Written by Ariyanna Norman
Arizona Facts of Life is a growing non-profit that has been serving Arizona’s youth for over a decade. The organization, which recently celebrated its 12th year, hosted a gala to help raise funds and awareness for an expansion planned in Tonopah in western Maricopa County.
Currently, their facility can house 18 children during their monthly weekend retreats and 35 children during the all-day workshops. The new facility in Tonopah will house 150 youth for retreats and 300 youth for workshops. In addition to these retreats and workshops, Arizona Facts of Life also has programs for promoting healthy relationships, developing job skills, finishing a high school education, a therapy clinic, and parenting classes.
Arizona Facts of Life founder and CEO Yolanda Robinson is eager to see it grow to a national and then international scale. The organization now serves the youth of Maricopa County and the Gila River Tribe Community.
Robinson says she used ideals she learned from watching the television show, The Facts of Life, to create the curriculum for her program. “Facts” in the title of the organization is an acronym for F – Facing our Fears, A – Adjusting our Attitude, C – Caring for Ourselves and Others, T – Truth, sometimes hurts, but it can also heal, S – Strength (mental/emotional). “I truly believe in the F.A.C.T.S. acronym and applying it to our life,” said Robinson.
Robinson grew up in the Matthew Henson Projects of Phoenix. She says teen pregnancy, poverty, drug abuse, and failure to complete high school were commonplace in her neighborhood. She says the show, The Facts of Life was a therapeutic escape.
“Education was important. There was diversity. There were girls from different walks of life who were able to bond and trust and be friends,” said Robinson.
Arizona Facts of Life recently hosted “A Gift from the Heart Gala” to celebrate its 12th year. Kim Fields, an actress from the show The Facts of Life, who played the character “Tootie”, was this year’s guest speaker.
“Reaching out to Kim Fields was placed on my spirit and for that reason I knew she’d say yes,” said Robinson.
During her speech, Fields said repeatedly that she couldn’t believe the television show she acted in as a child had had such an impact then, and now, so many years later.
For the Arizona Facts of Life 10th anniversary, actress Lisa Whelchel, who played “Blair” was the special guest. Robinson hopes to get a different actress from the show to attend each year and then eventually host a reunion along with the organization’s celebration.
For more information, check out Arizona Facts of Life online at www.azfactsoflife.org