Benevilla honors Willis, Surprise for support

Posted 1/4/23

Benevilla recently presented two annual awards to honor those who support the Benevilla mission.

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Benevilla honors Willis, Surprise for support


Benevilla recently presented two annual awards to honor those who support the Benevilla mission.

Jane Willis received the 2022 Bill Wolfrey Community Service Award, and the city of Surprise received the Benevilla Business Leadership Award.

The Bill Wolfrey Community Service Award is named in honor of one of the founding members of Benevilla, Bill Wolfrey. Originally called Sun Cities Area Interfaith Services, and later Interfaith Community Care, Benevilla has been supporting those in need in the Northwest Valley for more than 41 years.

Willis was honored for her outstanding commitment, support, and service to Benevilla and our community. She was introduced to Benevilla by her late husband, Noel Willis, and through the years their support and advocacy for the organization grew.

Jane has been noted to say she married into Benevilla. She was previously on the Benevilla Board of Directors and was chair of the board in 2015 and 2016. During her term, she was able to advance the agency during a transition period of the retirement of then Benevilla President and CEO Michelle Dionisio and head the search committee for her replacement.

The city of Surprise has supported Benevilla for more than 20 years. Through grant funding, sponsorship event support, and in-kind space for the Benevilla Family Resource Center office in the City Hall complex, they consistently support the Benevilla mission and encourage their work within the city.

Most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic when the city had to shut down its in-person meal program at the Surprise Senior Center, it looked to Benevilla to step in to provide home-delivered meals. With the support of the Benevilla Group Supported Employment members — adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities — Benevilla was able to deliver hundreds of hot, freshly prepared meals to those in need in the community.

Also, the Surprise Community Garden, which is open to the public and located on the Benevilla main campus is part of the “Community for All Ages” initiative, a partnership between Benevilla, Rio Salado College and the city of Surprise.

“We are so blessed to have such wonderful and generous people like Jane and the city of Surprise as such strong advocates and supporters of the work Benevilla does in the community,” Benevilla President and CEO Joanne Thomson said. “I sincerely thank them for everything they do for us.”

Started by the community and for the community in 1981, Benevilla is a nonprofit family services agency dedicated to enriching the lives of West Valley residents by providing care services for older adults, adults with disabilities, children, and families.

For information on services, volunteer opportunities, to take a tour or donate to Benevilla, call 623-584-4999, or visit