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Lions Club of Denver, USA, arrives in Ethiopia Jan. 25, to conduct an eyesight screening campaign. Seven Lions will make the journey to Africa and will be accompanied by another seven volunteers from the United States; four members of the group from the U.S. are of Ethiopian descent.
The campaign will focus its service mostly on schoolchildren in the towns of Ebinat, Arba Minch, Shashamane and Shone. The Lions will be bringing eyeglasses collected by its statewide Recycle for Sight program. The schoolchildren will be tested and then fitted on-site with eyeglasses, as needed. The group expects to see nearly 2,800 children in total.
The volunteers include:
Dr. Sue Benes, an ophthalmologist from Buena Vista, who spent much of her career in academia at Ohio State University and has done research and clinical work around the world in places like Kenya, Ecuador and the Middle East;
Lion Myrna Ann Adkins, past executive director of The Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning in Denver and a participant in screening campaigns in Ecuador and Mongolia;
Lions Steve and Susy Kinsky, who have conducted eyesight screening campaigns in Ecuador, Senegal, Rwanda, Nepal, Mongolia and Mexico; and
Lion Mel Tewahade of Ethiopia, who is the primary organizer, with help from his Ethiopian contacts Adu Worku in Ebinat and Pochi Seifu in Shone, among others.
Lions Clubs International (LCI) was founded in 1917 and has over 46,000 Clubs and 1.4 million members in 206 countries around the world. Lions Club of Denver was also founded in 1917 as one of the 23 charter Clubs of LCI. Lions has the motto “We Serve,” and Lions Club of Denver is motivated by the adage: “In life, you need to breathe to survive, but you need to see to thrive.” Lions sees this impending trip to Ethiopia as a way to demonstrate its capacity for bringing different cultures of the world together through humanitarian service.
The power of a wish is a valuable thing – especially for children battling critical illnesses and experiencing the uncertainty, pain and medical visits that go with that diagnosis. For those children, and all the individuals involved in granting a wish through Make-A-Wish Colorado, a wish provides hope for brighter days ahead. Attendees at Make-A-Wish Colorado’s Wish Night, presented by Alpine Bank, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency Denver Colorado Convention Center Friday, Feb. 22, will experience firsthand the true power of a wish.
Entertainment at Wish Night will be provided by wish kids who have continued to expand and grow their talents with hope and excitement, despite their illnesses. Among the entertainers will be 14-year-old piano virtuoso Logan who is a freshman at Denver School of Arts, 15-year-old Fiona, a legendary cello player who is eagerly anticipating her wish, 16-year-old Lexi who will showcase her tap-dancing moves and a trio of young ladies who will be joined by their fathers in a special dance performance to Steven Curtis Chapman’s Cinderella.
Lainie and brother Logan will be performing at Wish Night. Logan is a Wish Kid.
In addition to the entertainment, guests will experience a rare, live wish reveal during which a wish kid will learn that his/her wish will be granted. The evening will also include cocktails and dinner, silent and live auctions and special gifts. Tickets for the 2019 Wish Night are available online at wish2019.givesmart.com or by calling 303-750-9474.
Make-A-Wish Colorado’s board chair, Doug Askam, is excited about Wish Night and the line-up of talented performers. Askam states, “Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. The hope that a wish offers helps to improve their quality of life, and the wish kids who will be performing at Wish Night are shining examples of the powerful impact a wish can have.”
Denver7’s Jason Gruenauer will serve as the master of ceremonies for the 2019 Wish Night. Gruenauer, who has played Prince Charming for several wishes, knows how inspiring a wish can be and the importance of bringing together the community to share in that experience and raise funds to grant future wishes.
Ken Cruise and his sloppy kisser Bailey, the therapy dog.
SUBMITTED BY NATE GUSTAFSON
BROOKDALE HOSPICE OF DENVER
Volunteer coordinator, Brookdale Hospice of Denver
“Bailey is a sloppy kisser,” Centennial resident Ken Cruise says about his rescued retriever turned therapy dog.
A runaway, Bailey appeared to be a pure-bred Labrador retriever doing his time in the county animal shelter when adopted him in 2009 as a Mother’s Day present for his wife. It’s unclear whether Cruise chose Bailey or Bailey chose Cruise.
Bailey’s age is also a mystery. Cruise estimates that Bailey may be close to 14 years-old. What is clear is that Bailey and Cruise are a perfect match.
When the manager of the pet store noticed Bailey and Cruise taking obedience classes, he asked Cruise if he had ever thought about taking Bailey through therapy dog training.
Therapy dog training and service was not on his mind according to Cruise. “I didn’t know anything about it at the time,” Cruise stated. He couldn’t imagine how this path of service might change both of their lives.
After completing more training, Cruise registered with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) in 2010 and the pair passed their evaluations on their first attempt. Once recognized as an official therapy dog team, they began visiting at local Brookdale Senior Living communities in Aurora and Greenwood Village, then they added one stop a week at Someren Glenn Retirement Community in Centennial.
Cruise also began to spend extra special time with Brookdale Hospice patients and family members. Bailey will even spend time comforting individuals and family members during a person’s final hours. Cruise will help an individual feel Bailey’s fur or bring some extra comfort to a grieving family member during these special visits.
Since 2010, the two have made over 500 stops at their senior living communities and provided extra support at last year’s 9 Health Fair at Someren Glen. At each stop, they see 10 or more individuals, which means over 5,000 encounters during their eight years of volunteer service.
TDI will recognize Cruise and Bailey in early 2019 for their 500 visits. Also, on Jan. 17, Cruise received the monthly Hospice Caregiver Award presented by Horan and McConaty Funeral Homes based in Denver.
When people ask Cruise how much longer he and Bailey will keep making visits, he always replies, “We’ll keep doing this as long as Bailey enjoys it and can do it.” No one can deny that this sloppy kisser and his constant companion were destined to make people smile.
SUBMITTED BY SARAH KURZ
ROSE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
With the desire to help make Greater Denver a welcoming and safe place for all, Rose Community Foundation awarded more than $1 million in grants in 2018 to local nonprofits serving immigrants and refugees, as well as communities vulnerable to discrimination and hate crimes, including the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center and Jewish Family Service of Colorado.
“As a foundation rooted in values of social justice and inclusion, we are compelled to stand up for those who feel threatened by uncertainty in the immigration policy landscape, troubling upticks in hate crimes or escalating discriminatory rhetoric,” said Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, president and CEO of Rose Community Foundation. “We aim to stay abreast of evolving community needs in these arenas to determine how philanthropic dollars can be deployed to help.”
The initiative, known as the Community Action Fund, was launched by Rose Community Foundation in 2016 to respond to emerging issues that threatened the sense of safety and security for communities in the Denver area.
“Greater Denver is fortunate to have numerous nonprofit organizations serving and standing up for populations who are experiencing heightened fears and concerns as a result of policies, language, and even violence directed at them,” said Katherine Gold, board chair for Rose Community Foundation. “Those frontline organizations have been facing increased demand and stresses, and Rose Community Foundation’s Community Action Fund is intended to support those needs.”
The 2018 grants from Rose Community Foundation’s Community Action Fund, ranging from $1,000 to nearly $100,000, were distributed to more than 45 nonprofits. Grants to organizations serving immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers from a variety of countries and providing services including filing for green cards, applying for special immigrant juvenile status for children, or representing children in the court system and detention cases.
Join the Junior League of Denver (JLD) for The Journey, an exciting evening fundraiser, on Friday, March 22 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. The seventh annual event will feature keynote speaker Molly Bloom, an American entrepreneur and the bestselling author of Molly’s Game, chronicling her journey from college student to building and operating the largest and most notorious private poker game in the world, which was adopted into an award-winning film of the same name by Aaron Sorkin. Reggie Rivers will serve as emcee and auctioneer for the evening’s festivities.
“Bloom will speak about coming back from failure and will share stories from her past to prove that when you bet on yourself, you can win,” Becky Schaub, 2018-2019 JLD president said. “We are honored to have Bloom speak during our monumental 100th Anniversary year in Denver.”
Proceeds enable the league to continue its mission of developing civic women leaders committed to improving the community. The journey also supports the JLD’s current community focus on early childhood literacy. In addition to a variety of signature programs focused on literacy and education, funds raised by events help the JLD to provide substantial financial and volunteer support to community partners. Learn more about the JLD’s community impact and current programs.
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Steve Peckar, Mindy Levy Peckar, David Asarch, and Anna Asarch
Jewish Family Service of Colorado (JFS) raised more than $450,000 at its fundraiser, Faces of JFS 2018 Winter Soirée, Dec. 12, when David Asarch and Mindy Levy Peckar were honored at the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace. Nearly 325 people attended this event, which celebrated the diversity of JFS clients while benefiting the life-transforming work of the agency.
Everyone enjoyed the festive party, complete with cocktails, passed hors-d’oeuvres, a photo opportunity from A Custom Look, and upbeat entertainment by Club Femme of Moments Notice. After an hour of mingling, guests took their seats for a brief program. Co-chairs Ben Lusher and Stephanie Zaitz welcomed everyone and thanked event sponsors and the committee. JFS president and CEO Shepard Nevel shared more about the agency, who it serves, and what is planned for 2018.
After mingling, guests took their seats for a seated dinner and brief program. Rabbi Rick Rheins, senior rabbi at Temple Sinai and JFS board member, provided a meaningful d’var Torah. Associate director of development Bonni Raderman served as event emcee as she welcomed everyone and thanked event sponsors and the committee. Board chair Charlie Gwirtsman introduced incoming JFS president and CEO Linda Foster who shared thanks for the warm welcome to the JFS family she has received.
After an inspiring video showcasing the diversity of JFS clients, volunteers, and staff, the honorees’ spouses, Anna Asarch and Steve Peckar took to the stage to announce a matching opportunity by Elaine and Max Appel. David and Anna’s 10-year-old son, Sam, also made a heartfelt plea for people to support the work of JFS and to make his dad proud.
Board members Aaron Hyatt and Steve Kris presented Mindy Levy Peckar with the Joyce and Kal Zeff Humanitarian Award and Asarch with the Yana Vishnitsky Leadership Award. The honorees graciously received their awards to much applause and standing ovations as they were recognized for their outstanding work in the community on behalf of JFS.
Event committee included: Adam Agron, Adam and Olivia Asarch, Anna Asarch, Chad and K. Nicole Asarch, JJ and Brynn Asarch, Richard and Elaine Asarch, Brad Farber, Charlie Gwirtsman, Stuart and Judy Heller, Gareth Heyman and Betsy Mordecai Heyman, Aaron Hyatt, Hud and Carol Karshmer, Steve Kris, Steve Peckar, Eric Pollock, Michele Right, Dick Robinson, Jane E. Rosenbaum, Laurie Levy Sher, and Yana Vishnitsky.
Campus Middle School raised $6,893 ($1,000 more than this check represents) for The Denver Hospice. Pictured are Meagen Fox, NJHS sponsor; Samantha Thomas, NJHS member; Teresa Hitt clinical manager of The Denver Hospice; Hannah Simon, NJHS member; David Giordano, The Denver Hospice VP of development; Rohini Kompella, NJHS member; Ann Wills, The Denver Hospice Development Coordinator.
Campus Middle School students have created a virtual snowstorm inside their school. Thousands of paper snowflakes are hanging from the ceiling and covering some walls and windows. Each one represents a dollar donated by Campus students to The Denver Hospice to help families who are dealing with the terminal illness of a loved one.
“It’s really great to see the kids’ expressions when they turn in their money and know it’s going toward a good cause,” said eighth-grader Samantha Thomas, an officer with National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), which spearheaded the fundraiser. “They’re proud to be part of something and know that they’re helping other kids and families.”
For nearly 30 years, the campus community has raised funds for The Denver Hospice, an organization that provides comfort and support to patients with advanced illness and their families. The money raised will go into the Christopher’s Angels Fund, named in honor of Christopher Johnson, who died on Mother’s Day in 1988 when he was just 2 years old. His parents started the fund to help other families with basic needs.
David Giordano, vice president of development for The Denver Hospice, says many of the families they serve experience financial hardships because of medical bills and time away from work when caring for a loved one with a terminal illness.
“They’re not asking for the world, they’re asking for basic necessities,” Giordano explained. “They’re asking for heat in their homes because they don’t have money for that.”
He says the support of the students, staff and families at Campus Middle School makes a big difference.
“We fundraise one dollar at a time to be able to offer services,” Giordano said. “Every dollar counts, every little bit helps.”
“It just feels so good that one dollar can make such a big difference,” NJHS member Rohini Kompella said.
Retired CMS teacher Cathy Edam launched the fundraising project 29 years ago. Since then, students, parents, staff and other members of the campus community have contributed over $200,000 to help The Denver Hospice help families in their time of need. This year they raised $6,893, up from $6,645 last year. NJHS members are proud of how their classmates and school community stepped up.
“They really loved giving and they loved the snowflakes and they loved the competition,” said NJHS member Hannah Green.
Campus Middle School eighth-graders and National Junior Honor Society members Samantha Thomas, Rohini Kompella and Hannah Simon, show off some of the thousands of snowflakes donated during a fundraiser for The Denver Hospice.
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