When retired Army Chief Warrant Officer and civil servant Tom Reardon joined the Premier Alliances Board of Directors two years ago, it was the latest link in a chain of community service that stretches back nearly 30 years.
“I was invited to join the Rotary club here in Sierra Vista in 1987. I didn’t even know what it was,” Reardon said.
After years of strict hierarchies in the military, the shoulder-to-shoulder workings of the service group caught him off guard, such as the time he helped at an event in the park selling soft drinks, and later found himself scrubbing soda off the floor with two others, one a retired master chief and the other a retired brigadier general.
“Rotary is a great social leveler. It emphasizes first name fellowship,” he said.
That organization’s efforts to push recycling at the local level eventually led to Reardon joining the city’s Environmental Affairs Commission, the first of several city-related positions he would hold, including the Commission on Disability Issues and the Planning and Zoning Commission, culminating in a combined seven years serving on the city council.
“Being on the council helped. It gave me the chance to see things I would not normally see. Then I began consider that ‘…I’m not going to be on the council forever, so where could I volunteer to best benefit the community,’” he said.
That sense of community service has continued to this day, as he holds positions on the boards of multiple organizations, including the Cochise County Reentry Coalition and the Wellness Connection, in addition to serving on the advisory board of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Southeast Arizona.
“I’m on several boards. I try to see, if I join a board, how can that benefit the other boards that I am on?” he said.
Reardon calls this concept wingspan, and it’s one of the unique benefits he brings to the Premier Alliances Board of Directors.
“I’ve always got my eyes and ears open for ways to collaborate and partner,” he said.
Like many on Premier’s board, Reardon also has a personal connection to the disabled community, as his son Greg was diagnosed with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) as a young adult.
This lifelong journey inspired Reardon to become involved with the disabled community where he could.
“At Fort Carson, Colorado, my son and I worked with developmentally disabled adults with the USO once a week teaching swimming. I was very impressed by them,” he said.
The environment fostered by Premier Alliances is one of inclusion, something he said he understand the significance of when a population is often relegated to the margins.
“My son has told me that from his own experiences, which surprised me, since he seldom complains. Here, they’re working in teams, and they’re working among their peers. Whether it’s painting a fence or mowing a lawn, they feel part of something. They’re not isolated anymore,” he said.
The work conducted by Premier Alliances crews in maintaining the historic Fort Huachuca Cemetery, as well as preparing the actual grave sites, is a particular point of pride for Reardon, noting that it was one final action in a series of honors provided to the men and women who served their country.
“We’re the last piece of that chain of reverence and respect,” he said.
Looking ahead, the future is nothing but bright for Premier Alliances and its employees.
“We do what we do well. We have a great track record and I think we are poised to be, not change victims, but change agents.”