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Meet Catherine Pettitt of Corbin’s Legacy Charity in Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Catherine Pettitt.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Catherine. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a professional educator who has worked in high poverty, Title 1 schools throughout the Phoenix area for the past two decades. I am currently pursuing my doctorate at Northern Arizona University while serving as a lead teacher and principal intern for the Mesa Public School District. My mission as a teacher is to provide for the holistic needs of students. Along my teaching journey, I befriended a generous soul with whom I taught: Corbin Leafman. Her mission to serve her students aligned with mine. While her life was brief due to cancer, in her honor, those closest to her launched the charity, Corbin’s Legacy: a local 501c3 nonprofit, which has provided food and medical services to Title 1 elementary school students since 2015.

I now currently serve as Corbin’s Legacy’s Title 1 Schools Director. Corbin’s Legacy provides mass distributions of food to Title 1 schools in Mesa, Glendale, Phoenix, Laveen, Apache Junction, and Peoria. In the past year, our charity has distributed 5,400 backpacks filled with food and sponsored 400 Title 1 classroom (food is provided to classrooms during the school day). Most prominently, Corbin’s Legacy has a medical platform, which has funded the first school-based health clinic in Mesa Public Schools at Emerson Elementary School. This school-based health clinic has partnered with A.T. Still University, wherein medical students give health screenings under the supervision of a physician. My doctoral work is focused on studying the effects of the clinic.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The best lesson I have learned, and a mantra I like to use is this: you need to give it a try one more time. It’s that moment when you want to quit that is the most pivotal: just one more attempt reinvigorates your mission and usually offers some clarity. One of the greatest challenges I encountered as a Title 1 Schools Director for my charity was building credibility and merit with new school partnerships. The elevator speech requires repetition, faith, and persistence.

Corbin’s Legacy Charity – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Corbin’s Legacy’s mission is to improve outcomes of underrepresented elementary school children through the elimination of food and medical insecurity. Our vision is to be changed and make change for good because we knew her. The most unique and wonderful part of our charity is that we don’t require any documentation of need, and we never turn away a request for food or medical assistance for underrepresented elementary children.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Seeing the transformational power, first hand, of how the community responds — has been humbling and fruitful. It’s well and good to contribute your own talents, but it is remarkable to step back and watch a community share in an effort to make positive, lasting change.

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Image Credit:
Angela Vaughan; JJ Westgate

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