(left to right) Richard Balocco, President/CEO of Desert Arc, with Desert Arc Clients Of The Year Luis F., Mario M., Casey W., Dulce P., Vickie C., Joey M., and Luncheon Chair Nancy Singer.

By Madeline Zuckerman        

With a record crowd of 250 loyal supporters, Desert Arc hosted its Fourth Annual Champions Of Change Recognition Awards Luncheon, honoring local individuals and companies in our Valley who champion Desert Arc’s mission.  This not-to-be-missed luncheon, held at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, raised $75,000 to benefit Desert Arc’s programs and services.

Gina Otto, Nate Otto, Desert Arc Board member and Treasurer.

Nancy Singer, event chair and long-standing Desert Arc Board member and past Board chair, teamed up with emcee Brooke Beare Emmy award-winning journalist and long-standing Desert Arc Board member and immediate past Board chair, to make this year’s event –following a two year absence — the most memorable.

“I cannot thank Nancy Singer and Brooke Beare enough for their years of service and commitment to Desert Arc,” said Richard Balocco, President/CEO of Desert Arc.  “Desert Arc has been on an amazing journey from its humble beginnings in 1959 to its present-day leadership role in serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today, we honor 96 of the people we serve, as well as individuals and companies who ardently advocate Desert Arc’s cause. These Clients of the Year awardees are essential workers employed by our business services including shredding & recycling, janitorial, landscape maintenance, and fulfillment divisions. I am inspired by our everyday heroes from our amazing clients, Board of Directors, staff, and all of you who represent our community of champions.  I would like to extend a special thank you to our COO, Robin Keegan, for leading our organization in lockstep with me.  Thank you for joining us in celebration of Desert Arc’s everyday heroes!”

Champion Of The Year Jay Chesterton and Kelly Chesterton.

Awards were presented in the following categories:

  • Champion of the Year – Jay Chesterton, longtime friend of Desert Arc and former Board Member
  • Business Star of the Year – The Management Trust
  • Business Services Partner of the Year – Rivco Mechanical Services
  • Outstanding Volunteers of the Year – Ernie Rubin and Teddi Rozell
  • Clients Of The Year – People With Disabilities Served By Desert Arc’s mission – Essential Workers in the Community employed by Desert Arc’s Business Services Divisions, as well as fellow employers in Desert Arc’s network. Representing the group of 96 clients who continue to serve on the various work crews are Vickie C., Mario M., Dulce P., Casey W., Joey M., and Luis F.
Luncheon Emcee Brooke Beare with Bill Sasser, CEO of The Management Trust, whose company was honored as Business Star Of The Year.

I love the staff at Desert Arc,” said Client Of The Year honoree Vickie C.  “I thank Desert Arc for giving me the opportunity to work.”

“When my friend Nancy Singer reached out to me to ask if Desert Arc could honor me as Champion Of The Year, I was humbled,” said Jay Chesterton, Vice President of Hotel and Food & Beverage at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.  “I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to make a difference. I believe that the concept of making a positive difference in someone’s life is significant, and creates a powerful reward. These clients really want to help themselves, and Desert Arc gives these individuals with disabilities the tools to do just that.”

(left to right) Casey Scott, Angela Mendoza, Richard Sang, and Matt Clark of Rivco Mechanical Services, who was honored as Business Services Partner Of The Year.

“I am honored to serve such a wonderful organization and Board of Directors, and I am absolutely thrilled with the turnout today for our Champions luncheon,” said Damian Jenkins, Board Chair. “Congratulations to Richard Balocco and his amazing team for such a successful event.  I am humbly grateful for the Business Star Of The Year Award presented to my brand’s CEO Bill Sasser of The Management Trust.

Presenting Sponsors were The Auen Foundation and Harold Matzner; Premium Sponsors were Eisenhower Health and Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians; Platium Sponsors were Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Hot Purple Energy, Patrick M. McCarthy Foundation, and Nancy Singer; Gold Sponsors were Richard Balocco, Darlene Beneto City of Indian Wells, City of Indio, City of Rancho Mirage, and Lori & Aubrey Serfling.

Lori Serfling, long-standing Desert Arc Board Member, Aubrey Serfling, past Champion Of The Year awardee, and Shellie Reade.

This year’s Media Sponsors included Presenting Sponsor THE DESERT SUN & LOCALiQ, KESQ News Channel 3, and Alpha Media – Palm Springs.

Save The Date of Wednesday, February 8, 2023 for the Fifth Annual “Champions of Change” Recognition Awards Luncheon.


Desert Arc boasts an impressive 62-year history of providing comprehensive services for nearly 700 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities within the Coachella Valley, the Morongo Basin, and outlying desert communities.  The programs offered by Desert Arc are designed to give each person a safe and supportive, client–centric resource base to reach their highest potential to live, work, and socialize in the community. Over its consistent and financially sound 62-year history, Desert Arc has been making a difference in the lives of so many people with disabilities!

For more information on how you can assist Desert Arc with its vital programs please call 760-404-1368 or visit www.desertarc.org