. While she’s happy with her job and becoming more independent, she still loves being part of Quality Connections.


“Here I’m allowed to just be me,” she said. “I’m allowed to be irritable; they take it all. They help me harness it into a better version of me than I might have been two seconds ago.  It’s fantastic!”


More 'STARs' for Quality Connections

Give to the State of Arizona or give to Quality Connections – it’s your choice! The Arizona Charitable Tax Credit gives you a dollar-for-dollar credit (not a deduction, a credit!) on your taxes when you donate to a qualified charitable organization like Quality Connections. The credit is up to $400 for individuals and $800 for couples filing jointly. Plus Quality Connections is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so your charitable contributions are tax deductible for your federal taxes.

We need Quality Connections . . . like you!

You can help individuals with disabilities become independent and productive members of our community. There are many way to be a ‘Quality Connection’ and get involved and all of them are important:

Every purchase from QC Office equals employment and job training opportunities for a person with disabilities.

Enable a person with disabilities to become a productive member of our community.

You’ll be doing good. Plus, you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar credit on your AZ state taxes (up to $800!)

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