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Pat Petznick - Writing Her Story

Author: Rebecca L. Rhoades
Issue: February, 2017, Page 71
for Pat Petznick, life is about fostering relationships through family and Philanthropy

Pat Petznick’s voice fills with awe and admiration when she speaks about the women in her life. “I grew up in the country—my father was in the cattle business—and I remember watching a lot of women around me struggle,” says the native Phoenician. “My grandmother worked hard. My mother worked hard. I heard stories from my grandmother of having to raise her sons by herself, taking in ironing and living in the back of the grocery store where she worked. Women didn’t have a lot of opportunities back then. Life was very challenging for them.”

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The memories of those women and their struggles remained with Petznick, shaping her as a person and leading her to a lifetime of service and care. “Having such strong role models really empowered me to start thinking in a different way. I see how my life has gone down a path of wanting to be around women and wanting to help them,” she says.

And help them, she did. Twenty-five years ago, Petznick, along with her sister, Beverly Stewart, founded Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, a charitable organization that provides education, resources and support to women from all walks of life. The idea was born in 1992 when the sisters were owners of Rolf’s Salon. Every month at the salon, they would provide 20 women with help, ranging from makeovers to résumé assistance.

“Rolf’s was the ideal place to begin offering services, and things just evolved naturally. There was a real need in the community, and I was fortunate to meet the right people at the right time to engage in the journey to help other women,” says Petznick. In 1994, the sisters began the official process to form a foundation.

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The Jewell McFarland Lewis Fresh Start Women’s Resource opened in downtown Phoenix in 2002 and now serves 6,500 women. “From the moment a woman walks through our doors, we provide all the tools to help her become self-sufficient,” Petznick explains. “Programs include financial and English language classes, career training, computer literacy courses, family law support and much more. We work with each client on an individual basis to help her recognize and build on her strengths while developing confidence to overcome barriers. We’re a resource center that’s helped thousands of women realize their full potential.”

Fresh Start truly is a family affair. Petznick and her sister remain actively involved on the Executive Board, along with Petznick’s daughters-in-law, Belle and Melinda. Her husband, Earl, and sons, Earl Jr. and Olen, were founding members of the Men’s Board and remain involved. 

“It has taken an army to get Fresh Start to where it is today,” says Petznick. “Our leadership has been surrounded with dedicated, committed people and a responsive community that helps make it all happen.”

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One exceptional display of support is through the annual Fresh Start Gala, which has evolved from an intimate evening fashion show into one of the community’s premier charitable galas, raising more than $1 million each year. “The evening’s format has evolved through the years as the event has grown, but we will always have a fashion component,” says Petznick, a consummate fashionista known for her innate sense of style.

“I love fashion, and I love helping women,” she says. “These passions have been woven together throughout my life.” Another passion is her family, with whom Petznick surrounds herself at their Page Springs getaway, D.A. (or Dancing Apache) Ranch. She and her husband purchased the property, located 15 miles southwest of Sedona, in 2000, and the family has since expanded the ranch to include public accommodations, wedding facilities and a winery.

“I take a lot of pride in what we do,” Petznick adds. The statement can apply as much to her family’s ranch as it does her work. “It has been a blessing to watch and experience the growth of Fresh Start these past 25 years. We all can take great pride in the community support that has enabled our success. What more could I ask for?”

Petznick enjoys spending time at D.A. Ranch with family members, including granddaughter Alex Bray, her husband, David and daughter Isabelle Snow; and grandson Jeffrey Petznick, his wife, Dani, and their daughter, Amelia.

The picturesque spring-fed pond adjacent to the Pond House is a great place to catch fish, such as bass and crappie, which are then grilled for a fresh dinner.
When not dining inside or on the covered patio, the Petznick family can be found in the nearby ramada, which includes an outdoor kitchen, two big tables and a large fireplace to keep everyone warm on cool evenings. “We go out there during the winter, and we’ll have a big fire going,” says Petznick. “It’s a nice place to barbecue and entertain.”

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