In January, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Eric Schurz received his five-year recognition award as a permanent employee for the Community. In February, the Community Jobs and Underfill Program coordinator decided to resign in order to run his already established business, Rez Hawk Towing & Recovery, full time. A going-away breakfast was held for Schurz on February 14.
Schurz, who has changed his life dramatically over the last five years, began working with the Community to make a better life for himself and his family. In the process, he has helped many people in the same position, giving them the chance to change their lives and to gain work experience through the Community’s day labor program, which he helped initiate.
“I spent some time in jail, got out and moved to a halfway house, and the first thing I did was to look for work. I went over to Human Resources when it was at the Community service building; I walked in and filled out an application. Once I was done I was pulled in to an interview right on the spot,” said Schurz. “They were doing interviews, and some people didn’t show up. [The hiring panel] was just sitting back there. [The secretary] said I met the minimum qualifications, and they wanted to interview me. Before I walked out of there, I had the job with the roads department. I worked with them for almost two years. I had always been living this negative life, but [when I received] this first opportunity, I took it and ran with it.”
Run with it he did. Schurz was eventually approached by the coordinator of the Community’s Underfill Program after hearing about all the work he was doing in the Community.
“I was always around the campus doing community services. I would work after work, do community service at the food bank and horse facility. I lived here at the campus. From there I went to the Community Development Department, working with the range department, and built a reputation,” said Schurz.
Eventually Schurz became the coordinator of the Community’s Jobs and Underfill Program. As he ends his career with the Community, he is leaving behind a program that he hopes will continue to thrive for many years to come, the Day Work Program.
“When they interviewed me for my job at Human Resources, they asked me [for ideas], and I threw out [the idea for] a day-labor program. I must have put that spark in someone’s brain to where they made it happen,” said Schurz. “Later on, they asked me to do my homework, and I went undercover and acted like I was looking for work [elsewhere in the Valley] and got the rules and regulations from many different places and brought it back to the Community. We compiled it, read everything and studied everything, and we formatted [those materials] to fit the needs of the Community. The program started on December 11, 2011—it just happened that was my birthday, so I will always remember that.”
At Schurz’s going-away breakfast, he shared his future plans for taking on his business full time and thanked everyone for their part in helping him develop in a positive way.
“I started my business almost a year ago, and the time has come where I have to make a decision because business is picking up a lot. I’ve been trying to juggle [my work] with the Community and my business. I had to make the decision to give 100 percent to the business to get it going,” said Schurz. “I [always] wanted to do my own business. I’ve been watching the Community and seeing what’s really needed out here, like construction, landscaping and all these other businesses, and I saw there was a need for towing. I remember a long time ago there was a Lehi towing company out here, but I haven’t seen it around. I saw an opportunity and took it.”
Schurz’ towing business operates primarily in the Community; he hopes to one day work with Community departments such as the Salt River Police Department and become the towing company of choice for Salt River Fields and businesses at the Pavilions.
“Here I am today. I have accomplished all my goals, and now I am going to pursue my dreams as a business owner and give it a shot and see what happens,” said Schurz in his speech at the breakfast. “Each and every one of you inspires me in one way or another. I would like to thank my wife Rachel for sticking it out with me. She has been through it all, and without the support of Rachel pushing me to be right and stay right, keeping me focused and telling me what I was doing wrong and correcting it, I don’t think I would be here today.”
Schurz also encouraged Community members to take advantage of all the programs that the Community has to offer.
“It’s here; if you want to do it, you can do it with all the help from everyone,” said Schurz.