$5,000 Grant: Supports a reading program to bring children up to grade-level reading ability with a math component.

Sunshine Acres’ mission is “to provide a loving, wholesome, Christian home for children who are separated from their parents and help them establish long-term relationships with stable parental figures, preparing them for success in adult life.” It currently helps children who are ages 3-17-years-old.


Humble Beginnings

Sunshine Acres began in 1954 with the purchase of 125 acres with four run-down buildings. Reverend James and Vera Dingman bought all of this for $29,500. Buildings were repaired, a license obtained, and the first two children arrived in April 1954.

Since then, over 2000 children have been helped. Children are placed there by their parents or guardians. Sunshine Acres retains temporary guardianship of the children while there. As long as the child needs a home and wants to be there, the child can stay through college.

“We never turn away a child for financial reasons and never solicit for a penny, a board or a brick,” says Executive Director Kevin Humphrey, who is also a great-grandchild of the Dingmans.


Learning and Thriving

The children attend Mesa Public Schools with additional activities such as choir, horsemanship, 4-H Show Team, karate, American Sign Language, Flag Team, sports, music, drama, archery, and arts and crafts. The child’s academic progress and personal growth are regularly monitored by house parents and support staff, mentors, teachers and tutors.

According to Public Relations Outreach Coordinator Shara Markwell, a great-granddaughter of the Dingmans, the program helps children to open their hearts and minds “to know better and to do better.”

Sunshine Acres is funded entirely by generous donors and the sale of donated items through the boutique and two retail stores. It receives no funding from the state or federal government.

“These children shine with new talents and goals from their new environment,” adds Shara. “It’s more than a home — it’s a family!”

For more information, visit www.sunshineacres.com.